Asus Xonar Essence STX - PCI-E Audiophile Soundcard

Appearance

Appearance

Asus's sound-cards are striking in appearance, if only for the fact that they have a fairly large EMI shield on them. The Essence STX is a decent looking card and is bound to look good in any windowed setup.

The Chime of Tiger symbol is again in evidence here with a gold symbol etched into the brushed aluminium cover on the card.

Xoanr front  rear card
 
The black PCB uses what Asus call Hyper-Grounding circuitry design. Seemingly this separates signal and noise to produce clear signals. You can clearly see the Nichicon "Fine Gold" professional audio capacitors, these are well respected in the industry and props go to Asus for including some of the best components on-board the card.
 
caps  audio chip

You'll also notice the Dolby certified symbol, always a good sign if you want decent surround sound.
 
top connection

The card supplies connections for front panel and AUX input in a small gap in the shielding.
 
power

The sound card must be powered to produce any sound at all and a 4 PIN molex connection is provided for the purpose.
 
shielding
 
And a gratuitous photo of the cover on the card to finish.
 
input-outputs

Outputs look sparse but provide all that an audiophile should need. Analogue RCA's sit with a 6.25mm Headphone jack (3.5mm adaptor included, see previous page). An SPDIF connection is also also included on the rear IO with a Optical Digital converter included. Input-wise on the rear IO, Asus provide a 6.25mm Mic jack which should please all those budding artists who want to plug their professional Mic into.

It's worth mentioning that solid capacitors aren't used in this card. The Auzentech X-Fi Prelude does include a multitude of solid state capacitors on-board, but these are not considered to produce excellent analogue sound, which is really what the Essence STX is about.

Now let's down to the nitty gritty...
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Most Recent Comments

09-03-2009, 08:28:07

Diablo
Nice review, but linky is to quad sli forum not this 'un.

Given the price, it looks like it would go great with my shure se530s, but if I'm sitting at my desk I prefer speakers.

Definitely a niche audiophile product (like high end headphones) but still a nice review guys.Quote

09-03-2009, 08:59:04

FarFarAway
I prefer speakers too, which is why I hooked it up to my AV receiver

Great card and personally I don't see it as a niche product per se, it's got all the connections you'd need to use with a decent speaker system (inc digital out)Quote

09-03-2009, 09:26:47

Diablo
I suppose I prefer a normal 7.1 wired on 3.5mm jacks rather than needing a separate amp etc.

I guess if you have higher end audio its great, but for £120 I would go for the D2X. I suppose its aimed at music listeners rather than gamers so its better in that respect. Considering my only really high quality headphones are the shures (~£250) its not worth it just for those.

Its all a matter of what you want from the card and if you want really nice sounding music and have a good av kit, this is definitely the card to go for.Quote

09-03-2009, 10:18:00

JN
Nice review mate and yes that card does indeed rock. Had one in my system for a month or so now and I just could never go back to an X-Fi or whatever now.Quote

09-03-2009, 12:17:36

Luigi
How does it compare to the normal asus cards, does anyone know?

And kempez, the forum link at the end links to quad sli review...Quote
Reply
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