I have read this card will out put a 5.1 signal through the s/pdif output. is this true?
I also read that two of the OPAmps only affect the headphone output. the other "buffer" one affects RCA output. since i will be using s/pdif out there seems to be no point to mess with that aspect of the card. I prefere using the s/pdif out to RCA but am i missing the opportunity to tweak my card with the OPAmps or is S/pdif out superior (or incorperative of the OPAmps at all)?
Well, using SPDIF on the ST/STX is a waste. The card is DESIGNED around its powered amp, and offers the best analog output of any soundcard on the market. Nevermind Dolby/DTS are low quality lossy formats...
But yes, the ST/STX will pass through 5.1 Dolby/DTS signals over SPDIF, and comes equipped with both Dolby/DTS encoders so you can encode 5.1 uncompressed audio to either format to pass through over SPDIF.
The ST is a card designed (as gamerk316 mentioned) around it's amplifier and (quite impressively) 24bit Burr-Brown DAC's. It's made for headphones, so that's what you'll purchase it for. For anything else, get another sound card instead, and save yourself a lot of trouble.
I agree using the RCA output over s/pdif on this card would be prefered.
I disagree to this card not being worthy for anything but headphones.
according to the Asus website the Xonar STX is: 124 dB SNR / Headphone Amp card for Audiophiles!
the Xoanar ST is: World's first Precision Clock Tuning for Revolutionary PC Hi-Fi audio
Now, arguably if all a sound card is good for is to make computer speakers sound good is one thing. PC to AMP to Speakers is another. what I'm interested in is the weak link between the pc and anything else. otherwise I might as well just run the outputs from the on-board audio and say a sound card is a waste. there seems to be two schools of thought about it; either its a waste and post PC set-up is all that matters or you do want the best possible output from PC to whatever.
one of the best set-ups I've seen is direct digital output card to external DAC to X.
then the other says direct digital output is basicly built in nowadays with s/pdif out.
and of course for example this card has the famous burr browns.
Personally I'm going PC to Receiver (either a HK 3490 or Onkyo sr806) to speaker.
it's that weak link between the music file and its output from the PC I just cannot find a solution for.
I had my heart set on this card but if it's to the contrary I will continue to research, or window shop anyway.
If you are going to go to a receiver, especially through SPDIF, then I wouldn't even bother with a soundcard, as you are bypassing the excellent DACs that are a soundcards primary strength. Especially with SPDIF; I wouldn't fork out more then the cost of a HT Omega Striker, and thats only if you HAVE to have Dolby Digital, otherwise I'd recommend the ASUS Xonar DS in a heartbeat.
There is no reason to buy a high quality PC soundcard to use its SPDIF output.
I have had a chance to use this card for a few weeks now. SPDIF and RCA outputs are close, but RCA wins. the Analogue RCA output has more organic depth and clarity, it's difference from Digital SPDIF output is very subtle. I may agree that if you are going to output SPDIF Digital exclusively a card like this is a waste. however it will be the best SPDIF output you can get.
the idea of the SPDIF output ability to do multi channel is that i can output Analogue RCA for music and the switch to Digital SPDIF output for movies. I am able to keep both connected and switch between them, by the way.
now, the card itself. if you like guitars this card is extremely pristine. the resolution for solos/instrumentals for anything from Danzig to Malmsteen is indescribable. Garbage "a Stroke of Luck" sounds like its drooling from heaven and that's an MP3. Metal rhythm guitar is incredibly saturated yet exact.
my set up is simple, Asus ST to Onkyo TX-SR607 to Energy CF-50's. I can honestly say the card has been an investment in my enjoyment of music for a long time to come, well spent.