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View Full Discussion Would this be worthwhile as an amp for an ASUS STX II sound card (https://www.asus.com/us/Sound-Cards/Essence_STX_II/specifications/)?
It already has a built-in headphone amp, but it requires I use the software volume, which I'm less than thrilled about, but it isn't a big deal.
Would there be a significant difference or should I just stick with using the built-in amp? My main headphones are the DT 880s (600 Ω).
Oh heavens, there would be a MASSIVE difference.
You won't believe how much better those 880's will sound with a proper headphone amp.
They won't. Stop misleading people.
I would be interested in what your line of reasoning is on this.
Because it's already plenty of power? I figured that was the case, but thought I'd check to see if anyone was more knowledgeable than me on this.
The specifications given between the two don't line up as there are things missing from either of them that the other one tells you about. Makes it hard for novices like me to do a comparison.
I own the dt 880's.
Have a sound card in my computer too, with specs similar to yours.
I have heard the difference with my own ears.
So that would be it.
But think of all the money you'll save if you don't buy an amp!
There might be some difference with the sound signature, but I don't think you should expect earth shattering difference. I like my O2/Odac a lot with its transparency, but people like different amps for different reasons. You can get the O2 to try it out and sell it later if needed be.
The Essence STX is the best soundcard, I know because I own one, but it's nothing in comparison to most external DAC and amps. The main issue with them (and any internal sound cards) is interference. There's lots of things in your computer that causes electrical interference like your power supply, your motherboard, your graphics card etc. Although there is an EMI shield on the Essence, it dampens interference but certainly won't eliminate them all.
But in theory, suppose you could run your Essence STX outside of your computer case, it could actually be better than the O2. But it would also drive up costs because it would need its own power supply, enclosure etc.
There's also differences between amplifiers, differences can be earth shattering (ymmv!) but I'll get into that another time.
Thanks for responding.
I've never noticed much of a problem with noise, but wouldn't the line-out send the noise right along to an external amp anyways?
I also realized that I would also need to check if gaming mode would still work with the line-out, as I do more than just listen to music with it.
So I actually need to give this a bit more thought before I decide what to do.
You're welcome :)
Yes, noise can certainly be transferred via the RCA output from your Essence, but perhaps not all the different types of noise which your computer generates. For example, if the DAC and amp sections of your Essence gets 1 unit of interference each, going to an external amp would mean you only get half of that. More or less.
I always recommend people to go all the way and get an external DAC along with amp, but if you're on a budget that's not always possible.
And in regards to noise, it's not always going to be obvious. Well there are obvious noise that you can hear, particularly grounding issues. But most noise, are not audible, but they affect the sound in an indirect way - smaller soundstage, muddy imaging, lack of slam, poor transparency etc.