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Asus Xonar D1 is very impressive

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I got this card recently for my media PC to use it for the optical output, but damn, the thing is very good. I mean, I've got plenty of other much more expensive DAC's, and I've used the Essence ST in my main PC for a long time, but to be honest, I think D1 is virtually indistinguishable from it in terms of sound.  Even though it doesn't have a headphone amplifier per se, just a line out, it can power the Beyerdynamic T1's very well. They get as loud as on the ST with the middle gain setting, the bass is just as deep, tight and punchy as on the ST, which is usually the thing that gives out first when it comes to underpowering the T1's. On 70-80% of volume, they're on a perfectly loud listening level (that's with levels in the Asus driver panel set to 76%).  

 

I tried it in my main PC for some gaming, and it's equally impressive, Battlefield 4 sounds absolutely every bit as good as on the ST, maybe a hair thinner and less weighty, but hey, for $70 this is one hell of a sound card. I've never even expected it to sound any good, just bought it because it was the cheapest card with an optical output, I didn't mean to use it as a sound card at all and didn't expect it to sound very good, let alone have power to make T1's sound really decent without having them lose any of their essential characteristics.

 

I can recommend the card. As someone who's had the D2, ST and STX, and knowing how great the value for money is with those cards, the D1 takes it up to another level in those terms. I honestly think that sonically it is as good as Nuforce HDP or the Musical Fidelity V-DACII....it certainly beats them in terms of measurements.

 

One odd thing though....the higher the impedance of headphones, the louder they get on the D1, total opposite of any other source I have.  For example, HD650's and T1's go louder than let's say DT770 80 ohm, or especially the K701's (which really don't work well at all out of it). Not to say low impedance headphones don't work properly, they do.  My favorite combo with it is the Sennheiser HD380Pro, it's a very nice pairing, with D1 being ever so slightly bright, and HD380 being slightly warm and sometimes a bit too lush.


Edited by derbigpr - 5/18/14 at 7:25am
post #2 of 10
I like the DX/D1 cards. Although I do think that headphones benefit from using an external amp with them.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I like the DX/D1 cards. Although I do think that headphones benefit from using an external amp with them.

 

 

 

Even with T1's and Musical Fidelity M1HPAP, the difference in SOUND is nowhere near as big as I would have believed without trying it out on my own. Of course the difference in power is great, and M1HPAP runs the T1's to insanely loud levels with rock solid stability and control, always remaining clean and tight. D1 can only power the T1's to about the same level as when the M1HPAP is on about 12 o'clock on the volume (and as I said, the same as ST on full volume with middle gain settings and mixer volumes at default 76%), which is slightly louder than regular listening volume for me, I'd call it comfortably loud. In terms of sound though, M1 has slightly more powerful bass and the sound overall is a bit fuller, a bit smoother, it smooths out the highs a bit, reducing sibilance slightly, and the sound is a bit more spacious, it sounds bigger overall. But really, the difference is nowhere near as big as I would have thought. I mean, my jaw dropped to the floor (and that hasn't happened in a looooong time when it comes to hifi) at how good the sound is. I plugged in the T1's as joke, actually to see if there's any audible hissing or artifacts in sound, since the graphics card and power supply are like 1 cm above and under the soundcard.  What I found was that T1's sound....well, like T1's.... they have all of their traits of being nice and warm, with pleasant deep effortless bass, very smooth and full mids and sparkly but never over the top highs. Without a ultra expensive setup as I've always been led to believe. I mean, here I am comparing a setup that consists of a 800 dollar DAC and 800 dollar AMP to a 70 dollar soundcard, and volume matched, they don't sound worlds apart from each other. As Jude said in his headphone guide, he found that it's pretty hard to coax the greatness out of the T1's, and I totally agree. I COULD live with T1's just plugged into the D1 without any additional gear. Of course it would be a waste of money to go for such a setup, since buying a cheaper headphone like the DT880 and pairing it with a better DAC and AMP would probably ultimately result in a better sound, but nevertheless, D1 is a truly great value for money product.

post #4 of 10
No doubt. I agree it's a good value. And pair it with a Schiit Magni for $100, I think it would easily be a better value than the STX for the same money.
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

No doubt. I agree it's a good value. And pair it with a Schiit Magni for $100, I think it would easily be a better value than the STX for the same money.

 

 

Hmm I doubt that, that would come out at 170 dollars, 50 less than the STX/ST, but I don't see how Magni would be better than the STX/ST headphone amp section since I found the Asgard (first version) to be pretty mediocre when I tried it with HD650's back a year ago, probably a step below ST, plus you get so many features and possibilities with the STX like changing op-amps and various modes which are really valuable if you're gaming, watching movies or recording anything with a microphone.

post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post
 

Hmm I doubt that, that would come out at 170 dollars, 50 less than the STX/ST, but I don't see how Magni would be better than the STX/ST headphone amp section since I found the Asgard (first version) to be pretty mediocre when I tried it with HD650's back a year ago, probably a step below ST, plus you get so many features and possibilities with the STX like changing op-amps and various modes which are really valuable if you're gaming, watching movies or recording anything with a microphone.

 

One advantage for the Magni over the STX/STX is the Magni's output impedance is less then 1-Ohm (the STX/ST's is 10-Ohm).

So low Ohm headphones should do a little better with the Magni, over the STX/ST.

Also as the Magni is external, it will not pick up any electrical noise that might be inside the computer case (but the analog section of the D1 might).

Plus i like having the volume knob at my finger tips.

post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post


Hmm I doubt that, that would come out at 170 dollars, 50 less than the STX/ST, but I don't see how Magni would be better than the STX/ST headphone amp section since I found the Asgard (first version) to be pretty mediocre when I tried it with HD650's back a year ago, probably a step below ST, plus you get so many features and possibilities with the STX like changing op-amps and various modes which are really valuable if you're gaming, watching movies or recording anything with a microphone.

Here in the US, the STX's price regularly dips down to $180 and below (not sure where you live). So comparable in price, IMO.

The measurements I have seen suggest that the Magni (and the Asgard) are the more powerful amp than the STX.

But, everyone has their own tastes in what the like the sound of. You obviously don't mind driving your headphones with improper impedance output, which will reshape the headphones a little. Everyone has to find what they like smily_headphones1.gif
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post




The measurements I have seen suggest that the Magni (and the Asgard) are the more powerful amp than the STX.
 

 

 

No chance man. :P   My ST runs headphones louder than the Musical Fidelity M1HPAP when I set it on full gain, it has crap loads of power, especially with low impedance headphones. I'm sure it can output way more than 1 Watt of power into 32 ohms.  It actually has more power and can output more voltage than the Asus Essence One, which people disliked because it's headphone knob was too sensitive and it had too much power for most headphones. :P

Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


But, everyone has their own tastes in what the like the sound of. You obviously don't mind driving your headphones with improper impedance output, which will reshape the headphones a little. Everyone has to find what they like smily_headphones1.gif

 

 

 

Well, I usually drive my headphones with the M1HPAP which has an output impedance lower than 1 ohm. But to be honest, I'll donate my entire headphone collection to someone who can tell a difference between 1 ohm and 10 ohm output impedance in a blind test. Even with in-ear headphones with 16 ohms impedance, the measurements are virtually identical, and only vary when the headphone impedance / frequency curves are not flat (most Sennheisers fall in that category).  Other than that, output impedance is really over-exaggerated sometimes, it has a far smaller effect on sound that we're lead to believe by certain people.  Plugging low impedance headphone like AKG K701 into my integrated Onkyo speaker amp, which has a headphone output with something like 220 ohms of impedance does absolutely nothing to the sound. The sound is still just as tight and controlled as when plugging it into the M1.


Edited by derbigpr - 5/18/14 at 7:13pm
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

 

One advantage for the Magni over the STX/STX is the Magni's output impedance is less then 1-Ohm (the STX/ST's is 10-Ohm).

So low Ohm headphones should do a little better with the Magni, over the STX/ST.

Also as the Magni is external, it will not pick up any electrical noise that might be inside the computer case (but the analog section of the D1 might).

Plus i like having the volume knob at my finger tips.

 

 

Well output impedance difference between 1 and 10 ohms (hell even 1 and 220 in my experience) is hardly measurable, and with majority of headphones inaudible. As for noise, I don't see why people think that sound cards pick up noise. There is no noise. ST has the most silent headphone output and the blackest background of any headphone amp I've ever owned, including the already ultra-quiet M1HPAP, which still hisses a bit at over 80%, as does every other headphone amp I've ever tried regardless of price. As did the Asgard v.1, maybe Magni is better in that way, but I doubt. Plus, they all have slight channel imbalance because of analog volume pots, especially cheap ones like the Modi uses. I'm yet to find an amp that doesn't suffer from it. Even with M1 I have to set the left channel on my DAC to 96% to balance the sound out, and with Nuforce HDP the left channel is slightly louder on low volumes and at higher ones right channel is louder.  ST is TOTALLY quiet, at all volumes, at all gain settings, no matter what you do on the PC and it's always perfectly balanced. I've never heard as much as pop or a hint of hissing in 2 years I've owned it. I mean, look the measurements too, it measures better in terms of signal to noise ratio than almost any standalone amplifier out there regardless of price  D1 is also totally quiet, even with CX300 in-ears and on full volume setting I hear no hissing, and these in-ears are very sensitive, they the only headphone I have that picks up hissing on an iphone 4s, which is quiet with anything else.

 

I dont know, I don't see any area in which a cheap separate headphone amp would have any advantage over a good sound card for the same price, you're get much more performance with a sound card and a much higher quality of engineering and production than you do with something like Magni which basically consists of a bunch of cheap parts inside an aluminium case (which is the most expensive part of the whole thing). To me it really makes no sense to buy a cheap amp unless you don't use a PC as your source, because obviously then you can't use a soundcard.

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post


No chance man. :P  

No chance man.

I used to own the STX, and the Objective 2 which I had at the time had more power wink.gif
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