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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. jimwallen
    I'm a big fan of the Burson Supreme Op Amps.
  2. IronMan2
    ok, so would they be good formy sound card? im new to this whole thing lol
  3. Jay Callen
    Hi IronMan2,
    Also a newbie, I’ve read virtually every Head-Fi review and/or comment about DIP8 swappable op amps. To jump-start your own research, here’s an interesting review comparing 3 top contenders (Burson V5 discrete, V5i hybrid, and Sparkos SS3602 discrete) for best sound from ASUS Essence STX II: http://www.head-fi.org/t/708756/asus-xonar-essence-stx-ii/510#post_12821726. Hope this helps.
    fredeb likes this.
  4. noclevername
    Test Setup:
    Asus Essence STX
    Buron V5 OPamp upgrade
    Burson Cable+
    Schiit Asgard
    HiFiMan HE 400i
    Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro 250ohm
    Sennheiser HD555
    I am comparing this setup to my current one.
    My current set up is:
    Schiit Modi 2 Uber
    Schiit Asgard
    HiFiMan HE 400i
    Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro 250ohm
    Sennheiser HD555
    The quality of the make of both the V5 OPamps and the Cable+ are top notch. It was clear from just inspecting both items that Burson put their time and efforts into making high quality products. The V5's are constructed very well, have a nice clean look. Although they are large in size, comparatively speaking to my old OPamps, they definitely are not obstructing anything in my case. The Cable+ is built very well all the way around. The connections are made from a high quality material, and feel like they will hold up to many years of use. The box in the middle is built of a nice solid metal. The housing protects all the internal components very well. The power port for the board is built solidly and does not seem like this will become loose over time. The rounded edges on the housing not only look nice, but in my opinion help from keeping any cables from snagging an edge on it. 
    My initial impression of the cable plus can be found here. I am expanding on this review.
    I added the Burson V5 OPamp upgrade to my Essence STX. While just using the Cable+ the sound was warm, vibrant and clear, but adding the V5 OPamp upgrade has improved on this quality even more. This combo has rivaled my Modi 2 Uber, and even surpassed my expectations for such a small upgrade. My previous set up was having a hard time pushing my DT990's, but running the upgraded OPamps along with the powered cable has been able to drive them with much more ease. I also saw a gain in my HE 400i's as I no longer have to turn the volume up on the Asgard up as much to obtain the same level I am used to listening to. I was able to dial back by about 25% compared to where I was before. 
    In music settings I tested using a wide set of genres. I chose the artists based off bands and people I have listened to for years.Some of the artists chosen were: Tech N9ne, Metallica, System of A Down, Andre Bocelli, Garth Brooks, Nighwish, Van Halen, and much more. I tested both with just the OPamp upgrade, as well as using the Cable+ replacing just RCA cables. The V5 upgrade was definitely a game changer over my old OPamps. The clarity, warmth, and all around sound quality improvement was beyond what I was expecting. The treble with the V5's became quite a bit brighter, but not to the point that the mids or lows were drown out. The mids are very precise. The individual notes of the guitar are easily discernible. The lows are more brought out more vibrant without becoming harsh or muddled. All around this set up for music has made a very vibrant, warm, and enjoyable listening experience. 
    I also tested this with a few games that are very sound oriented to game play. I tested with Counter Strike Global Offensive and Call of Duty Black OP's III. Both these game in multiplayer are very sound oriented. Directional sound is crucial to game play. One must be able to discern the direction of players, gunfire, grenades and the like. Adding the V5's to the Essence STX alongside the Cable+ brought a clarity into game play I have yet to come across. While just using the Cable+ made an improvement on directional sound, the V5's brought it up to a whole new level for me. In one test for directional sound I had a player run wide circles around me. I was able to hear his location so clear I was able to determine exactly where he was around me by sound alone. Playing in some of the maps there are subtle sounds that can give away a players location like dropping off an edge, running on tile or wood, reloading, or even just changing weapons. I was able to precisely locate and enemy player just by the small subtle sounds. Not only did both the V5 OPamps and Cable+ improve directional sound, but vastly improved the overall quality of in game sounds. Gun sounds such as firing and reloading became realistic. It felt as if it were happening right next to me. 
    All in all the V5 OPamps and Cable+ have improved sound quality for areas. Both products have a wide variety of applications. There are multiple sound cards that can utilize the V5 Opamps, and even more applications for the Cable+. Whether it be used as I did to a dedicated amp, a sound system in your house, or with your car stereo. The uses are infinite for both products. If your serious into HIFI or just wanting a simple upgrade without breaking the bank this is easily an affordable way to go.

    For further clarification on the use of the Cable+ check out this video to explain the importance and uses of the Cable+.

    Voxata, fredeb and IronMan2 like this.
  5. Voxata
    Excellent impressions!! I love the V5s
  6. rvcjew
    I agree, great review and nice rig.
  7. th2pun1sh3r
    just put 2 muses01 and 1 muses02 into my stx2, holy F the difference is night and day. Everything sounds better, clearer, smoother?! Its hard to describe but I can't get this smile off my face.
    I tried the stock setup before (and also swapped in the amps that came with the card) but there wasnt any magic until I put in the muses01/02
    Can't wait to try 2 muses02 and 1 muses01 on the old STX card as well-
    edit- Need to add this in here (Am getting chills listening to songs ive heard many times before, and there are details that make the song more complex that I couldn't hear before?)
    edit2- stx with 2x muse2 1x muse1 sound amazing as well- I would say 10% worse compared to STX 2 with 2x muse1 1x muse 2.
    also, just for ****s I tried the 600ohm dt 880s vs my 33ish ohm ADH 700's and the difference was huge there too, but even just with the crappy headphones it sounded way better than stock.
  8. Jonathan Crouch
    An update on my end as well. The Conductor Air arrives today. So I will write my impressions about that later on today. Burson should have received my STX 2 today according to the tracking. I will also be finding out about that as well soon hopefully. 
  9. fredeb
    Can't wait to hear of their findings , and the Conductor Air .
  10. Jonathan Crouch
    I'll take more photo's later. After some testing it's safe to say this is a powerful portable amp. It packs quite a punch I can't even max the volume out. It's roughly the size of a credit card and a half and about an inch deep. Just by the weight and feel of this I can tell it's very high quality.
    Now onto the sound detail. It's very neutral (tested on the Sennheiser HD 700) It actually makes the HD 700's sound closer to a pair of HD 600's with more detail. As with my previous experience with the Burson products the bass is very clear. There's force but it's not "punch" however, you can hear the micro details in the bass. The mids and high's are well pronounced but not overpowering which is saying a good bit coming from the HD 700. Now It's hard to say how the comparison is the OPA V5-D STX. It's very, very close to what I remember my STX 2 being with x3 OPA V5-D. However, I will update this once my STX 2 is back from Burson. Also, a note I only had a pair of HD 600's for a bit which was used with my STX on stock amps I cannot vouch for how it would sound on this setup.
    Edit: I'd be interested to hear how the HD 800 sound with the Conductor Air.
    Edit 2: For the sound quality, it's hard to believe this comes from such a small portable DAC/Amp.
  11. Freshage
    I just picked up an STX for £100 to put in my PC to power my HD650's.
    I enjoy natural sound over bass thumpers, any advice on an op amp setup?
    I game and music is #1 priority :)
  12. fredeb
    It depends on what kind of money you want to spend . If you want to go for more affordable options I'd recommend 2x OPA1612 in the I/V stage ( that's the 2 next to eachother ) , and LM6172 in the buffer ( the 1 opamp on it's own ) . 
    For OPA1612 you need to buy it soldered onto DIP8 adapter , because it comes in SOP8 form factor . 
    Like so : http://www.ebay.com/itm/1pcs-TI-OPA1612AID-ON-DIP-ADAPTER-/252603693880?hash=item3ad05a7b38:g:xpgAAOSwXeJYDyWW
  13. Freshage
    Awesome, just something cheap to start with really, to get me going and upgrade from there.
    The one down side, it's going into a micro atx build so having the shield off the card might cause problems, so I'd need it to fit with the shield on. Unless you feel it will be fine? 
    So this with those TI OPA1612AID's?
  14. fredeb
    Yes , shield will fit . And remember you need to order 2 of them .
  15. Freshage
    Cool, now to find somewhere in the UK!
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