Looking to upgrade Soundcard
Sep 12, 2009 at 4:41 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

SpoolinEclipse

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Hey all. I recieved my Alessandro MS-1i headphones yesterday. I'm very happy with how they sound, though I'm trying to decide if upgrading to a Xonar DX or Forte 7.1 would be a worthy upgrade. I've been finding myself gaming much less these days and just listening to music.

I'm currently using an Audigy2 ZS on Vista64, and I've had a few driver issues already, I guess they just released a 64bit Vista driver in June, so it may improve i'm not sure.

I like the fact that the Forte has a headphone amp built in, but it's also a lot more than the Xonar DX. ($64.99 - $140)Is the sound difference worth it?

Thanks
 
Sep 12, 2009 at 7:39 PM Post #2 of 17

ROBSCIX

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The Forte is considered one of the best gaming cards avialable right now. It has a hardware based DSP for gaming or other uses. The headphone amplifier on the Forte sounds pretty good for a built in unit. Comparing these two, as I actually have tested both cards I woull take the Forte 7.1 for a few reasons. You can slo upgrade the sound quality using higher grade opamps..
 
Sep 12, 2009 at 9:32 PM Post #3 of 17

Tuxify

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The Xonar Essence STX also has a built-in headphone amp. It is, however, a little bit more than the DX.

I just received the STX in the mail the other day, and even with my ATH-A700s (no amp required), and my self-powered Swans D1080Mkii, I noticed a distinct difference between my A700s and speakers amped and un-amped.

On my A700s, there was a presence of previously non-existent bass, which was a very good thing. I'm not a bass head (seeing as I own the A700s and the D1080Mkii 2.0 monitors). The cans got louder, but before I never knew what this meant. After hearing a decent built-in amp with a very good sound card, I understood what louder was. I also noticed the mids and highs on male vocals sounded a lot less sibilance in the music I was listening to, (mostly Hip Hop).

I don't really have much else to base my suggestion on, just that I upgraded from onboard sound (P35-DS3L), and I haven't heard as many headphones, speakers, or much of anything else, other than in my gear's price range.

I did, however suggest the Forte to my buddy with HD555s and a similar computer source to mine (no speakers though), because the Forte isn't as 2.0/2.1 friendly as the Essence is.

All three are very solid cards, so I'm sure you will be happy with whatever you choose.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 1:54 PM Post #4 of 17

SpoolinEclipse

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Thank you for the help guys. Now I'm trying to decide if the DX would still be a substantial upgrade over the Audigy2zs, where as an STX or Forte would be a much better upgrade. Though it seems like having the built in amp is a really nice feature, and basically what makes the forte or stx nearly double the price.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 7:04 PM Post #5 of 17

ROBSCIX

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The DX is a noticable upgrade over the Audigy2. Purchase the card at a local shop with a good return policy and test it out. If it isn't better then what you have return it and look for something else. A Forte 7.1 or STX 2.0 are much higher upgrades though..
The DX is a pretty good card considering the price point.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 8:38 PM Post #6 of 17

SpoolinEclipse

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Thanks Rob, I think i'll go that route. I've heard for the price the DX its tough to beat, but I don't upgrade my soundcards too often, so I'll see if I can try one out and see how much of an improvement it is and go from there. Really appreciate all the help everyone.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 9:30 PM Post #7 of 17

chipzahoy

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Buy the Musiland US 01 USB DAC if you can. I haven't done any comparisons in my main system, but it's quite an improvement over the DX on my room computer. I suspect that with modding (quality linear PS over stock USB bus power/capacitance upgrades) it would probably come dangerously close to or even surpass the stock Essence in terms of sound quality.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 10:20 PM Post #8 of 17

SpoolinEclipse

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Thanks Chip, I've also considered going with an external DAC just still very new to the sound quality stuff, but it's becoming a very very addicting hobby. I'll google that and read up on it.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 10:26 PM Post #9 of 17

ROBSCIX

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Quote:

Originally Posted by SpoolinEclipse /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Thanks Rob, I think i'll go that route. I've heard for the price the DX its tough to beat, but I don't upgrade my soundcards too often, so I'll see if I can try one out and see how much of an improvement it is and go from there. Really appreciate all the help everyone.


Well I wouldn't say it is tough to beat. I would say hard to beat for the price for sure.
wink.gif
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 10:28 PM Post #10 of 17

ROBSCIX

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Quote:

Originally Posted by chipzahoy /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Buy the Musiland US 01 USB DAC if you can. I haven't done any comparisons in my main system, but it's quite an improvement over the DX on my room computer. I suspect that with modding (quality linear PS over stock USB bus power/capacitance upgrades) it would probably come dangerously close to or even surpass the stock Essence in terms of sound quality.


A external DAC may be a good way to go for him. What is the price of this unit? What is so appealing ot many about the DX is the cheap price tag. However, it is a entry level card and there is better soundcards and other audio gear out there but the price goes up quickly and considerably.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 10:37 PM Post #11 of 17

SpoolinEclipse

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Theres a few of the Musiland US 01 USB DAC's on ebay now for 85 shipped, I'm not sure if I can use my zalman microphone with it though, I chat with friends regularly online so i'm going to try and see if I can use it.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 11:05 PM Post #13 of 17

chipzahoy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ROBSCIX /img/forum/go_quote.gif
That is not a bad deal.
I have never heard this unit though so I cannot comment on the sound quality.



I don't own an Essence, but I think one of my friends has a stock STX lying around. I'll do an A-B comparison if he hasn't sold it yet.

I still prefer DX for gaming/movies, but the modded US 01 is significantly better for music playback.

Quote:

Originally Posted by SpoolinEclipse
Theres a few of the Musiland US 01 USB DAC's on ebay now for 85 shipped, I'm not sure if I can use my zalman microphone with it though, I chat with friends regularly online so i'm going to try and see if I can use it.


Unfortunately, there are no inputs other than USB on the US 01. You may have to use the mic in of your onboard audio to chat with friends.
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 3:03 PM Post #14 of 17

SpoolinEclipse

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Yeah i'm starting to think an external DAC is what im going to lean towards since I barely game anymore. I guess its not to much of a pain to use the onboard mic and whatnot. I've come acrost the Zero Dac for 150 that comes with a amp, but im still considering the Musiland, then purchasing a seperate amp for it.
 
Sep 14, 2009 at 3:41 PM Post #15 of 17

ROBSCIX

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An external DAC may be the way to go for you. If you thnk it fits your needs the best go this direction. You can still game with a DAC, your just missing any effects etc..
to note, you can also use more then one sound device. Get a cheap gamer card for your games and use the DAC for music.
 

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