Asus has updated its Essence STX sound card, which now, after a four-year run, will be replaced by the Essence STX II and the Essence STX II 7.1 sound cards.
The sound cards come very well packed with hardware. For starters, the line out connection features an SNR of 124 dB, while the headphone connection has an SNR rated at 120 dB. The headphone output is also driven by a high-quality headphone amplifier which can drive headphones with impedances of up to 600 Ohms.
Connectivity is handled by what many of us would find unusual, but it is perfectly normal in the Hi-Fi world. As such, you won't find any 3.5 mm jacks, but rather all tulip plugs for the line-out connectors and 5 mm jacks for the headphone outputs. All of these are also gold plated.
The Essence STX II and the 7.1 variant of it are both pretty much identical cards, with the only difference being the added expansion card for the 7.1 variant. This expansion card carries the additional six channels needed for 7.1 audio, as the main card itself already carries the front left and front right channels.
All around the cards users will also find swappable OP-Amps, with the MUSES 8920 and the MUSES 8820 pre-installed, but with one extra MUSES 8820 included along with two Texas Instruments LME49720's added for swapping to attain different sound profiles. Each of the channels on the 7.1 card also features its own swappable operational amplifier.
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."
Asus has not given any word on pricing or availability just yet.
Stay on the Cutting Edge
Join the experts who read Tom's Hardware for the inside track on enthusiast PC tech news — and have for over 25 years. We'll send breaking news and in-depth reviews of CPUs, GPUs, AI, maker hardware and more straight to your inbox.
Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.
My STX is awesome, both with headphones and driving amplified speakers.Reply
Strange that there's no mention of the DAC or headphone amp in the press release. ASUS was very public about both with the original Essence.Reply
More information for anyone who's interested:Reply
It looks like it uses the same Burr Brown DAC from the original ST/STX. There are some new caps and upgraded op amps though.
THIS shortly after Tom's runs an article about most people not being able to differentiate between audiophile grade hardware and a top-of-the-line Realtek ALC889 audio for $2. *chuckles*http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/high-end-pc-audio,3733-19.htmlReply
hope they changed molex power to sata power...........please.......Reply
The fullsize pic...still looks like a molex. *eyeroll*12883361 said:hope they changed molex power to sata power...........please.......
What a shame...................2014 and molex power connector..........Reply
Who's amp has 8 separate connections? It's all digital or HDMI.Reply
12883246 said:THIS shortly after Tom's runs an article about most people not being able to differentiate between audiophile grade hardware and a top-of-the-line Realtek ALC889 audio for $2. *chuckles*http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/high-end-pc-audio,3733-19.html
There are a lot of people who claim to not be able to tell the difference. I think they are full of it but there are some people who cannot hear the difference but ever since I got my X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatality Pro card, I couldn't go back. I tried to use my onboard sound for a while and it just didn't have the same quality and clarity.
Upgraded to a SB-Z and haven't looked back, especially with the ability to have speakers and headphones plugged in it just makes it that much better so I can easily switch.
12883361 said:hope they changed molex power to sata power...........please.......
I would hope so too. But from what I can tell from the pictures it looks like a normal Molex connection. If you look towards the base on the power connection you will see 4 solder points, SATA power has more that 4 points.
I only have one Molex in my entire system, due to my case having a fan controller for the front and side fans.
I fail to see how they call Internal sound cards audiophile as far as i know internal cards get introduced to too much noise from the computer only way to go is external, although i still hope it is a good product but i will stick to my bifrost as i am sure it is still a lot better.Reply