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Claro, Essence STX, or Titanium HD?

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February 13, 2012 11:06:35 PM

I've been looking to purchase a new sound card for some time.

- It will be used for 80% gaming and 20% music.
- All of the games I play are new - such as BF3, Dota 2, Skyrim, MMO's, etc. I doubt EAX will be necessary.
- Price range is up to $200.
- I have Sennhesier HD555's (no amp)

I was looking at the HT Omega Claro, the Asus Essence STX, and the Creative Titanium HD. I am upgrading from an X-Fi XtremeGamer which has had some problems with drivers and sound popping/crackling/distortion.

I understand that the X-Fi cards are considered the "best" by some for gaming due to CMSS3D (as well as EAX on older games). However, I'm willing to take a minor hit in sound positioning if I'll get better quality or slightly better soundstages/audio from the Claro or STX. I've always had issues with Creative cards in the past, but I'm of course willing to look past my own issues if they have been resolved with the HD.

How do these cards stack up?
February 14, 2012 12:03:19 AM

They are built for different things, and a lot of it will depend on how you want to use it.

The Essence, is purpose made for headphones (it has an amp), so I'd put that as your top choice. It's pci-e

The Claro is a good general purpose card(with a ton of ports and output options). It's pci.

The titanium HD is okay, but it's outclassed by the essence. I'd only suggest an x-fi for a surround system, or it you want s/pdif (which you don't). And the Titanium HD can't hook up to a surround system because it lacks the output ports. It's pci-e.

Edit:

If you mean the HT | OMEGA Claro Halo. It has a built in headphone amp and would be as good as the Essence only it's PCI.
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February 14, 2012 11:02:14 AM

^^ More or less correct. If you plan to upgrade headphones later, the Essence ST/STX is king. Its a bit overpowered for a pair of HD555's though.
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February 14, 2012 11:32:16 AM

I have an Essence ST and it's stunning on music, also I play BF3 and it is massively better than onboard sound.
There is no sonic difference between the ST(PCI) and STX(PCI-E). I picked the ST because it positioned better in my case/mobo layout.
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February 14, 2012 2:40:42 PM

^^ The ST adds a jitter clock the STX lacks, but thats about it.

It should be noted that the C-Media chipset ASUS, Auzentech, and HT Omega use happens to be a PCI chipset. A PCI to PCI-E bridge is added to allow use on a PCI-E slot. C-Media JUST came out with a native PCI-E chipset, and ASUS is doing a product refresh for it, so a lot of new models should be hitting the streets over the comming year.
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February 16, 2012 7:40:55 PM

MagicPants said:
They are built for different things, and a lot of it will depend on how you want to use it.

The Essence, is purpose made for headphones (it has an amp), so I'd put that as your top choice. It's pci-e

The Claro is a good general purpose card(with a ton of ports and output options). It's pci.

The titanium HD is okay, but it's outclassed by the essence. I'd only suggest an x-fi for a surround system, or it you want s/pdif (which you don't). And the Titanium HD can't hook up to a surround system because it lacks the output ports. It's pci-e.

Edit:

If you mean the HT | OMEGA Claro Halo. It has a built in headphone amp and would be as good as the Essence only it's PCI.


Thanks for the info.

For gaming, X-Fi/CMSS-3D isn't better than the STX/Dolby?
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February 18, 2012 6:48:30 PM

Atranox said:
For gaming, X-Fi/CMSS-3D isn't better than the STX/Dolby?


I'm interested in this as well.
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February 19, 2012 6:46:00 PM

My vote is for the Halo Claro (or the XT if you have a 7.1 surround sound system). This card straight up outclassed my Essence ST (which was giving me issues with crackling and popping) in both sound and stability. The only gripe i have is that you have to manually go in and change the audio settings for what you're doing. E.g. i have to set it to 2-channel mode when listening to an mp3 but before i play a game i have to go back in again and switch it to surround mode.
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February 19, 2012 11:20:01 PM

Quote:
For gaming, X-Fi/CMSS-3D isn't better than the STX/Dolby?


They do the exact same thing. Personally, I prefer Dolby Pro Logic/Dolby Headphone to CMSS3D.
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February 22, 2012 11:51:01 AM

Aecursis said:
I've been looking to purchase a new sound card for some time.

- It will be used for 80% gaming and 20% music.
- All of the games I play are new - such as BF3, Dota 2, Skyrim, MMO's, etc. I doubt EAX will be necessary.
- Price range is up to $200.
- I have Sennhesier HD555's (no amp)

I second "MagicPants" Selection of the "HT | OMEGA Claro Halo" and the "Asus Essence STX" for your specified use.
I had originally bought The "Creative Titanium HD" and had bad driver issues. Not everyone does, however enough people have had driver issues with the Titanium HD that I would have to recommend stay away, far away. Plus the titanium HD will not be as loud during headphone use as either of the other two cards, since it does not have a Built-in headphone amp .

I replaced my Titanium HD with a HT | OMEGA eClaro (great card/solid drivers) but I primarily use a 5.1 speaker configuration for music not headphones and I needed PCIe connection since my second graphics card covers my PCI slot.

My pick of the two cards (for you) go to the "HT | OMEGA Claro Halo". HT | OMEGA cards tend to have good drivers But, both cards are excellent choices for your needs. They both have a Built-in headphone amp (Creative Titanium HD does not). Your choice (in my opinion) between the "HT | OMEGA Claro Halo" and the "Asus Essence STX" should mostly involve whether you need a old PCI or a newer PCIe connection.
:sol: 
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March 1, 2013 6:00:52 AM

Not quite sure what you're using for headset but this statement couldn't be more false...

Quote:
Plus the titanium HD will not be as loud during headphone use as either of the other two cards, since it does not have a Built-in headphone amp .


I've tried multiple headsets pc350, hd 555/600 and all on the titanium hd and omega sound cards.... highest volume was identical between cards. Even sound quality coming out of both the titanium and omega was identical 192khz/24bit, the actual sound not just the output. I should note that the quality is insanely close considering my settings which would make the omega cards brighter.

But I can definately vouch for your last statement as the reason i bought other than creative was because of bad drivers, in my case it was recording and yes I spent 200 bones on a sound card just for a mic input... which now i use for digital out to my logitech 5500.

PS Still using my Titanium HD Sounds fantastic and I love the bass/treble adjustments you get with the software (Entertainment mode with thx crystalizer 65% n speaker 100% activated)
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March 1, 2013 6:19:32 AM

I would get a card that uses PCI-E if you can, sound cards last much longer than most PC parts and im thinking that will help prolong the life. Ive got the Essence STX and am very happy with it, the amp is more than powerful enough for my headphones which sound awesome compared to my onboard.
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