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Discussion on Article:
Two in One: Asus Xonar Essence STX Sound Card Review

Started by: gwolfman | Date 06/05/09 08:47:29 AM
Comments: 27 | Last Comment:  03/06/14 07:59:51 AM

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1. 
Hopefully the author reads these:

Thanks for the great review!

So I have the X-Fi Prelude and the Elite Pro, which do you recommend I use? I couldn't quite pull that out of this review or your Prelude review.
0 0 [Posted by: gwolfman  | Date: 06/05/09 08:47:29 AM]
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So, there is a Xonar D2 review also, where this three cards were compared head to head. In my opinion Elite Pro is good for rock, but looses a bit in most other genres.
0 0 [Posted by: GReY  | Date: 06/07/09 11:36:47 PM]
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Are you the author? Thanks, I'll try the Prelude first then.
0 0 [Posted by: gwolfman  | Date: 06/09/09 12:10:23 PM]
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2. 
Yeah, but you forgot 2 things. The X-Fi render all the sounds HARDWARE, while the rest of the world still uses Software buffers. And another thing, The X-Fi supports EAX3 and EAX4-HD which are better than OpenAL.
0 0 [Posted by: TAViX  | Date: 06/05/09 10:47:05 AM]
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EAX vs OpenAL are like car vs airplane. Both can bring you from point A to point B, but airplane is better in many points of view.
And yes, OpenAL includes EAX 3|4|5.
0 0 [Posted by: GReY  | Date: 06/07/09 11:46:35 PM]
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That is incorrect. EAX and OpenAL are completely different. EAX is a proprietary feature while OpenAL is an cross-platform API. EAX support in OpenAL is only for Windows, so that puts a limitation of using OpenAL. Until Creative Labs opens up EAX license, EAX support does not exist in OpenAL.
0 0 [Posted by: jmurbank  | Date: 06/08/09 03:41:22 AM]
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I'd say more: EAX is an extention to DirectSound3D for environmental effects. OpenAL has no limit in such features, and it can be hardware accelerated even under Vista|Win7
0 0 [Posted by: GReY  | Date: 06/10/09 06:21:08 AM]
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3. 
I read that the reviewer has made a lot of references to the old Auzentech Prelude. Well, they have since released X-FI Forte 7.1 which uses PCIE. I would like to know how would Xonar Essence fare against Auzentech X-FI Forte.
0 0 [Posted by: michael_d  | Date: 06/05/09 05:54:46 PM]
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Forte is the next one to review. In fact it is already tested.
0 0 [Posted by: GReY  | Date: 06/07/09 11:48:18 PM]
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4. 
This is what i call Kickass review Thanks Gwolfman.
0 0 [Posted by: 3Dkiller  | Date: 06/06/09 02:48:26 AM]
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5. 
great review...

while the word 'abysmal' can be used to describe endless depth, in audiophile terms a better word would be 'wide'.
Because the word 'abysmal' (for me that is) usually means very bad.
0 0 [Posted by: queuetrip  | Date: 06/09/09 06:14:27 PM]
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Lost in translation
Originally it ment fathomless depth of soundstage: exceptionally legible musical instruments took the distinct positions in the outer space. The same impression previously was left by Auzen Prelude with Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro headphones
0 0 [Posted by: GReY  | Date: 06/10/09 06:43:32 AM]
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6. 
Wow, very interesting and helpful. Now I really cant wait for the Forte review.

But wait a minute.. Xonar does not support 5.1 or 7.1 speakers? Is it a 2-channel-only audio card aimed towards headphone aficionados (with support for Dolby headphone but not for REAL 5.1/7.1 line-out channels)?

Is that why you had another sound card in the same rig, for enjoying surround speakers? Xonar does not need another sound card to function, right?

Sorry for many questions--just wanted to clear a few things up about this mysterious sound card that I still do not fully understand yet.. Thanks
0 0 [Posted by: Bo_Fox  | Date: 06/09/09 07:04:10 PM]
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ASUS says that Essence can encode multi-channel audio into Dolby Digital stream, but I have no chances to verify that. Other soundcards in my rig are simply the references to compare with.
0 0 [Posted by: GReY  | Date: 06/10/09 06:50:09 AM]
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7. 
I too am looking forward to the Forte review
0 0 [Posted by: alpha0ne  | Date: 06/10/09 12:29:21 AM]
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8. 
This Is a great piece of hardware with some really bad drivers and support. The Essence also does not support Dolby Headphone. However It does support Dolby Digital Live for 5.1 sound.
0 0 [Posted by: Brightstar  | Date: 06/13/09 11:19:44 PM]
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9. 
very nice review, thanks!

but why do you say "the Xonar Essence STX is the best choice for a person who wants to enjoy excellent-quality music, especially in 250-300Ohm headphones" ? I've got 600Ohm headphones, is it bad? some ppl say that the STX can only output 140 mW at max when a real amp can output 1W, true?

and another guy says that it can only output 2Vrms, so it'd be a disgrace for high impedance headphones ?! see : http://www.head-fi.org/forums/5716008-post75.html

and you mentioned in your D2 review that the metal shield case was useless, do you still agree?

you also mentioned that the soundcard would not automatically switch the hardware samplerate in ASIO/KS in your D2 review, it still isn't the case
0 0 [Posted by: leeperry  | Date: 06/16/09 05:43:29 AM]
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600 Ohm headphones are rare, so I simply missed them in conclusion. They are even easier to drive. The biult-in amplifier provides up to 20 volts voltage swing and more than 2x500 mW output power. It also have three gain settings for high, medium and low-sensitive headphones. The output impedance do not depend on chosen gain.

Internal sample rate is not fixed for DirectSound and MME, so you have no need to switch it in ASUS Audio Center. Sample rate for ASIO and KS operations, as well as for SPDIF output, is locked at Audio Center setting.
0 0 [Posted by: GReY  | Date: 06/17/09 07:10:11 AM]
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ok, thanks for the clarification!

well MME is resampled by KMixer, so this is not quite an option...I only use KS and ASIO, and it's a major annoyance needing to constantly change the samplerate in the drivers whether you listen to CDDA/DVD-A/DVD

and do you think that the metal shield is useless and only decreases the SQ because the IC will get hotter?

any chance you could also review the HT Omega Claro Halo? it looks REALLY good...I'm not fund of the Forte 7.1 because the main headphones op-amp is a JRC4580...I've put LME49720HA on the STX, that's cool stuff! the THD+N is amazingly low.

I will order the ST in the next coming days, but I don't think the 1ppm clock will make any audible difference w/ headphones tbh.

thanks again!
0 0 [Posted by: leeperry  | Date: 06/17/09 07:26:15 AM]
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No, MME and DirectSound are not resampled! You may check this with RMAA easily.

I can't say anything about Xonar's shielding. Let it be

Auzen Forte has excellent amplifier with a bunch of transistors.

PS
ROBSCIX is wrong in his comment about Xonar's amplifier:
TPA6120A2 is able to swing only within +|-10 V with +|-12 V supply and 10 kOhm loading.
Measured output power with 33 Ohm loading is 650 mW.
Measured output power with 300 Ohm loading is 120 mW.
0 0 [Posted by: GReY  | Date: 06/17/09 10:52:10 AM]
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10. 
hehe ok cool, so you check head-fi.org too

so when ppl say that STX can output 140 mW/2Vrms max, they're basically right? apparently some killer external amp can output 1W/3Vrms...or are you saying that 1W would only be useful for <32Ohm headphones?

I understand the Forte runs discrete op-amps, but the JRC4580 looks odd in the middle, this has terrible specs...a far cry from the LME49720!

well MME/DS are resampled by K-Mixer AFAIK, reason why I use KS in Reclock & foobar...but then the drivers don't have an "unlocked samplerate" mode, which is freakin' annoying
0 0 [Posted by: leeperry  | Date: 06/17/09 11:42:01 AM]
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STX can output about 6Vrms at 100 Ohm loading

NJM4580 is not as bad, at least headphone amp of Forte is quite transparent compared with line out

And once again, MME|DS aren'r resampled neither by kMixer nor by c-media driver. Resample takes place only with KS|ASIO, and this behaviour is 'by design' - it is not good for professional audio work when soundcard switches sample rate on it's own
0 0 [Posted by: GReY  | Date: 06/17/09 12:21:01 PM]
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11. 
well a simple test is to play a 44.1KHz file in DS, then simultaneously a 96KHz in ASIO....my previous M-Audio would give an error msg in foobar "cannot set samplerate". on the STX, ASIO will be resampled to 44.1KHz in that case. MME/DS are definitely resampled by KMixer on XP, this is by design...on Vista they create the WASAPI exclusive mode for that reason, it replaces KS.
but well, no biggy if we don't agree
I didn't like the STX w/ the stock op-amps, it started to sing w/ the LME49720HA
0 0 [Posted by: leeperry  | Date: 06/17/09 01:01:23 PM]
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MME/DS are definitely resampled by KMixer on XP, this is by design...


please read about hardware mixing' option for directsound
0 0 [Posted by: GReY  | Date: 06/17/09 02:47:57 PM]
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12. 
oh yes, there's some theory that if you keep the volume mixer at max it won't resample...but you can't really check that, and KS/ASIO bypass all that nonsense anyway....and I wonder why you're saying that the C-Media drivers will resample KS/ASIO to the fixed samplerate in the drivers, but not DS? you were clear in your D2 review that the drivers were NOT bit-matched(unlike the X-Fi).

anyway, I've told Asus about it....but they don't really seem to care, I'm gonna have a go at the Claro Halo, put 4x LME49720HA on it and maybe it'll be bit-matched

and it's got the "magic DAC"(AK4396) and the same headphone amp as the STX, w/ some 49720 it should give
0 0 [Posted by: leeperry  | Date: 06/17/09 03:41:59 PM]
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13. 
hi again, I was wondering if you ever gonna release your Forte 7.1 review?! you said it was ready..

thanks!
0 0 [Posted by: leeperry  | Date: 08/10/09 09:39:15 AM]
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