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Using Xonar essence STX soundcard to drive Beyer 250ohm headphones?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Is the soundcard capable of driving the Beyerdynamic headphones without any sound quality loss compared to a external amp? I am trying to purchase my first set of headphones, and am in need of advice. The soundcard part is basically a must, as I intend to play games with the headphones, and want dolby surround.

 

Most interested in the DT770 250 ohm and 80 ohm versions, but anything else will help too. 

Please only post if you have/had the STX card.

post #2 of 9
Yes. The Xonar STX is more than capable of driving 250 ohm headphones like the Beyers.

However, if you would rather have a better headphone amp, the Xonar D1/DX and a Schiit Magni would give you a better headphone amp while also giving you Dolby surround.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Yes. The Xonar STX is more than capable of driving 250 ohm headphones like the Beyers.

However, if you would rather have a better headphone amp, the Xonar D1/DX and a Schiit Magni would give you a better headphone amp while also giving you Dolby surround.

But looking at the specs the STX can reach 10-90000 Hz while the Magni only goes to 20-20000 Hz. Wouldn't that mean less sound quality than the STX?

post #4 of 9
Actually, the Magni is rated Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-200KHz, -3dB.

The STX is rated Frequency Response (-3dB, 16bit/44.1KHz input) :
10 Hz to 90 KHz

So the Magni might be "truer" from 20hz-20Khz given the lower -0.1db compared to the STX's rating of -3db for it's frequency range, and when rated at -3db, the Magni has the wider frequency response.

I used to own the STX sound card, but I now own the Schiit Asgard 2 and use an ODAC. I have owned a few other amps, including the Objective 2 amp which is often cited as comparable to the Magni. I also own a Xonar DX in another computer. Everything I have read indicates that the Magni has the better headphone amp, and I have no reason to doubt that based on my experience, whereas as the DAC in the STX is a small step up over the DAC in the Xonar D1/DX series (which you might not even notice much).

My advice is this:

If the DT770s are your first good set of headphones and this is your first DAC/headphone amp purchase over basic computer audio, it's gonna sound really good. Plus, the STX has an extra hookups for speakers should you want to add a desktop multimedia setup later on.

On the other hand, if you see this as the first step into the headphone audiophile hobby and could see wanting to upgrade in a couple of years, the advantage of the DX/D1 with the Magni is that you can eventually add a better quality external DAC with optical input as an upgrade and still use the DX/D1 Dolby Surround. You could do this with the STX as well, but then you would need an external headphone amp, too.

As for which could sound better to you? Impossible to say. However, the Magni WILL definitely drive low impedance headphones better (32 ohms or less) should you buy more headphones (a plus if you are getting into this hobby), AND it will definitely drive the DT770 250 ohms louder than the STX, probably louder than you should listen to them if you enjoy your hearing smily_headphones1.gif
Edited by cel4145 - 1/9/14 at 3:32pm
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Actually, the Magni is rated Frequency Response: 20Hz-20Khz, -0.1db, 2Hz-200KHz, -3dB.

The STX is rated Frequency Response (-3dB, 16bit/44.1KHz input) :
10 Hz to 90 KHz

So the Magni might be "truer" from 20hz-20Khz given the lower -0.1db compared to the STX's rating of -3db for it's frequency range, and when rated at -3db, the Magni has the wider frequency response.

I used to own the STX sound card, but I now own the Schiit Asgard 2 and use an ODAC. I have owned a few other amps, including the Objective 2 amp which is often cited as comparable to the Magni. I also own a Xonar DX in another computer. Everything I have read indicates that the Magni has the better headphone amp, and I have no reason to doubt that based on my experience, whereas as the DAC in the STX is a small step up over the DAC in the Xonar D1/DX series (which you might not even notice much).

My advice is this:

If the DT770s are your first good set of headphones and this is your first DAC/headphone amp purchase over basic computer audio, it's gonna sound really good. Plus, the STX has an extra hookups for speakers should you want to add a desktop multimedia setup later on.

On the other hand, if you see this as the first step into the headphone audiophile hobby and could see wanting to upgrade in a couple of years, the advantage of the DX/D1 with the Magni is that you can eventually add a better quality external DAC with optical input as an upgrade and still use the DX/D1 Dolby Surround. You could do this with the STX as well, but then you would need an external headphone amp, too.

As for which could sound better to you? Impossible to say. However, the Magni WILL definitely drive low impedance headphones better (32 ohms or less) should you buy more headphones (a plus if you are getting into this hobby), AND it will definitely drive the DT770 250 ohms louder than the STX, probably louder than you should listen to them if you enjoy your hearing smily_headphones1.gif

That is some good advice! I really want to prepare the setup for any future upgrades, so I wouldn't need to replace everything when I get some better equipment for quality of sound. One day I will go for an open set of cans, just for listening pleasure. Probably a HE-400, as they look nice and well built. If the Magni is that much better than the STX for future upgrades I would definitely go for it. I also like it's aluminium body and blue LED, which would fit my desk beautifully. Perhaps I could spend a little more on a soundcard with a good DAC, so I wouldn't need to replace that aswell? Or does the Xonar DX do the job, by your opinion?

post #6 of 9
The Xonar D1/DX has a good DAC. The STX is just a little better. There are diminishing returns on DACs as you go up in price.

I see in your post in another thread that you are not US and shipping might be expensive? Where do you live? How expensive is the Magni for your to order?
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

The Xonar D1/DX has a good DAC. The STX is just a little better. There are diminishing returns on DACs as you go up in price.

I see in your post in another thread that you are not US and shipping might be expensive? Where do you live? How expensive is the Magni for your to order?

I'm from Slovenia. It lies in central Europe in case you never heard of it. The Magni would cost about 95 euros if I order it from the US, including shipping, so that is actually not that much. It's even cheaper than what some european stores sell it for. I can replace the STX for Magni + DX and the total cost will actually go down. But so will the quality of the DAC, for a small amount, as you say. However I am prepared to pay a larger amount for a really good DAC, if it's possible to get it on a soundcard. I've been looking at the Titanium HD, but I don't really know how good Creative's soundcards are, as there's a lot of hate going on towards them from the forums. I am definitely exploring all my options before I dive into the purchase, hehe

post #8 of 9
That's not bad at all on the Magni pricing for you. It would cost me $111 US with shipping.

You might see some argument over whether or not the DAC in the Titanium HD is better than the STX, but in my opinion, the STX seems to usually win those debates. STX (or Titanium) is probably about the best you'll be able to do on DAC in a sound card without spending a lot more money. And at much higher budgets, the option is to get the Xonar DG/DGX and an external DAC that takes optical. That would allow the Xonar to process signal for the Dolby surround sound and sent it to the external DAC.

Unfortunately, the better value (price/performance) DACs are often USB and don't have optical connections. For example, the Schiit Modi paired with Magni is an awesome combination and will be better SQ than the STX and Titanium HD, but no Dolby.

Just curious why the Dolby is so important but you are getting closed headphones? Open headphones have a much larger sound stage than closed, and thus much better for gaming. I never cared for Dolby surround DSP (I'm only a casual gamer), but I wonder if serious gamers would choose Dolby surround DSP and closed headphones over open headphones and no Dolby surround?
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

That's not bad at all on the Magni pricing for you. It would cost me $111 US with shipping.

You might see some argument over whether or not the DAC in the Titanium HD is better than the STX, but in my opinion, the STX seems to usually win those debates. STX (or Titanium) is probably about the best you'll be able to do on DAC in a sound card without spending a lot more money. And at much higher budgets, the option is to get the Xonar DG/DGX and an external DAC that takes optical. That would allow the Xonar to process signal for the Dolby surround sound and sent it to the external DAC.

Unfortunately, the better value (price/performance) DACs are often USB and don't have optical connections. For example, the Schiit Modi paired with Magni is an awesome combination and will be better SQ than the STX and Titanium HD, but no Dolby.

Just curious why the Dolby is so important but you are getting closed headphones? Open headphones have a much larger sound stage than closed, and thus much better for gaming. I never cared for Dolby surround DSP (I'm only a casual gamer), but I wonder if serious gamers would choose Dolby surround DSP and closed headphones over open headphones and no Dolby surround?

Well the closed headphones part is because I often play games with friends over Skype, and I don't want the microphone picking up the game noise. Allthough I'd actually prefer open headphones, as people recommend them much more, I can't because of the mic. I am buying a new mic, but I doubt there are any out there that will only pick up just me speaking, without any sound from the game also getting through. I am in the process of drooling over the Hifiman HE-400, but they are open, which makes me a bit sad :(  Those are probably also better for mixing music which I do occasionally as a hobby. It all comes down to the microphone sensitivity to be honest.

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