Asus STX II Vs Creative ZXR
Jul 25, 2014 at 12:29 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 336

raymond555

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Hey guys.
First,sorry for my lame english,just thought I may help anyone who cant decide between those 2 soundcards.
its not professional review,only my 2 cents about the audio experience of the cards.
I came from creative titanium HD,which I used for about 3 years,which was a great card.
 

 
First of all,the ZXR PCB and the whole card feels way more robust,the PCB is thicker,and the EMI shield which covers the whole card,not only part of it,make the card feel a lot more steady.
On the other hand,the PCB design of the STX II is a lot more cleaner,while the ZXR looks like a total mass.
 
Installing both cards is very easy,the only difference is the STX II needs molex power supply connection
 
The ZXR stock opamps are JRC2114D's for the I\V,and LME49710 for the buffers,while the STX II uses much better MUSES8920 for the I\V,and MUSES8820 for the buffers.

 

 
Sound quality:
My speakers are creative gigaworks T3,I've had also Monster Clarity HD model one monitors connected as well,which didnt change my overall impression about the two cards.
 
To put simply,the creative ZXR have better channel seperation,more "in your face" sound,while the STX II is more musical,more forgiving,more rounded.
 
No metter What opamp I used in the ZXR(except for the very expensive MUSES02),the bass is just bloated,the highs on heavy rock music is harsh,and I always had the impression that the card is trying too hard.
 
the best combination I found for the ZXR,which eliminated the bloated bass as much as possible,and softened the highs was MUSES02 in the I\V,and.....signetics NE5534N in the buffers...:)that's right,that 25 years old opamp sounded better than any OPA627BP\OPA134\AD797 I've tested in the buffer section.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
So,to sum things up,my winner is the Asus STX II,its fun,forgiving,musical,spacious,airy.
Although sometimes I miss the "in your face" presentation of the ZXR,I couldnt get over that annoying bloated bass.
 
As for those who still use the Creative Titanium HD and thinking to upgrade to the ZXR,I'd say a big NO!
 
On a side note,the Asus STX II software looks dated and ugly but is more usefull,while the creative ZXR software looks more modern,cleaner and more user friendly but loaded with nonesense.
I didnt had any issues with the drivers from both of them.
 
Update 26/7/2014
decided to put Muses02 only in the buffers,the sound now is more upfront compared to the muses8820,especially the highs.
warmer,without losing space and air,definitely an improvement.

 
Update 11/8
The muses01 arrived today,tried 2XMUSES01 in the I\V with MUSES02 in the buffers.
The sound with this combo can only described as disaster.
like someone playing in the toilet.


Next,2XMUSES02 in the I\V with MUSES01 in the buffers.
its like someone turned on a big ass limiter which cuts the sound way to soon.


Final choise,3Xmuses02,at first maybe I thought I was losing space with those,but after giving it another chance,those are definitely the best,and one of the best sounding wise opamp out there for my opinion.(maybe they needed a little burn in)
sound is great with those,so those are my final choise.WINNER!

 
Update 09/10/14
The AD827SQ arrived today,put them in both the ZXR and then on the STX II,and totally transformed the ZXR into a different beast.
In the ZXR,aside from the overwhelming lower bass,performed way better than the STX II,sound is warmer,punchy,fast,agressive without being offensive,mid bass is awesome,mids are great,trebel are crystal clear and with soft end to them.also stereo direct is great for music.
 
With the AD827SQ in the I\V in the STX II & Muses02 in the buffers,the sound is natural and cold,spot on,kinda boring and dull.
channel speration improved drastically,from avarage to great,but still not excellent as the ZXR. 
 




 
After spending time and money
wink_face.gif
 on both cards,I came to the conclution that the 200$ we pay for each of those soundcards,is for the board only,we pay for the basics,and we must replace those ****ty opamps that creative and asus deliever with thier cards.
Now With the AD827SQ,the ZXR rocks,change of heart I guess...
 
Update 14/11/2014
Just recieved the AD797B for the ZXR buffers.
sound is more rounded,fake,highs are way too soft,details are missing.

 
Im back to the Signetics 5534N for the buffers,those old opamps simply rock!
forget data sheets and measurements,those one of the best sounding opamps out there when it comes to sound stage,clarity,with warm sound,especially with the AD827SQ in the I\V.
So Im sticking to the ZXR with AD827SQ in the I\V,  Signetics 5534N in the buffers,smokes everything I've tried so far.


 

Update 20/11/2014
Threw some Signetics NE5534N with date codes from 83 instead 87,even better.more musical,warmar.


Just Awesome!!!!
L3000.gif
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Update:9\24\15
New Discrete Opamps arrived!
The Sparkos Labs SS3602
http://sparkoslabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/SS3601_SS3602.pdf
All I can say my dear fellas,is screw all Opamp from TI,Muses,ADI etc
The Sparkos Labs SS3602,Discrete Opamps,are put simply,just amazing.
The sound is very warm,wide and analog,specious without feeling distant Like AD8599 for example,noise and distortion....well there isn't any..:)
Although expensive,they worth every penny.
Sound is well balanced,without favors to any scale,Bass is tidy and clean,vocals are pleasant,Mids are present without being harsh,the highs are the best I've heard lately from any sound system,crystal clear and soft to the ears,without losing ground.
First I tried them in the I\V section in my Asus STX II,with muses02 in the buffers,while they sounded great and punchy,Asus were dumb enough to share the same screw for the bracket and shield,and since those SS3602 are huge,I had to gave up the shield.
So I went back to the creative ZXR,put them in the I\V,combined with LT1028ACN in the buffers,and compared to the STX,sound is just as great and even maybe more specious and more controlled,just amazing job by sparko's labs.
Finally an Opamp that is true to its meaning and claim,A first class audio Opamp,A new champ,the high claimed Muses02 costs almost the same price,and doesn't deliver half the sound quality of the SS3602.





WELL DONE SPARKO'S LABS,WELL DONE!!!!
 
update 11\5\15
http://www.head-fi.org/t/728124/asus-stx-ii-vs-creative-zxr/105#post_12053821
 
Jul 25, 2014 at 12:58 PM Post #2 of 336

Trancefury

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Awesome, I've been trying to gather information on these two cards! Can I ask, have you compared them using headphones? If so, which ones? Also, have you compared them whilst playing PC games?

I'm planning to pick up some HE-400 or HE-500's, and I primarily game, but listen to Trance/Electronic music in my off time. Trying to decide between these two cards to drive and headphones and provide some surround for positional queues. I know the ZXR has been labelled as more of a "gamer's" card compared to the STX I, but not sure about the STX II.
 
Jul 25, 2014 at 1:02 PM Post #3 of 336

raymond555

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Hi Trancefury!
both use the same TI headphone amplifier,but I havnt got the chance to use them with any headphones.
its true,the ZXR has better positioning in games.
 
Jul 27, 2014 at 9:42 PM Post #4 of 336

pbm2

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  .
 
As for those who still use the Creative Titanium HD and thinking to upgrade to the ZXR,I'd say a big NO!
 

 
Can you explain this? Does the ZXR has warmer mids? Some time ago i'd compared the X-Fi Titanium (non-HD) against the Sound Blaster Z and found the Z to have a warmer sound (which i didn't like). The Titanium was colder (more neutral and easier to my ears). Also, how do you compare the highs from the X-Fi Titanium HD to the ZXR? Does the Titanium HD have the same harshness?
 
Jul 28, 2014 at 2:08 PM Post #5 of 336

raymond555

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hi pbm2.
 
the titanium HD sounds with a the same set of opamps(muses02 I\V,signetics NE5534N buffers)way more neutral,very neutral infact,compared to the ZXR.
the ZXR sounds bloated.the bass is HEAVY,unbearable,I couldnt stand it.
 
The STX II in my opinion has the strong sound signature of the ZXR with the neutrality of the Titanium HD.
 
Jul 29, 2014 at 4:10 AM Post #6 of 336

Nirraven

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Hi,

I am new to this forum and i am happy that i found your review about these 2 soundcards
and i am interested to build a new pc.

I also wanna buy a new headphone, something like dt880(600ohm) or hd600.

I wanna use the soundcard for music and gaming and i am not sure what i should pick,
i heared from more sources that the ZxR havn't the best sound and i am not sure about
the Asus ROG Xonar Phoebus. Is the stx(2) also good enought in games or (only) good in sound?
 
Aug 1, 2014 at 12:59 PM Post #7 of 336

raymond555

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go for the STX II,but replacing the 8820 with MUSES02 in the buffers is a must, a whole new level.
its good at everything.
 
Aug 4, 2014 at 12:27 AM Post #8 of 336

Nirraven

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Thank's for the answer

Why i should go for the stx2 and not the stx?
What does the stx 2 better i don't see that much differnt but it cost 40 euros more in Austria.

I have no idea about the MUSES02 what does it better then the 8820?
I try do find something here in the forum.

Edit:
Why MUSES02 and not MUSES01? i only found that the MUSES01 have a good soundstage, whats your experience with the MUSES01/02?
 
Aug 9, 2014 at 1:41 PM Post #9 of 336

Batka

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I think the best config would be the one Muses 02 & two Muses 01:
 
1x MUSES 8820 --> MUSES 02   (Bipolar)
2x MUSES 8920 --> MUSES 01   (J-FET)
 
Have you tried this?
 
Aug 9, 2014 at 2:17 PM Post #10 of 336

raymond555

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I've ordered two MUSES01,they should arrive this week,and I'll report back.
thinking about trying MUSES01X3.
 
To Nirraven,the muses02 has way better soundstage than the 8820,the bass is tighter,the sound is more upfront,more lively.
with the 8820 the sound is very closed and muffled.
I dont have any experience with the first STX,but STX is just great.
 
Aug 10, 2014 at 3:01 AM Post #12 of 336

raymond555

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Hi,I've ordered from eBay,I found two very trusted sellers who sell genuine opamps,and other cool stuff for audio fans.
Gyrocom(audiotrak official seller) and mindofyou
 
Aug 11, 2014 at 8:51 AM Post #13 of 336

Batka

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This is interesting too:
 
"For better dynamic – for Stravinsky – you have to swap OP-AMPs – put the 8820 in I/V and 8920 in buffer. J-FET have a high slew rate and are not very dynamic if used in I/V stage.
Tested with MUSES01D and MUSES02D." - cristi
 
Link to Review.
 
Aug 11, 2014 at 11:31 PM Post #14 of 336

bcschmerker4

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Thanks for some objective information on how both the Creative® SB1510 and Asus® XONAR® STX™ II react to different dual audio amps.  ASUSTeK ships the STX II with some decent MUSES dual ops from the factory, but MUSES 02 in for MUSES 8820 looks a good option.  And do keep us informed on the 3x MUSES01 experiment.
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Aug 12, 2014 at 6:17 AM Post #15 of 336

Batka

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I think the a MUSES 8820 not the best choice from the ASUS...
 
I tested the STXII from the original swap kit (2xMUSES 8820, 2xMUSES 8920, 2xLME49720NA):
I think this is the best config:
 
Buffer: 1 x MUSES 8920
I/V:     2 x LME49720NA
 
The 8920 and the 49720 are very similar. But maybe the 8920 is better in buffer..
 
Raymond! Could you compare this, with the 3 x MUSES02?
 

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