Essence STX II Help/Recommendation
Jun 26, 2015 at 4:13 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 24

Batmaz

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I ask for help today with my audio card, an Essence STX II. When I hook them up to my monitors I get a horrible hissing sound. I looked around some forums including this one on how to solve this issue and bought and tested a ground loop insulator. The hissing is gone now but there is still a thin high pitched sound and a low hum. I have changed molex cables, I have changed the PCIE slot it was in, I have changed the RCA and TRS cables that I was using, and I no longer know what to do. I called Asus and they said to send the card back. I thought I could ask you guys for some opinions on what to do. I do not want to modify the card as I am unable to do as such. I am new to audio and figured I would get one of the better sound cards out there but it has only been giving me problems. If I end up sending it back, I am considering replacing it with a Schiit Loki + Vali. I want to keep it around 250 dollars. I have 2 KRK RP 5's and might get a nice pair of headphones later. Any suggestions on the course of actions I should take?
 
My system is a Rampage 5 extreme mobo with a 980ti G1 Gaming and an AX1200i. That is all that should matter for audio as far as I know.
 
Jun 26, 2015 at 8:09 PM Post #2 of 24

PurpleAngel

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When you installed the Essence STX II, did you disable the motherboard's on-board audio, in the BIOS?
 
Jun 27, 2015 at 12:39 AM Post #5 of 24

cel4145

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It gets worse when the graphics card is under load, so I don't know if that has to do with onboard audio. I'm thinking it has to do with EMI.


It may or may not since it's common for high end graphics cards to cause electrical interference with audio, but you should still try disabling the onboard audio in the bios to see if that helps.

External DAC/headphone amps do often eliminate noise problems like this. Since you say you are currently using the setup with speakers and headphones, I would recommend a headphone amp, or combo dac/headphone amp, that also has a pre-amp out for connecting your speakers and using the same volume control for speakers or headphone. It will get old plugging and unplugging your headphone amp and speakers to use each.
 
Jun 27, 2015 at 1:52 AM Post #6 of 24

PurpleAngel

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  No. I did not. How do I do that?

 
When you first turn on the computer, during the first few seconds hit the delete key a few times, the computer should go into the BIOS, read the motherboard manual for locating the on-board audio settings.
 
Jun 27, 2015 at 1:53 AM Post #7 of 24

PurpleAngel

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  It gets worse when the graphics card is under load, so I don't know if that has to do with on-board audio. I'm thinking it has to do with EMI.

 
Can you move the sound card into a slot farther away from the graphics card?
 
Jun 27, 2015 at 2:35 PM Post #8 of 24

Batmaz

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It may or may not since it's common for high end graphics cards to cause electrical interference with audio, but you should still try disabling the onboard audio in the bios to see if that helps.

External DAC/headphone amps do often eliminate noise problems like this. Since you say you are currently using the setup with speakers and headphones, I would recommend a headphone amp, or combo dac/headphone amp, that also has a pre-amp out for connecting your speakers and using the same volume control for speakers or headphone. It will get old plugging and unplugging your headphone amp and speakers to use each.

What would you recommend? Like I said before, I was looking into the Schiit Loki and Vali as a DAC amp combo. I disabled the onboard audio and the problem persisted. It made no difference.
 
 
   
Can you move the sound card into a slot farther away from the graphics card?

It isd already in the slot farthest away from the graphics card.
 
Jun 27, 2015 at 3:25 PM Post #10 of 24

cel4145

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What would you recommend? Like I said before, I was looking into the Schiit Loki and Vali as a DAC amp combo. I disabled the onboard audio and the problem persisted. It made no difference.


The Vali does not have pre-amp capability. The Schiit Magni 2 Uber does, so you would not only have your speakers hooked up to it, but also could use the same volume control. If you would like a tube amp, the Little Dot MK II has input and output jacks: http://www.littledot.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=816. Not completely sure if the RCA output is controlled by the volume control. You could ask at Little Dot. Note that the Little Dot would not be great for very low impedance headphones. Better for mid to high impedance.

Also, are you definitely going to use DSD? It's quite debatedable whether or not DSD offers any benefits over regular CD encoding. If not, might as well go for a Modi 2 and save yourself some money.

Now if you would be interested in a combo unit, the Audio-GD NFB-15 is a comparable dac/headphone amp/pre-amp to the Schiit products in this price range (the NFB-15 DAC is arguably better than the Modi because it uses dual DAC chips). And it has a switch on the front for choosing headphone output or speakers. So you can leave your headphones plugged in and switch between them and your speakers. The higher model NFB-11 comes with a better DAC chip than the NFB-15 that also supports DSD.

Then, for a good budget option, I think the Aune T1 may have pre-amp outs: http://www.amazon.com/Aune-T1-Generation-Amplifier-Decoder/dp/B00A2QJMRY. Ask here to double check: http://www.head-fi.org/t/633006/aune-t1-usb-tube-dac-ss-amp-discussion-thread-see-first-post-for-faq-updated-on-02-14-15. Note that the Aune and the Little Dot have an advantage over the Schiit Vali: you can change the tubes if you want, do a little of what's called "tube rolling" to tweak the sound.
 
Jun 27, 2015 at 5:52 PM Post #11 of 24

Batmaz

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What is DSD? I'm assuming that if I don't know what it is then I don't need it but I am still curious. 
I think Tube amps look a lot cooler. How does the Aune T1 or the Little Dot MK2 stack up against the NFB 15 or 11? And what on earth is this amp used for?
http://www.amazon.com/GemTune-Class--Tube-Amplifier-EL34-B/dp/B00DRUY6EG/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1435441092&sr=1-3&keywords=tube+amp&pebp=1435441093533&perid=09ZEHAZJ964NPJ2HCW8P
Would you also suggest getting a DAC if I decide on purchasing the Little Dot, as it doesn't seem to have one built in?
I guess a combo unit would be a better option because I have a small desk and would rather keep as few cables and items on it to begin with. 
 
Jun 27, 2015 at 8:12 PM Post #12 of 24

PurpleAngel

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  What is DSD? I'm assuming that if I don't know what it is then I don't need it but I am still curious. 
I think Tube amps look a lot cooler. How does the Aune T1 or the Little Dot MK2 stack up against the NFB 15 or 11? And what on earth is this amp used for?
http://www.amazon.com/GemTune-Class--Tube-Amplifier-EL34-B/dp/B00DRUY6EG/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1435441092&sr=1-3&keywords=tube+amp&pebp=1435441093533&perid=09ZEHAZJ964NPJ2HCW8P
Would you also suggest getting a DAC if I decide on purchasing the Little Dot, as it doesn't seem to have one built in?
I guess a combo unit would be a better option because I have a small desk and would rather keep as few cables and items on it to begin with. 

 
I'm guessing you will never see a need to use DSD.
Depending on what headphones you get, you may or may not have a need to use a tube headphone amplifier (or hybrid).
 
Guess returning the essence STX II and getting something else makes the most sense.
Sometimes the op-amps on the sound cards come lose, if you removed the EMI shield, you could make sure all the op-amps are firmly seated in place
 
Do you have a need for Dolby Headphone, which is what the STX II provided (are you heavy into FPS gaming)?
 
For around $200 (eBay), you can get a used Modi/Magni setup.
 
Jun 27, 2015 at 8:22 PM Post #13 of 24

cel4145

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What is DSD? I'm assuming that if I don't know what it is then I don't need it but I am still curious. 


DSD is a new way of encoding streaming music at a high bit rate and sampling rate. If you read in the sound science forum on Head-Fi, most people agree in that part of that forum it offers you nothing but a way for them to charge you more for music. CD quality is good enough. If you plan on listening to CDs, Spotify, mp3s, YouTube, iTunes, DVDs or Blu-rays, etc.--all the usual stuff--then you would have no use for it.
 
Jun 28, 2015 at 4:27 PM Post #14 of 24

Batmaz

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DSD is a new way of encoding streaming music at a high bit rate and sampling rate. If you read in the sound science forum on Head-Fi, most people agree in that part of that forum it offers you nothing but a way for them to charge you more for music. CD quality is good enough. If you plan on listening to CDs, Spotify, mp3s, YouTube, iTunes, DVDs or Blu-rays, etc.--all the usual stuff--then you would have no t.

Yeah, I don't think I will need that anytime soon.
 
 
   
I'm guessing you will never see a need to use DSD.
Depending on what headphones you get, you may or may not have a need to use a tube headphone amplifier (or hybrid).
 
Guess returning the essence STX II and getting something else makes the most sense.
Sometimes the op-amps on the sound cards come lose, if you removed the EMI shield, you could make sure all the op-amps are firmly seated in place
 
Do you have a need for Dolby Headphone, which is what the STX II provided (are you heavy into FPS gaming)?
 
For around $200 (eBay), you can get a used Modi/Magni setup.

I would prefer to buy new. I am only worried about tube amps because of the possibility that the tubes might break. We are still renovating, so I don't even know if I will have a safe place on my desk to put one. If a tube amp doesn't work out, what would you guys suggest? And what cheap DAC would be good that uses a USB in?
 
Jun 28, 2015 at 7:34 PM Post #15 of 24

PurpleAngel

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I would prefer to buy new. I am only worried about tube amps because of the possibility that the tubes might break. We are still renovating, so I don't even know if I will have a safe place on my desk to put one. If a tube amp doesn't work out, what would you guys suggest? And what cheap DAC would be good that uses a USB in?

 
The FiiO E10K ($76) and Schiit Fulla ($79) are both USB/DAC/amps
 

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