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A latecomer to the Xonar ST, looking for a few answers

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello Head-Fi,


I apologize that my first post is a question, but I'm merely looking for advice and some answers to some questions I have not been able to find the answers for by just crawling.


I've recently purchased a Xonar Essence ST (PCI) to replace my dead SoundBlaster X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty CE (PCI). I have also managed to find a UK based seller that stocked the H6 Extension (Daughter) board and purchased one as well. Both are on their way to me and should be arriving by the end of the week. I foresee International shipping delaying the daughter board a week or so depending on my luck.


Long story short, I've been doing a lot of reading. And I had to do a lot more before I decided between the ST and the STX. I believe everyone here is in agreement that the ST (PCI) Essence is better. While I don't understand the technicalities of why that is so, I chose the ST based on the H6 compatibility, which oddly, the STX lacks.


The reason I purchased the ST and the H6 expansion board were because of a common trend in all of the threads I read regarding the card's Digital vs Analogue ability to produce sound. The majority seems to be pointing that when it comes to surround/home theater setups, one should always go with the Analog vs. the Dolby encoded digital route. What I'd like to know is why and how that is so. Logically to me it seems that the Dolby Digitally encoded bitstream should sound better and crispier than that of the DAC counterpart, but somehow it is not.


I have a Z-5500 and for the longest time I've used it via Analog (3.5mm). And I had to go out of my way to locate an H6 board just so I can continue to utilize them in that fashion. Have I been doing the right thing all along? Or should I just ditch the H6 board and use one TOSLINK and call it a day.


I really would like to hear from the masses about this subject.


My second question, is OPAMPs, what do I need to be looking for in an OPAMP? I've been to multiple places where I am presented with hundreds of choices. How does one know what to pick? Say I just would like to buy a collection of 10 OPAMPS so I can try swapping different ones until I get the sound I want. And honestly, is it worth the trouble? Is the jump between the stock and AE that significant?

I hope I did not bore you with this long read. But I felt the necessity to explain where I'm coming from and what I'm trying to achieve to give a better understanding of my questions.


Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 7

I am in no mean an expert but this may answer your question in someway ( and at the same time bump your thread so someone with more experience can answer it)


1) the analog vs digital : Analog sound are usually warmer to individual, digital colder in sound. Difficult to explain without hearing it yourself. The subject is really subjective and has many pros and cons in both form.



• Analog sound waves are continuous, meaning there are no interruptions or breaks. Digital signals aren't continuous -- they create short bursts of sound of the correct pitch and volume and collect them together to simulate a sound wave.

• Audiophiles value a concept called fidelity, which refers to how true a recorded sound is to the original source of that sound. A high-fidelity recording should sound almost as if you were present during the original performance of the audio.

• If an audiophile tells you that a particular recording has a warm sound, it means that the medium has captured the lower frequencies faithfully.

• Ultimately, the quality of an audio recording is somewhat subjective and dependent upon the listener. Two people may hear the same recording in the same set of circumstances and yet draw different conclusions about the quality of the sound.



2) OPAMPS are usually just amplifier. Nothing to it but some of them will color the sound in a way or an other, they me be able to power Bigger set of headphone or speaker then an other one, etc...


I would check to see what available, check online to see their reliability and what ppl say of them ( sound modification, etc) and call it a day. If you dont intend to change speaker to bigger one you can buy the minimum.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks deathzero34, that definitely further adds to explaining the difference I wasn't aware that digital sound produced colder sound. I feel like I would lean more towards warmer sounds.


As for OPAMPS, I picked the follownig:


3x LME49860NA

3x AD797BR


But it seems that this is not enough. The H6 daughter board has a total of 9 OPAMPS. I've yet to figure out which ones I need to change.


I'd kindly appreciate it if someone with some knowledge about the H6 can chime in.


Here is a diagram I created to help distinguish the channels:




Any help is appreciated.

post #4 of 7

One of the reasons for going analog out of the sound card is that sound cards like the Essence ST usually come with a better DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) then what is used in self powered digital computer speakers.

I'm guessing it's safer to just one type of op-amp for replacement, maybe just use 12 LME49860NAs.

post #5 of 7

I was going to link you the thread about the opamp and the Xonar but seem like you already found it :)

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'll eventually turn this thread into an all-encompassing place for anything and everything about the ST and the H6 Daughter board. Since there aren't many people here that own it here or at least I have not ran into one yet :)


For now, the discussion is still going on over at the The Xonar Essence STX Q/A, tweaking, impressions thread.

post #7 of 7

For 5.1 surround,

I would use the Red & White (on Xonar Essence ST or Xonar HDAV 1.3) 


& for the Xonar H6


Option 1: Green (Center), Purple (Woofer), Black (Back Right), Brown (Back Left)




Option 2: Green (Center), Purple (Woofer), Gray (Side Right), Blue (Side Left)


As they will be rear speakers but in the 5.1 diagram below from THX they have the rear pc speakers showing Side Right and Side left and not Back Right and Back left. 


As I would like to have my speakers like this, according to wikipedia only 7.1 supports sides not 5.1, but the manual also says to use the Side Right & Side Left for 5.1 and only to use Back Right and Back Left for 7.1, which seems kind of weird as then if 7.1 was ever used the rear speakers would not move to the side and new ones added to the rear...



As appose to this having the speakers actually placed on your side





7.1 diagram to show side speakers as actual sides and rear as actual rear not side left/right to the rear.

Edited by HelIish - 11/11/12 at 5:35pm
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