Forte or Xonar Essence STX for 2.1 Speakers?

vapor

n00b
Joined
Jan 22, 2003
Messages
56
Hey all,

Here's another "Which sound card should I get?" thread to bore you with. :)

I'm currently listening to my Edifier S330D 2.1 speakers (http://www.edifier.ca/english/speakers/s330d/s330d.htm) through my Audigy 1 (with Daniel K's drivers) on Windows 7 Profession x64. Some driver issues are forcing me to upgrade my sound card.

I've narrowed my choice down to the Auzentech Forte ($140 Canadian) and the ASUS Xonar Essence STX ($195). The card will be used only for music (nearly all 320kbps MP3 and some FLAC) and gaming. EAX isn't very important to me, as I play mostly new games and don't bother using EAX when I play older games. I will be listening pretty much exclusively with my speakers, but I do own a pair of Phonak Audeo PFE112 IEMs. So, I'm wondering if the Essence STX sounds $60 better than the Forte given my applications, and the fact that I'm not a headphone user? Or would I be better served to even grab the Xonar DX ($95)?

Thanks!
 

menace2society

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 2, 2006
Messages
231
Both are great cards and I listened to both because I was in the same position not to long ago. I picked the Essence because music sounded better with this card to me. If you can, I would buy both and return the one you like lest, that's what I did. Hope this helps. Menace
 

zero940

Limp Gawd
Joined
Dec 19, 2009
Messages
156
I own a Xonar Essence STX and it's absolutely amazing for music. Going from onboard to this was a huge step up...

Aside from the great sound quality boost, I received a lot more bass and volume as well. My music is now so much more grand(and with some genres really boisterous). In games it's still a good card, but music is where it really shines. The separation of instruments with rock music was something I wasn't used to at first, and it made some metal sound rather strange. It basically removed a lot of the "wall of sound" most are familiar with with onboard audio(and metal in general I guess).

I haven't heard the Forte myself, but I'm very happy with my purchase. My only real issue is the stupid popping you might hear when resuming anything with sound. This used to happen a lot more on my other motherboard, and it was really painful, so ymmv.
 

fss69

Gawd
Joined
Nov 30, 2007
Messages
638
If you have a free PCI spot, go with the Essence ST. It has better circuitry than the STX. It won't be a monster difference in sound, but since they cost about the same...
 

Lateralus

More [H]uman than Human
Joined
Aug 7, 2004
Messages
17,090
I own the Forte and STX. The Forte is more gaming and HT oriented (though it still sounds excellent with music) while the STX is geared toward music yet still works well in games. All of the reviews I've read are unanimous in saying that the STX is by far the better card for music. Unfortunately I can't do a side-by-side test because I don't have enough slots, but they both sound excellent. The Asus driver package is definitely smaller if that matters to you. I picked up my STX on the FS/FT forums for $130 or $140 so it didn't cost that much more than the Forte.
 

ilikecake

Gawd
Joined
Feb 20, 2006
Messages
759
I have a problem with my Forte picking up distortion from somewhere else in my case. It is an annoying background noise that changes based on what the computer is doing. I dunno if this is a problem with the card, or specific to my setup, but I thought I would mention it. I may be looking for a new card soon, as the problem is starting to bother me more recently.
 

Mr. Wolf

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Oct 8, 2006
Messages
7,162
I get some annoying pops, crackles, etc. while playing music, watching movies/TV with my Forte. I'm probably going to snag an STX or D2X this weekend. I hope either card does a good job with games.
 
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vapor

n00b
Joined
Jan 22, 2003
Messages
56
Thanks guys; picked up the Xonar Essence ST earlier today. I'm having trouble getting the digital out to work, though: I get no sound, but it shows volume activity on the sound menu. I'm using a coaxial cable and I've set the S/PDIF pass-through as the default playback device. Am I missing something?

Edit: Figured it out; had to change it in the Xonar Audio Center too. Whoops!
 
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