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.
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 movie...
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
Summary: I wanted to upgrade my computer sound card in preparation for higher impedance phones and eventually a desktop amp. This more than does the trick and improved onboard sound more than I'd expected.
The con about it needing a good power source isn't an argument against it.
Summary: Note: I'm from Sweden so if the wording or sentence structure is a bit off, I blame the Swedish educational system!!
The ASUS Xonar Essence STX is a two channel soundcard with a built in amplifier and it is a great entry into hi-fi and head-fi, it has a good set of features and handles...
Pros: Very good for the price, easily upgradeable sound, runs on power directly from PSU
Cons: Has problems with low impedance phones, a bit tricky mounting discreet Op-Amps
Summary: I needed a lot of time to make the decision to purchase this card. During January 2010 I pondered if it actually would be an update simply because I already owned two interfaces: Creative X-FI ExtremeMusic and an E-MU 0202 USB.
Pros: absolutely neutral, decent headphone amp, built quality, design
Summary: its been over an year since I got this sound card & I have never regretted the decision. It has played game with everything I have thrown at it- D1001, HD580, DT880 600 ohm & even my orthos. The DAC section is superior to my Marantz AVR & so is the headphone out.
Pros: Excellent SQ, upgadable opamps, versatile headphone out
Cons: The drivers don't do justice to the quality of this product.
Summary: Wish I had something to compare to. Had an audigy 2 for years and thought extension was better in treble. But Audigy 2 does not have a headphone amp and cannot push the HD650 properly. Not even sure it can push the AKG Q701.
Pros: Excellent Sound...no noise in quiet parts of songs, no cracks of music,
Cons: Wish had more extension out of box, but thats what opamps are for
Summary: Bought Sony MDR XB1000s almost a year ago and they've been great. A mate of mine bought a soundcard and reckons it made a big difference and convinced me to buy one. I read into reviews, and they said that this was a good card for headphones, and they are bang on.
Pros: Makes good headphones even better, great sound quality, more than doubles my volume.
Summary: I don't really have anything to compare this to, since this is my first non-board soundcard (some might say I took quite a leap) To be honest, I wasn't even expecting that much of a difference on the price, since I'm used to seeing components paying way more, but the quality of the STX really blows...
Summary: I originally purchased this audio card for an Asus® CM1630-06 previously upgraded with the same vendor's EAH6850DC/2DIS/1GD5 PCI-Express x16 video card plus an Antec® TruePower™ 750 Blue for sufficient video performance for podcasts and similar live over-the-Web activities at UStream® Television.
Pros: Excellent shielding, upgradeable op amps
Cons: Drivers brickwalled by MS-Windows 6.1/7.0 audio stack