HD 650 with xonar STX or a budget amp?
Oct 5, 2016 at 8:07 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 10

qTAP

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I spent countless hours trying to figure should I stick to my STX when I receive my HD 650 or should I just spend the money and get a amp. I hear people say the STX would be fine but others say it would not be beneficial to stay with a STX when using the HD 650. If I do decide to go with a amp which one is best for a budget that would be much better then my current STX. I mostly play games and listen to music. Also just keep in mind im a total newbie at this but can I use my STX for a DAC and plug my amp into it? Would that even be a good idea?

Any suggestions will help.
 
Oct 5, 2016 at 8:49 PM Post #2 of 10

timkwhite

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I spent countless hours trying to figure should I stick to my STX when I receive my HD 650 or should I just spend the money and get a amp. I hear people say the STX would be fine but others say it would not be beneficial to stay with a STX when using the HD 650. If I do decide to go with a amp which one is best for a budget that would be much better then my current STX. I mostly play games and listen to music. Also just keep in mind im a total newbie at this but can I use my STX for a DAC and plug my amp into it? Would that even be a good idea?

Any suggestions will help.


qTAP,
 
It is funny that you are asking this question and which scenario is better as I started with an Asus STX and the HD650. It is a pretty good setup to start with and I would say that if money is tight, just stick with the STX and enjoy the HD650's. This setup will serve you very well for a bit of time. During which time I would highly recommend that you save up 350 USD for a Schiit Valhalla 2 or a Bottle Head Crack. I now have a Schiit Bifrost feeding my Valhalla 2 (all stock, no uber, stock tubes, etc) and it is just a fantastic setup with the HD650. At head-fi meets everyone who listens to my setup is always leaving with a smile. It has convinced a few other head-fi'ers to go out and purchase a Valhalla 2 for their setup as well.
 
I would definitely recommend the amp upgrade first and then, further down the road, a dedicated DAC. The STX will serve you well for a while but if you ever get a chance to try out a tube amp, please do so as you will be amazed at the difference, especially with the HD650's bread and butter, female vocalists.
 
Enjoy the HD650!
 
tkw75
 
Oct 5, 2016 at 10:33 PM Post #3 of 10

PurpleAngel

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I spent countless hours trying to figure should I stick to my STX when I receive my HD 650 or should I just spend the money and get a amp. I hear people say the STX would be fine but others say it would not be beneficial to stay with a STX when using the HD 650. If I do decide to go with a amp which one is best for a budget that would be much better then my current STX. I mostly play games and listen to music. Also just keep in mind im a total newbie at this but can I use my STX for a DAC and plug my amp into it? Would that even be a good idea?

Any suggestions will help.

Did you disable the motherboard's on-board audio, in the BIOS, whne you installed the STX card?
Have you tried the Unified Xonar Drivers?
http://maxedtech.com/asus-xonar-unified-drivers/
 
If you did get an external headphone amplifier, you would be connecting it to the STX's line-output (RCA) jacks.
And the STX can not send it's Dolby Headphone surround sound thru the line-output (RCA) jacks.
Most music is stereo audio, so you would not have any need for headphone surround sound, for music.
 
For an amplifier to improve over the STX's built in amplifier.
Suggest you spend $250 fora Darkvoice 336 tube headphone amplifier.
https://www.massdrop.com/buy/dark-voice-366se
 
Oct 6, 2016 at 2:50 PM Post #4 of 10

qTAP

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qTAP,
 
It is funny that you are asking this question and which scenario is better as I started with an Asus STX and the HD650. It is a pretty good setup to start with and I would say that if money is tight, just stick with the STX and enjoy the HD650's. This setup will serve you very well for a bit of time. During which time I would highly recommend that you save up 350 USD for a Schiit Valhalla 2 or a Bottle Head Crack. I now have a Schiit Bifrost feeding my Valhalla 2 (all stock, no uber, stock tubes, etc) and it is just a fantastic setup with the HD650. At head-fi meets everyone who listens to my setup is always leaving with a smile. It has convinced a few other head-fi'ers to go out and purchase a Valhalla 2 for their setup as well.
 
I would definitely recommend the amp upgrade first and then, further down the road, a dedicated DAC. The STX will serve you well for a while but if you ever get a chance to try out a tube amp, please do so as you will be amazed at the difference, especially with the HD650's bread and butter, female vocalists.
 
Enjoy the HD650!
 
tkw75

 
Thank you for your response! I went ahead and look into the Schiit Valhalla.  That got some great reviews and people do indeed love it.  The only issue I can see for me is the price is it worth saving for or should I look at the Magni 2 uber? Also can I use my sound for a dac until later? I just can afford a amp right now. 
 
  Did you disable the motherboard's on-board audio, in the BIOS, whne you installed the STX card?
Have you tried the Unified Xonar Drivers?
http://maxedtech.com/asus-xonar-unified-drivers/
 
If you did get an external headphone amplifier, you would be connecting it to the STX's line-output (RCA) jacks.
And the STX can not send it's Dolby Headphone surround sound thru the line-output (RCA) jacks.
Most music is stereo audio, so you would not have any need for headphone surround sound, for music.
 
For an amplifier to improve over the STX's built in amplifier.
Suggest you spend $250 fora Darkvoice 336 tube headphone amplifier.
https://www.massdrop.com/buy/dark-voice-366se

 
Motherboard are disabled in bios.  I have not look into Unified Xonar Drivers are they much better then stock drivers? I never used Dolby. So I would use the RCA to connect my sound card to my amp? I would only lose Dolby? I'm I correct? Thanks for the amp suggestions ill be looking into that.

 
Oct 6, 2016 at 3:51 PM Post #5 of 10

PurpleAngel

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Motherboard are disabled in bios.  I have not look into Unified Xonar Drivers are they much better then stock drivers? I never used Dolby. So I would use the RCA to connect my sound card to my amp? I would only lose Dolby? I'm I correct? Thanks for the amp suggestions ill be looking into that.

 
The Unified Xonar Drivers are considered slightly better then the Asus drivers.
Guess the person (or people) at Unified Xonar Drivers have a little more freedom to include the latest updates and do more driver tweaking, then Asus.
 
I bought the Darkvoice 336SE a few months ago and have no regrets buying it.
 
Oct 6, 2016 at 10:32 PM Post #6 of 10

timkwhite

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Thank you for your response! I went ahead and look into the Schiit Valhalla.  That got some great reviews and people do indeed love it.  The only issue I can see for me is the price is it worth saving for or should I look at the Magni 2 uber? Also can I use my sound for a dac until later? I just can afford a amp right now. 
 
 
Motherboard are disabled in bios.  I have not look into Unified Xonar Drivers are they much better then stock drivers? I never used Dolby. So I would use the RCA to connect my sound card to my amp? I would only lose Dolby? I'm I correct? Thanks for the amp suggestions ill be looking into that.


​The Magni 2 Uber would be OK with the HD650 but I would suggest that you just use the STX for now, enjoy the HD650's and save up for a great amp. The Darkvoice that PurpleAngel suggested is another great amp at an 'affordable' price. Personally, I would save some money and look on the used market for a nice tube amp. The 650 is a high impedance HP and as such, needs the voltage swing that a tube amp can deliver. Do check out the HD650 thread and read all 1 billion posts (not quite that many, but it feels like it sometimes).
 
For now just enjoy the STX/HD650 paring and take the next few months to do some research. If you can attend a local meetup I HIGHLY recommend that you bring your 650's and audition several amps as everyone's ears and listening preferences are different and what I think sounds great you may think otherwise. Just enjoy what you have and when you find something that sounds better, make that you upgrade path. No need to rush into spending money when you haven't enjoyed your current setup.
 
Oh, and just use the STX DAC when you do upgrade your AMP. The AMP makes more difference than the DAC and so the AMP should be your first upgrade.
 
Cheers!
 
Tim
 
Oct 11, 2016 at 4:43 AM Post #7 of 10

qTAP

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​The Magni 2 Uber would be OK with the HD650 but I would suggest that you just use the STX for now, enjoy the HD650's and save up for a great amp. The Darkvoice that PurpleAngel suggested is another great amp at an 'affordable' price. Personally, I would save some money and look on the used market for a nice tube amp. The 650 is a high impedance HP and as such, needs the voltage swing that a tube amp can deliver. Do check out the HD650 thread and read all 1 billion posts (not quite that many, but it feels like it sometimes).
 
For now just enjoy the STX/HD650 paring and take the next few months to do some research. If you can attend a local meetup I HIGHLY recommend that you bring your 650's and audition several amps as everyone's ears and listening preferences are different and what I think sounds great you may think otherwise. Just enjoy what you have and when you find something that sounds better, make that you upgrade path. No need to rush into spending money when you haven't enjoyed your current setup.
 
Oh, and just use the STX DAC when you do upgrade your AMP. The AMP makes more difference than the DAC and so the AMP should be your first upgrade.
 
Cheers!
 
Tim

I got my HD 650 and plug it into my STX and played some FLAC songs. I sadly don't see a huge improvement from my prior headphones HD 558. I am now thinking about purchasing a AMP sooner then I thought. Yeah I looked into what PurpleAngel suggested the Darkvoice and your suggestion the Valhalla 2. I did a lot of researching especially on the objective 2 ODAC/Amplifier only because its cheaper and I already dropped some cash on my HD 650. However I am going to decide between the Valhalla 2 or Darkvoice because it doesn't seem much of a upgrade from my STX if I go with the O2. But now I got more questions about the tube amps. Do I often have to replace the tubes? Are they expensive to replace? Would they be good for gaming as well? Also where is the best places to buy them? 
 
Oct 11, 2016 at 9:42 AM Post #8 of 10

timkwhite

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  I got my HD 650 and plug it into my STX and played some FLAC songs. I sadly don't see a huge improvement from my prior headphones HD 558. I am now thinking about purchasing a AMP sooner then I thought. Yeah I looked into what PurpleAngel suggested the Darkvoice and your suggestion the Valhalla 2. I did a lot of researching especially on the objective 2 ODAC/Amplifier only because its cheaper and I already dropped some cash on my HD 650. However I am going to decide between the Valhalla 2 or Darkvoice because it doesn't seem much of a upgrade from my STX if I go with the O2. But now I got more questions about the tube amps. Do I often have to replace the tubes? Are they expensive to replace? Would they be good for gaming as well? Also where is the best places to buy them? 

 
I am glad you received the HD650's. The first thing I would recommend is you use the HD650's for a week or more to let your hearing acclimate to them. Our hearing is affected by what we perceive we want or do not want to hear, so let your brain switch off for a while. Then once you are no longer listening to the headphones and are instead listening to the music, switch back to the HD559's. I believe then you will hear the difference, and noticeably.
 
On to the amps: yes, you will hear a difference when you switch to a tube amp with the HD650's. The tubes will last you through thousands of hours of listening so unless you are leaving the amp on all the time (not recommended) you will be a nice long life out of them (mine are 2+ years old and going strong). If you do need to replace them, tubes can range from inexpensive (Schiit charges peanuts for replacement Valhalla 2 tubes) to mind-blowingly expensive for some rare NOS (new old stock) units that are highly saught after for this or that reason. I am not into tube rolling at all so I cannot comment on the various tubes but there is no doubt that they can change an amps sound signature, sometimes to a very large degree.
 
I cannot comment on the gaming aspect as while I do game, I am a casual gammer at best and do not go for the popular FPS but rather racing sims. A Ferrari V10 F1 engine sounds fantastic through them though... that much I know.
 
Again, I would suggest you take your time, do some research and just listen to the music for a while, then go back and forth and you will see the differences.
 
One final note, I would recommend skipping the O2; it will not be that much different than the STX. Save your cash for a tube amp.\
 
Good luck and check back in a week or so...
 
Oct 11, 2016 at 8:55 PM Post #9 of 10

qTAP

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I am glad you received the HD650's. The first thing I would recommend is you use the HD650's for a week or more to let your hearing acclimate to them. Our hearing is affected by what we perceive we want or do not want to hear, so let your brain switch off for a while. Then once you are no longer listening to the headphones and are instead listening to the music, switch back to the HD559's. I believe then you will hear the difference, and noticeably.
 
On to the amps: yes, you will hear a difference when you switch to a tube amp with the HD650's. The tubes will last you through thousands of hours of listening so unless you are leaving the amp on all the time (not recommended) you will be a nice long life out of them (mine are 2+ years old and going strong). If you do need to replace them, tubes can range from inexpensive (Schiit charges peanuts for replacement Valhalla 2 tubes) to mind-blowingly expensive for some rare NOS (new old stock) units that are highly saught after for this or that reason. I am not into tube rolling at all so I cannot comment on the various tubes but there is no doubt that they can change an amps sound signature, sometimes to a very large degree.
 
I cannot comment on the gaming aspect as while I do game, I am a casual gammer at best and do not go for the popular FPS but rather racing sims. A Ferrari V10 F1 engine sounds fantastic through them though... that much I know.
 
Again, I would suggest you take your time, do some research and just listen to the music for a while, then go back and forth and you will see the differences.
 
One final note, I would recommend skipping the O2; it will not be that much different than the STX. Save your cash for a tube amp.\
 
Good luck and check back in a week or so...

I'll do exactly that. Thank you for all your help! You're extremely helpful thanks a lot. 
 

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