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ASUS Xonar DX upgrade - FiiO K3 or SoundblasterX G6 to pair with AKG 702?

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by devilman_079, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. devilman_079

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    Joined: Mar 8, 2005

    Posts: 53

    FiiO K3 or SoundblasterX G6 to pair with AKG 702?

    Hello, can anyone advise on what is the best option to pair a set of AKG 702 headphones? I currently have an ASUS Xonar DX PCI-E soundcard (no headphone amp) and some Logitech z-2300 2.1 speakers (which I rarely use). Both of these items I have had for a very long time and have served me well. I am not a competitive gamer and my PC is now used for music (including mastering/mixing), film/TV and occasional gaming (mainly RTS/RPGs). My old headphones (ASUS ROG Vulcan) have just died, but I have acquired some AKG 702 as a replacement. I don’t need or use a mic.

    My ASUS Xonar sound card does not have a headphone amp (unlike other Xonar cards like the DG, STX etc) and hence I need help deciding on how best to upgrade my audio options with the addition of the AKG 702. Based on reading numerous posts here I have narrowed it down to the following options:

    1. Getting a FiiO K3 (replacement to E10K) and ditching a soundcard altogether.
    2. Getting the SoundblasterX G6 to replace the ASUS Xonar DX.

    I currently use a Plantronics device to switch between headphones and speakers. Am I correct to assume the following:

    A. With the FiiO K3 I can connect BOTH my speakers (via the 3.5mm line out on the rear) and my headphones (via the headphone socket on the front). I assume if I had my speakers on, sound will be played out of both BUT I can control the volume for each via the FiiO headphone volume and the Logitech speaker volume dial.

    B. With the SoundblasterX G6 I again connect my speakers via the line out (is this both optical and 3.5mm?) on the rear of the device and headphones connected to front. Within the Soundblaster software I can switch between headphone or speakers.

    My Xonar card is set to 2 speakers or headphone. I don’t have any effects enabled (EQ or DSP) and I don’t use virtual 7.1 speakers or Dolby virtual. I have found the sound to be odd in some games or have experienced conflicts/crashes (caused by the drivers – since corrected with the latest drivers).

    My budget for a solution is up to £140. Any advice on the options above or a different approach welcomed. Huge thanks.
     
  2. EsaT

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 6, 2008

    Posts: 4,632

    Location: Finland

    Actually any analog audio out has some kind amplifier at least as buffer, because D/A converter itself just isn't made to drive anykind load.
    (only to output "voltage reference" for what output signal should be)
    Question is just about how good output is for headphones.

    And screw up in Xonar DX and its other variants is that for some reason Asus put there 100 ohm resistor, which poops electric damping factor with fashionable low impedance headphones...
    Also causing bass bloat if you stick there some HD500-serie Sennheiser with up to quadrupled impedance at driver's resonant frequency.
    Though Asus still bundled Dolby Headphone with them, which despite of its hyped namy is really mediocre for gaming.
    And doesn't sound good even with neutral bass headphones like K702.
    So can't blame you from not using it.
    Plus sound quality of that Vulcan was likely straight from anus trashing any hopes of immersion. (other than maybe head in bucket underwater)

    Creative's HRTF algorithm is lot better.
    Just listen first minute/two of this with K702:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1_20T8x_OI
    K702 is one of the absolute top choises, if you want to "wallhack" where enemies are from sound in games.


    SBX G6 apparently handles line out as separate output, but not sure how deep into software you have to go to switch between them.
    SBX AE-5 would have program for easier switching between headphones and speakers/line output.
    https://github.com/dainesch/AE5Switcher

    On plus side for G6 USB connectivity makes it easy to move between PCs and with Dolby Digital decoding it has full console compatibility.
    And for that music editing use it has button for disabling/enabling processing.
    Also if you have one of those overpriced keyboards without any dedicated volume control in it, that volume control knob is helpfull.

    Both have direct output modes to disable even the most basic processing, including EQ.
    So you could have settings for binaural sound in gaming and movies and easily have unprocessed sound for music work.
    For which K702 is certainly technically one of the best possible choises.
    Because unlike many lot more expensive "audiophile" headphones, it wasn't designed for some fashion sound, but for analytically neutral and accurate sound.
     
  3. devilman_079

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    Joined: Mar 8, 2005

    Posts: 53

    EsaT – Thanks – you have confirmed it is time to retire the Xonar DX (I have had it for many years and it has done well for more than 10 years!).

    So will it be the FiiO K3 or the SoundblasterX G6? I would like this purchase to be as future proof as possible (say 5 years if possible!). I think external is the way to go. I like the fact that with the G6 you have direct modes so I will be able to turn off all the effects, as you say will easily be able to switch between gaming and music work – this is important. It is also important I can switch between speakers and headphones WITHOUT any physical unplugging. Looking at the G6 specs here (https://us.creative.com/p/amplifiers/sound-blasterx-g6) and specifically the FAQ it mentions:

    Q13. Is there a way to toggle output between connected headphones and speakers?
    A13. There is a software switch to toggle between headphones and speakers. This switch is found within the Sound Blaster Connect software for the PC.

    Are there any G6 owners on here that can confirm that you can (1) Connect speakers via the G6 line out (Which I assume is both optical and 3.5mm?) on the rear of the device and headphones connected to front AND (2) Switch easily between them via the Sound Blaster Connect software?

    If I can confirm this, I assume the G6 is my best option? And others options, like the FiiO K3, is not the best investment or bang for buck with my budget of £140?
     
  4. ToTheMax

    Hitman

    Joined: Nov 28, 2012

    Posts: 546

    I've got a G6 with AKG712's being fed via optical in/out so you can certainly run both. You don't use software to switch outputs between speakers/headphones, just pluging/unplugging the headphones switches the output mode.

    I've also got an AE5, as a headphone amp the G6 is the superior solution. Really like it.
     
  5. devilman_079

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    Joined: Mar 8, 2005

    Posts: 53

    ToTheMax - thanks. Are you able to switch in the software? I don't like having to unplug/plug-in to switch modes.

    With the FiiO K3 (or E10K) this is not an issue, as I understand it outputs simultaneous to both Headphone in (which has the amp) and also the line out (no amp, just DAC, so speakers can be plugged in here). Hence, with a K3/E10K I can use the volume control of the headphone to switch them off (/mute) and/or the Logitech dongle power/volume to switch the speakers on/off - no plugging/unplugging or software switch required. I am hoping the G6 would behave in a similar way? We don't have a G6 owners thread like the AE-5 I could post in - do we?
     
  6. ToTheMax

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    Joined: Nov 28, 2012

    Posts: 546

    No option in software for the G6 I'm afraid, it's a different UI to the AE5. The output is determined by having headphones plugged in or not, I kind of like that since the unit is always close anyway.

    No dedicated thread for the G6 as far as I'm aware.
     
  7. devilman_079

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    Joined: Mar 8, 2005

    Posts: 53

    ToTheMax -thanks for replying. Annoying the Creative website FAQ implies you can switch in the software. See: (https://us.creative.com/p/amplifiers/sound-blasterx-g6) and Q13:
    Q13. Is there a way to toggle output between connected headphones and speakers?
    A13. There is a software switch to toggle between headphones and speakers. This switch is found within the Sound Blaster Connect software for the PC.

    Am undecided what to purchase! G6 sounds like a great piece of kit for the money. Don't fancy getting an internal card. Decisions decisions!
     
  8. EsaT

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    Joined: Jun 6, 2008

    Posts: 4,632

    Location: Finland

  9. ToTheMax

    Hitman

    Joined: Nov 28, 2012

    Posts: 546

  10. devilman_079

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    Joined: Mar 8, 2005

    Posts: 53

    EsaT - great detective work :D
    ToTheMax – Thank you for confirming :) Hopefully better than plugging/unplugging ;)

    Having researched the forums on Amp, Amp/DAC and external sound cards options, I have gone and ordered the G6 to pair with my AKG 702 and Logitech speakers. Can’t wait to get them set up. Hopefully last me a while and I even get the mic option as a bonus.

    Great stuff and huge thanks :D
     
  11. EsaT

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    Joined: Jun 6, 2008

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    Location: Finland

    Well, didn't notice it from first watchinghs of G6 software videos.
    But just couldn't believe G6 would have been worser than its predecessor.

    Anyway this MS Metro for Kids design style goes completely against proper UI design.
    In actually usefull desing, like how Windows software UIs were for 15 years, it would have been instantly evident it's actual control/setting and not mistakable as some decoration.
    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/desktop/AppUIStart/-user-interface-principles

    If I ever meet whoever invented this MS Metro abomination, he's going to have his ears ringing for next month from full R Lee Ermey treatment.
    Can't see how marketing clows aren't getting their upper buttholes punched shut to stop that constant lying.
    https://www.nngroup.com/articles/flat-ui-less-attention-cause-uncertainty/

    Lot better than frequently unplugging/plugging during day.
    Gold etc coating in connectors isn't exactly wear resistant, so it could wear fast exposing connectors to oxidizing etc.
     
  12. Woodsta888

    Hitman

    Joined: Sep 24, 2013

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    Location: Exmouth, Devon

    I think I may start calling them that from now on:D
     
  13. midweek

    Gangster

    Joined: Jun 28, 2009

    Posts: 104

    Just wondering if you had any feedback to give on the G6 with AKG K702 setup? I am looking at exactly this.

    Or I may just go with a Schiit Magni 3 with my onboard Realtek ALC1220.

    Cheers
     
  14. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,376

    For gaming, the G6 is the better option; unless you dislike the effect of positional surround sound that SBX prostudio provides. Some don't like it and would rather just have plain stereo with no effects.
     
  15. devilman_079

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    Joined: Mar 8, 2005

    Posts: 53

    Hello. I have had the set up for a couple of weeks and am really impressed.

    Connecting up the speakers and headphones to the G6 was straight forward. Speakers are connected via the G6 line out (on rear of unit) and headphones connected to front input. Switching between the two is very simple via a toggle switch in the Sound Blaster software that EsaT identified.

    The unit has a ‘Direct Mode’ button on the side for pure sound – perfect for my mastering and mixing. The difference in sound quality over my old ASUS Xonar via my speakers is very noticeable – much clearer and better definition. I could not do a comparison with my AKG 702 as the Xonar did not have a headphone amplifier.

    The G6 is very capable of driving the AKG 702. The G6 has a Low and High gain toggle on the side of the unit. I have mine set at L (which is recommended for low impedance headphones (16 – 149 Ω) – which is perfect for the AKG 702 with a rating of 62 Ω). There is plenty of range with the volume control and the G6 can easily drive the AKG 702 to levels which are too loud for me!

    I have no regrets in choosing an external and combined DAC/Soundcard/Headphone Amp. The G6 really fits my needs. I did not think I would be that interested in having binaural sound – I thought I would just be happy with the unprocessed/direct sound mode for everything I do – gaming and audio work. However, I have been really impressed with the sound settings for games and now switch regularly depending on what I am doing. A couple of added bonuses are also:

    1. The mic input on the G6
    2. Portability of the G6 to be used on another PC (I don’t own a console, but if I did, I bet I would plug the G6 into it). It is very much plug and play and I just configure the settings on my main PC. Really neat feature and not one I thought I would use as much. I don’t think I will be going back to an internal soundcard now!

    As for the headphones. They are very good. They do leak sound being Open – but that was not a surprise. They are very comfortable and fit really well. Sound quality is way better than my ASUS gaming headset – so really happy with the choice.

    Hope this is of help.
     
  16. EsaT

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    Joined: Jun 6, 2008

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    Binaural sound is about light year more demanding for accuracy of reproduction than any music.
    It simply doesn't really work at all with garbage/otherwise inaccurate fashion toy headphones.
    Bet you would be rather shocked by how bad they sound, if you now compared those Asus trinkets to K702 in games.