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Upgarde from Essence ST

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I'm currently using a Xonar Essence ST + M-Stage + AH-D5000 combination that I'm looking to improve. I'm thinking of adding a separate DAC and still keep the Essence ST as a low jitter source. Still, the Essence ST is fairly good.  I've been looking at Audio-GD NFB 3 and Schiit Bifrost, but do I need to aim higher to get a definite upgrade?

post #2 of 10

Probably start with the amp, maybe even consider headphones. The ST should do for now, its a decent DAC.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your suggestion. I'm finding it hard to figure out what to upgrade first, since the soundcard, amp, and headphones seem to be pretty much at the same quality level.

post #4 of 10

I haven't heard the Mstage amp, but I've read good things about it. I think the ST is a great source, I would stick with that. Maybe get some new opamps?

 

What kind of sound would you like to have / what are you missing now? How about getting some new headphones to compliment your Denons?

post #5 of 10

Yeah, I too wanted to ask the same question. What are you looking for in the 'upgraded' sound?

And I agree with Zorg, maybe you can think about another pair of headphones, maybe something with a different signature than the Denons.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

That's a very good question. I've very happy with the overall sound signature. The headphones do have a little bit too much bass, but not too bad. I'm looking for more detail, a larger soundstage, but not too analytical. I've preciously upgraded from E-mu 0202 to the Essence ST to the Essence ST + M-Stage, and I thought those upgrades brought definitive improvement in just about every area. But perhaps, going up the ladder, improvements will not be so obvious?

post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utopia View Post

That's a very good question. I've very happy with the overall sound signature. The headphones do have a little bit too much bass, but not too bad. I'm looking for more detail, a larger sound stage, but not too analytical. I've preciously upgraded from E-mu 0202 to the Essence ST to the Essence ST + M-Stage, and I thought those upgrades brought definitive improvement in just about every area. But perhaps, going up the ladder, improvements will not be so obvious?

Switch headphones, maybe the AKG K550.

 

What audio do you listen to, music? movies? games?

 

For music, have you tried Foobar?

post #8 of 10

I'd suggest to try out different headphones first. Maybe give the Sennheiser HD7/800 a try. They are kinda analytical, but also pretty good on imaging and sound stage.

You can also try the HD650, they're a different kind. Sometimes less is more. They can bring out more detail in the mids if you're more of a relaxed listener.

But remember, 'improvements' may not always sound better, its a matter of personal taste and listening preferences.


Edited by proton007 - 7/2/12 at 11:37pm
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your feedback! For now I'll hang on to the Essence ST and try some different op-amps.

 

At some point I'm sure I will add an external DAC (I only listen to music, rock, folk, jazz, no movies or games), but it seems that I would need to spend more than $300-400. Something like a Yulong D18 would probably be significantly better, but that's quite a bit more expensive, and for now it's probably not the most cost-effective thing to do.

 

So op-amps, and maybe some open but not too analytical headphones, for now. But that's for other sections of the forum!

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Utopia View Post

Thanks for your feedback! For now I'll hang on to the Essence ST and try some different op-amps.

 

At some point I'm sure I will add an external DAC (I only listen to music, rock, folk, jazz, no movies or games), but it seems that I would need to spend more than $300-400. Something like a Yulong D18 would probably be significantly better, but that's quite a bit more expensive, and for now it's probably not the most cost-effective thing to do.

 

So op-amps, and maybe some open but not too analytical headphones, for now. But that's for other sections of the forum!

Op-amps

 

LME49990

AD797BR

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