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NEED OPINIONS. Replace my Creative X-FI vs. buying a DAC

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, 

 

New to the forum, thought I would join because I'm looking for a pretty specific setup.

 

At the moment I have a Creative X-fi, (not titanium or anything) think it's 3-4 years old and it has been working great for a while now (been having issues with it randomly not working, thinking maybe drivers. Very randomly!) . Bought it a while ago before I knew anything about computers, chose that one because of the optical port which I use with a home theater system which I don't care for anymore. For gaming I have been using the Razer Megalodon and it's not bad, but it isn't great either and the more I've researched lately, I do not want a USB headset. I want great directional sound for FPS gaming like BF4 but also want an option that I can have quality sounding music. I like to consider myself a cheap Audiophile, not willing to fork out a ton of cash but wanting quality sound. Looking at picking up a pair of Audio Technica AD700x and possibly the Astro a40 mixamp for my XBONE. So my questions are as follows...

 

- Should I replace my sound card, or will this sound card be good enough to get me directional sound for FPS?

- Is the Astro's mixamp good enough that I should just use that for PC also?

- I'm also looking for an awesome sound card or DAC for music, which would be best way to go for music?

- Are the AD700x the best choice for my price range for gaming and music(I know they lack bass but that doesn't bother me)? If I don't need an expensive card or DAC, I will spend more on cans.

 

My budget is roughly $400-450 to pickup headphones, sound card/DAC.

 

So far I've found the AD700x at $140 and a mixamp for $60 used. Therefore I have $200-250 for soundcard or DAC. My #1 choice has been the Xonar Phoebus so far

 

All opinions welcome, there is just too many options now when looking at sound cards or DACs and not sure which option would be my best choice.

 

 

 

Thank you,

 

Mike

post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 

NEW OPTION 

 

- Audio Engine D1 with Sennheisers HD580s 

 

 

If anyone has tried this setup or something similar let me know how they are for gaming and music.

 

 

 

 

Thank you,

 

Mike

post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woesty420 View Post

At the moment I have a Creative X-fi, (not titanium or anything)  Looking at picking up a pair of Audio Technica AD700x and possibly the Astro a40 mixamp for my XBONE. So my questions are as follows...

- Should I replace my sound card, or will this sound card be good enough to get me directional sound for FPS?

- Is the Astro's mixamp good enough that I should just use that for PC also?

- I'm also looking for an awesome sound card or DAC for music, which would be best way to go for music?

- Are the AD700x the best choice for my price range for gaming and music(I know they lack bass but that doesn't bother me)? If I don't need an expensive card or DAC, I will spend more on cans.

My budget is roughly $400-450 to pickup headphones, sound card/DAC.

So far I've found the AD700x at $140 and a mixamp for $60 used. Therefore I have $200-250 for soundcard or DAC. My #1 choice has been the Xonar Phoebus so far

All opinions welcome, there is just too many options now when looking at sound cards or DACs and not sure which option would be my best choice.

Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z, (SB1500) sound card, $100 (no need for mix-amp).

(The mix-amp is the better choice for gaming consoles,

sound cards are better for PCs)

 

AKG K612 Pro headphones, new $200, used $160

sennheiser HD558 headphones, New $130, used $105

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

If I were to get the Soundblaster Z, I would probably get the ZX instead to make it worth me upgrading my card. It would be great for both gaming and music? 

 

Why Creative over Asus? Just opinion?

 

I am looking for a setup that will work with XBONE, but if the sound cards will be much better then the mix-amp then I will say screw the mixamp and just use my ****ty headset for now on the xbox till a better option comes out. 

 

Those AKG look beauty, great for music I'm guessing! Have you heard or tried them for gaming, they have a good sound stage for directional sound? Really want a nice headset for BF4.

 

I found a good set of Senn HD580s for a good price so I'm guessing they will be quite a bit better then the 558s. Which would you say are better, the AKG or Senns?

 

 

 

 

Thank you,

 

Mike

post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woesty420 View Post
 

If I were to get the Soundblaster Z, I would probably get the ZX instead to make it worth me upgrading my card. It would be great for both gaming and music? 

Why Creative over Asus? Just opinion?

I am looking for a setup that will work with XBONE, but if the sound cards will be much better then the mix-amp then I will say screw the mixamp and just use my ****ty headset for now on the xbox till a better option comes out. 

Those AKG look beauty, great for music I'm guessing! Have you heard or tried them for gaming, they have a good sound stage for directional sound? Really want a nice headset for BF4.

I found a good set of Senn HD580s for a good price so I'm guessing they will be quite a bit better then the 558s. Which would you say are better, the AKG or Senns?

The only difference I know of between the Z and Zx is the ACM module and some say the ACM is slightly negative for sound quality.

I like Xonar's, I'm using one right now, but Xonar does not offer a sound card with a headphone amplifier for around $100, there is the Xonar DG/DGX for $30-$40 or the Essence STX for $175, the DS, DSX, DX, D1 sound cards ($50-$100) do not have a headphone amplifier.

I've never used the AKG K612 Pro, but i do read up on a lot of feedback on them and they seem to do well with all audio.

I've heard the HD580 are good music headphones, but have not idea on how well they do with gaming.

AKG vs Sennheiser, they both sell good headphones.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

Ok, would the step up from the Creative Z to the Xonar STX be alot to justify the price? I found one used for $150 LNIB. 

 

Much better amp or DAC in there? and will I get all the same features/outputs?

 

I will do some research between all the headphones then. I have found a handful of HD598s for good prices, so I've been leaning towards them. Look pretty awesome, yet to review them though.

 

 

Thank you,

 

Mike

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woesty420 View Post
 

Ok, would the step up from the Creative Z to the Xonar STX be alot to justify the price? I found one used for $150 LNIB. 

 

Much better amp or DAC in there? and will I get all the same features/outputs?

 

I will do some research between all the headphones then. I have found a handful of HD598s for good prices, so I've been leaning towards them. Look pretty awesome, yet to review them though.

B&H Photo has a used Essence STX (bare card) for $130.

The Essence STX has a better DAC and better headphone amplifier, then the Sound Blaster Z.

The Essence only has an analog 2-channel output for speakers and the SB-Z has 6-channel speaker output.

But if all your using is headphones, then speaker output does not matter.

I've been happily using a Essence STX for a few years,

but I'm currently replacing the STX with a $300 external DAC amp and going to use an old Xonar DX for the headphone surround sound processing (optical connection to external DAC/amp).

 

The HD558 is almost as good as the HD598 and currently the HD558 sells used for $105.

Check out the AKG K612 Pro.

post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 

Ok I've been leaning towards the Xonar STX so far. Originally I was looking for something that would do XBONE too but I won't worry about that for now. For now I want to focus on the best audio for my comp without spending 300+ on a DAC. The speakers I use at the moment are a Bose stereo set. Nothing special, I just use them for youtube videos or what not. My main focus for the Sound card is for the ability to give me the best positional sound possible with features like Dolby and what not. I'm sure in the STX the DAC and headphone amp will be plenty good enough for all the headphones I've been looking at. I don't plan on upgrading my speakers in the near future so as long as they have the ability to plug my BOSE speakers in than I am happy

 

Does the STX have a connection to allow optical out to allow me to plug in my home theater system? 

 

Is the STX much better then the SB ZxR for music?

 

Will they both do FPS gaming equally?

 

I don't plan on upgrading my speakers in the near future so as long as they have the ability to plug my BOSE speakers in than I am happy.

 

As for headphones I have found the 598s for $180 used so I may pick them up. 

 

 

 

Thank you,

 

 

Mike

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woesty420 View Post
 

Ok I've been leaning towards the Xonar STX so far. Originally I was looking for something that would do XBONE too but I won't worry about that for now. For now I want to focus on the best audio for my comp without spending 300+ on a DAC. The speakers I use at the moment are a Bose stereo set. Nothing special, I just use them for youtube videos or what not. My main focus for the Sound card is for the ability to give me the best positional sound possible with features like Dolby and what not. I'm sure in the STX the DAC and headphone amp will be plenty good enough for all the headphones I've been looking at. I don't plan on upgrading my speakers in the near future so as long as they have the ability to plug my BOSE speakers in than I am happy

Does the STX have a connection to allow optical out to allow me to plug in my home theater system? 

Is the STX much better then the SB ZxR for music?

Will they both do FPS gaming equally?

I don't plan on upgrading my speakers in the near future so as long as they have the ability to plug my BOSE speakers in than I am happy.

As for headphones I have found the 598s for $180 used so I may pick them up. 

You can plug the STX's optical (& coaxial) connection to a home theater, for up to 5.1 (6-channel) audio.

STX and ZxR share a lot the same hardware, so for headphones and optical/coaxial output audio quality would be roughly the same.

The ZxR would do better for analog 5.1 output to a 6-channel analog input on a receiver.

The Sound blaster Z series (Z, Zx, ZxR) might(?) be considered a little more desirable for headphone FPS gaming.

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

So if I can get the ZxR & STX for the same price at $209, I might as well get the ZxR for the gaming features.

 

The headphones I've had my eye on are the AKG K612 and Senn HD598s, so both sound cards will be plenty good for those cans. Sure they would both sound resonably identical for those cans? Speak up if you'd argue that please. 

 

I've also been thinking of grabbing a SB Z or Zx for the gaming side of it and then getting a DAC down the road.

But to buy a DAC, how much $$$ would I need to spend to make it much better then the STX or ZxRs DAC?

 

 

 

Thank you,

 

Mike

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woesty420 View Post
 

So if I can get the ZxR & STX for the same price at $209, I might as well get the ZxR for the gaming features.

 

The headphones I've had my eye on are the AKG K612 and Senn HD598s, so both sound cards will be plenty good for those cans. Sure they would both sound resonably identical for those cans? Speak up if you'd argue that please. 

 

I've also been thinking of grabbing a SB Z or Zx for the gaming side of it and then getting a DAC down the road.

But to buy a DAC, how much $$$ would I need to spend to make it much better then the STX or ZxRs DAC?

I would say ask on these two threads about STX vs ZxR for gaming, people with more valid opinions on PC gaming then me.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479/mad-lust-envys-headphone-gaming-guide-updated-12-27-2013-mrspeakers-alpha-dog-added

http://www.head-fi.org/t/593050/the-nameless-guide-to-pc-gaming-audio-with-binaural-headphone-surround-sound

 

AKG K612 Pro vs HD598.

I would take the cheaper HD558 over the HD598, because they use the same driver.

I would "guess" the AKG K612 Pro would be the (slightly) better choice, over the HD558/HD598.

 

I'm currently replacing my Essence STX with the Audio-GD NFB-15.32 external DAC/Amp, $255+shipping (my total was $298).

 

I like to push the Sound Blaster Z with the AKG K612 Pro, as the K612 is 120-Ohm, it should work fairly well with the Z's headphone amplifier.

 

AKG K612 Pro vs K702

http://www.head-fi.org/t/685483/akg-k702-the-classic-vs-k612-pro-the-upstart-review-and-comparison

 

Sound blaster Z (OEM) sells for as low as $60.

 

Then down line you could get something like the NFB-15.32 and connect it optically with the Sound Blaster Z.


Edited by PurpleAngel - 1/2/14 at 1:59pm
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