Jump to content
Flouncy

Xonar Essence ST/X

Recommended Posts

Just got one. Yesterday my much loved X-Fi Elite Pro stopped working. A dash of fun research and I had an order in with PCCG yesterday morning, and the card arrived an hour ago. Just a quick solid there for PCCG.

 

Holy heck. It's unbelievable. The Elite Pro was the super high end X-Fi, $5-600 bucks I think it shipped for when new. I thought that was good...

 

I tried a Zonar DX years ago and that was shit. Hollow phased sound. Yuck.

 

I've been wanting to hear a card with the legendary C-media chip for ages, almost bought one once.

 

It's the bomb, and ASUS's work on the card and bits is phenomenal, really gold class stuff.

 

Anyway, just an initial rant. Haven't tried games yet, just blissing on the music. First thing I played was a FLAC of Brothers in Arms, coming in thru Senny HD595's thru a nice NAD amp. Fucken hell. Clean. Rich. Honey sweet. Utterly clear. Crisp, velvet and powerful all at once.

 

Now for The Wall.

 

So yeah. Top card. I think it really actually is audiophile level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yep i've had one for about 12 months now. I don't think I could ever go back Its just so smooth and clear.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool man. Hey quick 1st Q - is there any reason I wouldn't leave it on 192 KHz all the time?

 

It defaults to 96, and on 192 there's a slight improvement, like it de-muddies music (if lossless) another 10-20%.

 

CPU usage is the thing. It's pretty high anyway compared to the X-Fi, but within tolerances. Music uses one core 20% and another at 15% (of 8, 4HT), and that doesn't seem to change whether 192 or 96. May be another story in games...

 

Also on games - do you use GX set to on?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool yeah. Quickly found that raw Hi Fi mode is best. Also neat, I can crank the volume (headphone AND speakers) another 20-30% over what I had to peak at due to distortion with the X-Fi. And it's clear all the way up, the amazing sounds just get louder :} Fuck yeah.

 

 

e: also interesting - normally the card outputs to an NAD 312 amp then to either Krix Equinox speakers of Senny 595s. Pretty nice setup.

 

But I thought why not check out the touted onboard headphone amp. So plugged the headphones straight into the card and bloody hell. It lost quite a bit of punch but gained a spatiality that was lost in the NAD route. It was actually like the band was in the room. A wonderfully startling sudden joyful surprise. Good fun.

Edited by Flouncy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've got one too and I've been very happy with it, but if I was going to choose one again I would go with the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD. I'm not sure which is better as I haven't compared them though. When playing games I put GAME and GX on. What CPU are you using?

 

 

 

I just suspect the X-Fi would be better in games and not much different otherwise, but I could be wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah games is the big test and I'm almost afraid to try...

 

The X-Fi was faultless in games, of course. Will sound (heh) it out keenly when I test.

 

CPU is an i7 870 @3.8.

 

What do you leave your sample rate at? Default 96? Use GX?

 

 

e: a really happy perk I'm loving too is discovering that neither my speakers or headphones were a limiting factor, and in fact I'm relishing in this fantastic newly found headroom my gear has. I can no longer make them distort, even at extreme volumes. Bloody hell.

 

ee: why didn't I do this years ago...

Edited by Flouncy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never touched the sample rate. I use GX for games. I thought it was for old games (which are the only ones I play). There's a bit in the manual about it @ page 35.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah will leave it on 96 I think until I learn betterer. It's turning out that I have only a few rips at the extreme quality level that 192 makes a noticeable difference, though when it does kick in it adds really nice positional accuracy.

 

Offshoot - I'm still amazed that Win Media Player gives the best quality. Did before, does now. VLC has less fidelity (all file types) and more distortion and makes a real mess of FLACs, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh. I guess that doesn't make sense, though I have heard that some of what is called lossless is not lossless. So is WMP better than iTunes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't use iTunes but I understand it's a lowish bitrate with maybe an option to increase that via money. I'll never know.

 

The best I can do is WMA lossless, if there's better it's good news to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had this card for a while now. It was the main reason I didn't go ITX on my last upgrade as I wouldn't have been able to take the card with me. It's a great card but sadly I probably don't really use it to it's full potential.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had one of these for a while also, still sounds great.

 

All my CD's are ripped to either Apple Lossless of FLAC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Follow up after a couple of months.

 

Music amazement: unchanged. Everything is better, louder, richer.

 

Gaming: Not so great, but fully acceptable. Fidelity and emotion is superb. Positional is shithouse. On any mode, raw, surround, whatever - just barely roughly 'there'. Where? Roughly left. But maybe right a bit. All a muddied blend of positional approximation that fails. I can see this would be a prob is twitchy multiplayer games are your thing. They're not mine, I prefer deep single player strategy with lovely music mostly, so it's fine by me there.

 

But I do play a heck of a lot of of F1 2012 multi. The X-Fi told me *exactly* where the other cars were around me. From one to several cars or more, through 2 speakers or headphones via X-fi I knew precisely what was around me, and a great indication too of their proximity. Now, a very rough approximation of a muted mass noise that at best is roughly left or roughly right.

 

Gun games are a bit better. Shots and booms are pretty accurate, but nothing on the X-fi. Fidelity is great. Not as crisp and sharp as the X-fi, but warmer and filled out much better. Shotguns feel scary, they didn't before.

 

So. Totally playable in games (fps hit not a prob, a bit more than X-fi but only a bit), but not ideal, music still unbelievable.

 

Conclusion: no regrets.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So. Totally playable in games (fps hit not a prob, a bit more than X-fi but only a bit), but not ideal, music still unbelievable.

I have the STX and agree with this totally. For me, the music quality will always outweigh gaming performance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Flouncy,

 

Might look at one of these when/if I upgrade the main rig. Am using the Auzen Meridian 7.12g with different opamps from stock and it sounds sweet. Only thin is it uses the 'big' PCI slot and not PCI express which may be an issue by the time I decide to upgrade. Also I'm not sure what you mean by "The best I can do is WMA lossless, if there's better it's good news to me. " The last Kate Bush album I bought had the option for 24bit lossless wav so you'd reckon that would be better?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest xyzzy frobozz

The last Kate Bush album I bought had the option for 24bit lossless.....

Arrrrggghhh!

 

Kate Bush?!?!?!

 

Lol.

 

I have the Xonar Phoebus after owning a X-Fi Titanium. Holy hell I love this card! Music to movies to games, it's just amazing.

 

Very highly recommended.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't you diss my Kate, she's awesome.....bloody peasants. :)

 

Anyway, the point was the HD audio is worth a look, I'm sure some other artists have the same quality on offer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Kate Bush is one classy clever beautiful lady with magical amazing songs and a voice you could hug.

 

Lossless... just lossless. Dunno. When I ripped CDs (now all done, haven't done it in years), I'd select lossless for the stuff I really wanted max fidelity on. So yeah I guess it is 24bit. But dunno. Not an expert at this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Normal CDs are not HD; they are 16 bit @ 44.1 kHz per channel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You won't hear the difference between a good high bitrate lossy codec over a lossless one. 320kbps MP3 is perfectly sufficient - I certainly cannot honestly tell the difference with A-B testing on my planar magnetic headphones + Essence STX.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah it's funny, most of the time I reckon my hearing is crap but I can tell the difference between flac and MP3, and the above mentioned 24 tracks from Kate seem a lot richer too?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't got that album to try for myself. How I usually test is to get a lossless copy, convert it to 320kbps MP3 using Audacity, and then do an ABX test using foobar2000.

Edited by .:Cyb3rGlitch:.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×