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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. igytech
    Yes, Raymond, quote:
    "With the AD827SQ in the I\V in the STX II & Muses02 in the buffers,the sound is natural and cold,spot on,kinda boring and dull.
    channel speration improved drastically,from avarage to great,but still not excellent as the ZXR." 
  2. Hansolo76
    I would like to start off by thanking Charles from SS-Audio for the sample for this review.
    First impressions, amazing!
    I am already using a Burson V5i in my Little Dot I+ and in my Xduoo XD-05 and the improvement was more than noticeable.  With that in mind, I was expecting a lot from the big brother and it did not disappoint.
    The first thing that I noticed was that the overall clarity and separation was significantly better.  The left and right audio channels were much more distinct and the accuracy of the music was very vibrant and crisp.
    While comparing the tracks listened to before and after, the mid range percussion stood out much better and I could distinguish beats and sounds that I didn't notice before.  It seemed like un-muting another layer in the music to me.  During female vocals I could actually hear the singer breath in between lines and was amazed by the new found details.
    The bass did not seem to change much.  It was very strong and pronounced both before and after.
    The mids improved by far the most.  They became much stronger and cleaner.  It was more than like just boosting the mids on an EQ.  It was hard to believe that I was listening to the same file because of how much more clarity I was now hearing.  I was very impressed with the amount of detail that was now present.
    The highs were also greatly improved, nicely bright with a good amount of detail as well.  Some songs did become a tad bit overly bright, but generally not too fatiguing overall.  That would be my only concern, but the benefits easily out weigh the concerns.
    What I used for this review:
    Custom PC > foobar2000 > Asus Xonar Essence STX > Beyerdynamic DT880 (600Ω)
    Overall thoughts:
    If you can find the room for the large size and have the money for the moderate price, these are a solidly good investment.  By far the best improvement that I've heard from an OP AMP and I've at least tried a handful.  Although not cheap, they are a bargain for what you get and the sound is impressive.
  3. WhoIsThis
    Just wondering, can the shielding be added with the Sparkos Op Amps?
    I think the version is the "dual discrete" SS3602?
  4. Hansolo76
    I wouldn't be able to say for sure, but from looking at pictures of the Sparkos there is a good chance that it could.  You would just have to try and as long as the new Op Amps aren't taller than the copper rail in the center, you would be fine.
  5. rvcjew
    I was as well like some others contacted by Charles at SS-Audio about two months ago since I have had the V5’s for quite some time to just have my honest opinions of the V5i which I heard were being developed at the time I purchased the STX Head-fi deal for the V5’s. I had been stuck with work and personal trips so I finally have gotten around to posting my opinions on here as they rightfully deserve since they sent me the 3 V5i’s I requested and two others (shipping error I think) in a timely matter and I have been the hold up in this review and not them for clarification sake.
    When I first got the V5’s I think in January of 2016 I was expecting a good improvement to separation and clarity. To say that I was blown away by the difference is an understatement as the stock STX op-amps at least for the RCA out portion was way too heavy on bass impact, so much so that it seemed to muddle the mids of songs to me and the separation to me felt way to close. My left ear hears with slightly less volume than the right so when the V5’s were put in I was very relieved that the soundstage was not as close and was not super wide either. With my speakers at about 5 feet from each other (not much space in my location) and a listening distance of about 4 to 8 feet the stock soundstage was too close in my opinion, but even as good as the soundstage became to what I was hoping the clarity of tracks that I previously had listened to on either YouTube or in J-River MC 20-22 with WASAPI to my O2 with cans or my AVAMP was just stunning. It was as if I could hear sound channels that did not exist before on lossy tracks and especially some of the lossless studio recordings I have. Female vocals especially sounded good, and the lows were not as prominent but still there. I would have to describe it as becoming much more natural as opposed to being slightly V-shaped before I think. Now I jumped directly to the V5’s off of the stock op-amps so I cannot compare the other recommendations floating around for this card to them, but from what I have experienced I would pay the money for them all over again.
    Now to compare them to the V5i’s, with the V5’s you cannot use the stock EFI shield unless you use extenders and cut a hole on the side of it. I opted to just remove it as I have the space in my case and I have not had any issues with it off. The V5i’s will fit under the EFI shield. After installing them I put the shield back on and started listening to some music on YouTube and some other sites that I knew had good quality but not lossless tracks and went from EDM to Classical to OST Scores. First impressions are that the soundstage is wider than the stock op-amps but not as wide as the V5’s and the clarity of the mids are the same but seem more recessed. What I mean by this is that they seemed not distorted but just farther away in the stage then say the highs or lows. I also think the lows are a little muddier then the V5’s but only in the higher frequencies of the lows (liking more bass or tighter bass I think is more personal than good or bad). Same can be said for the lossless content I listen to and I put the V5i’s not lower in the product stack with V5’s but more along the line of what personal tweak you want to your sound preferences’ I think.
    Both of the Burson’s are in my opinion better than the stock op-amps any way you slice it and I would recommend them to anyone who has the cash and wants a big upgrade to the DAC part of their chain.
    My setup is as follows all ran off a Cyperpower CP1500PFCLCD (pure sign wave, also powered my system during a storm for 15 minutes letting me finish my work that night) and using UNI Drivers 1816/1823 v1.80a r3 on Win 7 Pro x64 in test mode:
    J-River MC 22 (WASAPI)>STX RCA’s> O2 (with K7XX or TH-X00) or Onkyo TX NR525 (to Fluance SXHTBCS-SX6-KIT or R-15M’s)
  6. rvcjew
    I saw this image that shows them next to the V5 and V5i and some others, the V5i fits under the shield they look taller than those.
    fredeb likes this.
  7. saddleup

    This question was answered for me by another member in another thread just recently.  The answer is 'no', but he's never experienced any issues because of it.
  8. Renfield1217

    ​Btw, new unidrivers released for the CM-8788 cards, and they sound really good.
  9. bcschmerker4
    MaxedTech® has incorporated C-Media® CMI-8788 Driver into UNi™ XONAR® Audio Software™ 1.81a Rev. 2.  Looks as though C-Media International has been working on getting to the bottom of the 6 kHz scream that defied ASUSTeK's own engineers for nigh onto a decade and executing as much of a fix as the Vista audio stack permits for Microsoft® Windows® 10 Build 1607 10.0.14393.576 and later (see also "Xonar Essense stx Random LOUD high pitched Ringing Noise?").
    rvcjew and fredeb like this.
  10. Mahoogan
    I know you can't apply Dolby Headphone through the RCA outputs, but does the EQ settings of the Xonar control panel affect the RCA outs?  Thanks
  11. fredeb

    The equalizer does indeed affect the RCA outs .
    rvcjew likes this.
  12. Jonathan Crouch
    I'm able to finally get back and post I have been out on a trip to Canada among many other things. Burson finally did get my STX 2 back to me. They used a few zip ties to hold the V5's down. Also, I opened up the side of my case to reduce the amount of heat in there. I have been running them for over a month straight now without any issues. Everything has been great so far I also got something else in today from them that's a gift for another friend of mine that is an audiophile also.
    Burson has done a great job and I'm thankful they've been helpful with replacing and repairing anything that was damaged in the process. It's just nice to hear the HD 700's sing again they run beautifully on the V5 STX 2.
  13. Mahoogan

    Thank you. I've received my STX 2 and like it so far. I've ordered a couple cheaper opamp to try before going Burson.

    I've really been eyeing a Supreme Sound/Burson Lycan headphone amp to use with the RCA out, which has the V5 installed. Anyone have thoughts on the difference it will make over the internal amp? I get plenty of volume from the internal on my DT990 Pro, but I know there's more to the sound than just the max volume achieved.
  14. fredeb
    Why not use the headphones with the STX 2 first , for a while , that way you will at least appreciate the difference when changing opamps or using an external amplifier .

    What cheap opamps did you order ? ( for interets sake ) . Let us know how your journey goes . :wink:

    @Jonathan - amazing of the folks at Burson for sorting your STX ! Did they perhaps discover what caused the problem ? I'm assuming heat re your comments on leaving the case open . Perhaps you need a more airy chassis , like those Inwin skeletal jobs , can't remember the model name now ... Anyways , I almost always left my chassis's open , being a tinkerer and all . :)
  15. Mahoogan

    I ordered the NEC C5470C and JRC4558D that someone else mentioned above. Even though I don't believe I'm using the buffer while using the headphone port.

    The reason I was rushing a bit on the Lycan is that I am able to get a brand new one delivered for $200 from someone locally. My thought was that I could get a good amount of that back by selling if I didn't like it for whatever reason.
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