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ASUS Xonar Essence STX 124 dB SNR / Headphone AMP Card

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ASUS Xonar Essence STX 124 dB SNR / Headphone AMP Card
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Product Reviews

ASUS Xonar Essence STX 124 dB SNR / Headphone AMP Card
Very Good
Below Average
Rating: 9.51/10

Review Date: 05/31/13
Cons: Incredibly pleased with this sound card!

Pros: Great build quality, aesthetics, sound, and more!
Both the Hardware and software are great but I really suggest people purchase a high quality headset with this, obviously. I'm using a 600Ohm headphone and it has no problem powering it!

Review Date: 04/30/13
Cons: -drivers arent the best-make the card powered by sata already

Pros: -great sound as usual-looks great
Great sound as usual from asus. a must buy if you are working with music and have a large set of cans that need powering. the op amps are swappable if you are into that. the stock ones are pretty good already

Review Date: 04/12/13
Cons: None

Pros: Sound quality
I was skeptical at first wondering if there was a clear difference between on board audio and dedicated sound. After using this sound card I was amazed at the difference it made when listening to music and gaming. It has a wide range of effects and modes for anything you would want to listen to. I definitely recommend this product for anyone who can spare the money and enjoys high quality sound. This review was modfied by poster @ 04-13-13 07:53 PM
-| XtremeTiramisu |-@NCIX

Review Date: 03/28/13
Cons: Requires Molex power connection and the connector head is difficult to get a proper connection. Marginal SQ upgrade from my previous Xonar DGX sound card. Headphone amp is also only marginally better than the one on DGX on Extra High Gain +18db. (Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250ohm). Driver support is dated back to June/2011 for Windows 7.

Pros: Very Clean D/A output. Inaudible noise even at extra high gain setting and master volume at 100%. Upgradable OP-Amp for customize-ability. Excellent high end D/A chip.
Overall I'm satisfied with my purchase but I was expecting it to perform better to my expectation. You'd notice a big difference in sound coming from an on board audio w/o dedicated headphone amp but this sound card can just be considered as an entry level audiophile in terms of its headphone amp, however, its DAC chip is proven to be a very high end unit that are sold in ~$1,000 DAC receiver/external unit. You may still consider this a good purchase just for the DAC performance alone and it's got front R/L analog output in case you ever want to pair it with a better external amp.

Review Date: 02/17/13
Cons: -not really. just that floppy power is annoying. if you are making a revision, please consider using a sata plug instead

Pros: -sounds great with my hd800s-sounds really good
Pretty good sound card. much better than what the other major companies offer at this price range

Review Date: 01/20/13
Cons: does require a little fiddling with the equalizer

Pros: Great sound, easy to install and configure
It's all set up for audio reproduction so out of the box it does sound a little flat, with the included software though there are dozens of preset combinations to choose from, after a few minutes you'll have it sounding just how you want it.looks great, sounds great and my favourite feature is the software switch to go between headphones and speakers, so you can leave both plugged in all the time and just slect the one you want at the time from the dropdown menu.

Review Date: 12/15/12
Cons: non...well maybe the price but it's worth it

Pros: It's so pretty
It's so pretty, like honestly this thing looks classy but it's not what's on the the outside but the inside that counts and this thing can count, not litterally but you know what I mean, It's very very good.

Review Date: 12/07/12
Cons: None

Pros: Everything about the STX
The ASUS Xonar Essence STX, You get a 12dB boost for 300-Ohms & 18dB boost for 600-Ohm headphones. You can use it with the 32-ohm headphones like me. I bought it just for the amplifier. The DG sound card gives you 6dB boost I guess. The max windows volume you can set the STX at is between 40%~50% depending on the headphones, Any higher you'll get distortion. Distortion that you really can hear on the Sony MDR-XB500, set the XB500 to 30%-40% windows volume at +18dB gain or, 50% at +12dB gain. You want loud EarRinging bass?!?! ? The AKG K414P is louder then the XB500 due to it's efficiency, It can be loud on a iPhone or iPod. With the K414P You can set the windows volume to 50% at +18dB gain & You can even turn up the 30Hz & 60Hz equalizer 5 notches by simply clicking on the bar above the adjuster to automatically move it up 5 notches. To get to the equalizers click on the Effect button in the ASUS Xonar Essence STX Audio Center Software & To adjust the gain In Main Tab click on the button that looks like a hammer by the "Analog Out, Headphone select ed" There you can select  high Gain 12dB & Extra High Gain 18dB. You can also check boxes for Dolby Headphone & 7.1 Virtual Speakers Shifter, It may give you more bass.

Review Date: 11/08/12
Cons: None

Pros: Sounds great
I love good sound and this card delivers very warm tones without that bite of the onboard chips.

Review Date: 11/07/12
Cons: so expensive!

Pros: headphone AMPthe best card you can getdedicated headphone jack
this soundcard is crazy!!! with an even crazier price tag, but the sound is amazing!! it better be the best at this price. dedicated jack for headphones so no need to play with an adapter, it looks funny anyways with all that baggage at the back of the pc lol

Review Date: 11/06/12
Cons: - None. I'm surprised it is this cheap tbh.

Pros: - How's "HOLY MOTHER OF GOD" sound? That's the improvement going from the Realtek ALC898 found on my Rampage IV Extreme.- This is a step and a half above the sound cards I've owned in the past including the Auzentech Prelude, Forte as well as Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Music.- Powers my current headphones (Sennheizer PC350s) without issue but I'll be getting HD 558s soon.- Optical audio is perfect for my Receiver and Dolby Digital Live works like a charm.
Best sound card I have ever owned. I'm 31 yrs old. My first sound cards were 8-bit. I've gone through various Sound cards throughout the ages. This is by far the best sound card I have ever owned.

Review Date: 10/12/12
Cons: -Price matches the quality of headphones required for best experience.-Interface may take some tweaking and playing around to get used to.

Pros: -Excellent bass-Sound quality-Analog and optical audio out capabilities in one port
This sound card is one of the best I've ever used. Many think that with most modern onboard sound options that a sound card is a thing of the past. That's not true at all especially when this supports 6.3 mm plugs so that no adapters are needed for high quality headphones.The only downside to the card are the drivers and software it runs on. It looks slightly outdated and can take some getting used to.

Review Date: 05/19/12
Cons: Kinda costly

Pros: Top of the line people
No fooling around...im looking for one of the best sound cards on the market, excellent reviews card looks good..pretty well can't top this card no doubt its a audiophile card.

Review Date: 05/11/12
Cons: A bit pricey, but worth it!

Pros: A great sound card when combined with good quality headphones
I bought this sound card to use with my Senheisser HD595 headphones, and have been very pleased so far. The difference was really night and day. The desktop UI is dated, and could really use a refresh. Also, it doesn't seem to keep your settings if you regularly switch between headphones and speakers, which is annoying. But these are minor annoyances and worth the hassle for the incredible sound this card puts out. I would suggest it to anyone with a quality set of headphones.

Review Date: 05/09/12
Cons: I took it back. It would not work with my Z68 but had no problem with my P67.

Pros: I bought this card to replace an X-fi Forte
I took it back and bought an X-Fi Titanium. No problems.

Review Date: 05/07/12
Cons: Price

Pros: Clear loud soundLooks amazingGood BuildUpgradable OPAMPThe best 2.1 channel sound card
I am using this with Sennheiser 555 right now and I was previously using onboard sound from Asus' newest motherboards. I found the sound to be much more clear, it was as if the sound was being blocked before. The quality is absolutely amazing. This card is rated number one on head-fi.org as well many people use this as an internal sound card. If you don't want to do this setup I recommend doing external DAC's instead and there are all kinds of different prices and companies with those. I purchased DT 880 600ohm but it did not power it good enough and I have to have my sound on the max to be able to hear the headphones so the onboard OPAMP by texus instruments isn't the strongest for a 600ohm headphone so I bought the Little Dot III online from David on his website for 250 shipped! Look on head-fi.org for reviews of it with DT 880's and other higher impedence headphones.

Review Date: 01/24/12
Cons: None, perhaps price. Also no mac drivers, does not work in my mac pro.

Pros: Excellent sound, great build. Works in Windows 7 x64. Also a PCI-E1 card.
I bought this card to replace a Auzentech Forte sound card (which I was very unhappy with). Sound quality is pretty good, definitely on par or better than my previous Creative chip based cards. Provided control panel tool somewhat sucks, imo, comparing to Creative panel, but it gets the job done (although does look like Winamp from mid 90s). Build of this card is pretty impressive, definitely not your flimsy regular audio card. During installation Asus drivers crashed, however on subsequent install everything went fine, also had a minor issue with drivers detecting the card, however subsequent reboot solved this issue.Very pleased. Would definitely recommend.

Review Date: 01/12/12
Cons: none so far.

Pros: simple setup, powerful, has spdif and headphone amp.
after downloading and installing driver from website everything pretty much worked right away. have spdif to onkyo receiver and sound is a little better then onboard. it shines when you plug in headphones. my hd558 now sound amazing plugged in to this card.

Review Date: 12/23/11
Cons: None to speak of.

Pros: Awesome sound, good phone amp. Moddable
Thing is awesome. It's too bad more motherboard manufacturers don't take more care with the placement of the PCIx1 slot though. That's not a knock on the card of course. If you have some high impedance phones to drive and you don't want and external amp, this is the ticket. I love it.

Review Date: 12/07/11
Cons: -Not so good with games

Pros: -Great for music
Reason why I bought this card was because my X-Fi Forte died and I read quite a lot of good reviews on this card. Furthermore, its one of the most popular cards out there right now. As expected from the reviews, these do not perform as well as my previous X-Fi Forte in games. Frankly, I don't hear a difference with music (however i did notice slight improvement in movies). If your a gamer, i would definitely go with the forte.The sound is muffled in games (the bass isn't as loud and tight) I looked into this, and apparently forte has quite a good op amp.

Review Date: 11/01/11
Cons: -none

Pros: -built in DAC and headphone amp-body shielded against interference-great quality
Excellent sound quality for the price tag and a definite improvement over Xonar DG 5.1. I've used it with Sennheiser HD-598 and HD-650 and music sounded lifelike and beautiful on both. Great introductory entrance into audiophile world for those with decent headphones or speakers. If you are still listening to mp3s on mediocre headphones or desktop speakers, do yourself a favour: purchase this sound card along with good headphones and CD quality source material and be amazed at how much you have been missing out on. This review was modfied by poster @ 11-01-11 06:47 PM

Review Date: 10/04/11
Cons: -A bit pricey

Pros: -Great sound-Very clear no background noise-Amp for the headphones-192 KHz
I've been using the sound card with an M-Audio AV40 for 3 months and the sound is very good and I have no regrets buying the card. I did some test with my old onboard sound card and you can hear the difference in terms of volume and clarity. Now I run it to a NAD and PSB speakers and it really rocks. Just have to make sure the audio quality of music files are good.

Review Date: 09/07/11
Cons: The voice magic function in the card doesn't seem to work with skype, not a big deal but would be nice.

Pros: A good choice if you choose to listen to music at the desktop frequently, when price matched it could be a good purchase.
Currently paired with my AKG k701 and so far I've enjoyed listening to both new and old tracks in both FLAC and mp3, No regrets on this purchase, even though the price may seem daunting.

Review Date: 09/03/11
Cons: -170$-Channel seperation when using 8 channel for gaming makes it hard to hear voices at times.-Having to switch channels if you want best sound for gaming and video etc can be tedious. I usually just dont bother, sounds good enough on 2 ch.

Pros: -Looks Cool-Modifiable-Metallic Shield to reduce interference from other components.-Built in DAC-Built in Headphone Amp-Software is straightforward
For 170$ I saved myself having to buy a DAC and Headphone Amp... Sure it might not be on the same level, but for a soundcard, with these features... I am very impressed. Of my new computer ( Core i5 2500k, Radeon 6950, 8 Gb of ram) this is the part I am most impressed with. It makes my Sennheiser Hd 580s come alive. I am looking forward to having some good study music.

Review Date: 08/11/11
Cons: -None

Pros: -Best PC sound card available-Headphone AMP!!!-Amazing sound when paired with adequate speakers/headphones-PCI-E
Seriously the best sound card available. When paired with good headphones or speakers you will never want to go back to a different sound card. Well worth the money if you're serious about our audio quality.
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Product Features

Asus Xonar Essence STX PCIe Sound Card

Industry-leading 124dB SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio)
Choosing only the best components and finest design, Xonar Essence STX achieves unprecedented 124 dB SNR ? 64 times clear than on-board solutions, bringing top-o-the shelf audio experience for audiophiles.

Built-in headphone amp
A high-quality TI TPA6120A2 headphone driver supports headphones up to 600ohms of impendence with lower than 0.001% distortion. Drive your headphones as intended without additional amplification.

Hyper-Grounding circuitry design
This exclusive ASUS technique utilizes multi-layer PCB design to separate signal and noise, ensuring only the cleanest signals are passed to sensitive components.

Perfectly sealed analog output path
EMI and shielding seals all analog output signals perfectly from noise, offering distortion-free audio enjoyment.

High quality DAC
The Burr-Brown PCM 1792A Digital-to-Analog Convertor (DAC) converts signals at 127dB signal-to-noise ratio.

Nichicon "Fine Gold" professional audio capacitors
* Using state-of-the-art etching technology, Nichicon "Fine Gold" capacitors deliver rich bass and crystal-clear high frequencies.

Product Specifications

Brand ASUS
Model Xonar Essence STX
Audio core
Audio Chipset ASUS AV100
Channels Virtual 7.1
Sample Rate 192KHz
Digital Audio 24-bit
SNR 118 dB Input Signal-to-Noise Ratio

124dB for Front-out
110dB for Headphone-out dB
Line In Yes
SPDIF Out High-bandwidth Coaxial/TOS-Link combo port supports 192KHz/24bit
MIC In Yes
Other Ports Aux-In (4-pin header on the card)
Front-Panel Header: Shared by Headphone out / 2 channels out / Microphone in
S/PDIF Header: Connects to compatiable graphic cards for HDMI output
Interface PCI Express x1
Operating Systems Supported Windows Vista/XP(32/64bit)/MCE2005
Features Dolby Digital Live: Dolby Digital Live encodes any audio signal on PC in real-time to Dolby Digital (AC3) 5.1 surround sounds to your home theater environment through one single S/PDIF connection

Dolby Headphone: Dolby Headphone technology allows users to listen to music, watch movies, or play games with the dramatic 5.1-channel surround or realistic 3D spacious effects through any set of stereo headphones.

Dolby Virtual Speaker: Dolby Virtual Speaker technology simulates a highly realistic 5.1-speaker surround sound listening environment from as few as two speakers.

Dolby Pro-Logic II: Dolby Pro-Logic II is the well-known technology to process any native stereo or 5.1-channel audio into up to 6.1 channel output, creating a seamless, natural surround soundfield.

Smart Volume Normalizer

Normalizes the volume of all audio sources into a constant level and also enhances your 3D sound listening range and advantages in gaming

Xear 3D Virtual Speaker Shifter:
Virtual 7.1 speaker positioning

Magic Voice:
Xonar Essence STX provides VocalFX, the latest vocal effect technologies for gaming and VoIP, including: -VoiceEX: produces vivid environmental reverberation for your voice in EAX games -ChatEX: emulates different background environment effects when you chat online -Magic Voice: changes your voice pitch to different types (Monster/Cartoon…) for disguising your real voice or just for fun in online chatting

Karaoke Functions:
Music Key-Shifting and Microphone Echo effects like professional Karaoke machine

Professional Bass Management/Enhancement system

3D Sound Engines/APIs:
Vista: DirectSound3D GX 2.5, DirectSound HW, DirectSound SW, A3D1.0, OpenAL generic modes, 128 3D sounds processing capability
XP: DirectSound2.5 SW, A3D1.0, OpenAL generic modes, 128 3D sounds processing capability
Manufacturer Warranty
Parts 3 years limited
Labor 3 years limited
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