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Newbie question: Upgrade from Asus Xonar DX to HT | Omega Claro Halo or Xonar Essence ST/STX?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

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 soundcard 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.

post #2 of 11

What makes you think your DAC is not already a great choice?  Do you hear hiss or excessive PC noise when you listen to your setup?  Do you hear skipping when listening to ripped music?  With the volume all of the way down do you hear any noise?  With the volume at 50% and no music playing do you hear any noise?  If the answers to those questions is no then the DAC you already have is doing just fine.

 

What type of sound signature do you prefer or want to have in the future?

 

More bass?

 

Better mids?

 

More laid back?

 

More up-front?

 

More treble?

 

Quicker transients?

 

There is a good chance that what you have is just fine and you may just want to experience a different headphone.  Perhaps the Sony XB-500 and the beyer DT990 would be a good start.  They are on the two extremes, but keep a quality sound signature.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

I have no issues with what I have now. Recently though I had audio problems where the right channel did not function correctly but it was fixed by updating drivers. Other than that, it's doing fine for me. I want to know how large (or small) the improved noticeable difference is to justify the cost. I would upgrade if there is a day and night noticeable difference with what I currently have.

post #4 of 11

Your sound card already has a fairly good DAC, and if you are not experiencing any interference issues, and do not want to use the built-in TPA6120 headphone amplifier (which, for many headphones, is a downgrade from the O2) of the more expensive cards either, then the upgrade might not be worth it. In fact, the new DAC may not even make an audible difference under properly controlled conditions (matched levels, etc.), based on measurements of the Xonar D1 (PCI version of your current sound card), and some limited blind testing.

Upgrading your headphones from the DT770 Pro 80 Ω would make by far the most difference.


Edited by stv014 - 10/30/12 at 3:21pm
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth3si View Post

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.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

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.

 

 

Can I digitally connect via optical?

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth3si View Post

 

Can I digitally connect via optical?

Optical, coaxial and USB are digital only connects.

So yes, to your question.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

also yes to 2-channel audio (music?)

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth3si View Post

also yes to 2-channel audio (music?)

S/PDIF (optical & coaxial) can pass 2-channels of PCM (uncompressed) digital audio or up to 6-channels of compressed digital audio.

DDL (Dolby Digital live) or DTS-connect are used to compress and then decompress digital audio

 

USB usually carries two channels of PCM digital audio.

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

S/PDIF (optical & coaxial) can pass 2-channels of PCM (uncompressed) digital audio or up to 6-channels of compressed digital audio.

DDL (Dolby Digital live) or DTS-connect are used to compress and then decompress digital audio

 

USB usually carries two channels of PCM digital audio.

 

what if the source is compressed mp3s?
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth3si View Post

 

what if the source is compressed mp3s?

Mp3s are 2-channel audio, so no reason to compress them.

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