1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Asus Xonar Essence STX - Impressions

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by McCol, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. McCol

    McCol Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    1,145
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Ratings:
    +73
    After a quick search, I couldn't find a thread with user impressions on this soundcard so I tought I'd start one.

    Took delivery of this card yesterday from Scan for £133, had seen it slightly cheaper elsewhere but hadn't heard of any of the sites selling it cheaper.

    Card comes in a lovely black and gold box, comes with a quick start guide, couple of small posters! and a booklet of test results. Also included is a toslink and 6.3mm adapter.

    Card was easy enough to set up in the PCI-e 1x slot, does require external power into a 4 pin connector on the card. Drivers on a disc with card but I downloaded the latest drivers from Asus.

    Software for the card is straight forward and nothing too fancy/complicated. I will only be using this card with my Sennheiser HD555 headphones so chose the headphone setting on the software.

    I'm not going to go into too much detail on the conncetions etc on the card as there is plenty off reviews on the net on this card that go into detail.

    Sound quality from this card is nothing short of amazing, using the 6.3mm headphone connector on the back of the card, it uses it's own inbuilt headphone amplifier to give an analogue signal, the headphone amp and dac on this card are top end audio parts according to reviews. The opamps for the headphone are also swappable.

    Listening to some music I have encoded to Alac on itunes, the results are astounding, no background hiss from the phones, nice tight bass that goes deep and a lovely clear sound from the mids and trebles. Couldn't stop listening last night, very addictive sound quality. Also tried briefly with a couple of games, again lovely sound from the phones, there is a option for a game mode in the software which allows the card to emulate EAX2 or 3.

    Here is a link to a review - http://www.guru3d.com/article/asus-xonar-essence-stx-review/

    Sorry about rambling post and lack of technical details but I thought that posting the review link may help with that.
  2. kempez

    kempez Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,728
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Ratings:
    +284
    Have to agree with you, it's by far the best sound card I've used on the PC for music. Have you tried RCA out to an Amp/speakers?
  3. McCol

    McCol Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    1,145
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Ratings:
    +73
    No, I may at some point in the future, but just using headphones for now. My amp is over other side of lounge connected to TV.
  4. kempez

    kempez Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,728
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Ratings:
    +284
    It's pretty much the same story as the headphone output, fantastic sound :)

    I've got a couple of replacement OpAmps to play with replacing the standard one here, so I may be doing that soon :D
  5. McCol

    McCol Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    1,145
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Ratings:
    +73
    Going to look at the options on opamps, read about some of the options on headfi. Let me know what you use and how you get on.
  6. McCol

    McCol Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2004
    Messages:
    1,145
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Ratings:
    +73
    Kempez - Have you tried other Opamps yet? Interested in how it affects the sound from the card.
  7. kempez

    kempez Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,728
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Ratings:
    +284
    Sorry mate not had time really, I've got a couple of review items to be getting on with. I'll see if I can get it done this week maybe.
  8. danzig66

    danzig66 Guest

    Ratings:
    +0
    I just installed one of these last night...only to find out that my PSU only has SATA power cables. Argh! Never even thought it wouldn't have one legacy molex connector. Had to order an adaptor on line, so it will be a day or two before I can play with my new toy!

    Every review I've seen on this card is very positive and I'll be happy to post up some impressions of my own.

    I got a pair of Audio Technica AD700 headphones to go with them after reading reviews on head-fi and elsewhere. I'll be using both for about 60% games, 40% music.
  9. kempez

    kempez Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,728
    Trophy Points:
    106
    Ratings:
    +284
    I'd say you probably should have gone for another card for that mix tbh. The card is ok with games but a nice X-Fi based Auzentech card may have been a better choice for you really.

    Having said that, you'll adore it 40% of the time :D
  10. msoini

    msoini Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2009
    Messages:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0
    I got mine early last week and I've been awestruck since. I was running my computer sound via coax s/pdif to a older Onkyo amp and thought that was good, headphones(K701's) from the jack on the amp and speakers.

    I forgot all about my speakers for a couple of days, went through a bunch of favorite albums and it just sounds so much better than I was used to. As I had disabled the onboard card and didn't have a spare RCA cable it took me a few days to get it hooked up to the Onkyo but when I did it surprised me again. The music is deeper, more present and forceful than through the built-in DAC in the Onkyo. Certainly a lot better than any other sound source I've seen around the same price.

    Swithcing back to the onboard card made everything very stale and lifeless, and that is still a combination that I've used for 3 years and had enjoyed.

    I'm not a very skilled listener and won't rave on about imaging and dynamics and such but suffice it to say it blows everything I've owned out of the water.

    I have to admit that I haven't tried any other good sound cards in my setup, so can't compare it to those like the Audiophile 2496 or Audigy2/X-Fi directly. I have listened to them elsewhere and they haven't provoked reactions like this in me, which is probably up to the rest of the other systems.

    I suppose a separate, higher-end head amp would be even better, but for me, for now, I'm not even looking ;-)
  11. Gislon

    Gislon Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0
    Took delivery last night and got it working in a few minutes this morning. Had to read up about the power connector to check it was as simple as it looked. It is!

    I'm planning to use it as my main source in a hi-fi set up - ripped CDs, spotify, TV on demand etc. So this card has to be up to it if my cunning plan is going to work. And my first impression after 30 mins???

    It's up to it!

    Took about 10 mins to warm up, then it suddenly came alive sonically. Using a ripped FLAC file, and playing via amp and speakers, I did a spot comparison with an Arcam CD 73, a 5 star mid price player from a few years back. The Arcam has more top end sparkle, but the Asus has more soundstage, more warmth and better seperation. When music gets complex, the Arcam struggles to present a convincing image. The Asus did just that - with a pleasingly tuned sound. I was fed up with the Arcam sparkle anyway!

    Final note for now, I tried a 24/96 flac spot comparison with a 16/44 version of the same thing. Result??

    More soundstage. More precision. More texture. Very impressed it gives a noticeable difference.

    More soon...

  12. BOBAD

    BOBAD Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2004
    Messages:
    169
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Ratings:
    +6
    Hi, I am interested in buying this soundcard and £133 is a brilliant price.

    Could you possibly give me the link to Scan so I can make some enquiries?

    Ta. Bob.
  13. gcwebbyuk

    gcwebbyuk Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Messages:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Ratings:
    +17
    I have had mine for a month or so and it sounds great through my Grado SR80i headphones. Am taking delivery of some M-Audio AV20 speakers today too, not the best, but I dont have much desk space left - so will be interested to see how it sounds through them :)

    I am interested in trying swapping out OpAmps / Dacs etc as a bit of a hobbyist thing to do. But have no idea of prices or which to buy etc.

    Can someone point me in the right direction?

Share This Page