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Xonar Essence STX upgrade / Beyerdynamic DT990

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hey guys,

 

I recently purchased the Beyerdynamic DT-990 (250 ohm).  So far I am pleased with the DT990 headphones.  They do sound really nice, but I feel like they could sound better.  I currently have an Asus Xonar Essence STX soundcard powering them.  I'm not sure if this has somethign to do with EQ settings on my Xonar soundboard and I don't know how to configure them properly, but I just feel like they could sound better.  The Xonar Audio Center seems pretty basic though.. so I don't see what I could be missing. 

 

I really wouldn't want to listen to these headphones at more than 60% volume with this current Xonar Essence STX amp so I feel like the amp is sufficiently driving them.  I kind of wish I went for the 600 ohm set now just to see what the difference would be.   I JUST bought these DT990s (250 ohm) and am considering sending them back for the 600 ohm version.  Especially if I do upgrade past this Xonar amp.  I've been debating with the idea of just bypassing this headphone amp (and still using the DAC if that's even possible) to try to improve quality, but I'm not opposed to upgrading both. 

 

The issue is, I'm not sure what level/caliber of amp I'm working with in this soundcard to compare it to anything to consider upgrading.  Also, my question is.. what/how much benefit will I get besides volume increase (maybe?) by buying an additional amp.  This sound card already has a built in amp and DAC if I'm not mistaken.  I'm just not sure how good it is compared to stand alone amps on the market and/or DACs.  I don't want to spend more than around $400 and if that's for a 10% gain from what I have, I wont bother.

 

I'd like some suggestions for amps/DACs at least.  I never listen to these headphones outside of my house, so I don't need anything portable.  I'll also be powering my AD700 and M50 headphones through this setup.  My main use is gaming and I'm just dipping my toes into listening to high end audio stuff as it's available to me. 

 

A friend of mine recommended the TubeMagic A1 amp to power them.  I've also read that people prefer/like tube amps with these headphones.

 

When playing games or just listening to music, I can tell a difference in the soundstages for sure between the 990s and my AD700s.  I'm not going to hear THAT much difference between amps/headphone sounds from games that just support stereo sound, right?  Just because the source sound itself is the bottleneck? 

 

 

 

 

 

post #2 of 7
I have not owned the stx, so I don't know exactly how good the amp and DAC sections are. It should be possible to connect a tube amp to the stx's line out, using the sound card as the DAC. I used a Little dot mk3 as a tube amp with my DT-990. It noticeably changed the sound, but it was less of a difference than what you would get going from one headphone to another. The change is hard to describe exactly, but the soundstage gets deeper and the mids and treble take on a slightly sweet and smooth quality, if that makes any sense. So it's hard to say if it's worth the money. I would say not, if you're hoping for a big change. If you understand that it will be more subtle change and still want to try tubes, then go for it.

A new DAC would probably make less difference than a tube amp, but I can't say for sure as I don't have an stx.

Also, if your stx has gain settings (sometimes called impedance settings), try setting the gain to high.
post #3 of 7

Well, the stx should at the very least do a decent job driving the dt990. A nice tube amp might be good though. If you aren't really into changing tubes and just want plug and play tube sound maybe get the Vali.. Is said to synergize well with dt990.

 

I see no reason to exchange for the 600 ohm dt990

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

Bump.. still looking for recommendations.

post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by echopapa View Post
 

I recently purchased the Beyerdynamic DT-990 (250 ohm).  So far I am pleased with the DT990 headphones.  They do sound really nice, but I feel like they could sound better.  I currently have an Asus Xonar Essence STX sound card powering them.

I really wouldn't want to listen to these headphones at more than 60% volume with this current Xonar Essence STX amp so I feel like the amp is sufficiently driving them.  I kind of wish I went for the 600 ohm set now just to see what the difference would be.   I JUST bought these DT990s (250 ohm) and am considering sending them back for the 600 ohm version.  Especially if I do upgrade past this Xonar amp.  I've been debating with the idea of just bypassing this headphone amp (and still using the DAC if that's even possible) to try to improve quality, but I'm not opposed to upgrading both. 

The issue is, I'm not sure what level/caliber of amp I'm working with in this sound card to compare it to anything to consider upgrading.  Also, my question is.. what/how much benefit will I get besides volume increase (maybe?) by buying an additional amp.  This sound card already has a built in amp and DAC if I'm not mistaken.  I'm just not sure how good it is compared to stand alone amps on the market and/or DACs.  I don't want to spend more than around $400 and if that's for a 10% gain from what I have, I wont bother.

I'd like some suggestions for amps/DACs at least.  I never listen to these headphones outside of my house, so I don't need anything portable.  I'll also be powering my AD700 and M50 headphones through this setup.  My main use is gaming and I'm just dipping my toes into listening to high end audio stuff as it's available to me. 

A friend of mine recommended the TubeMagic A1 amp to power them.  I've also read that people prefer/like tube amps with these headphones.

When playing games or just listening to music, I can tell a difference in the sound stages for sure between the 990s and my AD700s.  I'm not going to hear THAT much difference between amps/headphone sounds from games that just support stereo sound, right?  Just because the source sound itself is the bottleneck? 

I do think the DT990 premium 600-Ohm is a noticeable difference (improvement) over the DT990 Pro 250-Ohm, but it's only worth it if you can get a good deal on a used DT990 600-Ohm, like around $200.

I do like the O2 (Objective 2) headphone amplifier ($130) better then the one built into the Essence STX, the one advantage the O2 has is it's very low headphone output impedance, less then 1-Ohm, which makes it more desirable for headphones under 50-Ohms.

plus you get a volume knob at your finger tips.

So you can get better headphone amplifiers and hook them up to the Essence STX's RCA outputs for great sound, but the Essence STX can not send Headphone surround sound thru the RCA outputs, just basic stereo audio, which is fine for music or if your ok with movies and gaming in stereo.

There is the option of replacing the three op-amps in the STX, spend between $10 to $55.

I myself just "upgraded" from the Essence STX to a Audio-GD NFB-15.32 external DAC/Amp, $300, the 15.32 is a better DAC and head amp, not a big difference, but several minor improvements.

The 15.32 can be connected to a motherboard or low cost sound card (Xonar DG $25), using S/PDIF, so you get the sound cards headphone surround sound features with the great DAC/Amp of the 15.32.

 

There are also other options besides the DT990s, Philips Fidelio X1 or AKG Q701s Audio Technica AD900X.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

BUMP.. Still looking for other amp recommendations from this setup.  I do like the Xonar card, but I'm not -blown- away by it.  Am I going to have to spend more than $500 (my budget) to get a standalone amp/dac until it's noticeably better?

 

Also.. maybe replacing the op amps would be my best option and call it good?

post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by echopapa View Post
 

BUMP.. Still looking for other amp recommendations from this setup.  I do like the Xonar card, but I'm not -blown- away by it.  Am I going to have to spend more than $500 (my budget) to get a standalone amp/dac until it's noticeably better?

 

Also.. maybe replacing the op amps would be my best option and call it good?

Upgrading won't do a world of difference. But if you are in luck, you might find that the right amp makes the sound 'just right' for you..

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