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A/V Sound Card For Music.

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Mr_Mistoffelees, 22 Oct 2014.

  1. Mr_Mistoffelees

    Mr_Mistoffelees The Bit-Tech Cat.

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    After ten years of playing RPGs, solo and MMO, I have got rather bored with gaming and, after a fifteen year hiatus, have got back in to listening to music.

    I have recently bought a pair of AKG K550 headphones, which are excellent but, have done a fine job of exposing the weaknesses of my gaming oriented Creative Sound-card. After much thought and reading reviews, I have decided to stay with a sound-card, rather than an external solution, as I don't need portability or more desk clutter. It also looks like I can get more quality for my money.

    I am considering buying an Asus Xonar Essense STX but, would like to know if anyone has experience of this card, or another recommendation. My budget is up to £150 but, within that limit, quality is more important than price and I intend to keep it a long time. The Asus is £147 on Amazon.
     
  2. Big_malc

    Big_malc Minimodder

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    Its as you say m8 Asus or you going for a DAC some so small you would not notice on desk
     
  3. jinq-sea

    jinq-sea 'write that down in your copy book' Super Moderator

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    I'd personally not bother with an Asus of any sort, and go with a pro-audio type PCI-E card, like one of these two:

    http://www.dv247.com/computer-hardware/e-mu-1212m-pcie--71587

    or

    http://www.dv247.com/computer-hardware/esi-maya-44-xte-pci-express-audio-interface--89517

    NB: I have used neither, but they are both tailored for 'proper' audio.

    I also highly recommend the Focusrite Saffire 2i2, yes I know it is USB, but it's a great little (small) box and has the benefit of a volume knob right on the front. It's also what I use for recording when away from the 'proper' kit in my home studio.
     
  4. GuilleAcoustic

    GuilleAcoustic Ook ? Ook !

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    ESI Maya44 XTe could be nice too if you wanna stay with internal card. It's stereo only though.

    [​IMG]

    Edit: Been ninja-ed by Sir Jinq on the ESI Maya44 XTe:D
     
  5. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Swinging the banhammer Super Moderator

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    I have the Xonar STX and would thoroughly recommend it - fantastic sound and the built in headphone amp is a plus too :)
     
  6. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    ODAC + O2. You can probably forgo the ODAC unless the line-out from the motherboard is truly tragically awful. The analog realm amplification stage can be tricky to get right, but the initial DAC stage, particularly for line-out where you don't need to worry about loads, is pretty difficult to truly screw up to a degree that's actually audible to the human ear.

    I'm currently using an O2 with a cheap UCA202 (mainly for convenience of connector access).
     
  7. Chris_Waddle

    Chris_Waddle Loving my new digital pinball machine

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    I had one of the STX sound cards over a year ago in a previous build (it's now in my son's machine and he is very impressed). I loved it and used it in conjunction with my Sennheiser PC650's.

    I'll be honest, I don't claim have have perfect hearing or anything, I just know when I like a sound.
    As I am mainly gaming now, my current build has a basic creative card in and there is definately a difference. The creative is just lacking when I use it for music; the Asus had far more depth to the sound - it brought the music to life much more.

    Sorry I can't be of more help, music to me is just something I enjoy, not quantify with figures, and I much preferred the Asus soundcard.

    The Asus does need an external power lead (4 pin molar) - so this is something to bear in mind too.

    As for the software and drivers. Being honest, I had issues with Asus - and to be fair, also with the Creative. Neither brand have great support and both have had me scratching my head to get them working fully.

    With the Asus I ended up using UNi Xonar drivers - these were a godsend and sorted out the issues that Asus couldn't.

    There are many others who have no issues with the Asus drivers, but I thought I had better point out that some people do.
     
  8. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Swinging the banhammer Super Moderator

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    I've never had any issue with the Asus drivers - what sort of problems did you run into with it?

    (Sorry for the thread derail btw)
     
  9. Mr_Mistoffelees

    Mr_Mistoffelees The Bit-Tech Cat.

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    Thanks for the responses so far. Nice to see that people who have used the Asus STX have liked it. I have read about the driver issues, key to avoiding which seems to be downloading the latest appropriate driver from the Asus website and not using the supplied disk to install.

    I will go and find out about the ESI Maya44 XTe and E-MU 1212M PCIe next and think some more.

    BTW, my experience of Asus, motherboards and graphics cards, has been very good.
     
  10. GeorgeK

    GeorgeK Swinging the banhammer Super Moderator

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    Just reread your first post - I also have the AKG K550s which are fantastic powered by the STX :D Really clear lovely sound and the STX powers them louder than I can take (a lot louder actually)
     
  11. Mr_Mistoffelees

    Mr_Mistoffelees The Bit-Tech Cat.

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    Thanks GeorgeK.
     
  12. Byron C

    Byron C Official Necromancer

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    I'd second the Saffire 2i2; I'm looking into getting something similar.

    I currently use an 8 channel Behringer mixing desk hooked up to a UCA202 interface; with the right headphones I get fantastic sound out of the UCA202, but I have an awful lot of cables strung around the place and I really don't actually need all those channels.
     
  13. edzieba

    edzieba Virtual Realist

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    A word of warning with the UCA202: It's DAC is perfectly adequate, but the internal headphone amplifier is pretty dire, unless you have headphones with a very high impedance (100+ ohm).
     
  14. Byron C

    Byron C Official Necromancer

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    Yeah, I don't actually use the headphone connection in it myself; I've got the output routed to a stereo channel on my mixing desk, and my headphones are hooked up to the mixing desk.
     
  15. Mr_Mistoffelees

    Mr_Mistoffelees The Bit-Tech Cat.

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    Update.

    Got my Asus Xonar Essence STX today, installed without issue using downloaded W7 drivers from the Asus website. Lovely, detailed, well balanced and smooth sound, not too clinical. Well worth the money. Compared to my old Creative sound-card, this one brings the music to life.
     
  16. mrbungle

    mrbungle Undercooked chicken giver

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    The Asus cards are a real step up for headphones.

    The built in amp really helps.

    I have several DX and DG cards, all superb for what they cost.
     
  17. jinq-sea

    jinq-sea 'write that down in your copy book' Super Moderator

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  18. seapanda

    seapanda moobs r us

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    Mine (STX) picked up a lot of interference from the GPU's, and it's not good enough a gaming card to justify that side either. I'd go with one of the pro audio solutions mentioned and get something like Razer Surround for virtual audio (since it's just as good as the sub-par Dolby Headphone on the STX)... either that or get a good entry-level card like the Audigy Rxa nd end it there.
     
  19. g1lgamesh

    g1lgamesh Minimodder

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    The stx and version 2 of the same is a GREAT sound card by asus, killer of a card and yes i play FLAC files not mp3:p

    Strange that the persobn above is recommending a Audigy by creative over a STX. hmm ANY audiophile worth his salt will laugh atthe suggestion of using ANY creative (DANIEL K Fiasco amongst other things anyone?) over a xonar stx/stx version 2
     
  20. Mr_Mistoffelees

    Mr_Mistoffelees The Bit-Tech Cat.

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    I definitely don't think I have made a mistake going for the STX, the sound is so much better than my old Creative card, they are like chalk and cheese.

    I've ripped all my CDs to the PC as lossless .wav files (1411Kbps). With this card and my, now run-in, AKG K550s, I'm hearing sounds in recordings that I have never noticed before, even with my, now defunct, late 1980s Technics CD player and Beyerdynamics DT880 Studio headphones, which I used to think were rather good. For example, when listening to Us And Them (Pink Floyd: Dark Side of The Moon) I heard a deep bass drum, in the background, that I had never noticed before.
     

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