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Better external dac+amp than Essence STX - Page 4

post #46 of 54
Thread Starter 

Thanks all for the replies stv, cel and purple, The SBZ has all the DSP / Gaming features that I want; using it would appear to utilise the full functionality of the Sound Blaster control panel suite when using optical/SPDIF out (this is true isn't it?). 50 pounds ($80) is a lot perhaps to pay for just the DSP / Surround processing but that's just what I need.

 

Adding a DAC and Amp via SPDIF out to the Audio_GD 11 or 15 is frankly expensive (This looks good too http://www.mav-audio.com/base/product/tube_magic_d1); and way beyond what most would pay using a computer. I'm however wiling to cough up the cash for the best gear without going bananas. TBH, from my research the Essence STX and even the Creative ZxR look fantastic value for money.

 

Anybody here at the tail end of this thread.... I was being very specific about my needs. I chose the headphone 1st (you really oughtn't to do this perhaps - I'd heard the Philips Fidelio X1's and based my decision around them....  maybe I'm completely wrong in doing this?); then I chose the surround sound technology for gaming (SBZ). Wanted superb music playback too. Then I posted this thread.

 

stv.. thanks for the info on 'double amping', I never understood how a soundcard's headphone amplifier could (sort of) successfully be a preamp to an external amp (just to reduce the resistance.. am I being too uptight about this?). cel and Purple too - many thanks guys.


Edited by SaLX - 10/5/13 at 9:24pm
post #47 of 54

you might factor into your evaluation that with the DX, one is not paying for headphone amp capability.

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post #48 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaLX View Post

Adding a DAC and Amp via SPDIF out to the Audio_GD 11 or 15 is frankly expensive (This looks good too http://www.mav-audio.com/base/product/tube_magic_d1); and way beyond what most would pay using a computer. I'm however wiling to cough up the cash for the best gear without going bananas. TBH, from my research the Essence STX and even the Creative ZxR look fantastic value for money.

I have the TubeMagic D1 on a computer setup in my house. I got it for the separate volume dial and separate headphone amp plug in (rather than having to plug into the back of a computer or the front audio panel jack) and the speaker pre-out capability. I bought it used, or I would have coughed up the extra $10 for the D1 Plus.

That's one thing about these separate units. I like being able to have the unit in front of me where it's easy to plug/unplug headphones. That's a usability concern that the ZxR addresses that the Essence STX did not (used to own it).
post #49 of 54
I get ground loop using a Titanium Hd > Emotiva mini > studio monitors. There's no interference using headphone port alone, only via rca out.

I'm looking to use an external dac to bypass the ground loop, and have been looking at the arcam irdac, as it has been praised by many.

How does this chain look? Anybody using a similar setup?

Titanium Hd > Arcam irdac > Emotiva mini > hifiman he-500 (speaker taps), yamaha hs80m monitors (pre out).
post #50 of 54
Thread Starter 

Hope you don't mind me reviving this: it's gone to me narrowing down my options.

 

The ZxR is as good as the STX as I've found out from many great sources (Xonar a little better clarity - ZxR warmer.. however both cards can be altered with Op-Amps for the desired flavour). See here but search around too loads:  http://www.head-fi.org/t/623079/creative-sound-blaster-new-s-rie-z/990.

 

Anyway. Either the STX or Xonar can be swapped in the diagram below that I knocked up for some bizarre reason. The amp is there to definitely up the quality of the line outs (RCA Stereo). I want to however test a low gain low impedance <1 Ohm amp on the headphone out (like the O2, which can be ordered/modified to have the 1x gain option - thanks stv014). If it works it works.. if not it will still work for the RCA's and my laptop and other devices.

 

My idea is this: Add a cheap (and I can't find any expensive metal shelled options) RCA/ audio switcher box:

 

Should read at point 2: ".... output to the amplifier then to the headphones...." Also forget the bit about the Windows audio panel.

 

***EDIT***** : the ZxR wouldn't work well using the above setup; for speaker mode, via the lineouts/rca's, it has been confirmed to work for speakers and is **** for headphones. It would work for Xonars though.

 

This is what I had in mind.. not exactly sexy, however would this do what I want - ie not have to switch out cables on the desktop at the amp, nor do the same by crawling to the back of the PC? http://www.amazon.co.uk/HQ-Sources-Output-Manual-2-Port/dp/B000XT8XHU/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1381321770&sr=8-3&keywords=audio+switcher#productDescription. Sorry for being a pain .. least I know I've come to the right place for asking this.

 

*Provisio - this is me wanting my headphones (which are rated at 30 ohms) to connect to a soundcard with an output of 10 Ohms (1/8th rule applies.. ideally my headphones should be roughly 80 ohms to avoid any distortion). I'm told there's a slight bit of noise with the STX and Fidelio X1 at higher volumes just straight plugged into the headamp though nothing really to be concerned about. I also want surround as well as stereo. Got complicated.*


Edited by SaLX - 10/19/13 at 1:56pm
post #51 of 54
Quote:
Originally Posted by SaLX View Post

My idea is this: Add a cheap (and I can't find any expensive metal shelled options) RCA/ audio switcher box:

Niles AXP-1 audio switcher. They pitch it as designed for five audio sources, but works just as well with the connections reversed, too (I used it with two headphone amps and a speaker amp to route the signal). It's dial switcher instead of push buttons in a solid metal case. Definitely better quality feel than those inexpensive switch boxes.
post #52 of 54
Thread Starter 

Thank you for that cel.. Am in the UK. Happy to pay for something decent plus shipping.. may well contact them. **Edit These things have over 30 inputs - look quality but i daren't ask the price***

 

Apparently these switchers, even the cheapest, don't affect SQ/signal at all or very much. Will search around.

 

Take it that my reasoning is semi-sound?


Edited by SaLX - 10/9/13 at 7:44pm
post #53 of 54
I got it because people were complaining about the cheap nature of the push button switches.

Maybe you'll have luck finding the Niles on ebay with shipping to UK?
post #54 of 54
Thread Starter 

TY cel41 - will dig around.. though having a beautiful amp under some plastic box isn't good.. no way.  There must be a more elegant solution. Again thank you loads for your help mate.

 

Edit: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/3-WAY-PHONO-RCA-STEREO-AUDIO-INPUT-SELECTOR-SWITCH-/190882903159?pt=UK_Computing_Sound_Vision_Video_Cables_Adapters&hash=item2c7181f477 and others.


Edited by SaLX - 10/10/13 at 1:59pm
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