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Hutchi
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First time buying/setting up help :)

Hey everyone, I am new to the forums and am looking for a little help as I'm quite new to all this audiophile stuff :)

I would consider my knowledge limited, but I am trying to learn quickly.

Ok, so I'm looking to set-up a home studio using my computer (high-end specs coz of gaming) and am wondering what I need to get started.

At the moment I am running my computer with Audioline 6" Active Studio Montior Speakers, through an ASUS Essence STX soundcard (using red & whites connections).

I play my music through FooBar, all Lossless files in the form of .flac or .wav. I think they are 16-bit 44.1 kHz files, downloaded through Beatport and such.

I am looking at purchasing the Xonar Essence One (http://www.asus.com.au/Multimedia/Audio_Cards/Xonar_Essence_One/)

and at some stage the Sennhieser HD800s.

My questions are:

Do I need the DAC?

Is there something better/you might reccomend?

How should I have everything set-up (connections etc)?

Is there anything else I'll need?

 

I realise this is a lot of typing and help to give, but I don't really know who to ask that isn't just going to try to sell me their brand of whatever.

 

Thanks so much,

Hutchi
 

Demondog
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Xonar Essence One

The weakness of your current Essence STX setup would be if it is using windows OS audio drivers and software volume control. Maybe you are using another OS, you didn't say. I could be wrong, but I suspect you might not be getting a bit perfect output from the Essence STX. I am a fan of external DACs.

Now I don't have any personal experience with the Xonar Essence One, but looking it over on the Asus site, it seems to have the ability for a bit perfect low jitter output, due to its claimed asynchronous USB, and ASIO 2.2 driver. This unit should be a snap to set up after connecting a USB cable. (Ayre and Wavelength's usbdacs.com have good setup instructions on their websites) The dual ALPS volume controls, and the ability to swap in different op-amps are nice touches.

There are other DAC/preamp,headphone amps in this price range, but I don't know how their sound quality compares to the Xonar Essence One, since I have not heard it. I do like its feature set though.

Hutchi
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Thanks heaps. Yeah I'm using

Thanks heaps. Yeah I'm using Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit. Would the DAC plug into the soundcard or just a high speed USB port? Making no need for the soundcard?

 

Thanks again

JIMV
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My recommendations....I am

My recommendations....I am not familiar with most of your setup so correct me if I wander astray.

 

Buy a good music program for music, like J-Rivers MC17 (about $50). If you want to experiment and do not want to invest a lot, Buy a NuForce USB external DAC. You can get a USB dac that will play Hi-Rez 24/96 for about $120. After setting up the Music program I would go somewhere like HD Tracks or Linn and download a few Hi-Rez files. I wouuld then, install the USB Dac, plug the active speaker input into the DAC, tweak the Music Player setting s so as to let the DAC play the Hi-Rez through the DAC and enjoy. You could, for under $200, discover a whole new world from your existing system.

Hutchi
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Thanks man, Money is really

Thanks man,

Money is really no problem, just want to get the best I can without going for crazy stuff ($50,000 Loudspeakers & such).

Hadn't thought about changing the music program, is there any benefits when I'm using FooBar? I read an article in Sound&Vision where he played 24bit/92kHz tracks with it.

Did really want to know where to get the music from though, so thanks heaps :)

 

 

-Hutchi

Demondog
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Software and DACs

An external USB DAC would plug into the USB port of your PC, and bypass your internal sound card.

Foobar2000 will do pretty much everything that's needed. I use it and for my own purposes, including high resolution 24/192 material, I don't see a lot of benefit to using purchased programs, although memory playback is one thing Foobar doesn't offer. Not a big deal to me. The interface of purchased players may be nicer, though you can do a lot of customizing with Foobar.

The Xonar Essence One is not well known in the audiophile world so it's hard to get find good comparisons with DAC combos that are better known. One that is well regarded in sort of the same price range is the Cambridge Audio DacMagic Plus. It has a lot of features and gets good reviews. If it sounds anything like their 840C CD player which I've heard, and which uses similar DAC circuitry, it should sound pretty good.

Hutchi
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Thanks heaps man, I realized

Thanks heaps man, I realized my sound card (Xonar Essence STX) can play 24-bit 192kHz files with the help from stereophiles review. I think I'll probably go the Essence One just coz of I think it will be simpler and I've watched some reviews that say it is nice.

Thanks for the help guys, much appriciated.

-Hutchi

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