Excerpt: , founded in 1990, is somewhat a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to designing and manufacturing computer hardware and components these days. Currently, the company is pushing their tablets, notebooks, and all-in-ones, but they have firm roots in the manufacturing of computer components that are still of top quality today. An example of this is their Xonar Essence series of digital-to-analog converters and sound cards.
Excerpt: Asus' Xonar Essence STX may be pricey, but for audiophiles or those with the money to spend on an excellent sound card, this is the one to get. It looks good and performs even better. It's made with high quality components throughout, right down to the capacitors and EMI shield and this attention to detail becomes evident right from the first listen.
Conclusion: As the performance graphs show, the ASUS Xonar Essence STX is a high achiever. It blitzed all tests, bar one, where the Xonar Xense got a slight upper hand in frequency response. The Essence STX absolutely obliterated the onboard solution in all tests, which is a good sign considering the asking price. Despite the lack of native EAX support, the Essence STX does surprisingly well in games.
Pros: Crisp audio output, Near flat frequency response, Respectable headphone amp, Very low noise levels on both line-in and line-out, Top-tier components, such as the capacitors, DAC and op-amps, Op-amps are user replaceable, Drivers work flawlessly on Vista and 7, Dolby Headphone works well for movies and games
Cons: Need pricey equipment to appreciate the added quality of sound, EAX emulation isn't quite as good as a native hardware solution, No hotkeys to quickly alter settings in Xonar Audio Center
Conclusion: The Xonar Essence STX and Essence ST soundcards are by far the least expensive way of turning a PC into a genuine high-resolution audio source I have yet encountered. Neither the Essences' resolution nor their low levels of noise are compromised by having to operate in the electrically unfriendly environment of a computer chassis.
Excerpt: There are a few dirty secrets in the tech industry, and one of the best-guarded among them regards multichannel audio—everybody wants multichannel audio but almost no one actually runs the speakers to use it. Sure, we all cheered when PC audio went from 4.1 to 5.1, and then from 6.1 to 7.1, but who actually runs that many satellites around his or her PC? That’s why Asus’s Xonar Essence STX is a soundcard that’s long overdue.
Pros: Clean and pure sound output and control over headphone impedance.
ASUS Xonar Essence STX PCI Express sound card review
18 May 2009
Conclusion: When we came to the climax of our review of Auzentech's new X-Fi Forte a couple of weeks ago, we labelled it as our new "king of the hill" as far as discrete audio solutions go. Indeed, it was almost a minor miracle in the way it squeezed so much functionality into such a small board, and without sacrificing audio quality to boot.
Conclusion: As with most products, I was slightly apprehensive about the Xonar Essence STX before I heard it. I asked myself, how could a small, simple amplifier on a soundcard perform anywhere near as well as a standalone headphone amplifier? The answer is, it performs spectacularly thanks to the high quality components producing the line-level audio signal, as well as the very capable headphone amplification circuitry.
Pros: The DAC, capacitors, and op-amps on the card produce an extremely pure and transparent sound, Hugely dynamic and accurate sound on any headphones using the onboard headphone amplifier, Headphone amplification works for the front panel (case) audio sockets, Flawless driver compatibility in Vista 64-bit, The multi-band EQ works much better than the implementations by Creative and Realtek, Large jacks and RCA/phono sockets instead of 3.5mm stereo sockets, Adaptors includ...
Cons: The GX mode isn't a 100% exact emulation of EAX
Summary: Based on my long term testing with the STX card, from engineering sample to final production version I have been highly impressed with the Xonar Essence STX. ASUS set out to build a new flagship card for stereo and headphone use and definitely pushed the bar much higher for other companies who want to follow suit.