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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. Stefan1971HH
    Hello everyone,
    I've been using the Essence STX on this mainboard
    and with this speaker system
    for several years now, mainly for music (CDs and audio files in
    lossless compression). The sound has been brilliant, but in the
    last few months in began to lack dynamics. It sounds unstable
    (to my ears there are sometimes even slight erroneous changes
    of the volume) and weak. I had always used the analog output,
    but now tried the digital one and experienced the same problem.

    What could be the reason? I've recently experienced some other things
    such as temporarily disappearing hard disks, that may point to a problem
    with the psu (which is an older 500 W from Antec).
    Can this also cause decreasing sound quality? Or could a bad psu only
    cause the card not to work at all?
  2. sumpao
    Did you try digital output from your main board to the speaker

    Or from other source to your speaker
    If there is a problem may be it come from speaker
  3. rvcjew
    I would definitely check the digital out of the pc mobo to the speakers as a volume fluctuation sounds more like the amp in the sub powering the speakers. Also unless the drives are not spinning up do to loss of power the disappearing disks is normally sata controllers going out or bad disks. Check your disks with Crystal Disk Info https://crystalmark.info/en/download/#CrystalDiskInfo

  4. Junglbob
    Hey guys, sorry for stupid question, but if I connect external amplifier for STX, do I need change all 3 x opamp? or just only 1?
  5. fredeb
    From the first page of this thread :

    Q: What's the deal with interchangeable opamps?

    A: The card has 3 swappable 8-pin dual opamps. The two matched I/V opamps impact the headphone out alone, while the 3rd "buffer" opamp impacts the RCA out. If you are only using the headphone out you only have to worry about the 2 I/V opamps. They can be removed and replaced using your fingers, a small flathead screwdriver, needle nose pliers, etc.
  6. fredeb
    Are you overclocking ? This could cause problems .

    Try updating the motherboard Bios ( even if you over-write with same version ) , bios could be corrupt .

    Other than checking disks with Crystal disk , you could also run low level memory diagnostics , Ultimate Boot CD may have some diagnostic applications .

    Otherwise it could just be the entire mobo going - take the card and check on new computer .
  7. Stefan1971HH
    Hello, thanks for the hints and sorry for getting back to you that late.
    I was never overclocking. I have tried another Mobo (Asus Prime X370 Pro)
    with another HQ card (Creative Soundblaster ZxR) and another psu but the
    problem persists. I realised too late that the Xonar STX and STX II are already
    known to be incompatible with my new board's chipset.
    That probably points to the speakerset as the culprit.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
  8. bcschmerker4
    Ouch! When did intel® go to hardware that blows C-Media® DSP's? I've two systems with Advanced Micro Devices® 700-series chipsets, and the only problems I had installing and removing the XONAR® are OS-related. The Winver whereunder I last ran my Essence STX (ASUS® AV-100, derived from the CMI-8788) was 6.1.7601; it's happier than a hog in slop in ubuntu® 16.04.5-LTS, as the Advanced LinUX Sound Architecture Project's snd-virtuoso driver is able to run circles around any of the C-Media® CMI-8788 Drivers for Microsoft® Windows® 6-up.
  9. PurpleAngel Contributor
    With the Essence STX, the two V/I slots op-amps are used for the headphone output.
    The STX's line-output (RCA) use both the two (dual channel) I/V op-amps and the single (dual channel) buffer op-amp.
    So assuming you would connect the external amplifier to the RCA jacks, all three op-amps are in use.
    How much are you willing to budget for an op-amp upgrade?
    For around $60, you can easily get three nice op-amps (I went with AD797BR).
  10. Ddhead
    Hi, i just recently got my Essence STX, sorry i'm a bit late..
    Currently using this Essence STX with my Audio Technica M40x
    Ath M40x is 35 ohms
    Essence STX output impedance is 10 ohms
    Impedance matching rules says at least 8 times the ohm of source
    So should be no less than 80 ohm to get best sound quality?

    Then does this means a M40x is not suitable to be used with this Essence STX for monitoring or music production due to impedance mismatch that may ruin the low frequency due to reflections or damping factor cause by impedance mismatch?

    I did test it plugging in directly to the STX, the M40x low frequency sound bloated everywhere or a lot low end uncontrolled bass,
    I then plug a Fiio A3 amp input from the STX headphone out and only then Fiio output to my M40x since the Fiio has a <0.2 ohms output impedance..
    It does makes a very big difference in the lower end frequency,
    So does this means i can't use the M40x with the STX well without external low output impedance amp?
    Reallly love the sound of M40x though, hope to get the best sound out directly from the STX (T_T)
  11. Ddhead
    Using a Fiio A3 at the Essence STX headphone out is it a downgrade due to Fiio A3 SNR >108dB and STX is >117dB? Or can we even hear the difference?
  12. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Yea, it looks like for good audio, from the ATH-M40X. your going to need to use an external headphone amplifier (A3).

    Try connecting the FiiO A3 to the line-output (RCA) jacks on the STX.
    If might feed a better signal to the A3.
  13. Ddhead
    Yup I tried that. Sound a lot better especially the low end. I feed the Fiio A3 using Fiio L16 cable from STX headphone out.. Think is better? Due to headphone out only have output impedance of 10 ohm as compared to RCA out which have 100 ohms..
  14. PurpleAngel Contributor
    The audio signal coming from headphone jack is designed for driving headphones.
    Where as the signal coming from the line-output (RCA) jack is designed to feed a signal to a line-input jack.
    Both signal are somewhat alike, but not exactly the same.
    The Essence STX can not send it's Dolby Headphone out the line-output, so it basically stereo (2.0) audio, which is fine for music audio or video that uses stereo audio.
  15. Reyer
    I'm looking for an amp recommendations that I would use with my STX I. Are there any worthy and affordable mentions that would improve my overall audio quality? Is getting an amp to use it with Xonar RCA even worth it? Maybe I should not spend any more money on Xonar and just get some well received AMP/DAC combo?
    I'm not experienced enough to evaluate how good or bad is the one implemented in xonar but I've already heard that even if it is supposed to power up 600ohm headphones it will never squeeze as much of juice from them as it should to. It was said that this amp does nothing good to audio and is only mediocre at best; that we should use RCA instead.

    Since I've seen numerous comparisons and conclusions that swapping xonar for any O2+ODAC/Magni+Modi combo brings literally 0 improvement in audio quality I suppose that I should treat them as equivalents and search for something better and probably more expensive.
    Also this makes me wonder... if Xonar amp is bad enough for people to discourage others from getting xonar why do they recommend Magni/O2 instead? If Xonar amp is bad and Magni sounds the same doesn't that mean that Magni is as bad as xonar?

    Mind that I would prefer to keep the cost as low as possible - if getting an amp that already cost $300 brings no improvement but getting $400/$500 DAC/AMP combo makes big difference I would simply go for the latter. However if the price to quality ratio goes wild I'll stay with my xonar until something better or cheaper will show on the horizon.

    Thanks in advance \o
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2019
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