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Xonar essence stx or a dedicated DAC/amp combo for low impedance headphones?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi guys, I'm new here and not quite sure what forums I should be asking this in, however I couldn't find any thread similar to my problem.

 

I plan on picking up a pair of Ultrasone 780 from amazon for around $150..

 

I plan on getting a sound card or a separate DAC/amp combo, my budget is around $200.

 

I really only care about music here 100%, and I mainly listen to Trance, House, Progressive, and similar Electronica..

 

From my understanding I already have decent onboard audio chip, SupremeAudioFX III (Maximus Gene V). Realtek chip ALC898, SNR 110db. So how much of an upgrade would the Xonar be?

 

So for someone who is interested in great sound quality, audiophile ;P, what would you guys recommend?

post #2 of 11

Both the Asus Xonar Essence STX and the Creative X-Fi Titanium HD are excellent soundcards. At stock, the Essence STX is neutral leaning towards brightness while the Titanium HD is neutral leaning slightly towards warmth. Overall, both cards are great, varying in sound signature and features. Sound quality wise, they're on the same level.

 

Both are a noticeable step above onboard audio chips.

 

EDIT: You might prefer the Titanium HD due to a slightly stronger bass presence that doesn't bleed into the rest of the frequency range, which for EDM is desirable.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thankyou very much for your quick response! I will probably go for the Titanium HD then if I choose the sound card route, thankyou!
 

post #4 of 11

At the price point you've specified, it makes more sense to get an internal soundcard rather than an external DAC because you basically need to spend two to three times more on an external DAC in order to match a soundcard like the Titanium HD.

 

Another thing. While the Ultrasone HFI-780 are easy to drive and will sound quite nice from the Titanium HD, you might want to consider, further down the line, getting a headphone amp like an O2 or a Schiit Asgard. It will improve slightly the HFI-780 (slightly, because they're already easy to drive and don't benefit that much from additional amplification), and will make your setup capable of driving all but the most power hungry headphones.

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

How does the DAC of the Titanium compare to say, Fiio E17?
 

post #6 of 11

The Titanium HD has a better DAC than the E17's DAC section.

 

The E17 would be a good option if you required portability, though, but that would come at the expense of sound quality.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thankyou for clearing up everything for me, Roller. I will heed your advice.

 

/Thread.

post #8 of 11

Be careful,

 

The output impedance of the STX/ST is 10ohms. That is not horrible but it's not very good either. Output Impedance should be as close to 0 as possible. With 32ohms headphones you will have a lessened bass response.

 

Not sure what Output impedance of the Titanium HD is

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bojamijams View Post
Not sure what Output impedance of the Titanium HD is

 

35.6 Ω according to goldenears.net. If true, it may explain why the Titanium HD allegedly has a "warmer" sound with more bass.

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Yea. I was thinking of going with a cheaper sound card and just getting an amp, maybe the Fiio 11 or objective 2 amp for best SQ.

post #11 of 11

Your Ultrasone HFI-780 headphones are only 35-Ohms.

So you want to use an amplifier with at least 8 times less impedance, like an amplifier the is about 3.4-Ohms or less.

(Impedance is resistance, measured in Ohms).

a sound cards headphone jack can have anywhere from a 10-Ohm to 100-Ohm.

Chances are the on-board audio on your motherboard will have a high impedance at the headphone jack.

Portables like the O2 (Objective 2), Fiio E7, E10, E11 & E17 will have less then 1-Ohm.

 

Right now the Fiio E10 USB-DAC-Head amp. is only $44.50 at Adorama.

http://www.adorama.com/FIE10.html

 

Fiio is just comes out with an improved E7, called the E07K, I'm guessing it's around $100, give or take (hopefully under $100, best guess).

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