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X-FI HD vs Fiio E10

Poll Results: which is a better DAC for under $100?

 
  • 15% (3)
    Creative X-FI HD (USB)
  • 63% (12)
    Fiio E10
  • 21% (4)
    other
19 Total Votes  
post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
first of all, i used to own a Creative Titanium X-FI HD(PCI-E) and the sound from it is phenomenal.

unfortunately, my computer died(i updated the Bios on my MSI Z68A-GD65 G3 to P0 and it wont boot anymore and after that, i sold my CPU and stuff and get myself a laptop)


the sound quality coming out from the headphone jack from my laptop is unacceptable for me and want to upgrade to have a better sound quality.


i am currently using an Ultimate Ears TripleFI 10 which according to the internet is a very high quality ear buds


i am looking at getting either a

Creative X-FI HD (USB) which would cost me about $80 shipped


or

Fiio E10 which would cost me about $70 shipped


i am also open to other suggestion you have (preferably under $100)



i was initially leaning towards the X-FI HD (USB) and found good opinions about it, but the problem is that those are just opinions and no concrete testing of the two being compared

like this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by firev1 View Post

Mainly the E10 and Emu labs 0204. The 0204 has less connectivity(I need the optical out) but has better measurements. The E10 has a very nice headphone amp, which would be my recommendation if you are not connecting anything else to it. Otherwise its the X-fi HD which best the E10 in almost everyway especially if you use it with a competent amp.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

You would do good to get the X-Fi HD, as it is a higher quality DAC, and when you get harder to drive headphones, just add an headphone amp to the chain and you'll be all set.


i was almost certain that X-FI HD is the one i want to get but then i came across this guy who has an Fiio E7 and Creative X-FI HD (USB) and this is that he says
Quote:
Well, I want to post some updated impressions of the Fiio E7 vs. X-FI HD USB. Originally I had found that there was a vast improvement in listening to the E7 over headphones. However, when I went back and thought about it, the discrepancy just seemed to large between these products. So I started again.

This time I used the album Paper Airplane by Alison Krauss and Union Station. Instead of Fidelia on Mac I used Foobar2000 running through ASIO4ALL on Windows 7. After running back and forth a few times I can say that my impressions are the same, but on a much smaller scale. The E7 is definitely a bit more open and detailed, but the difference wasn't huge. The X-Fi HD lost the muffled quality I heard before and was much clearer and enjoyable. In fact I found that the X-Fi was a bit warmer with a slightly better base response.

Given this second run I would say that the two devices don't necessarily sound better than one another, but just different. I think I prefer the slightly crisper sound of the E7, but not so much that I would stop using the X-Fi. Besides the X-Fi does so much more and can actually be used as a preamp. In any case, these are still just my impressions based on a rather unscientific test. I just thought I'd update things though.
source: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1326183/budget-dac-for-new-users/30#post_20380313



so now, i have conflicting informations confused_face_2.gif


based on my research, Fiio E10 is Better than Fiio E7 and i think most people would agree with that.

the problem is that, i coudn't see anyone comparing Fiio E10 and X-FI HD


people say that X-FI HD has better DAC than Fiio E10, if that is true. Then how come Fiio E7 sounds better than X-FI HD? confused.gif


also, what model of DAC is present on the Fiio E10 and X-FI HD (USB)?



i am not a volume freak and always prefer to listen at low volume, in fact the onboard sound on my laptop just gives me volume just fine so Amplifier is not really an issue.

i also DO NOT need any software features like CMSS 3D, EAX, THX, SRS, etc...


which stuff should i get?
Edited by raclimja - 8/4/12 at 10:19am
post #2 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by raclimja View Post

people say that X-FI HD has better DAC than Fiio E10, if that is true. Then how come Fiio E7 sounds better than X-FI HD? confused.gif
also, what model of DAC is present on the Fiio E10 and X-FI HD (USB)?
i am not a volume freak and always prefer to listen at low volume, in fact the onboard sound on my laptop just gives me volume just fine so Amplifier is not really an issue.
i also DO NOT need any software features like CMSS 3D, EAX, THX, SRS, etc...
which stuff should i get?

I can't remember the dac on it (a picture is available somewhere on head-fi, and on the first page of the linked review you posted) but overall if you are looking for a DAC without the amp at this moment, I suggest you get the E10. If you are getting an amp, look no further than the X-Fi HD(or better still, a ODAC with O2).

 

The problem is that the X-Fi HD headphone outputs appear to be the same as the RCA outs and thus was never meant to drive headphones, headphones out is harsh on my TF10s but somewhat tolerable(and still better than my computer out on my shure 840s). I agree with the other reviewer you mention: the E10 will blow the X-Fi HD in terms of headphones out since Creative is stupid to use the same output buffers for the headphone out and rca out. 

 

Comparing DAC to DAC section(not the headphone outputs) the X-Fi HD is definitely better but requires the user to resample(via Foobar or whatever player) music to 24/96 to get the best out of it(I did some measuring and subsequent listening test). The DAC of the X-Fi HD measures a better than both E7 and E10 fyi. 


Edited by firev1 - 8/4/12 at 10:54am
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by firev1 View Post

I can't remember the dac on it (a picture is available somewhere on head-fi, and on the first page of the linked review you posted) but overall if you are looking for a DAC without the amp at this moment, I suggest you get the E10.

Comparing DAC to DAC section(not the headphone outputs) the X-Fi HD is definitely better but requires the user to resample(via Foobar or whatever player) music to 24/96 to get the best out of it(I did some measuring and subsequent listening test). The DAC of the X-Fi HD measures a better than both E7 and E10 fyi

if the X-FI HD has better dac, then why would you recommend the E10 instead? confused.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by firev1 View Post

The problem is that the X-Fi HD headphone outputs appear to be the same as the RCA outs and thus was never meant to drive headphones, headphones out is harsh on my TF10s but somewhat tolerable(and still better than my computer out on my shure 840s). But the E10 will blow the X-Fi HD in terms of headphones out since Creative is stupid to use the same output buffers for the headphone out and rca out.


so does that mean the Fiio E10 PRODUCE BETTER sound quality compared to X-FI HD?

also, if i did get the X-FI HD, you said i need to resample it to 24/96 on the program called Foobar. how about if i play Games or watch Videos on the internet and stuff. Does that mean I AM NOT getting The 24/96?
post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by raclimja View Post


if the X-FI HD has better dac, then why would you recommend the E10 instead? confused.gif
so does that mean the Fiio E10 PRODUCE BETTER sound quality compared to X-FI HD?
also, if i did get the X-FI HD, you said i need to resample it to 24/96 on the program called Foobar. how about if i play Games or watch Videos on the internet and stuff. Does that mean I AM NOT getting The 24/96?

I recommended the E10 since it would match better with your TF10 without an external amplifier.

 

E10 has a inbuilt headphone amplifier so its a DAC+amp which is optimised for running headphones

X-Fi HD is more like a DAC only device, it does not play well with headphones and requires a headphone amp to get decent sound with headphones but it is great with amps or speakers.

 

 

In videos at least, output is usually 48khz which goes within the optimum performance range of the X-Fi HD, not too sure about the games, though I have no trouble with FPS so far. 

post #5 of 18

The DAC used in the E10 is the WM8740, which I believe is better then the E7s.

I would also "guess" the op-amp & headphone amplifier in the E10 is better then the E7's.

Fiio portable amplifiers come with very low impedance, which is a positive for driving low Ohm headphones.

I would "guess" the Creative X-Fi HD USB does not have the same low impedance.

So I vote get the Fiio E10.

post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
i am getting confused confused_face_2.gif


can you guys clarify these things?

my understanding is that

Amplifier = used to raise volume and has NOTHING TO DO with sound clarity and sound signature

DAC = Affects the sound clarity while converting digital to analog signal

OP AMP = Affects sound signature

Caps or Capacitor = Affects the the sound clarity


ive owned alot of phones like (Samsung Galaxy S Fascinate, Samsung Epic 4G Touch, Motorola Droid X2, Motorola Droid Razr, HTC Rezound, etc...)

the thing that stands out for those devices is its DAC (mainly Wolfson) and i could hear the difference clearly


i also owned quite a few Internal sound card such as Creative Live!, Asus Xonar DX, Titanium X-FI HD and the thing that stands out from those are their OP AMP



so my question is, why does the Amplifier so significant?


i also read reviews of people claiming that X-FI HD (USB) is able to drive an 80 impedance Headphones so if that is the case, then is it logical to think that it wont break any sweat driving something lower?


i looked up on google and found out that my current earbuds (Ultimate Ears TripleFi 10) only has 32 impedance


Did i misunderstood things?
post #7 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by raclimja View Post
Did i misunderstood things?

To put it simply, yes. The amplifier circuit in the case of the E7/ E10 is made with headphones in mind, and sports low impedance headphone outputs which are stable into most headphone loads.

 

However this is not the case with the X-fi HD or Xonar DX even, the amplifier driving the headphone outputs are either poorly made(high impedance) or in the X-fi HD's case, is identical to RCA output which results in distortion when driving low impedance headphones and balanced armatures(like the TF10).

 

Just to clarify your understanding of things

Amplifier = Used to raise volume, and for those built with headphones in mind, usually used as a low impedance buffer to ensure low distortion with headphones

 

DAC = The chip itself does not matter, its how it goes with the rest of the circuit including the amplifier, that is why Iphone 4 is pretty good with headphones as well even if it does use a Cirrus chip. The reason why wolfson chips sound better because the company employing them will make sure they sound good in the first place compared to companies which employ random chips.

 

OP amp = it is a integrated chip that is usually part of a amplifier circuit, the most high end amplifiers usually do not use opamps but discrete circuits. Like  a DAC chip, opamps really more on proper implementation than the actual opamp used.

 

Caps= no comment here really, in a really good properly designed amplifier audiophile caps make less difference, some brands are indeed better than others though.

 

Edit: X-fi HD is mostly a outdated component for most of the part anyway, there is the ODAC and E17, which imo are much better options now.  But again, an ODAC needs a external amp and the E17 is more expensive somewhat($139).


Edited by firev1 - 8/4/12 at 8:34pm
post #8 of 18

There's a whole lot more to sound quality than what parts are used...

 

I get a feeling like the X-Fi HD USB could be better, but I wouldn't chance getting one.  The E10 is known to have low noise (but not extraordinarily low) and low output impedance, which are the critical performance factors for running sensitive balanced-armature IEMs like the ones you have.  Less is known about the X-Fi HD.  Maybe it has some weird sample rate shenanigans or driver issues like some Creative stuff.

 

The X-Fi HD has a JRC4556 on the board, which is most probably for driving headphones (which it can do), which by itself means that it could have low output impedance.  But the Titanium HD also has the same chip, yet that has been reported elsewhere to have an output impedance of about 36 ohms, which would be a terrible idea for running those IEMs.  Check the table here.  As for the X-Fi HD, who knows?

 

pictures and partial parts breakdown for X-Fi HD

a few pictures of X-Fi Titanium HD (check 3rd picture to find JRC4556)

 

So I recommend taking the safe route with the E10.

post #9 of 18

just buy some used topping D2. it wil be around 110$. it sounds great.

post #10 of 18

it has good dac, headphone amp, usb input, coax input, optical input, analog input (RCA). include headphone amp too. i just bought mine a few days ago and quite satisfied with it.

post #11 of 18

The recommendation of the E10 in this thread seems to be based on the sole assumption that the X-Fi HD doesn't have a headphone amp whereas the E10 does. Well, the main feature of the X-Fi HD over the normal X-Fi is that it has a Phono-amp with "studio quality" headphone output. Now what? I have both for testing, and while I think the E10 may be a little more accurate and less noisy, it is mostly rendered moot by the very noticeably more limited range (which can create a slightly harsh, metallic impression on its own). The thing is that while the E10 might (possibly) have (some) better characteristics, the Xi-Fi HD offers a far more full and satisfying overall picture. Both seem to be somewhat lacking, though I have no objective data whatsoever to back up either impression.


Edited by Phelix - 11/22/12 at 1:58am
post #12 of 18

If I recall correctly, the X-Fi HD USB does not have hardware support for 44.1/88.2/176.4 kHz sample rates, so it requires software resampling for CD format audio - not necessarily a problem with a good converter like the SoX resampler plugin for foobar2000, but might be worth noting. It is also said to be using NJM4556 output buffers (like many other devices by Creative), which is perfectly fine for driving both headphone and line outputs. A potential problem is that it may possibly have fairly high output impedance (although the NJM4556 does not require that, the resistors may still be there anyway, e.g. for short circuit protection), and Creative also seems to like putting small (<= 220 uF) capacitors on the output. These could result in degraded bass performance.

 

The E10 does use the WM8740, which is a decent DAC chip, but FiiO's implementation does not quite get the best possible performance out of it. The headphone amplifier is an AD8397 op amp similarly to the E11, but the maximum output power is slightly lower, and the E10 does not use a virtual ground.

 

The Xonar D1/DX front channel output is driven by an NJM5532 through a 100 Ω resistor and 220 uF capacitor. The op amp itself does not have significant distortion with any load, but the high output impedance can be an issue.

 

I do not know what headphone amplifier is on the Titanium HD, but I would guess it is Creative's usual SMT version NJM4556. It has been measured by goldenears.net to have a ~36 Ω output impedance.

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phelix View Post

The recommendation of the E10 in this thread seems to be based on the sole assumption that the X-Fi HD doesn't have a headphone amp whereas the E10 does. Well, the main feature of the X-Fi HD over the normal X-Fi is that it has a Phono-amp with "studio quality" headphone output. Now what? I have both for testing, and while I think the E10 may be a little more accurate and less noisy, it is mostly rendered moot by the very noticeably more limited range (which can create a slightly harsh, metallic impression on its own). The thing is that while the E10 might (possibly) have (some) better characteristics, the Xi-Fi HD offers a far more full and satisfying overall picture. Both seem to be somewhat lacking, though I have no objective data whatsoever to back up either impression.

 

If the X-Fi HD sounds more "full" with full size dynamic headphones, then it could have high output impedance, but maybe you simply listened to it at a higher level. If it is audibly noisy, that does not look good for use with IEMs.

post #14 of 18

It has low output impedance and it sounds perfectly fine. Nothing sounds wrong, I'm merely evaluating the quality of certain characteristics, although the overall impression is perfectly good. Saying it might be slightly more noisy or less accurate than the E10 doesn't mean it's audibly noisy. Just that in comparison with all its good or excellent features, it might be falling short in some characteristics in direct comparison, although (and that was the point of my disclaimer) that may be altogether differently constituted and have nothing to do with noise level. The E10 is more punchy (peaked) and probably voices are a little more easily intelligible, but I also hear less detail and it doesn't have the ear-enclosing fullness of real sound, if you know what I mean. I don't know about sample rates but I doubt it's very much different from most USB devices, and I have read a review where there is only one exception mentioned (I think 88kHz)


Edited by Phelix - 11/22/12 at 8:06am
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phelix View Post

It has low output impedance and it sounds perfectly fine. Nothing sounds wrong, I'm merely evaluating the quality of certain characteristics, although the overall impression is perfectly good. Saying it might be less noisy or less accurate than the E10 doesn't mean it's audibly noisy.

 

What is the output impedance exactly ? Is it available somewhere, or did you measure it ?

 

If you do not hear any noise on the X-Fi HD, how do you know it is noisier than the E10 ? Is it based on the specs or measurements ?

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