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Old April 11, 2014, 10:27 PM
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Default Is it worth trading in my Xonar Essence STX?

I drive Sennheiser HD650 and audioengine A5+ off my sound card... In a similar price point, can anyone think of a product that would clearly out-perform the STX? I don't fully understand the difference when you start getting into different DAC/AMP solutions.
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Old April 11, 2014, 10:44 PM
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I'd think that you'd be looking at DAC solutions, there's nothing better than the STX for a sound card.

And you'll probably get more/better answers from the audiophiles over at head-fi.org.
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Old April 12, 2014, 12:31 AM
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Not really wanting to sign up to yet another forum just for asking one or two questions every almost never... I do know about their group :P

Yeah, I am basically looking and wondering what the difference between buying a "DAC" when the STX has a DAC + opamp on board anyways.

Edit: In terms of what I run, I do not feel like I can do much better than the STX, just wanted to throw the question out in case I am missing something.

Last edited by draemn; April 12, 2014 at 12:39 AM.
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Old April 12, 2014, 10:14 AM
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Lots of setups can out perform the STX but that is a moot point. The HD650 is viewed as upper end for the card but while the audioengine A5+are good speakers, you could upgrade them and get a noticeable difference in my opinion. Remember you don't need powered speakers spending 30$ on a amp and you can run almost any speaker you want.

http://www.amazon.ca/LP-2020A-Lepai-.../dp/B0049P6OTI

The Xonar Essence STX Q/A, tweaking, impressions thread
you can also change the op amps in this card tweaking it for sound

What do you use more headphones or speakers? That can help you decide your upgrade path.
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Old April 12, 2014, 10:54 AM
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I'm not specifically concerned about upgrading, but I'm getting a new sound card since my STX kind of died on me (I'm getting a free replacement), so I was just curious if there is any real advantage to going with the more traditional DAC setup. From what I have read, I don't really think so, but I haven't explored much outside of "sound card" form factor.

I like my headphones most of the time, but I tend to use my speakers for playing music when I'm not at the computer or when I'm watching videos/shows.
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Old April 12, 2014, 11:24 AM
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Then yes your right the STX has good enough internals to utilize your setup fully.
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Old April 12, 2014, 12:58 PM
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Thanks!
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Old April 12, 2014, 11:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by draemn View Post
I'm not specifically concerned about upgrading, but I'm getting a new sound card since my STX kind of died on me (I'm getting a free replacement), so I was just curious if there is any real advantage to going with the more traditional DAC setup. From what I have read, I don't really think so, but I haven't explored much outside of "sound card" form factor.

I like my headphones most of the time, but I tend to use my speakers for playing music when I'm not at the computer or when I'm watching videos/shows.
At this point you might want to get a high end DAC or a professional sound card like RME or Lynx, RME does make the Babyface which in my opinion produces excellent quality sound, look it up.
There are quite a few on Craigslist right now, or you could buy new with the excellent warranty.

RME: Babyface

You will have to take a dive in learning how to set up TotalMix FX and carefully read the manual.
Its the best USB audio solution out there , after that you could look up all the DACs, good ones start at about $1000.00, top end up to $10,000..your choice
I have both the RME Babyface and the RME HDSPe AIO, I also like the responsiveness if Daniel Fuchs on the forum he is one of the owners and they are always updating their drivers.
I also have the Xonar Essence STX, its nice but I couldn't get the latency I was looking for, down to 32 samples
I have the HD 650 and my Stax Lambda's, the setup is 100% honest, crap in.. crap out.. gold in gold out.. in other words the top notch 24 bit Flac files come out sounding superb, junk like a Led Zepplin recording sounds exactly like it was made, pure trash. So then another issue arises, now you will start getting picky about how well something was recorded

Good luck
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Old April 13, 2014, 07:59 AM
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I think there are a lot better options out there that aren't as expensive as mentioned. Schiit produces some great DAC's and Headphone amps at great prices. Of course it helps when you are internet direct. If I had the cash right now I'd be buying the Valhalla headphone amp and the Bifrost DAC (with the upgrades). If money wasn't really a consideration, then the Mjolnir and Gungnir setup would be sweet. Schiit Audio, Headphone amps and DACs made in USA.

Do some reading on DACs as there are quite a few that get rave reviews at decent price point. (Emotiva XDA-2 for $270 and the pro-line Stealth DC-1 for $499), Audio-dg also makes great product and has every combination of DAC, Amps, and pre-amps you can think of. ͧ*响
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