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Upgrade from Xonar DX to Omega Claro Halo or Xonar Essence ST/STX?

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October 30, 2012 8:20:16 PM

Which one to upgrade?

What I currently use is:
Headphone: Beyerdynamics DT-770 Pro-80
External headphone amp: O2 Desktop Amp
Sound Card: Asus Xonar DX
Home Theatre 5.1 System: Denon AVR 1712, Pioneer BS41, C21, BS21, SVS PC12-NSD

What I do is:
On Headphone: 85% PC music, 15% PC games
On Home Theatre 5.1 System: 75% movies from WDTV Live, 15% PC games, 10% music from either PC or from WDTV Live

What I want is:
A.) Sound card with better internal DAC
B.) The GUI software that comes with the soundcard which has equalization, bass reflex, dolby headphone, virtual 5.1
C.) Optical Out to dedicated amp/receiver for games (and music.)
D.) Stock Opamps.

What I know is:
HT | Omega Claro Halo and Xonar Essence ST/STX are very similar but what is the difference that gives one card an advantage over the other in terms of what I do as mentioned above.

I have no issues with what I have now. Recently though I had audio problems where the right channel did not function correctly but it was fixed by updating drivers. Other than that, my DX is doing fine for me. But I want to know how large (or small) the improved noticeable difference is to justify the cost. I would upgrade if there is a day and night noticeable difference with what I currently have.

Which is a better product that I can discern a noticeable sound difference between the HT | Omega Claro Halo or Xonar Essence ST/STX and whether the Halo or ST produces the most improvements SQ-wise according to what I do as described above.
November 4, 2013 9:26:47 PM

Let me know what you find. I'm in a similar boat trying to decide between the xonar dx or omega claro II. Only difference is I don't use headphones and will be using this card in a htpc for 5.1/7.1 analogue out to an old receiver. Have you tired comparing your the DX's dac to your receiver's by hooking up the receiver with analogue or are you running pass-through with HDMI/Optical?

The dx is much cheaper and seems to use mostly the same hardware except for the front channel dac is AK 4396vf and the xonar uses CS 4398 and both rated at 120 db snr. But I have no idea what difference that makes in real world sound.

I really wanted the ST/STX until I discovered that it was primarily for headphones and doesnt have 5.1 analogue outs unless you get the daughter card for another $50-60. But even then I've heard the daughter card is being discontinued. So, if you want the analogue outs you might consider the Halo XT which includes its daughter card for only $20 or so more than the regular halo.
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November 13, 2013 8:28:38 AM

The STX is a better card, but as said, is really designed for headphone users. The Phoebus is a strong option if you plan to use normal speakers.

http://event.asus.com/multimedia/xonar/find.htm

Between the Halo and Phoebus, I'd lean Phoebus, but the cards are near identical really, being based on the same exact chipset. Phoebus is "newer", thus I put it ahead. But they really are near identical cards.
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November 13, 2013 8:16:30 PM

yea I'd consider the stx if the h6 daughter card were compatible with it, but Asus' sight says it's only compatible with the st :-( I'd love to be able to compare the dx, st + h6, claro halo xt (with its daughter card), and the claro II in a real world listening test.
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January 27, 2014 11:15:17 AM

vinegarjoe said:
Let me know what you find. I'm in a similar boat trying to decide between the xonar dx or omega claro II. Only difference is I don't use headphones and will be using this card in a htpc for 5.1/7.1 analogue out to an old receiver. Have you tired comparing your the DX's dac to your receiver's by hooking up the receiver with analogue or are you running pass-through with HDMI/Optical?

The dx is much cheaper and seems to use mostly the same hardware except for the front channel dac is AK 4396vf and the xonar uses CS 4398 and both rated at 120 db snr. But I have no idea what difference that makes in real world sound.

I really wanted the ST/STX until I discovered that it was primarily for headphones and doesnt have 5.1 analogue outs unless you get the daughter card for another $50-60. But even then I've heard the daughter card is being discontinued. So, if you want the analogue outs you might consider the Halo XT which includes its daughter card for only $20 or so more than the regular halo.



I am in the same boat as you... what did you finally choose? I want the best card combo to replace a KRELL Showcase ($4k) that is connected to a 5 channel Conrad Johnson amplifier ($6K). Reason is, I am tired of buying new Bluray equipment ($1K or so) and Processors ($4K - 10K) every time a new technology comes out. I want to build my own bluray/processor for about $1-2K and then sit back and upgrade the thing when necessary. Much, much cheaper this way. Also my burrbrown dacs in the showcase are now fairly old.
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January 29, 2014 8:17:01 AM

vinegarjoe said:
yea I'd consider the stx if the h6 daughter card were compatible with it, but Asus' sight says it's only compatible with the st :-( I'd love to be able to compare the dx, st + h6, claro halo xt (with its daughter card), and the claro II in a real world listening test.


Signal wise? They're all about the same. They use the exact same C-Media chipset. The individual sound signature might be different due to using different parts, however, so there will be a matter of preference there.

I'd *lean* ASUS because they tend to update their drivers more, but its really equal between all these cards.
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February 25, 2014 10:29:00 AM

i ended up buying a new receiver when it went on sale. Did more digging and realized that getting your htpc to decode dolby true HD and Master Audio is a major headache and since my existing receiver was about 15 years old figured I'd rather not deal with it. So, only reason to get a sound card is if you are not doing blu-ray movies and aren't running your htpc through a receiver.
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