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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. Freshage
    Any other tips for the STX? My budget wouldn't allow for the STX ii, but from what I see, they are almost identical anyway.
     
  2. PurpleAngel Contributor
     
    The LM4562 op-amp used in the STX's buffer slot is a relabeled LME49720.
     
    For a low cost option you could replace the two JRC2114 op-amps with two LME49720.
    Or replace all three of the STX's op-amps with LME49860
    (the LME49860 is a cherry picked LME49720).
     
    My final choice with my STX was three AD797BR (about $50-$60 for the three)
     
  3. guestie
    Hey,
     
    I was looking into this op-amp upgrade for my Xonar essence STX:
     
    https://www.bursonaudio.com/asus-xonar-essence-stx-upgraded-with-supreme-sound-v5-op-amps/
     
    The only thing I am really concerned about is that my sound card gets some electrical interference sometimes at very low volumes, would this upgrade have any effect on that?
     
    Also, I haven't really got any soldering experience, is this an easy upgrade to do yourself?
     
    Is this the best sound quality upgrade I could go for with my sound card and how do cheaper options compare? (based in England, keep in mind shipping etc)
     
    Finally, if the interference problem would not be solved, what amp+dac upgrade is going to be noticeable over my stock STX for a similar price to the burson audio upgrade ($200)
     
    Thanks
     
    EDIT: Using AKG K712's
     
  4. fredeb
    Be careful that your interference problem doesn't just affect any device that you connect to your PC . I have the same problem , when I use an external USB DAC the problem persists . Could be : Power Supply , a case fan , GFX card or GFX card fan , capacitors going on motherboard , earth on monitor power etc. etc. 
     
    First isolate the problem before proceeding - otherwise upgrades are pointless .
     
    You don't need soldering skills to upgrade your STX to Burson , just unplug the current ones and replace with Burson with correct orientation .
     
  5. guestie
     
    The problem only happens when certain programs are running so I have no idea how I would isolate it. It's only a slight humming and it never happens with music players so it isn't really a big problem. 
     
    Anyway, I wasn't upgrading to get rid of the interference, I was wondering if it would help it in any way. Is the sound quality increase really very noticeable?
     
    Thanks for your answers
     
  6. fredeb
    Wow ! I just solved my noise problem - woo-hoo ! It was the extention kettle plug going to the power supply - it has driven me mad recently . I dis-assembled my pc , cleaned every part , de-oxyed the fans , swopped them , and to no avail . Now it's solved - I shall imminently dance a jig to sweet tunes . :)
     
  7. Dustinthewind0
    So what's the consensus on the old Essence cards? I have a ST that I've had for ages, and I'm wondering if it's sufficient for something like a ZMF Vibro or Hifiman HE400i.
     
  8. fredeb
    Excellent card - if you don't want it or don't have a PCI slot in your new motherboard - send it to me !   :)
     
  9. Dustinthewind0
    Haha, I'm not quite ready to part with it. This will probably be my last upgrade cycle with it though. Finding a PCI slot on newer motherboards is getting harder and harder. 
     
  10. fredeb
    I'm pretty sure it's more than good enough to drive your 'phones . Have you tried swopping opamps ? 
     
    Another thought is using it to drive external Headamp , and/or poweramp with good speakers .
     
    Nice thing is that the PCI version doesn't require extra molex connector as enough power is to be had through the PCI slot .
     
  11. Dustinthewind0
    Haven't gotten into the opamp game. Been pretty satisfied with the power, since I haven't even really owned any high impedance cans (HD 598 and AKG K550). Only just now considering some higher impedance planar magnetic headphones.
     
    I'm using it as a source for SMSL SA-98E with my AA CBM 170SE. 
     
    It's the only thing in my system using a molex connector these days, but she's held up admirably.
     
  12. fredeb
    The AA CBM 170SE look pretty cool . I didn't know about them , and I don't know why I thought the ST doesn't need a molex connector , I must be thinking of something else .
     
    I've only tried budget opamps in my STX , no Bursons , Sparkos and the like . It's been an interesting experience , worth playing around with IMHO . Favourites for me thusfar in the I/V stage have been ( in order of preference ) OPA1612 on dip adapters , and OPA2111 . I also tried , but didn't like OPA2137PA , LME49720NA , OPA2228P , OPA2134PA . It seems that in every case LM6172 is my preference in the buffer stage . I've just received 2x  LME49990MA ( 2 mono SOIC's soldered onto DIP adapter ) and need to give 'em a try , specs look good .
     
    Input Noise Density (f = 1kHz) 0.9nV/vHz (typ) 1.3nV/vHz (max)
    THD+N (AV = 1, VOUT = 3VRMS, fIN = 1kHz) RL = 600ohm 0.00001%
    1/f Corner Frequency 43Hz (typ)
    Slew Rate ±22V/µs (max)
    Gain Bandwidth (AV = 104, RL = 2kO, f = 90kHz) 110MHz (typ)
    PSRR 144dB (typ)
    CMRR 137dB (typ)
     
    Looking at datasheets of opamps is how I decided which ones to try , and then depend on my ears - for lack of test equipment . I suppose your own ears are all that really matter , and taste differs . I must say though , that OPA2111KP do sound sweet , must have something to do with harmonics , but I can't prove it . :)
           
     
  13. Nosce Te Ipsum
    Hi, I have an Essence ST with 3x LME49990MA (on dip8 adapters for a total of 6 chips) and I think they're very good sounding opamps, maybe not the best combination out there but still quite an improvement over the default ones. My headphones are the HD650s. I don't know if it's a good choice on the buffer though. From what I've read the default LM4562 was already very good and maybe a better option... but I'm too lazy to remove the card/plate and reinstall the LM4562. Anyway, just wanted to know your impressions about your 2x 49990 on the I/Vs and the LM6172 on the buffer. Thanks
     
  14. fredeb
    Just installed the LME49990MA's ( LM6172 in buffer ) now and am listening to my reference track , from Al di Meola's " Cielo e Terra " - " Traces of a Tear " . Wow ! SQ is amazing , stage is wide , high and deep and extremely well-defined . Noisefloor is non-existant , by my perception anyway . This track has many quiet nuances , which all appear to be crystal-clear , timing is spot-on . Beautiful .
     
    Hmm ... what to try for something with a bit of bass .... OK - Robert Rich's " Seven Veils " , 1st track " Coils " . Again , lots of fine detail , between the relentless onslaught of the very deep drums . It's very fast , LM6172 has slewrate that few can keep up with , so no bottlenecking . Definitely worth a try !
     
  15. fredeb
    Now for some visceral psychedelic bad craziness . Track no.2 from White Zombie's " Supersexy Swingin' Sounds " - " More Human than Human " . The STX doesn't get befuddled here either , everything stops and start exactly on time , juxtaposition of jagged noise and barely instantaneous silence . Gotta hear it to believe it . Ok , I think I'm freaking my neighbours out now . [​IMG] 
     
    Remember , the buffer shouldn't affect headphones , only RCA outs , thus me using amp and speakers to listen .
     
    Between LME49990MA and OPA1612 it's pretty close , but I'd still say that LME49990MA wins the day - damn they sound good .
     
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