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Op-amps for a Xonar Essense STX

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Alright, so I have read so much about op-amps in the last week and got all confused, mostly because it seemed that everyone had their opinion of what is "best". All of the articles are years old though and some op-amps were upgraded and called something different. 


I wish that I could find a decent source for someone to explain in fairly plain english, what op-amp is great and why. I stared at spec sheets filled with numbers like voltage, amps, resistance, output, and a dozen other random numbers. I know what all of these labels mean but I don't know what is better or worse. 


Basically, is there a consensus on what op-amp is really good and what makes it better than others? With this card, I can only replace the buffer and I/V op-amps and I am going to have to replace all 3 since I do actually use RCA output. Basically, what combination do people like? I just purchased LME49860NA/NOPB. They are so cheap I don't mind experimenting a bit. 


Also, what does a buffer op-amp do vs. an I/V? 


Thanks! I hope I didn't just open a giant can of worms. 


post #2 of 5

The I/V op-amp when using RCA is modified by the Buffer op-amp for different sound results,With headphone out the I/V op-amps only come into play, default buffer op-amp on the STX should be a LME49720NA. Different people like different op-amps, there is no perfect op-amp but the common one's that people tend to use are the LME49720NA,LT1364, LME49990 on a dual to single dip-8 adapter depending in which socket your putting it in one pair for buffer or 2 for the I/V's.  You have to know what kind of sound that you want before you go op-amp rolling because it can take time and can take money and you can in up with a op-amp collection also not just any op-amp can be used, so it best to ask around or go into the op-amp thread on the forum to get advice. Also the headphones or speakers you using will also have a impact on the result and even different sound cards can have different results then another with the same op-amp's. Also you have to make sure the op-amp  has 2 channel's aka dual channel for the I/V  or Two Pairs of single op-amps on a  dual to single dip-8 adapter and you can do the same for the buffer socket. For the I/V it has to be the same Two or Pair's of op-amps other wise you will have issues. The perfect one is the one that sound good to your ear's.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Just a few quick questions then,


I was reading about OPA627's which are 25$ a piece and I would need 2 per socket so that would be about 150$ which approaches the cost of the actual card itself. Just out of curiosity, what makes an op-amp so expensive and is it worth it? I also found OPA2132's which seemed decent too but again are 12$. Thankfully I would only need 1 per socket. The ones you listed were about 3-4$ each. 


I suppose one problem I have is that I don't know what descriptions people are using for sound. I almost feel like I just need to get a bunch of them and experiment because you are right, sound is subjective. Does it make sense to ask for say, the top 3 op-amps people would recommend, collate a list,  and then buy them? 


Actually I might have also lucked out. The LME49860NA/NOPB are incredible. Of course, I am comparing it stock so who knows, but they sound excellent. 


Oh also. Do you have a link to that thread? 

Edited by asterix404 - 6/29/14 at 9:36am
post #4 of 5

http://www.head-fi.org/t/432749/the-opamp-thread  here the thread right here,If you found something you like that sound good to you, then i wouldn't worry about any thing else, because if you keep thinking that your missing out, then your gonna end up with a huge box of op-amp like I did when I was op-amp rolling.

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

HAH! Yea. That is the thing. I think I might drop the 36$ to get the other TI's but 150$ for op-amps for a 190$ sound card seems sort of insane. Actually, I don't hear much difference between what I bought and the op-amps that came with the card. It is present but I think the sound is just a bit bigger and a tiny bit more exact, if that makes any sense. I read that the 80$ op-amps (I can't remember the name) actually do sound incredible but I think it is crazy to spend that much money on an op-amp. Alternatively, I could just leave it alone and enjoy. Thanks so much for the help. I have a feeling that I am getting into marginal returns categories rather than night and day differences. I actually almost feel that way about the sound card vs. USB DAC. I mean, I could spend the same amount of money on a DAC as I did on the speakers, but really, I think the returns are going to be minimal. 

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