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AdamK47
02-07-10, 08:19 PM
Asus Xonar Essence ST.

The X-Fi was the original retail XtremeMusic. Pretty good card, but I knew there could be something better.

I upgraded my headphones last month from Sennheiser HD 280s to Shure SRH840s. I prefer closed headphones and the Shure SRH840 fit my needs very well for around $200. The X-Fi sounded a bit too flat and I knew the headphones could perform better with a higher quality sound card.

The Xonar Essence ST with the SRH840s is a huge step up from the old X-Fi / HD 280 combo. The Xonar Essence uses Dolby Headphone and can make use of an 8 channel audio source to provide 3D sound similar to Creative's CMSS-3D. The positional audio is noticable even though the headphones are closed, but at the same time the sound is very clear and accurate. The Xonar can drive any headphone. It has a built-in amplifier to drive headphones up to 600 Ohm. The SRH840s are 44 Ohm, but I still use high amplification at 33% sound level. The lows, mids, and highs are more "livelier". That's the only thing I can think of to describe it. It's one of those things where you can't take a screenshot as proof. It needs to be experienced. I guess that's why most audiophiles are so frustratingly opinionated.

Most of you are probably OK with the basic sound on your motherboard. If you primarily use headphones (and have a good set), then try out the Xonar Essence ST/STX cards. Forget about Creative Labs.

onmikesline
02-07-10, 08:50 PM
yes that is true on this card and i been waiting to get this for a long time now, x-fi was not even that good when it came out, i had mine for like 5 years or when it came out, it was the gamer one. anyways good choice on a sound card

Viral
02-07-10, 11:57 PM
Nice feedback, thanks. I'm looking at getting some headphones again, had Senheiser HD555's around 5 years ago but a friend borrowed them and they weren't the same after that so he just bought them off me. Right now I'm using motherboard audio with SPDIF optical straight to my Z5500's... it's okay I guess considering most of my music is MP3's.

The Xonar Essence ST looks great to me, might go the STX will just have to make sure it will work in a 16x slot (guessing it will).

bacon12
02-08-10, 11:05 AM
I have been praising Xonar for almost two years now, and I still have my D2 and love it. My XFi in my htpc is a different story, and it will quit working all of a sudden only a reboot fixes it.

Revs
02-08-10, 11:44 AM
Yup, really pleased with my Xoner. Works perfectly inc. drivers and the sound quality is superb. A little pricey but it should last me through several rigs. Both the Essence range and the HDAV range get rave reviews :).

nekrosoft13
02-08-10, 11:44 AM
i had a xonar for a day or so, it was the PCI version, and was the worst sound card i ever owned. after few hours of tweaking, calling asus multiple times just couldn't get the channel mapping to be correct.

planning to do upgrade soon, to this card
http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-fi_bravura.php
*also has headphones amp

Toss3
02-08-10, 01:49 PM
i had a xonar for a day or so, it was the PCI version, and was the worst sound card i ever owned. after few hours of tweaking, calling asus multiple times just couldn't get the channel mapping to be correct.

planning to do upgrade soon, to this card
http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-fi_bravura.php
*also has headphones amp

The bravura's stock components are even worse than those of the essence stx or even the Forte. So unless you plan on switching out some components I'd recommend going with the forte or prelude(better specs than the forte). It's not even certain that the Bravura has a "real" X-Fi chip.

AdamK47
02-08-10, 07:29 PM
I had the STX before I got the ST. I went with the ST, which is a PCI version of the Essence for a few reasons.
1. I cannot use the 1X PCI-E slot in my PC since it's blocked by a GTX 285.
2. Putting the STX in a 8X/16X slot lowers the speed on one of my SLI 285s to 8x. No matter where I place it.
3. The Essence is native PCI anyway with the Asus V100 chip and requires a PCI-E to PCI bridge chip on the STX
4. The lack of bridge circuitry on the ST allows room for the 7.1 daughter board to be plugged into it at a later time. Also, native PCI has less latency.
5. The newer ST has a new feature called precision clock tuning to minimize audio jitter which makes for clearer/cleaner sound.

It was only about $10 more than the STX.

Viral
02-09-10, 04:06 AM
Well I guess I'll get the ST then :) Cheers. I'll just have to make sure future boards have a PCI slot, unfortunately, that might actually be hard with my next PC purchase since many of the good mobo's seem to just be filling up all the space with PCI-e 16x slots...

wysiwyg
02-09-10, 04:38 AM
my Forte is the first card i have NEVER had any audio issues with

Smee
02-09-10, 04:10 PM
How is driver support? specifically Windows 7 64bit?

Does it come with any audi tweaking software? or just drivers?

wysiwyg
02-09-10, 05:07 PM
it uses xfi software but forte drivers, rock solid and excellent audio quality and works great with vista and 7

onmikesline
02-09-10, 05:37 PM
have you tried any of the new bose headphones, they rock

AdamK47
02-09-10, 05:51 PM
I tend to stay away from anything Bose. As for the drivers for the Xonar, they seem great so far. It comes with an audio center configuration panel. It had everything Creative has in one control panel, plus amplification and headphone settings.

Yaboze
02-09-10, 06:24 PM
Does the Xonar have optical In? I have the X-Fi PCI-e and it has it. I need that feature before I get anything.

AdamK47
02-09-10, 06:54 PM
No Optical In

Smee
02-09-10, 11:43 PM
it uses xfi software but forte drivers, rock solid and excellent audio quality and works great with vista and 7

Where on creative's site can you download just X-fi software for win 7?

My vista CD won't even load under win 7.

wysiwyg
02-10-10, 04:27 AM
Where on creative's site can you download just X-fi software for win 7?

My vista CD won't even load under win 7.


well as the forte is Auzentech, off the auzentech site
http://www.auzensupport.com/site/download/updates.php

bacon12
02-10-10, 09:52 AM
Does the Xonar have optical In? I have the X-Fi PCI-e and it has it. I need that feature before I get anything.

You have to use the supplied Toslink to mini optical converters. But they work fine.

wysiwyg
02-10-10, 09:53 AM
same with the forte

AdamK47
02-10-10, 01:18 PM
Sorry, yes it does optical in through TOSLINK. I don't use optical anything. I only use the card for my headphones.

Redeemed
02-10-10, 01:21 PM
I'm rocking optical out from my on-board to my JVC RX-5030V. Board supports DD Live encoding, but I don't have 5.1 speakers any more. Just rockin' stereo ATM. Lovin' the sound quality though. :)

Dr.Nick
02-11-10, 02:36 PM
Hey guys, sorry to intrude but could one of you great auzen forte users tell me which pins I can use on it for audio passthrough to the video card? I kinda hit a wall on this one
Thanks much

Edit- Stupid card didn't have one:( returned it to mc