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The Xonar Essence STX Q/A, tweaking, impressions thread

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by telix, Apr 28, 2009.
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  1. PurpleAngel Contributor
    I used headphones from 32-Ohm to 600-Ohm, with my Essence STX.
    So 50-Ohm headphone is fine.
    From my under standing, headphones like the Fostex T50P are not as picking about the output impedance of the source (amplifier).
    Replacing the two JRC 2114 (I/V) with LME49720 is a low cost way of trying different op-amps.
  2. diforce
    Thanks for the help, have some final thoughts before getting me a STX card. 
    I'm using windows 10, Should I get the original Asus drivers package or get that UNi Xonar drivers ? 
    If the UNi Xonar drivers are better , should I get the normal package or the Low DPC latency package ? 
    Will be using only my modded Fostex T50RP ( 50 ohm's , so gain should be at normal right ? ) for music and gaming , for gaming I would like to have the option to mimic some sort of surround sound via software , does the UNi driver supports that ? 
    Also , please suggest a good OP AMPS upgrade that will not break the bank :) 
    Oh and almost forgot , my PC has a rather noisy GPU card radeon R9 270x with something like 45 fans. 
    Could I wrap the STX in some magnetic interferance isulating wrap ( that yellow thing? ) ? would that be wise ? or should I worry about heat ? the PC case is ventilated very well , or should I wrap certain areas that are prone to pick up magnetic interferance only ? 
  3. Maquis22
    Hi, new user and STX owner here. I've been reading things about leaving the volume at 76%. Is this necessary when you're using the SPDIF output? Or is it best to leave everything at 100%?
  4. PurpleAngel Contributor
    I always use the Unified Xonar Drivers, my guess is the guy(s) behind the Unified Xonar drivers can include updates to the software a lot sooner then Asus, with their software.
    If there might be an electrical noise issue inside your computer case, then you might consider getting something like the low cost Asus Xonar DG or DGX sound card and an external (optical input) DAC and headphone amplifier.
  5. PurpleAngel Contributor
    I think if you can set the PC/STX volume setting at 100%, without any issues, for using S/PDIF (optical/coaxial) then great.
    Otherwise setting it to around 76% is almost as good.
  6. lucianpescaru
    76% default is really 100% digital so leave as it is or it will distort on louder tracks.
  7. Maquis22
     What issues would those be? I have had it set to 100 for a while and haven't noticed anything major.
    Really? So which volume control should be 76? There's the speaker icon in the system tray, the Audio Center and then there's my music player.
  8. lucianpescaru
    I no longer have the card, the wave volume in audio center should be left at default. Windows volume to 100%.
  9. mindbomb
    yes, the default mixer values correspond to full output. The other thing I noticed is that if you do plan on using dolby headphone, you actually should lower the system volume to prevent clipping. It can get to like +10db for a 5.1 signal and +14db for 7.1. So you'll want to stick to a windows volume of around 50% or 40% respectively or lower.
  10. cdelucia
    Maybe a dumb question, but has anyone ever modded the STX to have the op-amps installed in the bottom of the card? Basically the way the card installs on the motherboard has the top side (with the metal cover) facing the bottom of the computer case. Has anyone tried unsoldering the op-amp holders and re-soldering them to the other side of the card? Reason I'm asking is I just purchased an STX II and was entertaining the thought of getting some Burson SS v5's for it but I also have two graphics cards - one of which is directly below the STX II. Basically there's no way I'd ever have room enough for the SS v5's (~1-1/4" tall) due to my mobo layout w/ graphics cards. So, there's always the option to use a PCIe extender along with a special bay mounting bracket to put the card in the 5-1/4" bay area of my tower (and have cables coming out the front of the case) or install the card in my top most PCIe slot and have to re-jigger the op-amp mounts to have SS v5's sticking up towards my processor - there'd be enough room that way.
    Also realized the pinout for the op-amps would be mirrored, if I'm not mistaken. Man, this really isn't a great idea. . . 
  11. PurpleAngel Contributor
    If there are no issues with the PC audio set to 100%, then I guess there is no issue.
    I believe the STX main volume control and the PC's main volume control are locked together, so it might not matter which one you use.
  12. WeirdChild
    Sounding better each time after 100+ hours of use.  :) 
  13. cdelucia
    Well, I don’t know if it was the prospect of a long weekend or the turkey, but I did my “not-so-great” idea and attempted to desolder the DIP8 holders from my STX II and re-solder them to the opposite side of the card. This then allows room for attaching Burson’s SS v5 op amps; given the total lack of room below the sound card with my current dual graphics card configuration.
    In order to make this work, you have to take into account that the pin-outs on the other side of the sound card will be reversed (pin 1 is where pin 8 should be, pin 2 is where 7 should be, etc.). To correct for this I ended up buying several blank bread boards from Radio Shack (yes, some are still open) and tried wrapping my head around exactly how to do the switcheroo.
    Of course the first step is removing the current DIP8 sockets from the sound card and re-soldering them to the other side of the card. Desoldering the bracket pins pretty much destroyed them, so thankfully Radio Shack had ready replacements available. This proved to be the most difficult part of the project, and I was a more than a little worried that I’d created shorts during the re-soldering of the brackets.
    Due to the miniscule size of the DIP8 bracket pins and my lack of soldering skills I ended up using 22 gauge solid core copper wire with standard insulation. I created 8 legs for each op amp module (obviously); each leg is 5/8” long with 1/8” of insulation stripped away. This stripped area is just pressure fitted into the Radio Shack DIP8 socket – no solder. The leg then bends to the opposite side of the socket and then bends upward to meet the pin of the DIP8 bracket that came with the SS v5’s. After having bent each leg into this shape (3 x 8 = 24 legs!) I then carefully pressed and removed a sewing pin into the upward portion of each leg to create some room for the bottom pin of the SS v5’s bracket. Again, this connection was simply pressure fitted as well – no solder. I realize this isn’t “best practice electronics” but the solder was just rolling off the joints and causing the insulation to shrink, possibly causing a short due to the close proximity of the legs.
    I eventually got each leg attached to the SS v5 socket. A little tidying is done to get the legs roughly in a row and then it’s time to plug one side of legs into the DIP8 socket on the board. Needless to say, needle-nose pliers are a necessity. Once one side is in, the challenge is getting the other side in to their individual sockets without disrupting the original side. With some patience and a few breaks I was able to get all three brackets ready before dinner.
    I then popped in the secondary op amps that came with the card and shoe-horned the card back into its position in my case (did I mention I have a water cooling loop w/ two graphics cards?). I basically made sure everything is connected and in its rightful place, fired up the system, and plugged in the headphones to the STX II. I must stress again how poorly the removal of the original brackets went (had to use a sewing needle heated by the soldering iron and press down with a lot of force to clear the sound card’s contact holes), and attaching the replacement DIP8 brackets to the card wasn’t much smoother either. I wasn’t about to power everything on and have the SS v5’s go up in smoke – the loss of the replacement op amps I could stand. Yes, I realize that would probably mean the card is forever ruined too, but why lose $$$$ when you can do some risk mitigation and merely lose $$? To my relief everything sounds alright. Checked out the left and right channel jacks as well – those sound good too. Quite a relief. Downed some very-berry pie (sorry, no pumpkin this year) to celebrate.
    Last step was popping out the replacement op amps and plugging in the SS v5’s. Thankfully the replacement amps came out much easier than the original ones that come with the card. The SS v5’s in their place, I close everything up and start the 100 hours burn-in.
    Anyone who knows anything about electronics will tell you the way I attached the wire “legs” to the top DIP8 socket is far from ideal. Solder has been around for a long while and is used for a reason: longevity of the electrical connection, as well as providing some structural support. That being said these circuits aren’t going for a bumpy ride in a car, nor are they shouldering mission critical communications on the lunar lander module, so I guess I get a passing grade on this one. Not much better though. Maybe if I had more time to think this through and the #@$%@# solder would actually adhere (even used some flux – to no avail) I’d have something that wouldn’t make an electrician smack his forehead in disgust.
    Sorry for this tome of a post, but I’m pretty thrilled at what I’ve been able to pull off. I guess I just wanted show that it can be done. And can probably be done better by anyone other than me! Enjoy your long weekend.
    Burson Audio likes this.
  14. saddleup
    Well done sir!
  15. Soriordan
    Mind showing us the rest of your computer? I'm seeing an EKWB and must see more haha
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