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Xonar STX/X-Fi Titanium HD headphone/amp question...HELP I'm lost

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

So...I'm building a gaming PC, my first one. I'll be using k701 headphones. I own a GS-1 headphone amp that I'd like to incorporate into my gaming rig if possible. But I'm confused. I have zero knowledge of PC audio so any help is appreciated.


Firstly, which card is better for headphone gaming? I've read that the X-FI Titanium HD is the better choice for gaming and the Xonar Essence STX is better for music, so I was leaning towards the X-FI.


Now, X-FI doesn't have a headphone amp, does it? And I think I read if you try and use the outputs to an amp or whatever you lose all the EAX, CMSS-3D Headphone features, which is obviously a deal breaker for a gaming headphone setup if this is true.


If the Xonar was the better choice I suppose could just skip the GS-1 and use the amp built into the card, though I'm guessing the GS-1 would still be better than the soundcard amp, so I'd like to use it if possible.


Hell, I don't even know if you can use a GS-1 (or any external headphone amp) with a soundcard. Sigh.


As you can see I am totally lost. If you guys could give me some advice/guidance I would be so grateful.

post #2 of 4

The Titanium HD can output headphone surround sound thru it's RCA outputs.

So just run an RCA to RCA cable from the Titanium HD to the GS-1

I would assume the STX and Titanium HD are fairly equal for music quality.

post #3 of 4
I own and have used both cards so I can tell you a bit about them. The Xonar has a built in headphone amp while the Titanium HD does not, like you said. So if you use hard to drive headphones without a dedicated headphone amp, the Xonar is going to be better. Xonar comes with Dolby Headphone Surround so its positional sounds in games is not bad, that said CMSS is a bit better I find.

In terms if sound quality, I find the Xonar to have a stronger bass. The Titanium HD sounds softer and slightly easier on the ears while the Xonar is a bit harsher. Just to clarify I use the RCA output of both cards to a Little Dot MK III tube headphone amp, on a pair of HD650s. My Xonar has swapped LME49720NAs on the buffer stage while my Titanium HD has the TO99 LME49710HAs swapped on.

The Titanium HD does keep it's DSP features on RCA out as well as optical S/PDIF out, so you are good there. However there is one issue, the headphone port acts as a hardware output switch, if you plug in headphones to it, RCA output will be cut off and there is no way to switch output except by unplugging the headphones. So if you switch between speakers and headphones a lot then you will be plugging your headphones in and out at the back a lot, which is a pain. What I did was I got some RCA splitters and split the RCA out, one pair goes to my speakers and the other to my Headphone amp. The Xonar does not have this problem at all as you can switch between the outputs in the driver control center (it controls an actual hardware switch through software, as you hear a click on the card when you switch output).

So I'd say, if you don't use/plan to use a dedicated headphone amp, the Xonar is the better choice because of the built in amp. If you have an amp, then it comes down to your preference. If you want CMSS for games then go with the Titanium HD, just keep in mind the output switching issue. If you want stronger bass then Xonar can give you that.

BTW I was really surprised at the amount of bass that the Xonar had over the Titanium HD, especially since I swapped the opamps on the HD to TO99 ones which brings out a tighter deeper bass. Anyway good luck with you PC build! Care to share the specs?
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

You guys are awesome. I was completely lost and 2 posts and I understand. Love this community.


PurpleAngel: Thank you for the info and advice, I feel stupid that I was so lost on how to hook my amp up. I just have no experience with PC sound so I guess I was making it more confusing than it needed to be.


Jd007: Awesome info man, thanks. I'll be using my GS-1 amp to drive my K701's therefore I'm not too worried about a built in headphone amp, so I think I'm leaning towards the Titanium HD, as it seems to be a bit more suited for gaming. I don't plan on setting up speakers any time soon so I should be OK. Though I won't be using the headphone port anyways as I'll just run RCA's from the card to my amp then to my K701's, so I should be fine no matter what, right?


As for specs, here's what I've got so far:

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor 
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler
Thermal Compound: Masscool G751 Shin-Etsu 0.5g Thermal Paste 
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V LK ATX  LGA1155 Motherboard 
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory 
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk 
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 w/Window (White) ATX Mid Tower Case
Power Supply: Antec Basiq Plus 550W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply 
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer 
Keyboard: Ducky DK9087S2 Shine II Wired Standard Keyboard 

It's still in a state of flux as I figure out the individual pieces, I've bought the case and the keyboard so far, still working on everything else. I'm leaning towards a GTX 760 or HD 7950 as the GPU but I'm also considering going 1440p so I need to figure out if those cards are strong enough for that resolution; if I'm going to have to upgrade a bunch I'll prob just stick with 1080p. The system is for a bunch old(er) games I want to play on the PC, like Fallout 3 and NV with mods, Dragon Age Origins, Last Remnant, Skyrim (no texture mods, just gameplay mods), maybe the Mass Effect series, and a few other like that. I won't be playing cutting edge, graphic intensive new games like Crysis or whatever.

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