Asus Announces Xonar Essence STU External Sound Card

Asus has launched the Xonar Essence STU USB external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and headphone amplifier, which the company touts as being based on the "acclaimed design and quality of Xonar Essence ST/STX internal sound cards and going beyond their already high standards."

The Xonar Essense STU features a Texas Instruments PCM1792A DAC and TPA6120A2 headphone amplifier that allows the user to switch between low and high settings to accommodate a wide range of headphones from in-ear headsets (16 to 32 ohms) to full-size headphones (up to 600 ohms). Also offered is a 120 dB signal-to-noise ratio due to its balanced (or mirrored) PCB layout that provides an "accurate reproduction of all sound sources and minimal component crosstalk, or interference."

The unit features dual volume controls, connectivity with USB compliant devices, stereo RCA out, a 6.3 mm headphone jack, two digital inputs, and auxiliary in. The Xonar Essence STU includes a bundled stand that permits vertical and horizontal orientation.

"We received considerable positive feedback from customers regarding the excellent sound quality of Xonar Essence ST/STX sound cards, which led us to develop Xonar Essence STU as a USB device that offers even more premium audio quality plus easy controls and connectivity to notebooks. This is another example of Asus listening to the community and acting on consumer demand," said Ives Chiu, Audiovisual Product Manager at the Asus Multimedia Business Unit.

  • thefiend1
    Fascinating. I would like one for free so I can test it out...
  • When using a USB sound card, does this alleviate the CPU just like an internal card, or does this only help with sound quality?
  • beppomarx
    Now if only there was a 4 or 5.1 version that would work with android I could build a car stereo setup usng a touchscreen tablet...
  • Phil Williamson
    "Now if only there was a 4 or 5.1 version that would work with android I could build a car stereo setup usng a touchscreen tablet... "
    But then it wouldn't be a car stereo. :-) Been doing 5.1 in my car for 5+ years using an mITX (ASUS) motherboard. Power is via an HP laptop 12 volt power adapter. There are a few advantages of using W7 in a CarPC...but only a few.
  • PrvtChurch
    what I really wanna know is how much. if its not too expensive I would replace my FiiO E7&E9
  • edogawa
    Interesting. I wonder how this will compare to internal sound cards.
  • hannibal
    External sound cards have the advantage of not getting so easily electronic static distortion to the sound, so there is less "cracks and pops" in the external sound card. The computer is very noisy plase electronically so it it allways better to put soud device outside of it.
    I have had SOudBlaster X-fi pro many years and it has very good soud quality. But ofcouser you need 200-500$ headphones to hear the difference so it cost something, but electronic distortion is easy to hear and all those extra sounds that it produce so I supose that you can hear the difference even without having extremely expensive sound device. The bets part of thisXonar is the headphone amplifier. Many normal (even external) sound cards does not have enough power to drive highend headphones well. They are ok when using headphones that can be used with portable devices, but those 400 ochms and higher headphones needs some more to really sound good! And this card at least promises that extra.
    It would be nice to try these out if this would be any good! The sound Blaster X-fi pro is nice external cards but it is not best for very high impedance headphones.

    The real question is how well these would do 3D sound... Now a days you can get really good strereo sound and guite crap 5.1 sound from the sound card... Why not both?

  • chicofehr
    This card is more for people who like to listen to loss-less audio or music in general and recording studios to go with their $500+ headphones. I have the ST version and upgraded the headphone amps on the card to the highest end version you can get and It kills anything out there. This would be great for my laptop. Always been stuck with a desktop for good sound quality.
  • powerincarnate
    I have a xense and an asus STX and I can't remember the last time I heard a snap or pop, or noise for that matter coming out of my headphones.
    They produce such clear sound, that the whole noisy computer issue is really overblown.
    A lot of that problem is with cheap soundcards, even cheaper on board sound, or terrible headphones.
  • shahrooz
    nice move ASUS, nice move...