Originally Posted by AlfredKeppler
It takes the audio out of the computer, making it completly distortion free from electrical interfereance.
I don't have any experience with internal soundcards myself
That explains it. People...internal sound cards have no noise. No interference, no distortions..., in fact, they're more silent than any separate headphone amp you'll ever try (that goes for even the Asus Xonar D1, the 60 dollar soundcard I recently got for my second PC). In fact, look at the measurements of the STX, it beats most external DAC's regardless of price in terms of noise, distortion, etc. And headphone output is completely silent, no hiss whatsoever, no channel imbalance whatsoever...two things that almost all external headphone amps suffer from...regardless of price, at least in my experience. Even my Musical Fidelity M1HPAP hisses on high volumes and has some channel imbalance, and that's a 1k amp made for low impedance headphones. With the ST, I can set the volume to full on highest gain settings, and there's not a hint of noise, hiss, interference even with in-ears, let alone full sized headphones.
And no, E17 won't be better. STX still has the best sound quality of any DAC/amp combo available under 500 dollars. I say that with confidence, having owned or tried pretty much everything worth owning or trying in that category, and as someone who has a 1000 dollar headphone amp and 800 dollar external DAC at moment, I can say that even with T1's, K701's, HD650's, or any of my higher end headphones, STX can hold it's own and always makes me question why I even need those other components. It definitely sounds better than any of the amps or dac's I've tried in it's price range. It's got very high quality components, it's connected to an excellent power supply in the PC and most importantly, it's very well design and very well made (which is what matters way more than the components used), definitely a higher engineering, testing and manufacturing quality than Fiio or majority of hi-fi manufacturers for that matter. As I always say, Asus is a giant company with more resources than Schiit, Fiio, Hifiman, and the next 50 popular DAC/amp brands on head-fi put together, multiplied by 1000. That enables them to produce higher quality stuff at lower prices. They also make things like motheboards and graphics cards, MUCH more complex components than soundcards. Can you imagine graphics cards being made by your average hi-fi manufacturer? I don't think so....and they'd probably cost 10,000 dollars instead of 200. The only downside to STX is it's not portable. But if you don't need a portable source, ST/STX can beat just about anything on the market under 500 dollars, and hold it's own with gear that costs way more than a grand. Not to mention for a couple of 10's of dollars you can upgrade the op-amps which make it really easy to tailor the sound signature that you want, and in some cases even increase the sound quality overall. On top of that, a soundcard gives you loads of other features other than a pure hi-fi source, it acts as a proper multimedia center which improves your gaming, movie watching, enables you to record, etc. So, for that money, you definitely cannot go wrong with a good soundcard, especially not with the best one (which ST/STX are, even though the new Creative cards look good too) when it comes to mainstream cards (of course, you can spend much more on pro-cards).
Edited by derbigpr - 5/24/14 at 2:19am