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Asus Xonar STX: Audiophile Sound

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 4 comments

Asus this week unveiled its Xonar Essence STX, which is a sound card the company claims is squarely for high-end audiophiles. The new card will be available on store shelves roughly a month from today and come in the form of a PCI-express 1X slot.


Some of the defining features of the new card are:

- Burr Brown 1792A DACs
- LM4562 and JRC 2114D’s stock build opamps
- Swappable opamps
- Discrete power source motherboard bypass
- Nichicon caps
- EMI shielding
- Separate power sources for line, and headphone output

Asus claims that the card supports and outstanding signal-to-noise ratio of 124 dB, which is on par with some of the best audio equipment for the home theater market. Thanks to the Burr Brown DAC, users can expect realistic high quality performance that matches Asus’ claims. Those who are familiar with the Burr Brown name knows that the company is reputable for high quality audio electronics.

The card physically does not come with typical 3.5mm mini-jacks, and instead come with gold plated stereo RCA outputs, and a pair of larger TRS jacks found on high-end studio headphones. Asus claims that the new Xonar Essence STX is aimed at both audio purists and headphone junkies alike. Hopefully we’ll get this bad-boy in for a comparison soon.

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  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 14 November 2008 14:43
    " Discrete power source motherboard bypass "

    Will tyhis run on PCIe power straight from the PSU do we think?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 14 November 2008 16:34
    Someone who doesn't have an external dedicated DAC cannot consider himself an Audiophile. Using RCA connections instead of superior XLR ones means you're not an audiophile. The 124db SNR is good (much better than Creative offerings), but without high-quality clocking on this board, the DAC is only a partial solution. The motherboard bypass is cute, but if they were serious, they'd make this external, connected via Firewire (which has proven to be the best way to get that extra quality), and with it's own electrical connection.

    This is still a gaming/HTPC theater card, I wouldn't trust Asus to make professional-grade audio components any more than I would Creative. Save yourself money and buy an entry-level offering from M-Audio - or if you want the true audiophile experience, the Lavry Blue 8-channel DAC/ADC and connect it via a Lynx dedicated AES/EBU card (or an RME solution instead of the Lynx one - better drivers, slightly more clinical sound).
  • 0 Hide
    Drazek , 14 November 2008 17:26
    I'm very happy with my Auzentech X-FI ;p

    then again i hold gaming sound performance (Vista 3d positional audio, with 7.1 surround sound) above pure stereo audiophile quality... only ever so slightly higher though ;o

    give me an audiophile solution with 7.1 surround and vista 3d positional audio support and i'll jump all over it!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 12 February 2009 17:09
    audiophile means sound + philos (greek for friend). even though i do not use a dac i still like music a lot. does this classify me as an audiophile?