Originally Posted by Stealth3si
Which one to upgrade?
What I currently use is:
Headphone: Beyerdynamics DT-770 Pro-80
External headphone amp: O2 Desktop Amp
Sound Card: Asus Xonar DX
Home Theatre 5.1 System: Denon AVR 1712, Pioneer BS41, C21, BS21, SVS PC12-NSD
What I do is:
On Headphone: 85% PC music, 15% PC games
On Home Theatre 5.1 System: 75% movies from WDTV Live, 15% PC games, 10% music from either PC or from WDTV Live
What I want is:
A.) Sound card with better internal DAC
B.) The GUI software that comes with the sound card which has equalization, bass reflex, Dolby headphone, virtual 5.1
C.) Optical Out to dedicated amp/receiver for games (and music.)
D.) Stock Opamps.
What I know is:
HT | Omega Claro Halo and Xonar Essence ST/STX are very similar but what is the difference that gives one card an advantage over the other in terms of what I do as mentioned above.
Which is a better product that I can discern a noticeable sound difference between the HT | Omega Claro Halo or Xonar Essence ST/STX and whether the Halo or ST produces the most improvements SQ-wise according to what I do as described above.
The best quality audio for the computer to feed the Denon would be HDMI, so if you current graphics card (which is?) does not come with HDMI, upgrade to one that does.
HDMI can pass full Blu-ray 7.1 (8-channel) uncompressed 24-bit/192Khz audio, while optical is limited to 5.1 (6-channel) of compressed 24-bit/48Khz audio.
When your using optical from sound card to receiver (Denon), the sound card's DAC is not even being used, so upgrading the sound card would not improve audio quality (to Denon)
The Xonar DX, D1, Essence ST(X) and HT Omega Claro Halo all use the same C-Media CMI8788 audio processor, so another reason not to upgrade sound card.
One way that might improve 2-channel audio (music) to the Denon is an analog connect between the Xonar DX and Denon, the Xonar DX might have a better DAC then the Denon.
The Xonar DX's DAC chip, the CS4398 seems to be well liked, so maybe spending $200 on an external add-on DAC might be worth it, but that would not provide surround sound to the Denon.
To me, the best updates wound be.
Get the free "Unified Xonar Drivers" from the website Brainbit.
Use the free program Foobar2000 for music.
Get an HDMI connection between the computer and the Denon.
Upgrade the headphones, I like the DT770s, but there are better headphones, like the Beyer DT880 Pro 250.