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Old December 14, 2008, 12:35 PM
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Robscix Robscix is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Originally Posted by RagingDragon View Post
Fair enough, anyway the overall SNR for the Essence STX is 124dB, so it's limited by something other than the DAC, so upgrading the DAC probably wouldn't have a significant effect. And upgrading the supporting circuitry to allow an overall SNR of (approximately) 130dB would probably make the card unreasonably expensive. The "best of the best" DAC would've been nice for bragging rights, but otherwise wouldn't make a whole lot of difference.

I didn't mean disparage the D2 DAC's - until the Essence STX came along they were best DAC's on any consumer sound card, and they're still better than the DAC's in many (most? all?) low and mid range pro-audio cards. The D2 supports 7.1 channel audio, so it needs 4 DAC's and their supporting circuitry; whereas, the STX is stereo and thus only requires a single DAC. A 7.1 channel card using the same DAC's and (expensive) supporting circuitry as the STX would be horrendously expensive. I meant it as an example of how high-end the STX DAC's are, and to illustrate how insignificant $1.20 would be compared to the difference in price between the D2 and STX DAC's.

The Essence STX is pretty much perfect for me: I use hifi headphones on my computer, so I have no need for 7.1 channel support, and at the same time I can take full advantage of high quality stereo output. Furthermore, I've been looking for a good soundcard or external DAC box for awhile now. So the STX is at the top of my personal computer hardware wish list.
Actually, the DAC Chip on the Essence is rated for 127dB SNR - IIRC. That is a maximum ratings and the acutal measured rating is 124dB. Upgrading DAC's would be quite hard to do by hand and not really a good idea IMO. There is more to the overall sound quality then just the DAC chips. The filtering sections and amplification circuitry also play a very large part in the final sound quality of the card. This card has impressive specifications across the board. The OS-Con and Nichon Caps help. There are many ways to further improve this soundcard. As for the D2/D2X, it was surpassed by the current champion the HDAV 1.3 souncard, which also has very good analog sound quality but hasn't been reviewed very much. The Xonar Essence STX is a very nice sounding card and you would be very happy with it. Once released for sale that is. I am more then impressed with the card.

Last edited by Robscix; December 14, 2008 at 12:47 PM.
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