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Soundcard does not improve anything?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello,

I've just bought an Asus Xonar DX sound card as many people claimed that it drastically improved their listening experience, even with cheap headphones / speakers.

Because of those positive reviews I expected quite a lot and was massively disappointed. 

I have Denon AH-1100s and hear no difference. Sometimes it seems to be a bit clearer than onboard but sometimes it's just the opposite.

Am I just physically unable to hear a difference? And will more expensive headphones (150-200€) make me able to hear a difference between onboard and the DX?

post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bench View Post
 

Hello,

I've just bought an Asus Xonar DX sound card as many people claimed that it drastically improved their listening experience, even with cheap headphones / speakers.

Because of those positive reviews I expected quite a lot and was massively disappointed. 

I have Denon AH-1100s and hear no difference. Sometimes it seems to be a bit clearer than on-board but sometimes it's just the opposite.

Am I just physically unable to hear a difference? And will more expensive headphones (150-200€) make me able to hear a difference between on-board and the DX?

 

Hopefully you disabled the motherboard's on-board audio? in the BIOS, when you installed the Xonar DX, on-board might(?) be having a negative effect on the Xonar DX's audio.

 

The Xonar DX is a fairly good sounding card, CS4398 DAC chip :), but it does not have a very good way of powering headphones.

It's headphone output jack is more like a line-out jack (great for speakers), that pretends to also be a headphone jack.

The Xonar DX's headphone output has an impedance of 100-Ohms, which is not the best way for driving 32-Ohm headphones like the Denon AH-D1100 headphones.

I'm guessing the Xonar DX is giving the AH-D1100 a bloated (louder, less detailed) bass, which I'm assuring is also having a negative effect on the mids and treble.

You could spend 77.99 GBPs on a external headphone amplifier, like the Epiphany Acoustics EHP-O2, which has an output impedance of less then 1-Ohm :)

The Xonar DX used with the EPH-O2 makes a great combo for driving just about any headphone.

 

Or return the Xonar DX and get the Epiphany Acoustics EHP-O2D (167 GBP) external USB DAC/Amp, should really bring out the best in the AH-D1100

or any other headphone you might buy in the future.

 

You could sell off the AH-D1100 and return the Xonar DX.

Buy the cheaper Xonar DG or DGX sound card, which comes with a basic headphone amplifier, then put all the "audio" budget for headphones, like the Audio Technica ATH-A900X?

 

Edit.

Oops, never mind about the A900Xs, they cost way too much in Europe.


Edited by PurpleAngel - 6/12/14 at 3:22pm
post #3 of 11
Well I have a Realtek ALC898 and the ASUS Xonar DGX was a decent improvement. Many people can't tell the difference between DACs though. Most of the difference should be in clarity and imaging, so I think you might have just expected too much. Onboard audio is a lot better than it used to be.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your replies!
What you said about the bass is true, it feels less detailed.

Guess I'll return the DX and buy an USB DAC as you suggested. 

The e10 was often recommended though it's not available anymore here in Germany. Are there alternatives apart from the ones that you've mentioned?

post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bench View Post
 

Hello,

I've just bought an Asus Xonar DX sound card as many people claimed that it drastically improved their listening experience, even with cheap headphones / speakers.

Because of those positive reviews I expected quite a lot and was massively disappointed. 

I have Denon AH-1100s and hear no difference. Sometimes it seems to be a bit clearer than onboard but sometimes it's just the opposite.

Am I just physically unable to hear a difference? And will more expensive headphones (150-200€) make me able to hear a difference between onboard and the DX?

 

Please tell me you're not playing 128kbps songs xD

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bench View Post
 

Thanks for your replies!
What you said about the bass is true, it feels less detailed.

Guess I'll return the DX and buy an USB DAC as you suggested. 

The e10 was often recommended though it's not available anymore here in Germany. Are there alternatives apart from the ones that you've mentioned?

 

 

Look into the HiFimeDIY U2 DAC, SMSL M2, Fiio E07k, Fiio E17, ODAC, Schiit Modi & JDS Labs C5D. All good DACs. Just depends on how much you want to spend.


Edited by DJScope - 6/12/14 at 4:54pm
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 

No all my music is 320kbps :)
I am quite satisfied with my onboard sound but wanted to upgrade my music and gaming experience with new headphones and a sound card.

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bench View Post
 

No all my music is 320kbps :)
I am quite satisfied with my onboard sound but wanted to upgrade my music and gaming experience with new headphones and a sound card.

 

HAHA! Just had to check.

 

Good cans is where it's at. After you are satisfied with what you hear from your cans, you can then try to go with a better amp, and THEN a better DAC. Most PC DACs are actually pretty good its the integrated amps that are absolutely terrible. I use the Fiio E17 for my PC and phone and it does make a pretty drastic improvement in overall sound quality. Better soundstage, better frequency extension (high freq mostly) this leads to some songs to be quite noticeably airier, punchier more controlled bass, clearer vocals due to better staging. But as I said, most of the quality lies in good cans.

post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bench View Post
 

Thanks for your replies!
What you said about the bass is true, it feels less detailed.

Guess I'll return the DX and buy an USB DAC as you suggested. 

The E10 was often recommended though it's not available anymore here in Germany. Are there alternatives apart from the ones that you've mentioned?

 

If you have access to a iPod or other good quality mp3 player, try plugging the AH-D1100 into it, I'm guessing you will hear an improvement in audio quality.

 

FiiO stopped making the E10 and should be coming out with the E10K sometime I'm guessing in the next few months.

The Fiio E07K has a very low impedance headphone amplifier.

There is also the Sound blaster Z sound card, it's headphone amplifier has a 22-Ohm impedance, not perfect, but it's better then the Xonar DX's 100-Ohm impedance.

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

I'm thinking about buying the Essence STX as it will cost as much as the DX and an additional amp but also offers many features.

Or is an external amp better for music and gaming?

post #10 of 11
Some people like the gaming features and sound processing that a sound card can offer, but others prefer external DACs and amps to reduce electromagnetic interference and add the possibility for extremely clean power supplies (upgraded wall warts, or high quality internal transformers).

For music, external is superior, but for gaming it's your call. Personally, I prefer external for both music and gaming.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Is an external DAC / amp combo cheaper than a sound card when comparing two products of the same sound quality?

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