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Old 11-13-2008, 01:45 PM   #1
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Default ASUS' Xonar Essense STX Designed for High-End Headphone Users

From our front-page news:
Last summer, you wouldn't have imagined a company like ASUS would release their own audio card, much less do a good job with its design, but as we first saw in our review of their Xonar D2, we knew they meant business. They weren't simply strolling into the audio market to add their name to the pile... they managed to outperform some of the better-known competition.

I'll admit that I've become somewhat of a Xonar fanboy. Shortly after Rory reviewed it, I ran out and got one (aka, I sat at the computer and ordered one) and have been loving it ever since (especially since it works under Linux!). The thing is, though, I generally use speakers less than 5% of the time while on the PC, so when I first learned of the company's new headphone-specific audio card back at Computex, I couldn't wait to learn more.

Well, our friends at Hardware Canucks have got an early preview, and so far, the card is looking incredibly drool-worthy for anyone with a higher-end pair of headphones. It should be made clear that the new Xonar Essence STX isn't some wimpy card, and to take full advantage of what it offers, you are going to want a good pair of headphones. I think generally speaking, if your headphones cost less than what the card will cost at launch, you are likely missing out on what makes the card so special.

The article doesn't mention the chipset used, but we can assume it would be similar to the one used on the original D2/D2X/DX. It uses similar DAC chips as well, Burr Brown 1792A, offering a killer 124dB SNR. The card also has independent power planes to split the headphone output from the microphone input, which is designed to keep the signals clean. Add swappable opamps, EMI shielding and other cool features... this might just be the killer-app for headphone users. We'll be sure to get one in soon and have Rory put it through its paces, so stay tuned.


There are many high end audio components on this card and the sections have been designed and positioned on the PCB with maximum sound/signal quality in mind. There are quite a few noteworthy sections and additions to the Essence that haven't been seen on a sound card meant for the mainstream up until this point.


Source: Hardware Canucks
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Old 11-21-2008, 05:42 PM   #2
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I can't wait! I'm glad to see that ASUS is taking special notice of the head-fi crowd. If it's anything like their previous efforts, it could be the very easiest way to turn your PC into an audiophile headphone-listening station, with no additional hardware needed (except for a great set of cans).
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Old 12-29-2008, 09:22 AM   #3
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Hey do you know Robscix has posted part II of the preview?
He says it has "analog tube" like sound, and that sounds good.....
Exclusive: ASUS XONAR Essence STX Sneak Peak Part II

Is there any plan for Techgage to review this new card?
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Old 12-29-2008, 09:39 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lilohtpc View Post
Hey do you know Robscix has posted part II of the preview?
He says it has "analog tube" like sound, and that sounds good.....
Exclusive: ASUS XONAR Essence STX Sneak Peak Part II

Is there any plan for Techgage to review this new card?
Bah, I'm heading out the door now for a couple of hours, but I'll take a look once I get back. We will indeed be reviewing the card, for sure. It's en route now :-)

Welcome to the forums, by the way!
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Old 01-08-2009, 08:44 AM   #5
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Man.. you guys should check out the Head-fi forum, the Xonar Essence STX thread is on fire....
First post is 11/30, and it's 28 pages already now....
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f46/xo...7/index28.html
Quote:
I think I'm the only person who's posted a comparision of the STX's amp section to an external amp so far. Though I'm not implying anything about it's sound quality. It is superior to my Corda Blue, which for those who aren't aware is a Corda HA-1 MKI modded by KurtW. I paid $430 for the Blue about 4 years ago.
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Old 02-20-2009, 12:19 AM   #6
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Asus really does put a lot of high quality components in their card... wish they'd put a bit more effort into the drivers though. I may end up trying to sell my Xonar D2X. It's a great card but the whole "GS3D" thing is clearly not their focus anymore.
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Old 02-21-2009, 06:15 AM   #7
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I 100% agree, ASUS has left their Xonar users hanging out to dry.

I can understand them not offering a Windows 7 driver. However their last Vista driver release was in September. And that was a beta hotfix version.

I'd like semi-recent official drivers, with any/all applicable bugfixes. Not to mention a fully working Windows 7 driver will be needed sooner rather than later now that the RC build is coming April 10th. Half of the interface controls (mute, volume knob etc) don't function in W7 and require system volume or system mute keys to work.
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Old 02-24-2009, 12:16 PM   #8
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I was talking to ASUS a few weeks ago about this, and while I won't mention everything that was said, the guy I was speaking with did acknowledge that he'd like to see improvements made to the drivers soon. The fact is, they keep releasing new models, but are not updating the drivers... they should step back, cater to their current customers, then focus on new product-lines. I'm not familiar with current issues that linger, so I really can't comment, but I'm hoping that their engineering team will get their act together soon and take care of what needs to be done.
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Old 02-24-2009, 11:23 PM   #9
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I have to agree. While I am not experiencing any current issues with my Xonar, I am pissed I spent $200 on a sound card that is not being supported much.
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Old 02-25-2009, 09:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b1lk1 View Post
I have to agree. While I am not experiencing any current issues with my Xonar, I am pissed I spent $200 on a sound card that is not being supported much.
I found the solution to our driver woes! I'll make a new thread, this is turning into a hijack.
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Old 03-19-2009, 05:48 AM   #11
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If you ever happen to get ahold of one of these cards for a review maybe you can do a comparison review with Auzentech's Forte.
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Old 03-19-2009, 11:52 AM   #12
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I've found this award list from other site, maybe you can check them out first:

Guru3D – Top Pick
http://www.guru3d.com/article/asus-xonar-essence-stx-review/18
“We highly recommend this card to anybody who wants exceptional sound quality “

Overclock3D – Best in Class + Innovation Award
http://www.overclock3d.net/reviews.php?/audio/asus_xonar_essence_stx_-_pci-e_audiophile_soundcard/8
Frankly, incredible”

Elite******* - Elite Innovation Award
http://www.elite*******s.com/cms/ind...1&limitstart=6
a work of genius in its own way

Digitrend – Editor’s Choice, 9/10
http://reviews.digitaltrends.com/review/6190/asus-xonar-essence-stx-sound-card-review
“An absolutely splendid solution for music lovers”

Futurelooks – High Performance Award
http://www.futurelooks.com/asus-xonar-essence-stx-headphone-amp-sound-card-reviewed/3/
“The best music experience you’ll ever have on a set of headphones on a PC”

Computer Shopper – Editor’s Choice
http://computershopper.com/components/reviews/asus-xonar-essence-stx
“Asus admirably fills the audiophile niche with its Xonar Essence STX”

TweakTown – Editor’s Choice, 99% for quality and performance
http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/1712/9/asus_xonar_essence_stx_sound_card/index.html
“Ahead of everything else and a truly memorable product”
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Old 03-19-2009, 03:15 PM   #13
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We've had the card for a few months, but due to various circumstances, we haven't been able to get the article posted yet. It shouldn't be too much longer. As for a comparison with another audio card, that's not likely to happen for quite some time, as we'll essentially be lacking an audio editor for a little while (Rory is far too swamped with life and work right now).
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