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

BachAudioDK said:

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!

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.

Flemming Bach
Welcome aboard to TPU :)
So Asus decided to dump NE 5532 and switch to AD827.It appears Asus try to address some harsh sound over the previous Essence.
AD797 :eek:
One of the rarest and the best opamp out it AD 797 BRZ or AD 797 ANZ?
Posted on Reply
Thank you!

Well the AD1955 eval board uses the PDIP version of AD797, so I think it must be the ANZ version. See attached picture.

I think the AD827SQ would be better as I/V converter opamp due to the much faster settling time and larger slewrate (300V/us vs. 20 V/us of AD797 vs. 9V/us of NE5532)

I would say that my personal choice for I/V would be a passiv resistor I/V stage.
On both my Essence One and Essence STX soundcard I have replaced the I/V opamp with passive resistor I/V with negative current bias to V- so the Vout is centered to approx zero volt. This gives a very pleasant and airy treble in my ears. Very close to my analog LP setup.

I would recommend you to read Nelson Pass´s thoughts on using Opamps as I/V converter, vs. discreet I/V.

Im a bit concerned that the Essence III would cost a lot more that I can afford at the moment :eek: and I hate to sell my Essence I to upgrade ;) (you can never get too many amplfiers :roll: )

Posted on Reply
Random Murderer
The Anti-Midas
BachAudioDK said:
(you can never get too many amplfiers :roll: )
Posted on Reply
BachAudioDK said:
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
please share details about this mod: photos, parts you used
Posted on Reply