ASUS is expanding its Essence line with a brand-new DAC/amp design which, like the Essence One, focuses on headphone and DAC performance. As with the recently reviewed ASUS U7, the Essence STU has a wealth of connectivity options, but only two channel analogue outs. The STU slots in between the STX and the Essence One, a very interesting DAC/amp combo.
The STU is priced at €250, which is €200 less than the Essence One, or approximately €100 above that of a normal PCI-E STX sound card. We put it through its paces to see if it is a worthy upgrade over the Xonar STX card which has for some time now held the top position in our bang-for-the-buck category.
- Excellent audio quality as inherited from acclaimed Xonar Essence ST/STX
- Precision clock-tuning technology and asynchronous USB transfer ensure jitter-free fidelity
- Integrated 600 Ohm headphone amplifier optimizes sound detail with two gain settings
- 120 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) delivers high definition audio clarity
- Dedicated jumper switch allows direct audio delivery to your power amplifier, bypassing DAC volume controls
- Three swappable Op-Amps enable tonal character tuning based on personal taste