New Soundcard and Headphone recommendations

Discussion in 'PC Audio' started by xok, Feb 1, 2011.

  1. lithos

    lithos Member

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    I think me and Camm are talking about two separate, yet equally important things:

    * The quality of the analogue output - the fidelity to the musician's/engineer's original intent. This comes from having a well-designed output stage with quality components. Both the ST/STX and Ti HD are equal here - to the point where it matters. The Ti HD has better specs, but at this point we're splitting hairs - that's what Camm's talking about, I think.

    * The digital side, specifically, the HRTF surround provided by CMSS-3D (on the X-Fi,) and the Dolby Headphone (on the Xonar,) as well as hardware acceleration and EAX support. This is where it gets different, and what I'm talking about. Most, if not all of the processing for these things is done on the CPU for the Xonar - about all the chip does is split PCM into various channels. The Datasheet for the CMI8788 says as much. All that Dolby stuff (which is nowhere near as good for gaming, and was a pretty bad setup to begin with,) is software, and could easily be run on any chip, as long as you pay the licencing fee to Dolby and DTS.

    I'll do a full rundown comparison between the cards later tonight.
     
  2. OP
    OP
    xok

    xok Member

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    You're a legend, i'll eagerly await your opinion.
     
  3. Camm

    Camm Member

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    Thats correct lithos. I was more arguing on just a objective sound quality {tech wise vs what you will actually hear} (and ease of installation) level. I haven't had a chance to try out the Titanium HD for music (tried earlier xfi models though) and I've always liked the colour of the xonars more. But this is fixable by an op amp swap out anyway.

    In regards with the tech for gaming; offloading to the xfi controller is nice, but I'm not sure if its essential, but I will admit that in the past I've gotten slightly better surround sound results from an x-fi than a xonar - but it required a full 7.1 speaker setup to do it; 5.1 I couldn't really tell the difference between the two.
     
  4. carbon_death

    carbon_death Member

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    See sig as to what I'm using.
    To be honest the AD-900's are the best piece of audio-hardware I've ever bought.
    I also love my essence STX, its much better than the other cards you get for the price for music (which is what i am into).
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2011
  5. ChaosMaster

    ChaosMaster Member

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    Is it worth getting a soundcard for a X530 running 2.1CH. I dont' have much space, thus I can't really upgrade. The X530 speakers just fit. Unless there are higher end speakers that are as thin, I was thinking of getting a sound card to up the quality, but would it be pointless with this set of speakers? I have a budget of $100.
     
  6. Camm

    Camm Member

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    Hi Chaos,

    A soundcard would be a nice, but not game changing {your limiting factor will be your speakers here I daresay} upgrade to your onboard on those speakers.

    The Xonar DG is a good entry level card with 5.1 support and a headphone amp and is only $40 from MSY.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    xok

    xok Member

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    Hello friends.

    I've come to the realisation that the mod that i linked in the first post will not work for me, and hence I now bring news that I can use either PCI or PCIe for a sound card

    Atm, i'm tossing up between Titanium HD or Xonar ST/STX,
    I'm assuming the Xonar will be better for music, but the Titanium will be better for games but still pretty good for music?

    Lithos, cheers for your help, would be phenomenal if you could get your hands on a Xonar and do a comparison :D
     
  8. Mr. Blue

    Mr. Blue (Banned or Deleted)

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    What about the Azuentech forte?
     
  9. OP
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    xok

    xok Member

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    Havn't really considered it, as i was under the impression the Titanium HD would be better
     
  10. jgustrove

    jgustrove Member

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    Just about every review I've read says theres no significant difference between the Xonar and Titanium HD in terms of music sounds.
    I'm having the same issue, whilst I feel the Titanium HD would suit the times I game a bit more, the ASUS card just looks like its more serious about music (compared to what package contents in both) so it's really hard choice and probably is going to be about the EAX stuff.
     
  11. carbon_death

    carbon_death Member

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    Xonar Essence ST/X, excellent for music, and still pretty decent for games.:thumbup:
     
  12. lithos

    lithos Member

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    When people say the Xonar is "better for music" they're leaving off the last bit of that statement: "than it is at gaming."

    For music, the question is "Which card screws with the music more?" Answer: neither.

    For music they'd be practically identical; they have the same output specs. Both 0.001% THD, 117dB SNR. The THD specs are nice on paper, but it's generally taken that no one's gonna notice any THD less than 1% (according to Wikipedia.) AtomicMPC measured the HD at 0.0005%, but meh. They both have three-fifths of fuck-all THD.

    This assumes a pure chain - that you don't dick around and activate any "enhancements" the card might have.

    It's not trouble for anything to play music really; the idea is to get the music out with as little done to it as possible - preservation, not modification (or molestation, depending on your viewpoint.) Both use the similar DACs from Texas Instruments: just that the Xonar's PCM1792 is software controlled (directly from the drivers,) and the X-Fi's PCM1794 is hardware (from the X-Fi chip, I'm guessing, which is of course controlled by the drivers.)

    The only practical differences are that the HD only has enough power to run 250 ohm cans (the box says 330 ohms but I reckon they're be pushing it,) and the STX can do 600 ohms, and that the HD uses two single-channel opamps in the buffer, whereas the STX uses one dual channel.

    TL;DR version: For music, both cards are identical in practice, both give a nice clean output. Neither card is "better" at music.

    Like this guy says:

    Gaming, on the other hand...

    I'll grab a DG for $40 and do a comparison* between the processing, instead (DG's got the full GX 2.5 spec.) As much as I'd love to, I don't think I can quite afford dropping $200 on a card to do a comparison with the STX.

    *At some unspecified point in the future.
     
  13. OP
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    xok

    xok Member

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    Totally understand. It sounds like the HD would be a better bet for myself, i'll pick one up soon. Shall be ordering AD700s to go with them :p
     
  14. Camm

    Camm Member

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    I personally think this makes them better at music for the fact of able to drive 600ohm headphones - but it all comes down to headphone choice doesnt it.
     
  15. Spork!

    Spork! Member

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    There's a choice???
    Absolutley wrapt with my AD700's.
    for music AND games. :thumbup:
     
  16. Camm

    Camm Member

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    Heh - I have AD900's, but have been eyeing off the 250ohm Beyer's and I dont think the creative would have quite enough oomph personally.
     
  17. ChaosMaster

    ChaosMaster Member

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    Hi guys, I want your opinion on something. Hows the Xonar HDAV1.3 Deluxe compare to the ST for sound? The thing is I use my Monitor 95% of the time and it's connection is DVI. However I do have my PC connected to my TV via HDMI (DVI adaptor) of which I use only when the whole family wants to watch a movie together. I'm thinking if I should go the HDAV1.3 as I listen to music about as much as I watch vids (50/50 split). I'm sure the HDAV would be a huge upgrade from on board, but how does it compare say a DX or ST? Also note that my PC speakers are X530 which are crap, but my TV is hooked up to a proper Receiver via Optic. I would want to use the X530 for normal PC use and the Home Theatre for movies, is that possible? Also, what's the difference between the regular HDAV1.3 and the deluxe?
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2011
  18. OP
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    xok

    xok Member

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    An update for everyone:

    I've ordered the Titanium HD and AD700s, shall post up a review when I have recieved both :)
     
  19. Enverxis

    Enverxis Member

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    Nothing has enticed me to move from my EM-U 0404 for 5 years :p
     

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