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Creative Sound Blaster Z vs Asus Xonar Essence STX

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Title...looking for something for gaming, music and a device to amplify some good cans

was looking at the xonar stx but im wondering if the extra price point is reallly worth it, the stx is about twice the price...


Edited by Nihl - 1/26/14 at 1:41pm
post #2 of 19
I'm in the same boat. I received my SB Z today and I can't say I'm uber impressed with the SQ. I hate to say it but it's not much better than my Asus p8z77 pro's onboard audio. It sounds OK-ish through my amp and speakers but grainy and with a touch of 'digititus' with my TF10's and Sony NC020's when connected directly to the Z's headphone out.
I'm now considering the Xonar STX or possibly even an external DAC/HP amp like the AudioGD 15.32. I expect either of them to be streets ahead.

The SB Z's hp amp section is obviously more powerful, it does have decent software and features that my onboard obviously does not have such as surroundsound headphone and certain game audio codec support etc which will hold an appeal for gamers but if you don't need these gaming features and looking for an 'audiophile' grade card solely for listening to music.. I'd look elsewhere.
Edited by Ari33 - 1/26/14 at 2:02pm
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

does anyone actually have first hand impressions of the two (side-by-side) ?


Edited by Nihl - 1/26/14 at 2:01pm
post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ari33 View Post

I'm in the same boat. I received my SB Z today and I can't say I'm uber impressed with the SQ, it sounds OK-ish through my amp and speakers but grainy and with a touch of 'digititus' with my TF10's and Sony NC020's when connected directly to the Z's headphone out.
I'm now considering the Xonar STX or possibly even an external DAC/HP amp like the AudioGD 15.32

Audio-GD is currently sold out of the NFB-15.32 until march, but I believe they still have the NFB-11.32 in stock.

post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nihl View Post
 

Title...looking for something for gaming, music and a device to amplify some good cans
was looking at the Xonar STX but I'm wondering if the extra price point is really worth it, the STX is about twice the price...

The Essence STX has a better DAC and amp, then the SB-Z (& SB-Zx).

What headphones are you going to be using?

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

The Essence STX has a better DAC and amp, then the SB-Z (& SB-Zx).

What headphones are you going to be using?


I've been considering the 250 ohms DT770s...but I'm open for other suggestions.

They need to be closed and comfortable, with isolation and low sound leakage. Now that being said, they don't necessarily need to be 250 ohms. Right now I'm using the 555s by Sennheiser, which are OK -- I'm just looking for something closed and with the possibility of upgrading my sound card. Now if I do get the STX (at some point) I'll be ready to use something with higher ohms.

What are your thoughts Purple?

post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nihl View Post
 


I've been considering the 250 ohms DT770s...but I'm open for other suggestions.

They need to be closed and comfortable, with isolation and low sound leakage. Now that being said, they don't necessarily need to be 250 ohms. Right now I'm using the 555s by Sennheiser, which are OK -- I'm just looking for something closed and with the possibility of upgrading my sound card. Now if I do get the STX (at some point) I'll be ready to use something with higher ohms.

What are your thoughts Purple?

Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card, used $60.

Schiit Magni headphone amplifier, $99.

Audio Technica ATH-A900X (40-Ohm) headphones, with Hifiman Velour ear pads.

post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 

Whats the difference between the DX and the D1?

post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nihl View Post
 

Whats the difference between the DX and the D1?

Xonar DX is PCI-E, Xonar D1 is PCI.

post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 

Whats the best place to find a pair of ATH-A900x? BB has them for $186 Free S/H.

post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

Also, why the DX and the Schiit Magni? The STX by itself is about the same price as compared to both products bought seperately. 

The usage will primarily be at my desktop PC.

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nihl View Post
 

Whats the best place to find a pair of ATH-A900x? BB has them for $186 Free S/H.

I paid $256 for my ATH-A900X headphones.

So yea, new A900X for $186 is the best price I've ever seen for them new.

Go for it.

Get the Hifiman velour ear pads, $10+shipping.

post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nihl View Post
 

Also, why the DX and the Schiit Magni? The STX by itself is about the same price as compared to both products bought seperately. 
The usage will primarily be at my desktop PC.

There are advantages with the Magni.

It has a lower output impedance :) (>1-Ohm), then the STX (10-Ohm).

The >1-Ohm impedance is better (at least a little better) for driving 40-Ohm headphones.

With the Magni being external, it would not be effected by any "electrical noise" from inside the computer case.

(analog signals can be effected by "electrical noise")

You get a volume knob right at your finger tips.

The Magni can be used with more the just your Win PC.

 

The STX and DX (&D1) use the same C-Media CMI-8788 audio processor, so you have the same features.

post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 

Purple,

Would you recommend the same setup (DX+Schiit Magni) with the DT770 250 ohm headphones? Or would those be better off with the STX? Sorry if my questions are annoying. The DX+S/M+A900x is about the same price as the DT770s+STX. I'm just trying to get a better picture here. Also, what do you like about the A900x vs the DT770s?

post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nihl View Post
 

Purple,

Would you recommend the same setup (DX+Schiit Magni) with the DT770 250 ohm headphones? Or would those be better off with the STX? Sorry if my questions are annoying. The DX+S/M+A900x is about the same price as the DT770s+STX. I'm just trying to get a better picture here. Also, what do you like about the A900x vs the DT770s?

To me the Magni is a little more desirable, because there are some nice low impedance headphones in the world (I own a few) and also the Magni being external means less "electrical noise" in the audio, but it's not a big deal.

I would sometimes plug my O2 (Objective 2, roughly the same a Magni) in my STX's RCA jack for awhile when using my 32-Ohm or 40-Ohm headphones, but I could just as easily plug the same headphones straight into the STX's headphone jack.

I guess my A900Xs are a little more balanced (bass, mids, treble), compared to the DT770's more U shape sound.

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