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*HELP* Xonar Essence ST or X-Fi Titanium HD

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#1
Hi.

I was planning on upgrading my sound equipments.

I got rid of my old headset and got the AudioTechnica ATH-M50, now I just need a good source; currently I'm using my old Creative Xtreme Gamer soundcard.

I was searching for the best soundcard available, I found the best two cards (I think) which are:

ASUS Xonar Essence ST Virtual 7.1 $200

and

Creative Labs X-Fi Titanium HD PCI-E $170

Now as far as I see it, the Xonar seems like it has better specs, but are they worth the extra money, I mean are they really noticeable ? $30 is nothing if there is going to be a noticeable difference.

By the way, I've heard rumors that the Xonar ST version sounds better than the Xonar STX version, any ideas about that ?
 
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#2
Anyone :( ?
 
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#3
Personally I would go for the Xonar, but I am biased because I own a similar model and I love it.
 
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#4
Personally I would go for the Xonar, but I am biased because I own a similar model and I love it.
Drivers-wise, which drivers are better ? from my own experience, Creative drivers sucks and I heard a few people says the same thing about the Xonar....
 
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#5
Drivers for my card are actually pretty good. Come with a nice control panel too. I can't fault it to be honest but I'm not a pro when it comes to sound cards and their drivers.
 
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#6
Drivers for my card are actually pretty good. Come with a nice control panel too. I can't fault it to be honest but I'm not a pro when it comes to sound cards and their drivers.
Thanks for your time, I was thinking about getting the Xonar since a few months but once I heard about the upcoming creative SC, I decided to wait.

There is an 80% chance that I'll take the Xonar.
 

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#7
There is an 80% chance that I'll take the Xonar.
Make that 100% chance. the ST is a very capable card - the T-HD is overpriced and from many reviews a lot of reviewers prefer the out of the box sound of the Xonar over the T-HD.

Drivers wise - Creative are pretty good right now. theyve learnt from their mistakes of the early days (hopefully) Ive not heard any serious grumbles about their drivers for the last 2years or so. Asus on the other hand are a little slow with their drivers - you're lucky to have 2 driver releases in a year so if theres a game that needs a fix to be made compatible with the game. your better off selling the game because you'l never be able to play it with the Xonar for a long time.

Asus's recent drivers are Pretty good. they fixed a lot of ingame crashing with their 3DGX (EAX emulation blah blah blah) but Xonar cards have been out for years before they managed to get that one done.

--------

Lastly. (going off topic abit) Asus support is pretty shit. pray to god you dont need to RMA something with them because they will most likely ignore you or give you the wrong address for a service centre - im talking from personal experience here as this happend to me not even 3weeks ago.

--------

(time to shit on the thread) i dont recommend Asus due to my poor experience with their aftersales crew.

however the ST does offer better value for money. over the T-HD.

buy at your own risk. if it fucks up when youve run out of shop warranty. boy are you gonna have a hard time getting through to Asus
 

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#8
I got mine of Newegg about a week ago and i am in the process of sending it back for a few reasons. I got it for $85 and to tell ya the truth it was more a hassle.

The 3.5mm jacks on the card were nasty one of them feel like it's breaking in side as it don't feel like it clips in right. Another reason was it sucked massivly in XP when trying to use it in TS\Vent as it would not let me change the line in to mic input.

How ever in Vista i had 0 issue with it but Vista\win7 your using it in software mode not hardware.

Some one said on TPU that the optical sounds different and surly enough it sounds thinner and not as deep in sound ( but i think that of digital anyways ).

Could not tell improvement over what i am using and not worth the $85.

The mic like OMG they said clearer sound with the X FI ( only worked in vista ) but people were always telling me since i changed back my voice was much better and clearer.

So to me the sound card sucks not sure about the Zonar would like to try it out but not for the crazy prices they normally are.

Check Amazon and Newegg the x fi is around $100 too $150 the latter one being the one i had..

Believe it or not my SoundmaxFX II was a good buy with the mobo and walks all over the X Fi..
 
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#9
The X-Fi is a great card IF you are running win 7. I got mine from Best Buy for 90 bucks. Both are about the same quality so get whatever you can cheaper.
 
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#10
If you are doing headphone only stereo listening, there are probably better and less complicated choices (i.e. drivers) than those two cards.
 
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#11
Hmmm..I'm going to the local hardware store, I'll check for the Xonar, $30 more are better than possible headaches..

If I found it today, I won't buy straight away, so if you have any better suggestion, I would be glad to hear t.

Thanks for everyone.
 
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#12
First suggestion would be a HT Omega Claro Halo sound card (rock solid drivers). Second would be Nuforce uDac-2 USB sound card (no driver needed for XP, Vista, or 7).
 
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#13
To correct an error in model description and offer advice

I got mine of Newegg about a week ago and i am in the process of sending it back for a few reasons. I got it for $85 and to tell ya the truth it was more a hassle.
The card that was selling for $85 was the older X-Fi model that I have and is inferior at least supposedly inferior in quality to the new Titanium HD model. I have the older model. I bought it at a Circuit City for $75 when they were going out of business. Kinda wish I also picked up the other one they had. When I came back it was gone. Anyhow that model sure doesn't seem to be worth the $150 with the release of the awesome Xonar DS for $50.

Here is a link to the old model

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Prof...

Here is the new one

http://us.store.creative.com/Sound-Blaster-XFi-Titanium-HD/M/B0041OUA38.htm

Unfortunately Creative just had a 30% sale and sold out of the new Titanium HD models. FYI, those sales are fullfilled by Amazon.com.

If you like to use a headset then I would really suggest the Asus products as to me they certainly seem to focus a lot more on headphone output. I don't have personal experience with the Essence ST or Titanium HD but when comparing the Xonar DS to other Creative offerings Asus seems to offer the best private musical experience bar none from a sound card.

I also like the fact that there is no input from you necessary to enable gaming features such as EAX emulation in Xonar products. Just click the GX function in the Xonar control panel.

With that being said for true multi-channel sound systems I prefer Creative Labs products and I find that at least compared to the Xonar DS the matrix processing of CMSS is better than messing with the DTS NEO PC setting from Asus.

Anyway the approach I took is an expensive one. Why not get both and use them for the purposes they are intended for. Anyway, that works well in the mid range when the total cost is not that bad but even if you have the room over $350 in audio is a little ridiculous. :toast:
 
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#14
Maybe this is out of left field but......

Since you are using a headset why not try this. The Xonar DS is really good and if the damn upgrade OP AMPS ever get in stock you can even upgrade if you so desire.

ASUS Xonar DS 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Inter...

Then add this powerful headphone amp. The FiiO E9 has very good reviews at Headfi.org.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00470Q76K/?tag=tec06d-20

At Headfi.org

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/521680/fiio-e9-review

Found this handy review at another website.

http://www.headfonia.com/fiio-e9-video-review/
 
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#15
Since you are using a headset why not try this. The Xonar DS is really good and if the damn upgrade OP AMPS ever get in stock you can even upgrade if you so desire.

ASUS Xonar DS 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Inter...

Then add this powerful headphone amp. The FiiO E9 has very good reviews at Headfi.org.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00470Q76K/?tag=tec06d-20

At Headfi.org

http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/521680/fiio-e9-review

Found this handy review at another website.

http://www.headfonia.com/fiio-e9-video-review/
To be honest, I only have basic knowledge when it comes to the sound department, I never used an AMP and from what I read, it supposed to make sound better ?

I just want to get the best hardware for a headset since I don't like playing with speakers, without getting into too much complexity.

So, which one do you think is better, the Xonar DS which is $50 or the Xonar ST which is $200 ?

EDIT: I've checked the specs of the Xonar DS, its very close to my current sound card (XtremeGamer), I suppose that Xonar ST wins ? I'm looking for a different experience, my ears got used to good sound clarity but I want more...addiction :p
 
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#16
I tend to believe this

To be honest, I only have basic knowledge when it comes to the sound department, I never used an AMP and from what I read, it supposed to make sound better ?

I just want to get the best hardware for a headset since I don't like playing with speakers, without getting into too much complexity.

So, which one do you think is better, the Xonar DS which is $50 or the Xonar ST which is $200 ?
There is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to audio products. The sound processor in the Xonar DS is the same ridiculously high quality processor as in other C-Media based products. Asus just rebranded the Oxygen HD Processor from C-Media as the Asus AV 200. It has high quality Wolfson DACs with a high signal to noise ratio. It supports 24 bit 192khz audio over 7.1 channels of audio. Seriously you need dog ears to really even hear that.

When you take products with high enough quality and give them something they never had like enormous headroom with amplifier power you can get something wonderful. I've been doing this for years with receivers that have good sound processing capability but don't have the power supplies to really give a cinematic experience from the most quiet scenes to the most loud canon blazing scenes. A more powerful amp can drive greater loads and give more dynamic range meaning that the more quiet scenes will seem more quiet and the louder scenes will seem louder. In a musical sense the symphony will be able to be quiet when necessary and a crescendo will actually sound like a crescendo. I've always taken this approach and have been happy with the results even using gear not typically used in the home environment such as the class H Behringer EP 2500 series amps that are admittedly overkill or the much more home friendly class A/B Gemini EP 2001 and 3001 DJ amps.

With my 32ohm Creative Fatality MK II headphones the FiiO E9 might be overkill but if you have somewhat harder to drive headphones(higher OHMs) it really is a godsend according to the reviews. There are other alternatives and I'm trying a more cost effective less powerful amp as soon as it arrives. It is called the Behringer AMP800.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000KU87SM/?tag=tec06d-20

I'm hoping to have something to suggest to people that is an in between solution that costs a a lot less than $129. Its a bit of a risk to see how it works out but Behringer has been good to me in the past and I sort of love to stick it to audiophiles when my "horrible" Behringer actually sounds good.

Addressing the simplicity of the setup it is not that complicated to set up. If you were to purchase the Xonar DS here is how it would go.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002VAD716/?tag=tec06d-20

Simply install the Xonar DS in an available PCI slot. Install the drivers directly from the Asus website. http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=wcFuNdxM0I4Sf10X&templete=2

There should be an option in your case to connect the HD Header to the Xonar DS. It is a somewhat thick black cable labled HDA that connects to the front of your case. For convenience it is best to connect it to give you the option to possibly output your headphone output from the front the case. You can use it to compare native output of the Xonar DS to the external amp if you connect the amplifier directly to the sound card. You can also use the back if that is more convenient and neater for your setup.

The Fiio E9

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00470Q76K/?tag=tec06d-20

If you purchase the E9 you will need to connect a stereo 1/8" to 1/8" cable. I suggest 6 feet as it will give you flexibility in placement of the E9. Connect that cable from either the back of your PC from the Xonar DS green output connection or use the front headphone output connection if you connected the header cable and connect that to the back of the E9 where is has a 1/8" input.

I'm not sure if the E9 comes with cables like that so here is a link to one.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002JCOX5U/?tag=tec06d-20

You can also just get one at Radioshack for about $10.

Now just connect your headphones to the jack on the front of the E9 that matches the type on your headphones whether it be 1/8" or 1/4". The E9 has both so that is really cool.

If you took the more risky road like me and spend even less than the setup is similar to the E9 except that you would need at least on 1/8" to 1/4" adapter as the Behringer Amp800 has only 1/4" headphones as it was marketed for professional use. I provide this link primarily for reference as it is easier if you can just go to a Radioshack if you have one in the area.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000V1R92U/?tag=tec06d-20

Why would I suggest an amp that can power up to 8 pairs of headphones for PC use? That's crazy talk, is it not? According to the manual the AMP800 has a feature to cascade the separate amps for more power so it looks like wasting power on unnecessary extra headphone amps will not be an issue. I'm still waiting for mine so I will probably comment on its quality within the next week or so. It hasn't shipped yet and I cheaped out with super saver shipping.

I hope I made sense and look forward to trying to relay my own experience to everybody here at TPU. Good luck and be sure to let all of us know how you made out. :)
 
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#17
There is a law of diminishing returns when it comes to audio products. The sound processor in the Xonar DS is the same ridiculously high quality processor as in other C-Media based products. Asus just rebranded the Oxygen HD Processor from C-Media as the Asus AV 200. It has high quality Wolfson DACs with a high signal to noise ratio. It supports 24 bit 192khz audio over 7.1 channels of audio. Seriously you need dog ears to really even hear that.

When you take products with high enough quality and give them something they never had like enormous headroom with amplifier power you can get something wonderful. I've been doing this for years with receivers that have good sound processing capability but don't have the power supplies to really give a cinematic experience from the most quiet scenes to the most loud canon blazing scenes. A more powerful amp can drive greater loads and give more dynamic range meaning that the more quiet scenes will seem more quiet and the louder scenes will seem louder. In a musical sense the symphony will be able to be quiet when necessary and a crescendo will actually sound like a crescendo. I've always taken this approach and have been happy with the results even using gear not typically used in the home environment such as the class H Behringer EP 2500 series amps that are admittedly overkill or the much more home friendly class A/B Gemini EP 2001 and 3001 DJ amps.

With my 32ohm Creative Fatality MK II headphones the FiiO E9 might be overkill but if you have somewhat harder to drive headphones(higher OHMs) it really is a godsend according to the reviews. There are other alternatives and I'm trying a more cost effective less powerful amp as soon as it arrives. It is called the Behringer AMP800.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000KU87SM/?tag=tec06d-20

I'm hoping to have something to suggest to people that is an in between solution that costs a a lot less than $129. Its a bit of a risk to see how it works out but Behringer has been good to me in the past and I sort of love to stick it to audiophiles when my "horrible" Behringer actually sounds good.

Addressing the simplicity of the setup it is not that complicated to set up. If you were to purchase the Xonar DS here is how it would go.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002VAD716/?tag=tec06d-20

Simply install the Xonar DS in an available PCI slot. Install the drivers directly from the Asus website. http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=wcFuNdxM0I4Sf10X&templete=2

There should be an option in your case to connect the HD Header to the Xonar DS. It is a somewhat thick black cable labled HDA that connects to the front of your case. For convenience it is best to connect it to give you the option to possibly output your headphone output from the front the case. You can use it to compare native output of the Xonar DS to the external amp if you connect the amplifier directly to the sound card. You can also use the back if that is more convenient and neater for your setup.

The Fiio E9

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00470Q76K/?tag=tec06d-20

If you purchase the E9 you will need to connect a stereo 1/8" to 1/8" cable. I suggest 6 feet as it will give you flexibility in placement of the E9. Connect that cable from either the back of your PC from the Xonar DS green output connection or use the front headphone output connection if you connected the header cable and connect that to the back of the E9 where is has a 1/8" input.

I'm not sure if the E9 comes with cables like that so here is a link to one.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002JCOX5U/?tag=tec06d-20

You can also just get one at Radioshack for about $10.

Now just connect your headphones to the jack on the front of the E9 that matches the type on your headphones whether it be 1/8" or 1/4". The E9 has both so that is really cool.

If you took the more risky road like me and spend even less than the setup is similar to the E9 except that you would need at least on 1/8" to 1/4" adapter as the Behringer Amp800 has only 1/4" headphones as it was marketed for professional use. I provide this link primarily for reference as it is easier if you can just go to a Radioshack if you have one in the area.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000V1R92U/?tag=tec06d-20

Why would I suggest an amp that can power up to 8 pairs of headphones for PC use? That's crazy talk, is it not? According to the manual the AMP800 has a feature to cascade the separate amps for more power so it looks like wasting power on unnecessary extra headphone amps will not be an issue. I'm still waiting for mine so I will probably comment on its quality within the next week or so. It hasn't shipped yet and I cheaped out with super saver shipping.

I hope I made sense and look forward to trying to relay my own experience to everybody here at TPU. Good luck and be sure to let all of us know how you made out. :)
I really appreciate you for spending all this time helping me.

Currently, for some reason, the customs are charging exaggerated taxes for imported hardware (around %25 or %30 of the original price is converted into taxes). I've asked a shop if he had any "high-end" soundcard and he replied that its out of stock and that I'll have to wait a few days to see if they can get any Xonar soundcard. If that failed I guess I'll have to consider your setup.

Thanks again :respect: