ASUS Xonar Essence STX II 7.1 Review

👤by Tony Le Bourne Comments 📅30-08-14

Product on review: ASUS Xonar Essence STX II 7.1
Manufacturer & Sponsor: ASUS
Street Price:
175 GBP - Without Daughter Board
215 GBP With 7.1 Daughter Board

ASUS Xonar have made a mighty stamp in the discrete audio market and the Essence STX has long been an audiophile favourite since its release. This was due to its great performance and is easy to modify. Since then, high end audio has been pressed by the ever expanding needs of the tech savvy generation, wanting the best from whatever they put their PC to. Whether it is gaming, audio creation, HD movie playback or simply rocking out to their music library. Creative have encompassed this need fairly well with their Z-Series of Sound Blasters. Making the Xonars, such as the Essence Series, limited to just stereo channels or the majority of the entertainment series featuring 5.1/7.1 surround, but no headphone amp, look relatively disparate and too specific. Then came the ROG Phoebus, providing excellent 7.1 surround sound with a dedicated headphone amp that gave gamers a serious look into what is available in the discrete sound card segment. The Phoebus, loosely based on the Essence layout, loses some audiophile appeal when they needed to drop the Op-amp sockets in order to cram in the extra audio channels. Operational amplifiers, as they are more formally referred to, can change the characteristics of the audio either physically and/or subjectively improving the output signal. So the use of socketed Op-amps can give great appeal to audio enthusiasts who enjoy changing, swapping, and testing the latest Op-amps available or simply allowing the use of a known preference.

Following suit with the Creative ZxR, ASUS has opted to expand the PCB real estate with use of an optional daughter board, providing 7.1 surround functionality while retaining space for the relatively large Op-amp sockets. Though the design layout is almost identical to the older generation STX, there are various changes including an improved TCXO (temperature controlled crystal oscillator) clock source, new low-dropout regulators, professional level WIMA capacitors as well as coming equipped with the latest MUSES Op-amps that aims to provide the best out the box audio experience from a discrete consumer sound card. Let's move on.

Overview by ASUS
Keeping the audiophile spirit and philosophy alive

Four years after the debut of Essence STX the long-term holder of the number-one position in Head-Fi's Sound Cards segment, as voted by highly-satisfied users globally ASUS remains committed to delivering ever better high-end sound cards to delight the most demanding audiophiles. Drawing on years of experience in developing Essence One, Essence STU and Essence III, Essence STX II delivers meticulous design, quintessential performance and profound musicality elements that shape the spirit of the whole Essence Hi-Fi series.

8 pages 1 2 3 4 > »