xornar stx for hd595, overkill ?
May 27, 2009 at 10:16 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4


Headphoneus Supremus
May 27, 2009
currently I have a Sennheiser hd595, which are my first (and perhaps last
) headphones at that price (160 euros). I was reading everywhere that to get decent sound you must at least spend 100$, and Sennheiser was the most popular brand it seemed.

Although I prefer my hd595 over my previous 20$ headphones (sony mdr-xd100), they are still not as good as I was expecting.

I was impressed by hd595 the sensation of space (soundspace), and how well sound was defined. But I found it a bit too "lifeless", the bass not enough "agressive", and sometimes the "treble" just hurt the ears without much pleasure . Most interesting results were in the mids with very natural voices, but I usually pay more attention to music than singers.

The fact is that currently I use onboard soundcard , Realtek alc889a, which have the reputation to be pretty good. There's even a thread asking here Is it just me, or do newer computers generally have very good built-in audio? .
I think that if I would just "analyze" sound, and care of listening every little details , this would be perfection . But I'm not "analyzing" music, and the "enjoyment" is a bit lacking.

I tried some software solution. I tried first "dfx audio enhancer", and the result was quite average, wondering if it does improve anything. Their "headphone mode" was just catastrophic with these headphones, so I didn't enable it.

Then I discovered the software "srs audio sandbox", and I was much more convinced by the results. The sound looked more "dynamic", "punchy" , and better for my taste, but unfortunately this software regularly crash after some hours of listening. The awful thing with this software, is than once it freeze, you must restart computer to get back the sound (killing some processes, or logging off is not enough).

Also I made some experiments with my ipod shuffle. Curiously I found the sound more interesting from my ipod than the the one from my onboard sound. That's why I think that adding a sound card to my computer could improve the sound.

From what I see the asus xonar stx, works well with almost all headphones, and without the need of an amp (buying an amp is out of question).
Questions is: at 180 euros, and just for enhancing sound from my hd595 , worth it ? (hey that's more expensive than my headphones !) Will the improvement be that much obvious ? Can I reach same level of satisfaction with cheaper alternatives ? (40 euros x-fi or alike

I'd like to save some money to buy some good IEM .... (will I be enough mad to get one of these SE530 ? certainly not if I buy a Xonar).
But I'll discuss about IEM in an other thread.

May 27, 2009 at 10:37 PM Post #2 of 4
Having a dedicated DAC/Amp in in the Stx would surely boost your level of satisfaction in music. Go for it, you wouldn't regret it one bit. I hope your music library isn't filled with 128kbps mp3s though. On the justification of the cost of the Stx, let's put it this way, my second hand DAC and third hand amp combined cost twice as much as my brand new headphone did. If I can do it all over again, I wouldn't change anything one bit.

On the other hand, the software you mentioned doesn't improve the music. It's actually degrading it. You can do the same with an EQ but be sure to EQ down and not up. Moreover, it'll probably take you a while to be able to appreciate the quality bass of your new headphone rather than the exaggerated one noted thud or boom of you $20 headphone.
May 27, 2009 at 11:51 PM Post #3 of 4

I hope your music library isn't filled with 128kbps mp3s though

Nope, but I like sometimes to listen online radios which offers 128 kbps , sound is not that bad depending of the music.


On the other hand, the software you mentioned doesn't improve the music.

Maybe, that's not obvious. Sometimes you want so much to improve things,
that at the end you believe what you want
(placebo effect ?).


You can do the same with an EQ but be sure to EQ down and not up.

Really ? I tried the equalizer from Winamp without much success .
Otherwise my onboard sound card only offer, presets.
The bass/trebble presets give awful results.
But I just realized that I like quite much the preset called "live".
Well, that's because of the music I listen currently I guess...

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