Xonar essence stx or DAC
Sep 8, 2009 at 7:57 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 33

mikej327

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I know that a top of the line DAC would be better than any soundcard from what I read on here - but how much would I have to spend on a DAC that sounds significantly better than the Xonar?
 
Sep 8, 2009 at 8:12 PM Post #2 of 33

ROBSCIX

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It depends on the budget.

For instance, I can buy a $80 card and compare it to a $400 DAC and the DAC will win.
However, if you get say a $250 card and compare it to a $100 DAC the card will be better.
-this is just an example...

What is your budget?
 
Sep 8, 2009 at 8:25 PM Post #3 of 33

mikej327

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Hmmm I'd like to keep it under 500.

I was just planning on getting the xonar, but now Im thinking of just getting a DAC that would be better than the xonar, so I wont have to upgrade for a long time.

So what DACs at the 500 and under price would fit that category?

BTW I have Senn 650's and also plan on getting a Woo 6 amp sometime soon.
 
Sep 8, 2009 at 8:48 PM Post #6 of 33

DeusEx

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I'd like this answered too, as currently use a X-Fi Fatal1ty Pro. Considering either the Xonar or something like a Compass (or a DACMagic, but that would by stretching it..)
 
Sep 8, 2009 at 9:48 PM Post #7 of 33

sonci

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Go for the soundcard, guys,
because if you buy the DAC you would expect heaven, and be easily disappointed,
Check, periferics, if you have cheap PC speakers/headphones/ampl, going from an xFi to Essence to Benchmark DAC wont make any difference,
so its better the soundcard, you wont be underwhelmed...
 
Sep 9, 2009 at 2:11 AM Post #8 of 33
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Quote:

Originally Posted by DeusEx /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'd like this answered too, as currently use a X-Fi Fatal1ty Pro. Considering either the Xonar or something like a Compass (or a DACMagic, but that would by stretching it..)


I'd suggest going with a compass or similar... no half-decent amp/DAC will be outmatched by even the best of soundcards. With the likes of soundcards and portable amps you're pushed for space when building, with a desktop amp/DAC you're not. It's exactly the same when comparing laptops to desktop PCs, what might cost $3,000 in a laptop can be had for under $1,000 with a desktop simply because space isn't a factor.
 
Sep 9, 2009 at 4:47 AM Post #9 of 33

DeusEx

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Graphicism /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'd suggest going with a compass or similar... no half-decent amp/DAC will be outmatched by even the best of soundcards. With the likes of soundcards and portable amps you're pushed for space when building, with a desktop amp/DAC you're not. It's exactly the same when comparing laptops to desktop PCs, what might cost $3,000 in a laptop can be had for under $1,000 with a desktop simply because space isn't a factor.


I guess I can keep the X-Fi for gaming then. The X-Fi has better codecs/surround for gaming than the Xonar right? I wouldn't care about music performance, as I'd use the DAC for music...
 
Sep 9, 2009 at 9:11 PM Post #10 of 33

mikej327

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Quote:

I'd suggest going with a compass or similar... no half-decent amp/DAC will be outmatched by even the best of soundcards.


Yea thats what I was originally asking. BUT how much will you have to spend on a DAC to get one thats better than any soundcard?
 
Sep 9, 2009 at 10:16 PM Post #11 of 33

chipzahoy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Graphicism /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'd suggest going with a compass or similar... no half-decent amp/DAC will be outmatched by even the best of soundcards. With the likes of soundcards and portable amps you're pushed for space when building, with a desktop amp/DAC you're not. It's exactly the same when comparing laptops to desktop PCs, what might cost $3,000 in a laptop can be had for under $1,000 with a desktop simply because space isn't a factor.


I don't buy the "bigger is better" theory. My favorite new toy, the Musiland 01US, betters my friend's Cambridge DACMagic unmodded. After applying the external power mod, the little gadget - to my friend's dismay - handily destroys the DACMagic that's many times in size and price.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 9:25 PM Post #12 of 33
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Quote:

Originally Posted by mikej327 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Yea thats what I was originally asking. BUT how much will you have to spend on a DAC to get one thats better than any soundcard?


Well you can pick something up around $150... $125 used.

Quote:

Originally Posted by chipzahoy /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I don't buy the "bigger is better" theory. My favorite new toy, the Musiland 01US, betters my friend's Cambridge DACMagic unmodded. After applying the external power mod, the little gadget - to my friend's dismay - handily destroys the DACMagic that's many times in size and price.


How does this little secret gem destroy the DacMagic exactly?
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 9:46 PM Post #13 of 33

chipzahoy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Graphicism /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Well you can pick something up around $150... $125 used.



How does this little secret gem destroy the DacMagic exactly?



Interesting. Which DAC are you referring to? Does it outperform Essence when fed with the onboard s/pdif or USB? Otherwise, the original poster would have to buy an outboard DAC and a... (drum roll) soundcard!

In every way, basically. Either the Musiland 01 US is very well designed, or the DAC Magic's USB input is implemented only as a "bonus features"... maybe both? I've read reports from another user that the stock 01 USD's digital output betters a modded 0404USB. The US only has toslink digital out, and my DAC doesnt accept optical, so I can't confirm that.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 9:56 PM Post #14 of 33
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Quote:

Originally Posted by chipzahoy /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Interesting. Which DAC are you referring to? Does it outperform Essence when fed with the onboard s/pdif or USB? Otherwise, the original poster would have to buy an outboard DAC and a... (drum roll) soundcard!


Zero DAC that I have is around that price, can be used with either USB, coaxle or optical which I'm using out of my soundcard which most have.

Quote:

Originally Posted by chipzahoy /img/forum/go_quote.gif
In every way, basically. Either the Musiland 01 US is very well designed, or the DAC Magic's USB input is implemented only as a "bonus features"... maybe both? I've read reports from another user that the stock 01 USD's digital output betters a modded 0404USB. The US only has toslink digital out, and my DAC doesnt accept optical, so I can't confirm that.


I have never heard the DacMagic however I've always seen Cambridge Audio as Britain's answer to The Sharper Image, could be a high price for a piece of crap... but then again a lot of people like it. I prefer my Zero to the 0404USB which I recently got to hear.
 
Sep 13, 2009 at 10:27 PM Post #15 of 33

Shahrose

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Graphicism /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Zero DAC that I have is around that price, can be used with either USB, coaxle or optical which I'm using out of my soundcard which most have.


You should try the STX. In its intro thread, an owner of both the Zero and the STX said he clearly preferred the latter. I don't think it's entirely fair to discount soundcards' performance compared to lower end DACs.
 

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