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Audeze LCD-2 Rev. 2 with Asus Xonar Essence STX Impressions

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
--update day 2--
I think stv014 is correct.. and it isn't the lack of bass extension as much as it had been just being used to the way the HD 650s colored the sound with elevated bass. But as I said in my response to him, even the HD 650s seemed to be missing something in the low-end when running directly from the Asus ESSENCE STX as opposed to the Schiit Valhalla.

I also think another part of it has just been that I was not used to the extension to the high-end.. as the HD 650s are veiled in comparison.. but I had gotten so used to that and even learned to enjoy it quite a bit.

That being said, I'm learning to appreciate the extra detail the Audeze give me. Even if it can be just a TAD more fatiguing for my ears over a longer listening session.

I'm still looking forward to getting the Schiit Lyr though. UPS tracking says it'll arrive Monday.

--original post--
Just thought I'd post some impressions on this... since I was wondering about it myself.. before i got the Audeze.

To start off with.. I have a Schiit Lyr on the way, and I'm glad I do.
While they sound just fine straight out of the sound-card, the lack of bass extension is very evident.
Having upgraded from a pair of Sennheiser HD 650s running off a Schiit Valhalla, it feels like a slight downgrade right now.

But even then, there is a clear and noticeable improvement in the soundstage and general speed and recovery of the sound.
Playing with the EQ in the driver software for the Xonar, I created a flat, tilted slope toward the bass. Adding about 8db+ to the lowest 30hz frequency in the EQ controls to try and compensate a bit...
and it sounds pretty nice.
It really does blow me away how well they handle sub-bass notes without distortion at higher volumes. Tight and impactful without losing control.

So I'm really looking forward to hearing them with the proper voltage running through them.

All that being said... if you're planning to spend the money on these headphones... then plan to invest in a good, proper amp soon after you purchase them.
Mine arrives on Monday. =)

I'll update my impressions when my amp arrives.
Edited by asgiov - 7/13/13 at 6:26pm
post #2 of 16

I've tried those pairing as well, interested to hearing the improvement.

post #3 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by asgiov View Post

While they sound just fine straight out of the sound-card, the lack of bass extension is very evident.
Having upgraded from a pair of Sennheiser HD 650s running off a Schiit Valhalla, it feels like a slight downgrade right now.

 

There should not be any lack of bass extension, the headphone output of the card is fully DC coupled and extends to 0 Hz without any roll-off. The HD650 has somewhat boosted mid-bass compared to the LCD2, but you most likely simply did not compare the headphones at matched levels, and listened to the HD650 from the Schiit louder than the LCD2 from the STX. The perceived amount and extension of bass increases with volume.

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

There should not be any lack of bass extension, the headphone output of the card is fully DC coupled and extends to 0 Hz without any roll-off. The HD650 has somewhat boosted mid-bass compared to the LCD2, but you most likely simply did not compare the headphones at matched levels, and listened to the HD650 from the Schiit louder than the LCD2 from the STX. The perceived amount and extension of bass increases with volume.

Alright, I'll take your word for it. You're right about the Audeze not being able to get all that loud.. even on the highest GAIN setting for the sound-card.
But to my ears, even the HD 650s seems to lose something in the low-end when running straight from the sound card.
But you're right in that I might just be used to the HD 650's elevated Bass response. We'll see what happens when I get my Schiit Lyr in.
Edited by asgiov - 7/13/13 at 1:01pm
post #5 of 16

I got this soundcard originally for gaming and I have to say that it excelled at this task. Then I did a bit research on what impedance means, then one thing led to another I discovered head-fi and the world of audiophile. Then I purchased t5p and dt880 600ohm. It sounded horrible with t5p for the background hiss was just unbearable. With dt880 it was actually much better, but not as good as what a proper amp that I have now can provide.

 

All in all, it is a gaming soundcard imo :) 

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gzeminem View Post

I got this soundcard originally for gaming and I have to say that it excelled at this task. Then I did a bit research on what impedance means, then one thing led to another I discovered head-fi and the world of audiophile. Then I purchased t5p and dt880 600ohm. It sounded horrible with t5p for the background hiss was just unbearable. With dt880 it was actually much better, but not as good as what a proper amp that I have now can provide.

All in all, it is a gaming soundcard imo smily_headphones1.gif 

Yeah, the soundcard is nice for gaming because it has Dolby Headphone Surround and it is pretty good for driving headphones.

But when I got the Schiit Valhalla for my HD 650s, there was a pretty noticeable improvement in the audio quality from the headphones. More Bass impact and a better soundstage stood out to me the most.

And since the Audeze are Orthos... it isn't so much about impedance as it is about voltage output...

I don't really understand the differences myself... but that's just from what I've read.
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by gzeminem View Post

I got this soundcard originally for gaming and I have to say that it excelled at this task. Then I did a bit research on what impedance means, then one thing led to another I discovered head-fi and the world of audiophile. Then I purchased t5p and dt880 600ohm. It sounded horrible with t5p for the background hiss was just unbearable. With dt880 it was actually much better, but not as good as what a proper amp that I have now can provide.

All in all, it is a gaming soundcard imo smily_headphones1.gif 


As a gaming soundcard, one should go for the xfi creative, its the much better gaming sound card. The asus is more of a audio card.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ev13wt View Post

As a gaming soundcard, one should go for the xfi creative, its the much better gaming sound card. The asus is more of a audio card.

I think the only advantage Creative Xi-fi cards have for gaming is EQ-presets for "competitive" gaming...
But other than that.. what more do you need for gaming besides some type of surround virtualization and good sound.

I guess it depends if you prefer Dolby headphone of whatever creative uses for headphone surround.

I personally thing the Asus Xonar is still the better choice, since it had better sound overall and still has everything you need for gaming.
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by asgiov View Post

I think the only advantage Creative Xi-fi cards have for gaming is EQ-presets for "competitive" gaming...
But other than that.. what more do you need for gaming besides some type of surround virtualization and good sound.

I guess it depends if you prefer Dolby headphone of whatever creative uses for headphone surround.

I personally thing the Asus Xonar is still the better choice, since it had better sound overall and still has everything you need for gaming.

Creative does better positional audio, has a lower overhead and real EAX support (version 1 to 5).

I personally game in stereo only, all the positional stuff sounds strange to my ears. The asus lags about 200 / 250 ms in my favorite game. If I turn fast the sound lags behind, really annoying. supposedly one can turn off hardware buffering to get it down but I never figured out how to do this. I bought the creative card just because of that lag.

My gaming pc (and I actually play competitive in high div) has the x-fi and it just works better. Presets are for total nubs.

My "music server" has the asus, and it is the better card for music. I use it as a source to my stereo. The headphone amp is pretty nice too.
Edited by ev13wt - 7/13/13 at 6:28pm
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ev13wt View Post

Creative does better positional audio, has a lower overhead and real EAX support (version 1 to 5).

I personally game in stereo only, all the positional stuff sounds strange to my ears. The asus lags about 200 / 250 ms in my favorite game. If I turn fast the sound lags behind, really annoying. supposedly one can turn off hardware buffering to get it down but I never figured out how to do this. I bought the creative card just because of that lag.

My gaming pc (and I actually play competitive in high div) has the x-fi and it just works better. Presets are for total nubs.

My "music server" has the asus, and it is the better card for music. I use it as a source to my stereo. The headphone amp is pretty nice too.

I'll take your word for it. As far as EAX goes though, I don't think it's been used for quite a while now in games.
But millisecond lag is important to you for competitive gaming, then I can understand that.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by ev13wt View Post

I personally game in stereo only, all the positional stuff sounds strange to my ears. The asus lags about 200 / 250 ms in my favorite game. If I turn fast the sound lags behind, really annoying. supposedly one can turn off hardware buffering to get it down but I never figured out how to do this. I bought the creative card just because of that lag.

 

It is very likely a bug/bad implementation in the Windows drivers. The hardware itself is capable of less than 10 ms total latency (DAC + ADC) in a loopback.

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by asgiov View Post

Alright, I'll take your word for it. You're right about the Audeze not being able to get all that loud.. even on the highest GAIN setting for the sound-card.
But to my ears, even the HD 650s seems to lose something in the low-end when running straight from the sound card.

 

If the LCD-2 or the HD650 is not loud enough at high gain and 100% volume, I would be more concerned about hearing damage than the sound quality. normal_smile%20.gif

 

Again, you can only compare amplifiers reliably at matched (= measured, not just "by ear") levels, and preferably with a switchbox that allows for fast switching. Even a small volume mismatch can give the illusion of different sound (louder = "bigger", more impactful, more bass, etc.), and then there is still the issue of bias which is only allowed to be discussed on the Sound Science forum. normal_smile%20.gif

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by gzeminem View Post

Then I did a bit research on what impedance means, then one thing led to another I discovered head-fi and the world of audiophile. Then I purchased t5p and dt880 600ohm. It sounded horrible with t5p for the background hiss was just unbearable.

 

From a purely objective point of view, the amplifier on this card is better for high impedance headphones (lower distortion, lower noise, less effect of output impedance, etc.). That is, of course, except for those who need even more loudness than what it is capable of with a maximum of ~6.5-7 Vrms output voltage with no clipping.

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

If the LCD-2 or the HD650 is not loud enough at high gain and 100% volume, I would be more concerned about hearing damage than the sound quality. normal_smile%20.gif

Again, you can only compare amplifiers reliably at matched (= measured, not just "by ear") levels, and preferably with a switchbox that allows for fast switching. Even a small volume mismatch can give the illusion of different sound (louder = "bigger", more impactful, more bass, etc.), and then there is still the issue of bias which is only allowed to be discussed on the Sound Science forum. normal_smile%20.gif

Well they do get loud "enough" but it depends on the recording. Some I have to max out on the sound card.
post #15 of 16

Well, with some very quiet recordings, that might be the case. I assume you did set the gain to the "300-600 Ω" setting, though, and have all the volume controls in the Xonar Audio Center set correctly ?

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