Asus Xonar Essence STX - PCI-E Audiophile Soundcard
The sound quality of the Xonar Essence STX far surpasses any commercially available and viable sound card in it's price category. Barring sound cards costing £200 upwards, the Asus Xonar really is musically the best card you can get at the moment.
At face value, ~£160 seems an expensive proposition, but compare it to it's competitors and you just cannot get a card that sounds this good for music, headphone and DVD listening.
The sound from the Asus Xonar Essence STX is warm and detailed with plenty of depth and oodles of base when you need it. If you've got a set of cans that need driving but don't want to invest (considerably) in a separate Headphone Amp, then I would say you shouldn't look anywhere else.
It has to be said that the Asus Xonar Essence STX also makes your existing compressed music collection sound far superior to how you are hearing it now. The digital output is excellent and on par with the Auzentech X-Fi prelude, sure, but the analogue connections are awesome.
Add to this decent gaming performance and movie sound that is up there with the best in it's price bracket and you have a card that is hard to fault.
I am certainly giving the Asus Xonar Essence STX the prestigious OC3D Best in Class. For Asus's willingness to sacrifice as little as possible on a musically orientated sound card, I am awarding the OC3D Innovation Award too.
+ Fantastic Analogue Sound
+ Great Feature set
+ Very powerful Headphone AMP
+ Excellent Sound Clarity
+ Great Movie Experience
+ Excellent Dolby headphone Onboard
* A perceived lack of connectors
* Slightly expensive
* Included extras are a little thin on the ground
* Gaming performance varies
- Lack of DTS support?
OC3D would like to thank Asus for providing the Sample.
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