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Auzen X-Meridian 2G and ASUS Essence ST

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May 8, 2011 10:22:38 PM

I want to buy an audio card but I cannot select between the ASUS Essence ST Deluxe and Auzentech X-Meridian 2G. The opamps on the X-Meridian 2G give better audio quality than the ASUS, but if I replace the opamps on the Essence ST with those on the X-Meridian 2G (JRC 5532DD) then what will happen, will I get better audio than the X-Meridian 2G? considering the DAC (TI BB PCM 1792A vs AKM 4396) and capacitors (Nichicon Fine Gold vs some other Nichicon and JRC all alluminum) to be better than the X-Meridian 2G. Though the capacitors on the H6 are all JRC all Alluminium not as good as the Nichicons on the X-Meridian, as used with their opamps respectively.
The ASUS do not even have a digital input, which the X-meridian has and I require it solely.
Which one should I go for, price is not any factor? I want a card with best audio results.
Should I wait for some time for some new cards yet to come out from ASUS, Auzentech or Creative?

PLEASE HELP..
May 8, 2011 10:47:44 PM

The Essence ST is the better choice if you're a headphone user. If you're using a surround sound/speaker system, the Meridian 2G is IMO the absolute best thing you could possibly buy. It just depends on what you'll be using it for...

By the way, I see you've done your research into the components used. Very nice... it's always good to see a user that has a good idea what he's talking about. :D 

I doubt that anyone will be releasing any new cards in the near future, and please never buy creative when any other brands are available. Their drivers will just destroy your experience, no matter how good the sound quality is. Auzen actually uses Creative's processor in a better, redesigned layout with their own new drivers.
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a b Ĉ ASUS
May 9, 2011 2:22:05 AM

Those two cards are for seperate market segments:

ASUS Essence ST/STX: Geared toward headphone users [due to its powered amp] and high quality 2.0 speaker setups.

Auzentech Meridian 2G: Geared toward multichannel analog output

The H6 expansion card for the ST/STX is a good card in its own right, but the Meridian 2G is better then the H6. If you are not going to take advantage of the amp on the ST/STX, I'd recommend the Meridian 2G.

Quote:
Auzen actually uses Creative's processor in a better, redesigned layout with their own new drivers.


Only for the Prelude, Forte, and HTHD. All of Auzentechs other cards [like the Meridian 2G, and their older models] use C-Media chipsets, just like ASUS and HT Omega.
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May 9, 2011 2:25:08 PM

Thank You very much, I understand what you all mean.
ASUS Essence ST has better components than the X-Meridian 2G like, TI BB PCM 1792A is better than the AKM 4396 (DACs), there are two types of capacitors used on the X-Meridian 2G for audio purposes, they both are Nichicons but ASUS Essence ST uses only Nichicon Fine Gold capacitors for all audio purposes which are better than both of those types on the X-Meridian 2G. Now if I change the JRC 2114D opamps on the Essence ST with single opamp version of JRC 5532DD dual opamp, as these are used on the X-Meridian 2G, then how will be the results? Will it sound better than the X-Meridian 2G?

About Creative, I had been using the X-Fi Titanium for 1.5 years now. The X-Fi gives very good features not seen on any other cards. I have tested a lot with that card. The audio quality is very good but not at all upto the mark of audiophile grading. The mode changing is buggy, as the same opinion of most users, but honestly they just do a great job of optimising drivers according to either entertainment, audio creation or gaming, at least I get very good results. The audio settings get false each time you restart, log off, hibernate/sleep etc or may be even when u install something, so I need to do all those 100 settings, each time I listen to, which is extremely annoying.
If I buy the X-Meridian 2G, I will keep this card mostly for gaming, and also for some lower quality mp3 which sounds just far far better with the X-Fi crystalliser, also for audio creation mode which is fabulous for pure manual audio tuning and also for some home audio recording and mixing. I will connect this card to the X-Meridian's optical input for such purposes (especially for gaming) using the DTS connect of the X-Fi Titanium. In that case the audio will bypass the lower quality opamps of the X-Fi Titanium. Thus the lacks of the X-Meridian will be covered by the X-Fi. Gaming audio reproduced by the X-Fi will be processed and outputed by X-Meridian 2G through its analog output.

If creative ever manages to make a card that can produce excellent audio results (that is better than its competitors) along with at least the CA20K2 audio processor (if it does not manufacture even better X-Fi chip by then), then that card must be the best of all Auzentech, ASUS, HTOmega and Creative. And there goes my dream card.
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May 9, 2011 3:10:15 PM

Two more questions,
1. The DTS encoding on the Essence ST or X-Meridian 2G, is it done on hardware, or software?
2. Is there any card that can hardware accelerate Dolby Digital or DTS audio decoding (from any media) using PowerDVD or any other software?

I had been searching the answer to these questions for a long time now, but failed. Please Help..
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a b Ĉ ASUS
May 9, 2011 5:19:35 PM

Quote:
1. The DTS encoding on the Essence ST or X-Meridian 2G, is it done on hardware, or software?
2. Is there any card that can hardware accelerate Dolby Digital or DTS audio decoding (from any media) using PowerDVD or any other software?


1: I believe its all done in software on all cards; I may be mistaken though.
2: No, decoding is done via software

Also, if you want a card for gaming, you *might* want to take a look at the Auzentech Forte. You get a higher grade card with the X-fi chipset. [Think of the Forte as a slightly lower grade STX with full analog outputs]. Creative in particular has lots of problems with other sound devices installed, so you're taking a bit of a risk assuming the Titanium will work properly with another sound driver installed...
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May 9, 2011 7:04:19 PM

Ah, you're right... I forgot to say that they only use Creative's processors in their PCIe-based cards. Basically all PCI cards use a similar C-Media chipset. My bad.

Either way, I personally look to Auzentech whenever I need to recommend a sound card. The Essence is a really, really nice card as long as you're only using a stereo setup. If you plan on using any surround system whatsoever, though, go with something else. I honestly don't see the reason of going with Creative when there are all of these cards known to be flawless performers at the same price points...

I see you really like those Fine Gold caps. I respect that, and am a fan of them myself, but if I'm right, the quality difference will be small enough that you'll likely be much more limited by your speakers than your audio card.

Here's what I'd recommend:
If you're a headphone only user, then the Essence is your best option.
If you're a surround sound/speaker user, then you couldn't use the Essence, and the Meridian 2G is the best thing available at a reasonable price. Don't get the Xonar 2G - it's of very similar quality at a much, much higher price, and isn't nearly as adaptable.
If you plan on using both, then go with the Auzen X-Fi Forte. It has a dedicated headphone amp (which you'll REALLY want if you use headphones), and can handle surround very, very well. It's also an extremely fast card compared to the competition.
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a b Ĉ ASUS
May 9, 2011 7:28:27 PM

^^ I'd throw the Xonar Xense into teh ring as well; got the powered amp and the 7.1 hookup, same as the Forte.
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May 9, 2011 9:46:03 PM

gamerk316 said:
Quote:
1. The DTS encoding on the Essence ST or X-Meridian 2G, is it done on hardware, or software?
2. Is there any card that can hardware accelerate Dolby Digital or DTS audio decoding (from any media) using PowerDVD or any other software?


1: I believe its all done in software on all cards; I may be mistaken though.
2: No, decoding is done via software

Also, if you want a card for gaming, you *might* want to take a look at the Auzentech Forte. You get a higher grade card with the X-fi chipset. [Think of the Forte as a slightly lower grade STX with full analog outputs]. Creative in particular has lots of problems with other sound devices installed, so you're taking a bit of a risk assuming the Titanium will work properly with another sound driver installed...


Do you mean ANY other audio drivers installed, or only Auzentech's drivers?
I use the onboard realtek audio along with the X-Fi Titanium, i did not see any kind of problems with the proper functioning of the card.
What type of problem do you mean I may face with the X-Fi Titanium, if I use it with the X-Meridian 2G?
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May 9, 2011 9:59:28 PM

someguynamedmatt said:
Ah, you're right... I forgot to say that they only use Creative's processors in their PCIe-based cards. Basically all PCI cards use a similar C-Media chipset. My bad.

Either way, I personally look to Auzentech whenever I need to recommend a sound card. The Essence is a really, really nice card as long as you're only using a stereo setup. If you plan on using any surround system whatsoever, though, go with something else. I honestly don't see the reason of going with Creative when there are all of these cards known to be flawless performers at the same price points...

I see you really like those Fine Gold caps. I respect that, and am a fan of them myself, but if I'm right, the quality difference will be small enough that you'll likely be much more limited by your speakers than your audio card.

Here's what I'd recommend:
If you're a headphone only user, then the Essence is your best option.
If you're a surround sound/speaker user, then you couldn't use the Essence, and the Meridian 2G is the best thing available at a reasonable price. Don't get the Xonar 2G - it's of very similar quality at a much, much higher price, and isn't nearly as adaptable.
If you plan on using both, then go with the Auzen X-Fi Forte. It has a dedicated headphone amp (which you'll REALLY want if you use headphones), and can handle surround very, very well. It's also an extremely fast card compared to the competition.


I do not use headphones and I do not think that I will ever use any future as far as I can think being in the present.
I always use multichannel speakers.
What is Xonar 2G?
I do not want the forte as the only card. I want X-Meridian 2G. Let me see how the X-Fi Titanium works with the X-meridian 2G, then I will take further decisions.
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May 9, 2011 10:11:47 PM

Next thing is "opamps"...
I want the 2 opamp connectivity adaptor for the X-Meridian 2G. As done in guru3d labs I want to set two different opamps for the centre and subwoofer channels. LME49710HA for centre and TI BB OPA227 for subwoofer. How can I get all these opamps along with the adaptor in Kolkata?

How is the end user supposed to understand which sound signature will be suiting their tastes the most and which opamps to go for such particualar signature?
How is the end user supposed to know which opamps are best for what purposes, for example how am I supposed to know that JRC 5532DD will overall sound better than the JRC 2114D and again the LME49710HA is one of the best for vocals etc.

All these need to be known to the user (like me) to be able to customise one's card to their tastes.
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May 9, 2011 11:51:10 PM

Ah, I just made another typo. I meant the Xonar D2, not 2G... my bad, again. :??: 
I honestly can't help you as far as OPAMP sound signature goes. You'll have to have someone else help you with that with a little more experience - I can probably give you a generalization, but I can't say for sure since I've never really heard any of them in person.

I'll look into the Kolkata issue for you, though. Always glad to help a fellow audio enthusiast, and I'm sure you'll be able to get something worked out.
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May 10, 2011 6:00:46 AM

someguynamedmatt said:
Ah, I just made another typo. I meant the Xonar D2, not 2G... my bad, again. :??: 
I honestly can't help you as far as OPAMP sound signature goes. You'll have to have someone else help you with that with a little more experience - I can probably give you a generalization, but I can't say for sure since I've never really heard any of them in person.

I'll look into the Kolkata issue for you, though. Always glad to help a fellow audio enthusiast, and I'm sure you'll be able to get something worked out.


Yes, I think so, thank you very much. :) 
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a b Ĉ ASUS
May 10, 2011 4:41:41 PM

^^ OPAMP's are a bit out of my area of expertiese, so I recomend dropping ROBSCIX a PM over at the Guru3d forums if you need more advice in that area.

But yeah, sounds like the Meridian 2G is the way you want to go, especially if you are not going the headphone route.
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May 10, 2011 7:28:51 PM

gamerk316 said:
^^ OPAMP's are a bit out of my area of expertiese, so I recomend dropping ROBSCIX a PM over at the Guru3d forums if you need more advice in that area.

But yeah, sounds like the Meridian 2G is the way you want to go, especially if you are not going the headphone route.


Thank you very much. May be that I will go for the X-Meridian 2G. But if there is any new ASUS extension card dedicated to the Essence ST, i.e of the same standard as the Essence ST, then I will go for it, and will change the JRC 2114D opamps with the NE5534 (NE5532 is used on the X-Meridian 2G).
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May 13, 2011 4:56:40 PM

I have a query.
If I give optical input to the x-meridian 2g from the x-fi titanium using the DTS connect of the x-fi titanium, will x-meridian 2g be able to decode the 5.1 DTS (core) bit stream and play it directly through the analog output where I am going to connect my speakers?
This is just for games and some sound tracks which will sound good using the x-fi crystalliser.

Please Help..
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