Wednesday, October 16th 2013

ASUS Launches Essence III Preamplifier, USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier

ASUS today announced Essence III, a USB digital-to-analog (DAC) converter with a fully balanced design and the latest Direct Stream Digital (DSD) playback designed for those who demand the purest audio quality and listening flexibility.

High-precision clocks and asynchronous USB virtually eliminate jitter, while separate printed-circuit boards for digital, analog and power ensure that the Essence III's audio delivery is crystal-clear and free of crosstalk. Remote-controlled volume driven by stepped attenuators allow output levels to be set with great precision - even from the far side of the listening room.

"Essence III is more than the flagship product of our audio range," said Ives Chiu, product manager of ASUS Multimedia Business Department, "it is a representation of how dedicated and how serious we are in the pursuit of high-quality audio. We have crafted Essence III to be just as satisfying to use as it is to hear"

DSD playback, precision timing and top-notch components deliver unmatched fidelity
Essence III has native support for both DSD64 and DSD128 encoding rates, allowing audiophiles to indulge in digital listening at the highest possible quality levels.

Pure-gold temperature-compensated crystal oscillators (TCCO/TCXO) and asynchronous USB provide exceptionally precise timing, enabling Essence III to deliver audio output with fantastic dynamics and ultra-low jitter for incredible fidelity.

Essence III has dedicated AD1955 DACs for each stereo channel and separate circuitry for analog and digital audio signals, and power. This thoughtful design and choice of high-end components creates a perfect balance that bolsters Essence III's top-notch audio clarity. Premium ceramic AD 827SQ and Japanese-made MUSES 02 operational amplifiers (op-amps) combine to enable Essence III to deliver profoundly rich sound for all types of music - from classical to rock.

Clean power for consistent delivery
Essence III is powered by a high-quality toroidal transformer that provides clean and consistent power and keeps noise contamination to a minimum. ASUS engineers also fitted the transformer with a unique strip of silicon steel to prevent energy loss by hysteresis, further supporting a smooth supply of power.

As well, Essence III's power supply delivers independent power sources to the left and right channels - minimizing crosstalk interference. It also employs a low-dropout (LDO) regulator that ensures stable power and German-made WIMA FKP 2 capacitors to reduce ripples.

Connect, control, admire and enjoy
With brilliant input and output flexibility and fine control, Essence III is an audiophile's delight.

Essence III's built-in amplifier is capable of driving 600ohm headphones with a single 6.3 mm jack connection or a balanced set that uses two mini-XLR connectors for the best possible signal clarity and minimal interference - perfect for those who demand the finest headphone control. Inputs can be made digitally via USB, Toslink, AES/EBU or coaxial cables, or via stereo auxiliary, while for line outputs stereo RCA (phono) and balanced XLR outputs are available.

For extremely precise control, Essence III includes a set of stepped attenuators that works for headphones and line outputs. The relay-based construction eliminates the distortion associated with traditional volume controls, while the line output can be controlled remotely - a very rare ability in DACs with stepped attenuators. A remote control is included and can be used to set both volume and input/output levels, allowing fine control from anywhere.

Designers from the Essence team spent considerable time perfecting Essence III's physical design. The front panel features power and input-selector buttons for quick control and device selection, minimalist indicator LEDs that provide clear, uncluttered input information.

The elegant case can be easily stacked with existing Hi-Fi equipment, while the surface is treated with a special coating that simply brushes off fingerprints - so Essence III stays looking great.
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29 Comments on ASUS Launches Essence III Preamplifier, USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier

#1
RejZoR
The unit does look rather nice.
Posted on Reply
#2
Jorge
Asus is trying to fiind a means to stay in business, thus all the various non-PC electronics.
Posted on Reply
#3
RCoon
Gaming Moderator
by: Jorge
Asus is trying to fiind a means to stay in business, thus all the various non-PC electronics.
You think they're going out of business? Does your brain pluck these pointless items of conjecture from the nether?
Posted on Reply
#4
tigger
I'm the only one
I've got a Lindy DAC, but this is pretty sweet.

Asus going out of buisness rolfmfao
Posted on Reply
#5
Frederik S
Staff
If they fixed the output impedance then this is a seriously sweet device!
Posted on Reply
#6
riffraffy
by: Jorge
thus all the various non-PC electronics.
I'm not an audio dude but how dare they fool us with USB connection .
Posted on Reply
#7
arterius2
by: riffraffy
I'm not an audio dude but how dare they fool us with USB connection .
USB is just one of the input, as you can see on the front panel, there is USB, optical, and coaxial. I'm currently using the Essence One, while it has the USB option, I'm using it via SPDIF pass-through(aka coaxial).
Posted on Reply
#8
Random Murderer
The Anti-Midas
Hmm. Could be a nice unit depending on price.
Posted on Reply
#9
erixx
wrong pic a TPU frontpage!
Posted on Reply
#10
MxPhenom 216
Corsair Fanboy
by: RCoon
You think they're going out of business? Does your brain pluck these pointless items of conjecture from the nether?
Seriously, any time he posts, its some irrelevant negative banter in every news post he can manage to come up with such shit.

Asus is doing fine, There stuff sells pretty damn well.

As for this DAC/Headphone Amplifier, Id be interested to see what its priced at and any good review articles on it.
Posted on Reply
#11
1d10t
To say the least,Jorge has a point but his reason is remarkably irrelevant :laugh:
Personally,i had enough with Asus DAC's.My previous experience with Essence One didn't end well.They sound too bright although comes with transparent sound and good sound staging.Not to mention their laziness to releasing new firmware to address constantly "sleeping over idle" and driver that works with 192Khz.For halves the price,you got Maverick D1 Tube which is 4 times better :shadedshu
Posted on Reply
#12
arterius2
by: 1d10t
To say the least,Jorge has a point but his reason is remarkably irrelevant :laugh:
Personally,i had enough with Asus DAC's.My previous experience with Essence One didn't end well.They sound too bright although comes with transparent sound and good sound staging.Not to mention their laziness to releasing new firmware to address constantly "sleeping over idle" and driver that works with 192Khz.For halves the price,you got Maverick D1 Tube which is 4 times better :shadedshu
Funny, I've had 0 problems with mine, tho I'm guessing its because I didn't touch its USB mode. for that matter, anyone serious about audio wouldn't touch USB.
Posted on Reply
#13
1d10t
by: arterius2
Funny, I've had 0 problems with mine, tho I'm guessing its because I didn't touch its USB mode. for that matter, anyone serious about audio wouldn't touch USB.
And you suggesting that SPDIF is a "serious audio" ? :p

by: arterius2
USB is just one of the input, as you can see on the front panel, there is USB, optical, and coaxial. I'm currently using the Essence One, while it has the USB option, I'm using it via SPDIF pass-through(aka coaxial).
There's nothing different between USB,Coaxial,Optical,S/PDIF,HDMI they are all the same manner as digital :nutkick:
Asus shouldn't name it to USB DAC if their port is nothing but trouble,or remove it for good and stick with coaxial,optical or S/PDIF.To make it worse,many tube amplifier out there such as Aune T1 or Maverick D1 sound more natural and much transparent with just less than half price.
Posted on Reply
#15
arterius2
by: 1d10t
And you suggesting that SPDIF is a "serious audio" ? :p
ummm? What??

SPDIF is just a general term for digital connection via either coaxial or optical. what else are you suggesting to use to send signal to the DAC? (besides the obvious USB ofc)

by: 1d10t

There's nothing different between USB,Coaxial,Optical,S/PDIF,HDMI they are all the same manner as digital
wrong again, SPDIF is capable of higher bandwidth than most USB connections, and lets not forget that SPDIF is driverless, it works with any source(cd players, tvs etc), USB on the other-hand, is only computer-bound and is often at fault of the drivers.
Posted on Reply
#16
tigger
I'm the only one
So would it be better to usb my usb dac or use the optical/coaxial output from my onboard sound to it?
Posted on Reply
#17
AsRock
TPU addict
How much yaa think will be ?.. as i keep seeing the Essence I and it like $600.... Why the hell would some one pay $600+ for that when they could get the real thing..
Posted on Reply
#18
arterius2
by: AsRock
How much yaa think will be ?.. as i keep seeing the Essence I and it like $600.... Why the hell would some one pay $600+ for that when they could get the real thing..
what makes you think it isn't the "real" thing? Ive used plenty of DACs in my life and the Essence One is among the top.




^this is my essence one+stx which all its op-amps replaced (LME49710HA / 1x LME49720HA), the internal layout of the ONE is absolutely beautiful, its blatantly that obvious care and consideration were put into the design of this unit.
Posted on Reply
#20
AsRock
TPU addict
Why not get a real A/V over this as to start with there is limited connections. Although i am not on about USB connection though but shit screw a USB connection.

And lets face it you going need real speakers to get any thing of a good sound from it.
Posted on Reply
#21
1d10t
by: WaroDaBeast
Sooo... For some of you guys, these things are, like... nothing but treble? Is that what you guys meant? http://cdn.iwastesomuchtime.com/February-16-2012-17-16-24-Selection008.jpg
LOL...this one epic! :laugh:

by: arterius2
ummm? What??
what else are you suggesting to use to send signal to the DAC? (besides the obvious USB ofc)
Let me elaborate for you.You said..

by: arterius2
...anyone serious about audio wouldn't touch USB.
IMO serious audio doesn't deal with digital.Audio and sound enthusiast would choose monoblok pre-amp and tube amplifier over any best DAC out there even Burson's.
As for digital...

by: arterius2

ummm? What??
SPDIF is just a general term for digital connection via either coaxial or optical
wrong again, SPDIF is capable of higher bandwidth than most USB connections, and lets not forget that SPDIF is driverless, it works with any source(cd players, tvs etc), USB on the other-hand, is only computer-bound and is often at fault of the drivers.
Yet you stated that S/PDIF IS digital connection.It doesnt matter S/PDIF winning by thousand GB/s over USB,like i stated before and i stand correct...There's nothing different between USB,Coaxial,Optical,S/PDIF,HDMI they are all the same manner as digital.
As for USB,have you ever know A/V Receiver such as Onkyo TX-NR609 with USB port capable?USB is not computer and or driver bound,it's just an interface.


by: arterius2
what makes you think it isn't the "real" thing? Ive used plenty of DACs in my life and the Essence One is among the top.
^this is my essence one+stx which all its op-amps replaced (LME49710HA / 1x LME49720HA), the internal layout of the ONE is absolutely beautiful, its blatantly that obvious care and consideration were put into the design of this unit.
by: Frederik S
The Essence One is still one of the better sounding DAC/amps out there. Who cares about sampling rate above 44/48 kHz as long as those two work no quality is lost.
http://xiph.org/~xiphmont/demo/neil-young.html
Audio and sound is very subjective.You can count number as in RMAA or measure crossover filter Butterworth,Bessel or Chebyshev but the outcome always very personal,hence there is no "standard" in sound.
As audio enthusiast for PC market,we try to get everything maxed out reach for the best sound possible like changing opamps or do some recaps and don't forget wiring...thousand dollar wire and hundred dollar connector...every person has it's own preference.I didn't said DAC or internal soundcard is not meant for enthusiast but to insist DAC and internal soundcard are serious thing is just laughable to fellow audiophile.

Back to topic,Asus had to solve their problem first.Their USB port is just frustating for some,and yet Asus release another USB support DAC.$600 DAC that don't even work properly for nearly a year :shadedshu
Posted on Reply
#22
Frederik S
Staff
First of all most of the quality USB audio interfaces have lower jitter than S/P-DIFF which is measurable. Compared to ultra high end CD and SACD players many of the USB audio solutions show better jitter measurements because the it is not relying on ancient storage medium and data recovery from those.

USB is plenty capable of speeds that exceed any bandwidth requirement of 5.1 audio and is more than capable of 384 kHz loss less playback (even though we have already established that anything above 44 kHz is useless and might yield worse results).

As the link I provided shows there is no evidence to show that digital audio is any different than analogue. Most of the people who enjoy "analogue" sound can achieve that by adding simple filters and equalize their gear.

Most bang for the buck is really simple for around $250 you get the O2+ODAC which is as close to perfect as you can get without spending over $800 for a Lake People or other fancier design.
Posted on Reply
#23
1d10t
by: Frederik S
As the link I provided shows there is no evidence to show that digital audio is any different than analogue. Most of the people who enjoy "analogue" sound can achieve that by adding simple filters and equalize their gear.

Most bang for the buck is really simple for around $250 you get the O2+ODAC which is as close to perfect as you can get without spending over $800 for a Lake People or other fancier design.
Yes,for me as analog worshiper that's the truth.Most of my perspective are bias on placebo effect so it's hard to distinguish between feeling and tonal saturation.In the end,people whom upgrade their audio equipment is just satisfying their soul to got enchanted by harmonic sound.
Posted on Reply
#24
BachAudioDK
Detailed pics and more info on Essence III

Hello!

I found this website with some detailed info about the new Asus Essence III. hit translate in Chrome :)

Looks like there is some volumen adjustment potentiometers on the back for XLR levels ?
and a switch that says VR bypass (Volumen bypass ?)

It also has a Stereo phono AUX input!

According to this Hungarian site, it also uses AD 827SQ opamps 6 pcs total ($26+ opamp)
I guess it will not come cheap!

http://ipon.hu/hir/asus_essence_iii_celkeresztben_a_vajtfuluek/27271

I own the Asus Essence One, and I have been very happy with it from day one!
But I have modified my I/V section so it uses a passive resistor network for current to voltage conversion. This sounds very analog compared to Opamp I/V.

I have been missing the possibility to remotely adjust the volumen level, and now the Essence III seems to have this, so I am considering to buy this nice looking preamp!

The AnalogDevices AD1955 is also a sweet sounding DAC Chip, I have the AD1955 Eval board with one AD1955 and AD797 opamps.

Cheers
Flemming Bach
Denmark!
Posted on Reply
#25
Frederik S
Staff
ASUS did a good job with the design of the Essence One and if this new design indeed features those op-amps and a step attenuator it will be very very interesting.

Now all we need is the price!
Posted on Reply
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