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Best Sound Card for under 100$?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I got a pair of Sennheiser HD 598s, and I'm getting a Fiio E7 soon. The only problem is, I'm using  onboard audio. And I have 100$ that I can spend on a sound card. What sound card would you recommend I buy?

post #2 of 15
Thread Starter 

I did some research. And it looks like the Asus Xonar DX and The HT Omega Striker are my best bets.

So, would you recommend the DX or the Striker?

post #3 of 15

Save a few dollars, get the Asus Xonar DG (PCI, $30), it comes with a headphone amplifier, the Xonar DX does not.

If you search around, some stores have a $10 mail in rebate on the Xonar DG.

post #4 of 15

You do realize the DX does have an amped output that just isn't advertised as to avoid hurting D2X and STX sales, along with being a better card than either DG or DS, right?

post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post
You do realize the DX does have an amped output that just isn't advertised as to avoid hurting D2X and STX sales, along with being a better card than either DG or DS, right?

What's the make and model of the headphone amplifier chip?

Seem weird, what about gain adjustments?
 

 

 

post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

What's the make and model of the headphone amplifier chip?

Seem weird, what about gain adjustments?
 


 

Now you put me in a tough position. The specs of the "hidden" amp are here on Head-Fi but that was on a thread over a year and a half ago :S Though I think there's a reference to it on an Asus whitepaper, but I do remember that Asus deliberately hidden stats due to that situation of pushing the next two cards above more easily to the market.

 

My only reference for is was that headphones had to be plugged on the card's line-out, and that impedance support was up to 60ohm IIRC.

 

EDIT: Gain adjustments had to be done at a fake .dll level (AsusAudioCenterRes.dll, I think). Seems like Asus went out of their way to make the full DX usability as hard as they could :( Perhaps it would be easier to just get the DG, even though it has an inferior DAC.


Edited by Roller - 2/21/12 at 1:27am
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

Guys, I have a Fiio E7 on the way too. But someone said that the E7 would replace the Sound Card. Is this true?

post #8 of 15

Yes, the E7 is a USB DAC (in other words, USB "sound card") + headphone amp. Using another sound card with the E7 (line-out -> E7 line-in) would defeat it's purpose.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by markzi View Post
Guys, I have a Fiio E7 on the way too. But someone said that the E7 would replace the Sound Card. Is this true?

The Fiio E7 is only two channel (stereo) output.

Where as sound cards can do 5.1 or 7.1 headphone virtual surround sound.
 

 

 

post #10 of 15

^ What does it matter? His headphones are stereo, and "virtual surround" effects are achieved in software.

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

You do realize the DX does have an amped output that just isn't advertised as to avoid hurting D2X and STX sales, along with being a better card than either DG or DS, right?


The D1, DX, and I guess also the D2 and D2X have line outputs only. These have a maximum voltage of 2 Vrms (I measured ~1.935 on mine), and high output impedance (it is 100.5 Ohm for me). Basically, the same as the RCA line outputs of the Xonar ST/STX. Using this with the HD598 is not recommended, since that headphone is very sensitive to the output impedance of the device driving it. It would be possible to use the E7 as an amplifier only, but that would be a waste of money, with its DAC never being used, and the amplifier is only comparable to the E6. The E11 is cheaper, and is a better amplifier than the E7, but it cannot be powered from AC.

 

post #12 of 15
Quote:

Originally Posted by Roller View Post

 

My only reference for is was that headphones had to be plugged on the card's line-out, and that impedance support was up to 60ohm IIRC.

 

A rating of "up to 60 Ohm" makes no sense when the output impedance is 100 Ohm.

 

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

Well, since the HD 598s don't need mega amping, I guess I'll skip the Card, and go with the Fiio E7 since it's portable.

post #14 of 15

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by skamp View Post

^ What does it matter? His headphones are stereo, and "virtual surround" effects are achieved in software.


Most of that software isn't compatible with games, if that's at all a concern, and to my knowledge, USB audio devices like the E7 don't even support EAX 1/2 like practically all sound cards, for those older games that use them. (Roller is planning to correct that latter point, though...don't know if, much less when, he'll come through, but I'd definitely like to see it happen.)

 

But if gaming is not a concern, the E7 and other USB audio devices are just fine to use.

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by skamp View Post
What does it matter? His headphones are stereo, and "virtual surround" effects are achieved in software.


DVD/Blu-ray movies already come with the sound tracks (Dolby Digital) laid in and if you want to watch them in surround sound using headphone you can't just use the computer it's self.

You need something that can process the Dolby 5.1 or 7.1 sound tracks into Virtual surround sound for the headphones, which sound cards can do and most external amplifiers can not.

That's one good reason for using a sound card.

 

 

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