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DAC question, E17 vs ODAC vs Modi vs STX

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

Hi guys, I have a quick question that I was hoping some of you guys can shed some light upon.  I'm currently in the process of helping my cousin find a good dac upgrade to his current system.  He is currently using an Asus Xonar STX soundcard, and while he is happy with it, he is looking for an affordable upgrade if the improvements are worth it.  His current headphones is a pair of DT880 600ohm and Sennheiser HD598s.  He is planning on possibly picking up a tube amp or hybrid amp later on, so for the time being he is looking for a DAC upgrade over the STX.  The choices that we currently have narrowed down to are:

 

Fiio E17 (seems to be the only one in this range that can do 24/192 via optical)

ODAC

Modi

 

Have any of you guys used these along with the Xonar STX and can verify whether or not the improvement (if there is one) is worth it?  We are also highly considering the E17 for its optical capabilities but not sure how well the wolfson chip stacks up against the AKM and ESS9023.

 

Thanks guys!

post #2 of 2

Does he use the PC for music? movies? gaming?

If the STX is used for music only, sell off the STX and use the cash towards an external DAC and amp.

The ODAC and Modi are USB DACs, so they bypass sound cards, which is fine if all you need is 2-channel stereo audio for music.

 

The E17 S/PDIF (optical or coaxial) input will allow you to use the motherboard's built in audio features.

 

You have a fairly good DAC chip (PCM1792A) in the Essence STX.

A cheaper way to improve/change the audio while using the STX is to replace the op-amp (operational amplifiers) in the Essence STX, maybe get the AD797BR op-amps or LME49990 op-amps.

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