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Better external dac+amp than Essence STX - Page 3

post #31 of 54
Thread Starter 

Personally I'm veering towards the SBZ for the time being.

 

Cheapish soundcard (of choice) > SPDIF> Audio_GD 15 = at least approaching audio nirvana on a decent budget.


Edited by SaLX - 10/15/13 at 12:43pm
post #32 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post
 

 

One thing I find somewhat worrying about the Magni is that some people reported radio interference with it (and by that I mean it can basically turn into a radio receiver), and that depends on the output cable, that is, the "radio reception" often only appears when using a headphone extension cord. This could indicate a lack of adequate RF filtering, or even stability issues (because of the problem being triggered by changes to the headphone cable, which presents a capacitive load in the RF range). However, I do not have the Magni to test this, so I do not want to discourage anyone from buying what might be a great product at an affordable price, but I thought this curious - even if probably rare - issue could be worth mentioning.

 

i have a schiit magni running out of a Titanium HD and can't say i have ever heard radio feedback threw it. maybe with a cheap headphone cable or possibly damaged, but mines never done anything like that and i tried the extension cable that came with my Siberia v2 headset (after reading this post) and could not get radio interference to play threw it. even close to the receiver nothing.


Edited by Honkytime - 10/1/13 at 8:11pm
post #33 of 54
Thread Starter 

I discounted my very old Creative Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Gamer Fatal1ty Pro (with X RAM lol) that I used many moons ago with my AD700's (they fell to bits).

 

http://www.techwarelabs.com/reviews/audio/Creative_X-FI_FATAL1TY_sound_card/index.shtml

 

Stereo SPDIF out using a TOSLINK adaptor ought to do it. Should I upgrade to the SBZ (or cheap/midrange Xonar) or has this card been outclassed?

post #34 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaLX View Post
 

I discounted my very old Creative Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Gamer Fatal1ty Pro (with X RAM lol) that I used many moons ago with my AD700's (they fell to bits).

 

http://www.techwarelabs.com/reviews/audio/Creative_X-FI_FATAL1TY_sound_card/index.shtml

 

Stereo SPDIF out using a TOSLINK adaptor ought to do it. Should I upgrade to the SBZ (or cheap/midrange Xonar) or has this card been outclassed?

I would think you could get away using the Xtreme Gamer.

post #35 of 54
Thread Starter 

Never ever have I connected anything out of my soundcard via optical. How much of a soundcard's software becomes unusable after using SPDIF out (ie DSP and EQ and everything else)? For instance the Xonar, Creative or new Creative SB control panels.


Edited by SaLX - 10/4/13 at 10:10pm
post #36 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaLX View Post
 

Never ever have I connected anything out of my sound card via optical. How much of a sound card's software becomes unusable after using PDIF out?

I believe with the Titanium, functions the same for optical (headphone wise) as it would for an analog connection.

post #37 of 54
Thread Starter 

Wish I could pin you guys down on this and get you to say: A is definitely better than B. I hugely appreciate that you can't give a definitive answer .


Anyway.. I want to go for the new SBX Pro Studio tech over CMSS-3D and Dolby Headphone. Read a lot on it - it looks superior TBH, at least for PC gaming; and benbenkr nailed it in his summation.  Having decided on the surround format I want (ok - maybe a weird way to look at it) and having listened to the Philips Fidelio X1, I've nailed my options down so far (surround/positional plus great stereo music):


1. Creative Soundblaster Z > Optical out for surround > Audio_GD NFB 15 DAC/AMP series > Fidelio X1 headphones (Avoiding any impedance issues - the X1 is 30 Ohms and the GD is very low). More expensive than below, not by that much surprisingly. Versatile.


2. Creative Soundblaster ZxR (almost within 2 ball hair's widths as good as an STX - but superior gaming features, outputs and an ACM paperweight thing) > direct > Fidelio X1 headphones. (Small or very small impedance issues).

 

Anecdotally works very well - http://www.overclock.net/t/1337761/creative-sound-blaster-z-zx-zxr-series/460). Also for the STX and X1 (almost the same thing): http://www.head-fi.org/t/623013/new-philips-fidelio-x1/2415#post_9709720). Not many anecdotes though at the end of the day.


Doesn't work - wish it did:


3. Creative Soundblaster Z > RCA Out > External Amplifier like the O2 or Magni (avoiding the inbuilt soundcard's headphone amplifier and a cheaper solution as they are just amps). Very low impedance using the ext amp.  As far as I've read, the RCA out in this config uses a different algorithm for surround - if you want headphone out it still models speakers -  so if you ask it to do headphones you're out of luck. The Titanium HD, it would appear does RCA/Headphone correctly?


Edited by SaLX - 10/15/13 at 12:44pm
post #38 of 54
I can't tell you what is definitely better. If it was for me, I'd go with option 1. I like the versatility of being able to use an external dac/amp with multiple devices. I also wouldn't be wild about adding two cards into my PC for the ZxR. And aesthetically, I prefer the NFB-15.1 look to the big knob thing that comes with the ZxR.
post #39 of 54
Thread Starter 

Then I just have to go and read this post by Alydon (near top): http://www.head-fi.org/t/400417/upgrade-to-xonar-essence-or-buy-headphone-amp/60

post #40 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaLX View Post
 

Wish I could pin you guys down on this and get you to say: A is definitely better than B. I hugely appreciate that you can't give a definitive answer .


1. Creative Soundblaster Z > Optical out for surround > Audio_GD NFB 15 DAC/AMP series > Fidelio X1 headphones (Avoiding any impedance issues - the X1 is 30 Ohms and the GD is very low). More expensive than below, not by that much surprisingly. Versatile.


2. Creative Soundblaster ZxR (almost within 2 ball hair's widths as good as an STX - but superior gaming features, outputs and an ACM paperweight thing) > direct > Fidelio X1 headphones. (Small or very small impedance issues).

 

3. Creative Soundblaster Z > RCA Out > External Amplifier like the O2 or Magni

Just get the Sound Blaster Z (SB1500) and the Philips Fidelio, plug the Fidelio into the Z's headphone jack, should be fine for gaming.

 

You also have the future option of getting an external amplifier (Schiit Magni), plug it into the SB-Zs front speaker jack for listening to music.

post #41 of 54
Thread Starter 

Purple, the output impedance of the SBZ is 20 Ohms or so. Fidelio is 30. Stretching it a bit I suppose. Anyway will be biting the bullet in few weeks. Am looking to spend a decent amount of money on the source. The Audio_GD NFB 11 looks more attractive after reading up on it. Again thanks all.

post #42 of 54
Quote:

Originally Posted by Musicalrebel View Post

 

The Xonar is picking up interference from the PC through a 3.5mm to phono jack set up. I do game (BF3 and L4D2) and I use FLAC increasingly. I have been thinking about going to an Essence STX2 as the shielded part should help. But a DAC with a Spdif input would allow me to keep the existing Sound Card.

 

Do you also get interference if you use the sound card to drive headphones directly (connecting them to the output jack on the rear of the card), with nothing else connected to it ? If skipping any external amplification removes the noise completely, then the problem is most likely caused by a ground loop, and the shielding on the STX would not help. Isolation from the PC (such as an external DAC with optical S/PDIF input) or not using a grounded external amplifier would fix the noise in this case.

post #43 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaLX View Post
 

Purple, the output impedance of the SBZ is 20 Ohms or so. Fidelio is 30. Stretching it a bit I suppose. Anyway will be biting the bullet in few weeks. Am looking to spend a decent amount of money on the source. The Audio_GD NFB 11 looks more attractive after reading up on it. Again thanks all.

If your willing to spend the cash, go for it.

 

Maybe get the Audio_GD NFB 11 and plug it into the Xtreme Gamer for now, see how you like it for gaming, then sometime in the future (days, weeks, months) buy the SB-Z.

You could start up a thread for comparing the Xtreme Gamer to the SB-Z.

post #44 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaLX View Post
 

Any thoughts on amplified headphone out to an low impedance external amp? I know the RCA's are preferred due to cleaner signal (and Creatives can output surround this way).

 

It can work (use the "64-300 Ω" gain setting, with 4-5 dB less than maximum volume to approximately match the level of the RCA outputs), but it would be somewhat of a waste, and in terms of measured performance even a (probably inaudible) downgrade from the line output of a cheaper card. For those who still want it, the "double amping" approach would work best with a low gain external amplifier, such as the O2 with 1x gain (this can be achieved by clipping two resistors), and the headphone output of the Xonar run at a relatively high level.

post #45 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaLX View Post
 

Purple, the output impedance of the SBZ is 20 Ohms or so. Fidelio is 30. Stretching it a bit I suppose. Anyway will be biting the bullet in few weeks. Am looking to spend a decent amount of money on the source. The Audio_GD NFB 11 looks more attractive after reading up on it. Again thanks all.

 

If you are already set on getting the Audio-GD, then it is probably best to just buy it, and use it on the S/PDIF output of the cheapest sound card that has the gaming features you want.

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