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
Summary: Best sounding music on a computer ever. Both headphones and speakers (I am using AudioEngine's) sound full and clear.
Great upgrade and certainly one that will move to the next computer and likely the one after that!