Ideal xonar sound card for my pc
Jan 4, 2013 at 8:28 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 32

nurmal

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Hey guys, just bought the ATH-AD700 headphones, have decided all the parts but the sound card, i want dolby headphones for gaming, so im considering xonar essence st or stx, but not sure what would be best for gaming... My mobo is a z77 extreme6, any inputs would be awesome... Ty
 
Jan 4, 2013 at 10:06 AM Post #2 of 32

cel4145

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The differences between ST and STX are negligible.

For gaming, the Creative X-Fi Titanium HD is generally considered a better choice over the Xonar. Better game audio support. Look into it as well.
 
Jan 5, 2013 at 12:20 AM Post #4 of 32

NamelessPFG

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Quote:
Does it support dolby headphones? I want the xonar coz it supports dolby headphones...

 
CMSS-3D Headphone is used in its place for X-Fi cards.
 
For software-mixed games, it performs about equally, just with a tonal shift in the opposite direction (bit more treble and a bit less bass, nothing an EQ couldn't fix).
 
For DirectSound3D and OpenAL games, it's far superior to my ears since it's presenting a native 3D binaural mix of sorts, instead of a virtual 7.1 speaker system. Dolby Headphone can't take advantage of the 3D positional audio those APIs offer.
 
Jan 5, 2013 at 1:17 AM Post #5 of 32

nurmal

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So, dolby headphones not worth it than? Or its just that x-fi is so much better for gaming? Will that x-fi be better to use with my headphones? Im confused, coz i read tons of reviews and guides telling me to use dolby headphones that it was awesome...
 
Jan 5, 2013 at 1:44 AM Post #6 of 32

NamelessPFG

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Quote:
So, dolby headphones not worth it than? Or its just that x-fi is so much better for gaming? Will that x-fi be better to use with my headphones? Im confused, coz i read tons of reviews and guides telling me to use dolby headphones that it was awesome...

 
Oh, don't get me wrong, Dolby Headphone is good at what it does-virtual 5.1/7.1.
 
It's just that I just happen to like a lot of the PC games from the time when hardware sound acceleration was common (Thief, Unreal Tournament, and Battlefield 1942 are amongst my favorites), and those tend to sound best on X-Fi cards.
 
In addition, those games can usually provide proper 3D sound like real life, something more than just a simulated home theater speaker system, due to the fact that the APIs they use pass 3D audio coordinates off to the sound card to mix and play with as it pleases. This is where CMSS-3D Headphone gets its edge, because it can use that information and DH can't.
 
A lot of newer games don't really utilize the X-Fi DSP as much because of the prevalence of XAudio2 and FMOD Ex and whatnot that do everything in software (and, unfortunately, worse than something like OpenAL with Rapture3D), but then you have the occasional release like Borderlands 2 that actually has OpenAL support hidden deep inside, which X-Fi cards will make great use of.
 
Also note that a lot of the hype about Dolby Headphone, justified as it is, comes from console gamers who don't really have the option for proper 3D audio to begin with.
 
Jan 5, 2013 at 1:53 AM Post #7 of 32

nurmal

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Hmmm... So for someone who only uses headphones to play, and want the best experience for it, while playing online and skyping at the same time... What would be your suggestion? X-fi or xonar? i only play rpgs mostly mmos and sometimes i play some fps.
 
Jan 5, 2013 at 2:52 AM Post #8 of 32

PurpleAngel

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Quote:
Hmmm... So for someone who only uses headphones to play, and want the best experience for it, while playing online and skyping at the same time... What would be your suggestion? X-fi or Xonar? i only play rpgs mostly mmos and sometimes i play some fps.

Save some cash and just get the Asus Xonar DG ($27, PCI) or DGX ($45, PCI-E) sound card.
Comes with a half-way decent headphone amplifier, but the ATH-AD700 do not really respond to amps that much anyway.
And has Dolby Headphone 5.1 surround sound.
You can always upgrade to another sound card in the future, maybe when you upgrade to a headphone with decent bass.
 
Jan 5, 2013 at 8:59 AM Post #10 of 32

RPGWiZaRD

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Will that still be way better than onboard card on z77 extreme 6 from asrock?

 
Technically yes, especially since it's able to provide stronger and more dynamic output. But subjectively if you hear the difference or even like the difference between them is another matter. The ALC898 chip on your motherboard is very good for an onboard chip, it's the latest Realtek chip. If you haven't already, try using 5.1 speaker mode, it greatly improves the 3d sound in my experience but you won't be able to use Dolby Headphone then but as a result you get more accurate sound with better surround sound than "stereo" speaker config.
 
Set it up exactly like this:
 

 
None of the "optional" speakers should be ticked, then it doesn't work as it should.
 
Jan 5, 2013 at 9:45 AM Post #12 of 32

ZARIM

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The ST/STX are better with music applications and movies but they will equally serve games well and I will recommend the ST because PCi port and sound better with powerfull AMPs included. BTW if add external desktop AMPs/DAC via RCA or Optical output on ST/STX and sound Willbe much better than any soundcard.
 
Jan 5, 2013 at 12:44 PM Post #13 of 32

PurpleAngel

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Quote:
Will that still be way better than onboard card on z77 extreme 6 from asrock?

Chances are the motherboard's on-board audio (Realtek) was picked because of price, not quality.
The current on-board audio might be decent, but sound card makers have to make their sound cards sound better then on-board or their customer would just keep returning the cards.
 
Jan 5, 2013 at 1:37 PM Post #14 of 32

RPGWiZaRD

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Quote:
Hmm... Doesnt work for me as i will only use headphones...

 
I use only headphones and use only 5.1 speaker setting, so there is that. Everything doesn't work as you expect, I personally always go through all settings to determine what happens, no matter what it says. :wink: Don't worry it's a common thing to use 5.1 speakers with headphones really, gamers typically use it but IMO it should also be for music as it brings a tiny improvement to soundstage/imaging.
 
In many games such as Unreal Tournament it really makes you hear the directional cues. Also Skyrim for example NEEDS 5.1 speaker setting to sound like it's supposed to (no directional cues in stereo, very nice with 5.1).
 
Jan 6, 2013 at 7:08 AM Post #15 of 32

nurmal

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Oh, don't get me wrong, Dolby Headphone is good at what it does-virtual 5.1/7.1.

It's just that I just happen to like a lot of the PC games from the time when hardware sound acceleration was common (Thief, Unreal Tournament, and Battlefield 1942 are amongst my favorites), and those tend to sound best on X-Fi cards.

In addition, those games can usually provide proper 3D sound like real life, something more than just a simulated home theater speaker system, due to the fact that the APIs they use pass 3D audio coordinates off to the sound card to mix and play with as it pleases. This is where CMSS-3D Headphone gets its edge, because it can use that information and DH can't.

A lot of newer games don't really utilize the X-Fi DSP as much because of the prevalence of XAudio2 and FMOD Ex and whatnot that do everything in software (and, unfortunately, worse than something like OpenAL with Rapture3D), but then you have the occasional release like Borderlands 2 that actually has OpenAL support hidden deep inside, which X-Fi cards will make great use of.

Also note that a lot of the hype about Dolby Headphone, justified as it is, comes from console gamers who don't really have the option for proper 3D audio to begin with.


Ok... Im really confused now lol, i have been using onboard sound for 10 years now, and, after reading lots of stuff on how discrete sound cards are better, i decided to go ahead and try it, than i saw the "mad lust envys" guide on headphones, and i got ad700 on a sale for 70 bucks, and was thinking about going with xonar essence coz of its amp for dolby headphones. I love wow arenas and some offline rpgs, aswell as some other mmo's like swtor and will prolly play the next blizz mmo.

All in all i was deciding betweem xonar essence st or stx, now you guys made me rethink and consider creative x-fi... Tough decision for someone who was used to onboard sound lol...

Btw, i dont play old games other than Maniac Mansion: Day of The Tentacle...
 

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