Thursday, March 13th 2014

ASUS Announces the Essence STX II and Essence STX II 7.1 Sound Cards

ASUS today announced Essence STX II and Essence STX II 7.1, two new Hi-Fi-grade sound cards designed to delight audiophiles with 124 dB signal-to-noise-ratio (SNR) clarity and a 600 ohm-headphone amplifier.

Essence STX II and STX II 7.1 build on the success and huge popularity of ASUS Essence STX - the world's first consumer sound card to deliver 124 db SNR audio clarity plus 600 ohm headphone amp, and the long-term holder of the number-one position in Head-Fi's Sound Cards charts, as voted by highly-satisfied users globally.

Keeping the audiophile spirit and philosophy alive, the new Essence STX II and STX II 7.1 cards both feature a remarkable 124 dB SNR for line-out connections and 120 dB SNR for headphone listening. Precision clock is controlled by a temperature-compensated crystal oscillator (TCXO) clock source, optimized power delivery is assured with low-dropout (LDO) regulators and WIMA capacitors deliver balanced sound.

With an amplifier capable of delivering impeccable output for up to 600 ohm headphones, an additional gain control for in-ear monitor (IEM) headphones, high-quality MUSES operational amplifiers (op-amps) and an included op-amp swap kit, ASUS once again demonstrates its ability to redefine the sound card market. Essence STX II 7.1 even has the ability to output true 7.1-channel surround sound, via the included simple-to-fit daughterboard.

Commenting on the launch, Ives Chiu, ASUS Product Manager for the Audio Sector in the Multimedia Business Department, said: "Four years after the debut of Essence STX, ASUS remains committed to delivering ever better high-end sound cards to delight the most demanding audiophiles. Drawing on years of experience in developing Essence One, Essence STU and Essence III, Essence STX II delivers meticulous design, quintessential performance and profound musicality - elements that shape the spirit of the whole Essence Hi-Fi series."

Legendary audio quality that just got better
Essence STX II and STX II 7.1 deliver industry-leading 124 dB SNR audio clarity, a much-envied quality inherited from the revolutionary and widely-acclaimed Essence STX sound card - and up to 64 times (64X) better than typical onboard audio hardware. Headphone output reaches a fantastic 120 dB.

To attain the essence of sound, ASUS engineers equipped Essence STX II and STX II 7.1 with even more Hi-Fi-quality components. These include a premium TCXO clock source that ensures ultra-low jitter, high-fidelity LDO regulators for consistent linear regulation and German-made WIMA capacitors for a more balanced sound. The profound musicality that Essence listeners expect is encapsulated by celebrated MUSES 8920 and MUSES 8820 op-amps, which deliver true-to-life tonality and spacious sound imaging.

Both Essence STX II and STX II 7.1 benefit from swappable op-amp sockets and come with a swap kit that includes three additional op-amps - two Texas Instruments LME49720s and one MUSES 8820 - that allow users to create different timbres and tonal combinations. The swap kit includes a clamp tool that makes it easy to remove the op-amp microchips.

True 7.1-channel surround sound that's easy to fit and great to customize
Exclusive to Essence STX II 7.1 is a multichannel daughterboard that delivers true 7.1-channel surround with high-fidelity 120 dB SNR outputs. This easy-to-fit daughter board slides into a slot adjacent to Essence STX II 7.1, so installation couldn't be more convenient.

Each channel is fully customizable with nine swappable op-amp sockets - giving audiophiles complete freedom to create the perfect surround-sound experience for their ears and listening environment.

Impeccable audio quality that's all about the details
In their mission to create peerless sound output ASUS audio engineers study and consider all aspects of product design - attention to detail that shines through both Essence STX II and STX II 7.1.

The built-in headphone amplifier supports up to 600 ohm impedance - so audiophiles can plug in the finest high-impedance headphones to enjoy the pure quality delivered by Essence STX II and STX II 7.1.

ASUS engineers have also furnished the new cards with an additional gain control designed especially for high-sensitivity IEM headphones, allowing musicians, audio purists and everyday listeners to use snug-fitting earpieces that channel audio output straight to the ear canal - isolating ambient noise for clear sound and undisturbed listening experience.

The cards also benefit from a software package that includes a full version of Dolby Home Theater, an advanced software suite that turns a PC into a dedicated home-theater center with enhanced surround sound.
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36 Comments on ASUS Announces the Essence STX II and Essence STX II 7.1 Sound Cards

#1
bogami
Nice ! GOOD AND CHEAP HIGH END sound card preamp and.so. on. !:clap::peace:Seriously depresses ti me is that they have never upgraded CREATIVE TITANIUM HD that I have , with other channels like ASUS did :cry:. And where to connect this wonderful product if I have 4 GPU ! :mad::mad:! always steal my slot 2 for 1:banghead:
Posted on Reply
#2
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
bogami said:
Nice ! GOOD AND CHEAP HIGH END sound card preamp and.so. on. !:clap::peace:Seriously depresses ti me is that they have never upgraded CREATIVE TITANIUM HD that I have , with other channels like ASUS did :cry:. And where to connect this wonderful product if I have 4 GPU ! :mad::mad:! always steal my slot 2 for 1:banghead:
No idea what you just said there but

1. Titanium HD is fine - Creative have better drivers.

2. You put the Asus where you could put your Titanium HD after you pulled it out.

::EDIT::

ah i see this new soundcard has a daughter card. Well, it depends if you need that many inputs.
Posted on Reply
#3
repman244
I really want to try the muses opamps in my ST, but they don't come cheap.

EDIT:
Found a picture with no shield:
Posted on Reply
#4
RejZoR
Still using the same OxygenHD audio chip? And unless they fix the drivers, they will be just as rubbish as the first STX. I had one and i have very mixed experience. Raw sound quality was great but for gaming it was total junk with non existent 3D audio positioning.
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#5
BorisDG
Funny, how the "2nd" version looks like it's using cheaper and simpler PCB. Also what's are the new things - the 7.1 daughter card that was available for the ST version?!

p.p. Analog part is copy/paste from ST/STX (1). Shame on ASUS.
Posted on Reply
#6
repman244
BorisDG said:
Funny, how the "2nd" version looks like it's using cheaper and simpler PCB. Also what's are the new things - the 7.1 daughter card that was available for the ST version?!

p.p. Analog part is copy/paste from ST/STX (1). Shame on ASUS.
Muses opamps, new crystal oscilator (which was quite poor on the first STX - many prefered the ST without it), new caps around buffer and power input, and it looks like it's now native PCI-e with no bridge chip...
Posted on Reply
#7
BorisDG
repman244 said:
new caps around buffer and power input
I think the original Sanyo caps are better than that FP (Nichicon). One newer PCB revision, they are SOLID too. :)

What the ASMedia chip doing? Some input (7.1) communications?

p.p. I hope they made the PCB black matte like the Phobus card.
Posted on Reply
#8
THE_EGG
I'm thinking I might sell my ST for this STX II even though there aren't many changes. Purely due to the fact that it is PCIe without the downsides of ye' olde STX . The only downside I see is that it isn't as visually appealing as the old ST because of not having the gold bits -.- but that is just nit-picking.
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#10
silapakorn
But, but the daughter card has no emi shield.
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#11
The Von Matrices
BorisDG said:
What the ASMedia chip doing? Some input (7.1) communications?
repman244 said:
looks like it's now native PCI-e with no bridge chip...
Nope, it's still the same PCI audio processor. The ASMedia ASM1083 chip is a PCIe to PCI bridge, and has been present in all previous ASUS PCIe sound cards (not to mention most modern motherboards with PCI slots). The only company I know of that makes native PCIe audio processors is Creative.

silapakorn said:
But, but the daughter card has no emi shield.
Even if you were to put an EMI shield on the daughter card, the cable connecting the two is likely completely unshielded or at the very least has unshielded connectors. I wouldn't expect any of the daughter board outputs to have a high SNR.
Posted on Reply
#12
WaroDaBeast
Well... As usual, it's nice to see Asus releasing newer products with better specs, but when all is said and done, their driver support is subpar.

The Von Matrices said:
Even if you were to put an EMI shield on the daughter card, the cable connecting the two is likely completely unshielded or at the very least has unshielded connectors. I wouldn't expect any of the daughter board outputs to have a high SNR.
I think Silapakorn was being ironical.
Posted on Reply
#13
Chitz
bogami said:
Nice ! GOOD AND CHEAP HIGH END sound card preamp and.so. on. !:clap::peace:Seriously depresses ti me is that they have never upgraded CREATIVE TITANIUM HD that I have , with other channels like ASUS did :cry:. And where to connect this wonderful product if I have 4 GPU ! :mad::mad:! always steal my slot 2 for 1:banghead:
i think pci extender may help
Posted on Reply
#14
Tannhäuser
Don't buy Asus Sound Cards! Their driver support is a pure disaster. I've learned my lessons with the Essence STX.
Posted on Reply
#15
lZKoce
I am not exactly an audiophile, but I do take care of my sound. I've had PCI/PCIe sound cards and I thought they were awesome. Some time now I have a USB sound card and it feels pretty convenient being able to switch from one device to another. I saw some lengthy commentary from Tek Syndicate on youtube and they pretty much destroyed the idea for an internal sound card for me. Those two events combined make me steer away from internal sound cards these days and I am planning on a DAC+AMP for my headphones or another USB sound card in the future.
Posted on Reply
#16
Prima.Vera
Tannhäuser said:
Don't buy Asus Sound Cards! Their driver support is a pure disaster. I've learned my lessons with the Essence STX.
Worst than Craptive????? I seriously doubt that! SERIOUSLY.
Posted on Reply
#17
Tannhäuser
And I am not in doubt anymore. I switched from Creative to Asus because of the bad support from Creative. Straight out of the frying pan into the fire. At times I could only help myself with custom drivers from maxedtech. More here: http://maxedtech.com/uni-xonar-introduction/
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#18
fullinfusion
1.21 Gigawatts
Drools all over the place!

Is it 300-600 Ohm or straight 600+ ohm?

I want to upgrade my STX to the STXII sense my STX has made me loose half my hearing lol
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#19
TheDeeGee
How come it needs External Power?

My SoundBlaster ZxR powers everything from just PCI-E.
Posted on Reply
#20
BorisDG
Svarog said:
How come it needs External Power?
For cleaner and noise free power input.
Posted on Reply
#21
myworldoftech
Drivers make or break a soundcard. After Xonar mess never again another Asus soundcard.

What we need is a high-end Realtek sound card.
Posted on Reply
#22
bogami
Good lord what is there not to understand? Creative TitaniumHD Hew onle stereo!(Best stereo 330 om) not 5.1 or 7.1 on a card that did not get upgrades regardless of the outputs thus prepared ! One card that would be added to the free space worst case the ninth slot ! and if you hew 4 GPU instould you will not get any free slot to plug in any card .obesity (GPU outputs 2 slot x4 giwe 8, max onboard 7 best case) I continued. know it very well that I have a better product! With the best built-in elements and best saund .The most important parts here amplification of the sound and power of it ,and they can be changed if desired!drajver my ass! A good DA converter low noise. codek is stell codek!:toast:
Posted on Reply
#23
bogami
Chitz said:
i think pci extender may help
I do not think in most cases 4 GPU layout covers all free links on the processor and only in rare cases would have been possible! 40 PCE lines is assured 16x8x8x8. by PLX 8x8x8x8. Onle one board has support 7 slot € 500 + asrok 2011. 11 model thus leaving the 2 x xsenon option with 80 lines or Opteron but for him I do not know exactly, and I do woult not had. Only in the case of 2gpu on one card is enough space as I have.
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#24
slim142
Tannhäuser said:
And I am not in doubt anymore. I switched from Creative to Asus because of the bad support from Creative. Straight out of the frying pan into the fire. At times I could only help myself with custom drivers from maxedtech. More here: http://maxedtech.com/uni-xonar-introduction/
When it comes to ASUS pheripherals, my experience has been that they make great products, but when it comes to driver support, it all goes downhill. My main complain is organization of drivers in their website. Im not surprised to find my laptop updated drivers on a completely different model. Typical from them.

At least with Creative, my experience was different. Great product and the drivers are constantly been updated. Unlike ASUS, they even have an auto-update feature which will look for the latest version (and beta versions).

Drivers is the main reason why my next card will be creative. Currently using an Auzentech and I cant really say many good things...
Posted on Reply
#25
BorisDG
So the bottom line is:

1. New muses opamps - you can buy them now separately for your "old" Xonar, so not big deal aka reason to prefer new one.
2. New oscilator - Let's say it's as good as ST's version.
3. New WIMA capacitors which are also "changeable".
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