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ASUS Prepares Xonar Essence STX, the World's First Audio Card to Achieve 124dB SNR

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#1
ASUSTek is reportedly prepping ASUS Xonar Essence STX, the next installment in the Xonar sound card lineup. The report does not include information on EAX support or gaming experience with Essence STX, but it's the music that will really matter with this card. According to ASUS, the Xonar Essence STX will boast a Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) of 124dB with 0.0003% distortion, and will be the first card available with an onboard headphone amp. The amp will drive up to 600ohms headphones with less than 100dB distortion. Whats more, Xonar Essence STX will provide independent outputs for headphones and normal audio. The whole card will be using high-quality Nichicon capacitors. The frequency response for Xonar Essence STX is <10~90 kHz @ 3.5dB. That's not all, just like some high-end Auzentech sound cards, the Xonar STX will also allow changing the original op-amp ICs, without having any soldering skills. Under the plastic of the card, there are op-amp sockets that will allow a replacement operational amplifier to be installed very easy. The release date and pricing information for this pure audiophile card are still to be proclaimed.

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#2
Is this XFi and EAX?
 
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#4
Okay, I'm sold!
 

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#5
I want :D
 

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#7
can they be sli'd :D
 

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#8
Haha, love the sli'd comment. Im sure its going to cost an arm and a leg though. I like Asus and Auzentechs cards, but the cost is ridiculous. Ill stick with my X-Fi Fatal1ty edition.
 
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#9
Shines your beloved headphones
Drives up to 600ohms headphones with less than 100dB distortion, the built-in headphone amp supports every available headphone in the market with unbelievable audio quality.
Hmmm... i may have to upgrade... my sennheiser HD600's are seriously underamplified at the moment!
 
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#10
Hmmm... i may have to upgrade... my sennheiser HD600's are seriously underamplified at the moment!
Do that or buy a headphone amplifier, you can get them at like guitar center, pretty decent ones only cost $40ish...
 

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#11
Hmmm... i may have to upgrade... my sennheiser HD600's are seriously underamplified at the moment!
I need to upgrade more :eek: I'm using ipod dock speakers as make shift one's since my creative 5.1 speakers passed away :cry:
 

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#12
Can this sound card decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD audio?

I currently use a Xonar in my HTPC, but it cannot decode these high-definition audio codecs, and neither can my receiver as its a couple of years old.
If this sound card cannot decode HD audio, when will I see a sound card that will??
 
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#13
The amp will drive up to 600ohms headphones with less than 100dB distortion.
not needed, IMHO - for the vast majority of those who avidly use headphones, either the headset output isn't powerful enough for a line-amp, or, the headset has it's own built in amp (e.g. most 5.1 headsets). Peering in my scrying glass, I forsee a lot of borked headsets in this cards future.


Commendable, though, to try and achieve 124db SNR . . . but are they quoting the DSP spec, or the final output spec? I'll be amazed if it's final output, as no card that I can recall has been able to live up to it's speced SNR via output . . .




TBH - I'd be more impressed if ASUS could be the first to bring 24b/192kHz playback for output setups with more than 2-channels.

I'd be floored if ASUS beat everyone else to the punch with a 32b capable card, the DACs to do so have been on the market for quite some time now.
 
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#15
I'm very eager to find some brave guys who would pick up the 124dB instead of the 112dB card (speaking of SNR) in a blind test... The simple truth is that 99,99% simply can't achieve that, and the ones who need such low noise floors have better options to choose from than Asus... Anyway, people would buy the stuff, the higher the numbers, the merrier. Just as a side note, the PR team @ Asus are professional liars, so those 124dB SNR may exist only in someone's imagination.
 
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#16
Can this sound card decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD audio?

I currently use a Xonar in my HTPC, but it cannot decode these high-definition audio codecs, and neither can my receiver as its a couple of years old.
If this sound card cannot decode HD audio, when will I see a sound card that will??
I would be worried about a better vid card and monitor instead of sound that you won't even be able to tell the difference between. Just my .02.
 

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#17
sounds awesome..
 
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#18
I'm very eager to find some brave guys who would pick up the 124dB instead of the 112dB card (speaking of SNR) in a blind test... The simple truth is that 99,99% simply can't achieve that, and the ones who need such low noise floors have better options to choose from than Asus... Anyway, people would buy the stuff, the higher the numbers, the merrier. Just as a side note, the PR team @ Asus are professional liars, so those 124dB SNR may exist only in someone's imagination.
The headphone amp alone is a great feature that makes a recogniseable difference with good headphones.

The 124dB SNR might only be aplicable on the RCA stereo output tho.
 
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#19
Xonar HDAV already outputs 192KHz/24-bit audio to all channels. It also sports 124db SNR
Looking forward to testing this cause my only complaint with the HDAV is that headphones are actually under powered, specifically Sennheisser PC350 set. As a result it sounds better with with the Creative Aurvana Live! set but one thing is for sure and that is as far as quality is concerned its better than the X-Fi Fatal1ty... That should be a given though as component list reads better than what is on Creative mainstream products like X-Fi.
 
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#20
The headphone amp alone is a great feature that makes a recogniseable difference with good headphones.

The 124dB SNR might only be aplicable on the RCA stereo output tho.
It'll make any headset sound better, sure - clear up some of the noise and all, privde a stronger signal . . . until the recievers start to fry from the overloading. Like I mentioned earlier, for most headsets, an amped line-out is not necessary; and for the headsets where it would be, they already have their own line-amp built in.


ShockG said:
Xonar HDAV already outputs 192KHz/24-bit audio to all channels. It also sports 124db SNR
Looking forward to testing this cause my only complaint with the HDAV is that headphones are actually under powered, specifically Sennheisser PC350 set. As a result it sounds better with with the Creative Aurvana Live! set but one thing is for sure and that is as far as quality is concerned its better than the X-Fi Fatal1ty... That should be a given though as component list reads better than what is on Creative mainstream products like X-Fi
The Xonar, like Auzen's high-end cards, and Creative's high-end cards, can only output 192kHz/24b audio in dedicated 2-channel mode. You'd have to use an optical connection, and a reciever to upmix that to greater than 2-channels, which equates to poor multi-channel mixing. Again, I'd be more impressed if ASUS was the first to overcome this hardware limitation . . . or be the first to introduce a 32bit output card to the market.


quality, also, is subjective - I've known many others who've never had any component's fail on a Creative card. As far as us audiophiles are concerned, though, the choice of components is far below the quality of competitors (except for the case of the Elite Pro), but the X-Fi's make up for it with lower audio latency and less-audio breakdown (clipping) during times of high-output . . . i.e. gaming, which is where the X-Fi's excell over the market.
 

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#21
I would be worried about a better vid card and monitor instead of sound that you won't even be able to tell the difference between. Just my .02.
Excuse me? Is that a stab at my choice of hardware?
I'd advise you not to worry on my behalf. You don't appear to be an audiophile, like myself and others here.

I didn't ask for your 2 cents, I asked for facts.
 
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#22
TBH - I'd be more impressed if ASUS could be the first to bring 24b/192kHz playback for output setups with more than 2-channels.
The D2X that I have does 24bit/192khz on all 7.1 channels so im sure this does too...

And 32bit audio exists... but the use it more in music productions software on the mixing stage... with a higher resolution you get a better mix of channels... its not really needed for a single channel though as 24bit is fine. Most of the software DAW programs have internal 32bit mixing... although the highest output resolution is 24bit/192khz
 
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#23
dumm this is cool , what about price
 

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#24
Can this sound card decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD audio?

I currently use a Xonar in my HTPC, but it cannot decode these high-definition audio codecs, and neither can my receiver as its a couple of years old.
If this sound card cannot decode HD audio, when will I see a sound card that will??
http://www.auzentech.com/site/company/press.php#hdmi_lineup
http://www.auzentech.com/site/company/press.php#combocard

I think that might be along the lines of what you're looking for. Auzentech (iirc) was supposed to release that in Sept and pushed it back to Oct. With just over a week left hopefully they'll make an announcement soon.

Asus I think was also supposed to have a similiar card... the talk of these cards goes a couple months back so it could very well be this one but I don't think that's the case as this one seems to be lacking the HDMI out.

Anandtech talks about both cards and said they had the Asus card in this article here ;

http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3411&p=4
 
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#25
The D2X that I have does 24bit/192khz on all 7.1 channels so im sure this does too...
yeah, you're right with that - I had forgotten ASUS started that with the D2X, all previous models were only 24b/192 in 2 channel mode - it'd be nice to see the rest of the market catch up (*cough* Creative *cough*) . . . but, TBH, it's nice to have the capability, although not needed. DVD audio is encoded at 2-channel 24b/192 (not sure about BR and HD), so even if your card is capable of multi-channel, it's still lends to poor upmixing as the source information isn't there . . . :ohwell:

Although, there is a software issue with Vista that affects 90% of the audio cards out there, down mixing multi-channel during DVD playback to 2-channel.

And 32bit audio exists... but the use it more in music productions software on the mixing stage... with a higher resolution you get a better mix of channels... its not really needed for a single channel though as 24bit is fine. Most of the software DAW programs have internal 32bit mixing... although the highest output resolution is 24bit/192khz

32b DACs have been on the market for a long time now (2 years), and they're not expensive at all - hell, most higher end 24b DACs are more expensive than the 32b . . . but, as you pointed out here, you'll get better channel mixing (and up-mixing, at that) with a 32b DAC versus a 24b. Even though for even the audiophile consumer, 32b isn't necessary, it equates to a better audio depth and cleaner sound - in essence, a 32b capable DAC would equate to a more noticeable audio difference than being able to bump the audio output from 118db SNR to 124db SNR.

Aside from the rare few of us - to be able to actually hear that small of a difference in SNR rating, at that scale, would require some extremelly high-end speakers. I mean, this isn't like going from 60db SNR to 80db SNR, once we start getting over the 115db SNR range, actual subjective differences are very negligible . . . sure, there will be an astounding difference through hardware testing, the waveforms will make it stick out like a sore thumb, but will you actually hear that? In most cases, I'd fathom not.


IMO, the 124db SNR capable is just for good marketing - hell, most people purchasing the audio equipment don't even know what it means. It looks better on paper, and will look better in reviews.