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Upgrading from Essence to Schiit

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Right now I'm running an Essence ST with Grado 225is and am looking to upgrade and finally put together a more complete setup.

 

I'm currently considering the Schiit Asgard or Valhalla and eventually a Bifrost. I'm also considering a headphone upgrade such as the Grado PS500.

 

Before I make any major decisions, I'm wondering what type of upgrade I can expect? Going from my onboard sound with Sennheiser gaming headphones to my current setup was a massive improvement that I thoroughly enjoyed. I suspect that this upgrade will feel smaller and I'm OK with that, but I'm also hoping that such an investment would return a noticeably improved sound.

 

I guess I'm just now sure what to expect upgrading from the Essence. Any input?

post #2 of 4

I upgraded from Essence ST + K701 to Essence ST + Matrix M-Stage + K701 and was very happy with that upgrade. 

 
Before I actually got the amp I wasn't sure if I had wasted my money, since I had read favorable reviews of the Essence ST + K701 combination, which was why I initially bought it. 
 
When I added the M-Stage it only took seconds for me to start grinning with relief. The improved sound quality was very obvious, more dynamic, more spacious. I later added a class A mod and a different opamp, which I honestly didn't find to be a big improvement – the move from the Essence to the M-Stage was huge by comparison (of course it's two completely different amps). 
 
So in my experience the Essence has a great headphone amp for a soundcard, but it's really the DAC section that is its strongest part. I haven't heard any of the Schiit amps and can't comment on them, but it seems to me that you are on the right track. The Essence should be great with an external amp that matches your Grados.
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks, basically what I was hoping for. Think I've settled on a new pair of cans, but they are pricey enough that the new amp may have to wait for now. At least they should be passable on the STX, and I can remain antsy to hear the difference once the amp is upgraded as well.

post #4 of 4

The Essence ST headphone jack has an impedance of 10-Ohm, which is fine for headphones that are around 80-Ohms or higher.

But your Grado 225I is only 32-Ohm, so a headphone amplifier that has an impedance of 4-Ohm or lower would be preferred.

Do you use the Essence ST for movies or gaming? or anytrhing else that uses surround sound?

If you need surround sound, sell off the Essence ST and get a (used $55) Xonar DX or D1, same audio processor as the ST (&STX).

You can use the leftover cash from the sale of the Essence STX towards an external headphone amplifier with a low impedance.

O2 (Obective 2) or Matrix M-Stage?

A Fiio E11 portable headphone amplifer ($65)with it's low impedance might make the 225I sing better then the Essence ST?

 

If all you need is stereo (2-channel) audio, then an external DAC might be better, for use with an external headphone amp.

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