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Cons Asus not providing WHQL drivers - Tiawan engineers says for China only, but god drivers also in Europe.
Summary As soon as Xonar Essence STX is installed to PCIE 3 system, PCIE 2 Display card's HDMI drivers are hawked to create a ghost HDMI which is of course always flagged in Device Manager. Numerous other system problems arise around display and sound. AMD and Microsoft Research spent months working on a support ticket: told me 3rd party CMedia is problem: its drivers are "illegal". ASIO4ALL drivers maybe? No idea what Asus is doing in China and Europe, but something related to WHQL, this card is garbage for 60% of Windows 8 users in North America. NCIX built my Windows 8 system, and I bought this card a year later, 2013 OCT 16. NCIX Sales told me it would work fine, and NCIX Tech installed the card for me into my NCIX System, as I requested. Nothing but trouble ever since. Now, a year later, I give up. Paid $250 for this junk sound card. Wish there was a ZERO STAR rating. It makes a 11db sound, so very generous today, 3 stars.
Cons -drivers arent the best -make the card powered by sata already
Summary 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
Summary 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
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.
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.
Summary 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.
Cons does require a little fiddling with the equalizer
Summary 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.
Summary 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.
Summary 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?!?! ツ 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.
The sound quality of the Xonar Essence STX far surpasses any commercially available and viable sound card in it's price category. Barring sound cards costing £200 upwards, the Asus Xonar really is musically the best card you can get at the moment.
At around $200 US, this card is definitely not for everyone. However, anyone that enjoys music, or who wants to enjoy it all over again should be hitting the stores for this. It’s truly a high performance product.
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.
Xonar Essence STX Sound Card
RCA to 3.5mm Y cable
6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter
1 x S/PDIF TOSLINK optical adapters
Quick Start Guide
Audio Precision test report
DAC Data Width
1 x RCA Left and Right Audio Line Out
1 x Headphone Jack Audio Line Out
24 bit 192 kHz Playback
24 bit 192 kHz Recording
Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR)
124 dB - for Front-out
118 dB - Input Signal-to-Noise Ratio
110 dB - for Headphone-out
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