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Sound Card or DAC? ODAC +2 or STX II

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hey guys, I am new here, and I would like some help.  I am planning to rebuild my gaming PC and change some things around, and have an audio issue I would like advice on.

 

First of all I recently saw a video which I would like to know if it is BS or not: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1rXcJuEsy0

The guy basically said that on-board is higher quality than sound cards.

 

Secondly, I am interested in the ODAC +2 to replace my titanium HD as I am experiencing interference issues with it, and I want a pure stereo signal without any of the crap to that comes with it.  I use Audio Creation Mode with Asio in Foobar and music sounds great, but I can hear interference and static at times.  I like Audio Technica and Sennheiser headphones too as my primary choices.

 

I was interested in the new Asus Essence STX II also, but kind of wanted a stand alone solution, but I am not sure if I should wait for the STX II or get a ODAC +2.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by RandyC View Post
 

Hey guys, I am new here, and I would like some help.  I am planning to rebuild my gaming PC and change some things around, and have an audio issue I would like advice on.

First of all I recently saw a video which I would like to know if it is BS or not: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1rXcJuEsy0

The guy basically said that on-board is higher quality than sound cards.

Secondly, I am interested in the ODAC +2 to replace my Titanium-HD as I am experiencing interference issues with it, and I want a pure stereo signal without any of the crap to that comes with it.  I use Audio Creation Mode with Asio in Foobar and music sounds great, but I can hear interference and static at times.  I like Audio Technica and Sennheiser headphones too as my primary choices.

I was interested in the new Asus Essence STX II also, but kind of wanted a stand alone solution, but I am not sure if I should wait for the STX II or get a ODAC +2.

Most Head-Fiers do not seem to "full" agree with those guys over at Tek Syndicate.

 

I would hope that you install your Titanium-HD into your new motherboard, see if you still have the noise issue.

I'm going to make a wild guess that motherboard makers have been try to resolve noise issues with newer motherboards.

Plus that Titanium-HD comes with better DAC and op-amp chip then I would think you would find in any motherboard.

I personally think about getting an O2 or Magni amp and plugging it into the Titanium-HD's RCA jacks.

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply.

 

I've tested the sound card in another PC already, same issues; maybe a defective card. -I've even tried PAX drivers, but no luck getting them to function for this card.   I am using a Maximus VI Gene as my primary board too.  Titanium HD sounded much more clearer than the on board to me, and overall I felt it was much better all around sound quality wise.  I had a hard time believing what those guys stated.

 

 

Personally I'd love to get away from Creative all together and have something that will have better support or something I can use on any device.  The Asus ST and STX seem quite popular and high quality from what I hear and was quite interested when I heard about it.  I'm not to keen on effects or manipulated audio, I like it as natural, clear, and untouched as it can be.

post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by RandyC View Post
 

I've tested the sound card in another PC already, same issues; maybe a defective card. -I've even tried PAX drivers, but no luck getting them to function for this card.   I am using a Maximus VI Gene as my primary board too.  Titanium HD sounded much more clearer than the on board to me, and overall I felt it was much better all around sound quality wise.  I had a hard time believing what those guys stated.

Personally I'd love to get away from Creative all together and have something that will have better support or something I can use on any device.  The Asus ST and STX seem quite popular and high quality from what I hear and was quite interested when I heard about it.  I'm not to keen on effects or manipulated audio, I like it as natural, clear, and untouched as it can be.

I used the Essence STX for a few years, up until a few months ago,

I replaced it with a Audio-GD NFB-15.32 external DAC/amp, $300. If your will to spend $300, you will get some very clean audio.

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm

 

I found the STX to be a good card.

Asus just announced a new revision, the Essence STX II, so hopefully the current Essence STX will drop in price.

post #5 of 21

Unless you have the golden ear, I think it will come down to features. NWavguy's solutions are supposed to be cheap and transparent at the cost of features. Asus' solutions usually have a wide variety of features with Surround sound, headphone surround, op-amp rolling, and variety of inputs and outputs. I don't know if the STX II is out yet or if it will be a good card, but I would wait for it if any of the above features interest you. If you are just fishing for answers and aren't really concerned about the features you will want to make your choice soon. I read an article a couple days ago saying that one of the parts for the O2 amp is out of production and will make the 02 harder to produce and that they can't change the part in the schematics for legal reasons, or something like that.

post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 

That's good to know, the price could shoot up on those for possibly then.

 

I'm not to interested in surround sound or a variety of inputs to much.  I primarily just use headphones so I just need one simple solution as a starting point for an external DAC.

 

The  NFB-15.32 looks interesting too, and has optical which I do like as an option.  How would you rate it versus the O2+ODAC? Any other good choices in the 200-300 range?

post #7 of 21
Quote:

Originally Posted by RandyC View Post

 

First of all I recently saw a video which I would like to know if it is BS or not: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1rXcJuEsy0

The guy basically said that on-board is higher quality than sound cards.

 

This might be true in some specific cases, but not generally. It is a more realistic statement that onboard is technically inferior, but is often good enough in practice because the difference is not audible, however, this is still frequently not true (for example, onboard audio can easily have audible interference problems). Also, both for sound cards and onboard audio, the headphone output is often not quite perfect.

 

The best choice also depends on how you intend to use the sound card or DAC. Do you need a good headphone output, and if yes, what headphones do you intend to use ? Will speakers and/or an external headphone amplifier be used ?

post #8 of 21

If you aren't interested in the features that the STX brings to the table, then the O2/ODAC or the Audio-GD offerings will probably be the better buy.

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by RandyC View Post
 

That's good to know, the price could shoot up on those for possibly then.

 

I'm not to interested in surround sound or a variety of inputs to much.  I primarily just use headphones so I just need one simple solution as a starting point for an external DAC.

 

The  NFB-15.32 looks interesting too, and has optical which I do like as an option.  How would you rate it versus the O2+ODAC? Any other good choices in the 200-300 range?

I really doubt the NFB-15.32 sounds better then the ODAC/O2 combo.

The NFB-15.32 might be slightly more musical and the ODAC might offer slightly better detail (guessing).

I like the NFB-15.32 because it comes with S/PDIF optical/coaxial connections, so it can work with sound cards (both add-on and on-board) and has a separate line-output (for speakers).

post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 

Alright, then I will go with the ODAC possibility then(after I see a few STX 2 reviews).  I only use headphones for audio right now too, no speakers.  I have some high end AT headphones, and some lower budget Sennheiser cans too, and looking to buy some 650s too soon for example.

 

Thanks for the help guys.


Edited by RandyC - 3/15/14 at 3:42pm
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by RandyC View Post
 

Alright, then I will go with the ODAC possibility then(after I see a few STX 2 reviews).  I only use headphones for audio right now too, no speakers.  I have some high end AT headphones, and some lower budget Sennheiser cans too, and looking to buy some 650s too soon for example.

 

Thanks for the help guys.

I did some checking, the new STX II appears to be a slightly modified STX card.

The new STX II has a connector for adding 6 channel of analog speaker audio, to go a long with the 2 channels that come built into the STX II.

(I'm assuming it's the Asus H6 module that can be connected to the STX II).

And the STX II comes with three Muse 6920 op-amps, in place of the two JRC2114 op-amps and one LM4562 op-amps.

The STX & STX II both seem to use the same PCM1792 DAC chip.

Not sure about any other changes.

post #12 of 21

I've very recently (I mean that literally) entered into possession of a O2-Odac and my experience with it is very brief, but I did make some comparative listening between it and the Xonar ST, which I've had for years.

 

In my experience the Xonar ST is a perfectly good source for music listening. I think the DAC part is the strong side of this soundcard, butfor headphones I don't find it nearly as good.

Through speakers the ST hold its own compared to the more expensive cd-player/dac I use. I will obviously choose the latter for my music listening, but the differences are not big.

I did/do not like to use headphones with this soundcard. The built in amplifier does well in terms of power output and can drive all my headphones to sufficient loudness.

But I don't find it did proper justice to any of them.

The sound is a bit rough (especially in the treble and bass), finer details and nuances are missing and the soundstage lacks the focus or the scale I know the headphones are capable of.

 

Switching to o2-odac it is readily apparent how much better a job it's doing with the same headphones. The most obvious improvement is in the soundstaging which has better focus and more depth.

There is no feeling of lost detail or glare and there's a much better sense of dynamics and articulation in the sound.

Because the comparison was only brief I will not go in more detail. The bottom line of my impressions is that through o2-odac I can enjoy my headphones properly, while on the ST the sense of its' limitations never goes away.

 

I haven't listened to the O2 on my speaker system yet, but if you want some feedback on that I will give you my impressions as soon as I do.

 

 

post #13 of 21

@Twolf: This is because you need to mod ST/STX to get the best out of it.

 

It sucks as standard compared to modded version.  After done the proper job it can go as a hi-end stuff easily.

post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Twolf View Post

Switching to o2-odac it is readily apparent how much better a job it's doing with the same headphones. The most obvious improvement is in the soundstaging which has better focus and more depth.
There is no feeling of lost detail or glare and there's a much better sense of dynamics and articulation in the sound.
Because the comparison was only brief I will not go in more detail. The bottom line of my impressions is that through o2-odac I can enjoy my headphones properly, while on the ST the sense of its' limitations never goes away.

Good. I'm glad that worked out for you. I remember you mentioning you were going to try them out in another thread. It really is an excellent DAC/amp pairing. smily_headphones1.gif
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 

Alright, I will order an O2+ODAC then soon.  If I ever want some of the features of the STX II I will just buy one when it's on sale.  I'm about ready to take a hammer to this Titanium HD, I hate it. :angry_face: 


Edited by RandyC - 3/15/14 at 10:28pm
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