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Windows 7: Xonar Essence STX

19 Jan 2011   #1
society misfit

Windows 7 Professional
Xonar Essence STX

ASUSTeK Computer Inc. - Multimedia - ASUS Xonar Essence STX

There seems to be a few music enthusiasts on Sevenforums so I was just wondering if anyone is using one of these sound cards and if so, what’s their impression?

Looking for a better solution than my current configuration which is an on-board Realtek chip plugged into an old Yamaha receiver via S/PDIF listening through a pair of Shure SRH840 headphones. Primary use is music, but I do play a lot of games. Don’t care for surround sound…got a home theater for that!!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jan 2011   #2
Microsoft MVP

Win 7 Ultimate x64

my current configuration which is an on-board Realtek chip plugged into an old Yamaha receiver via S/PDIF listening through a pair of Shure SRH840 headphones.
As long as you use that configuration it won't matter what you use for a sound card as it is the receiver that is doing the decoding to analogue.

That said from everything I have seen about that card and seeing as you're using headphones (and a decent set at that), you will definitely want to plug them into the card instead of the old receiver. Built in headphone amp, and it is a pretty sure bet that the DAC on the sound card will be far better than the one in the receiver.

While you're waiting for other opinions,

ASUS Xonar Essence STX soundcard review
My System SpecsSystem Spec
19 Jan 2011   #3
society misfit

Windows 7 Professional

Thanks. Im aware that the receiver is what’s decoding the signal to analog, and it does a better job than just plugging my headphones into the audio out jack on my sound card. However, the Yamaha will only be as good as the source that’s feeding it, which in my case is the low end Realtek chip. You can take 2 different CD source’s (brand X for Sony and brand Z for Denon), plug them into the same DAC and still get different sound from each of the units. Not all digital outputs are created the same (contrary to some belief!). Im sure whether I use the Xonar card by itself or plugged into the receiver the sound will be improved.

I’ve read some reviews on the Xonar card and they are all very good. However, reviews tend not to reflect long term real life performance. Despite Asus building rock solid hardware (won’t use another motherboard) - this is somewhat of a rare enthusiast product that may have some overlying issues that were not brought up with the reviews online. And the interwebs is the best place to find these issues!

A high-end soundcard isn’t my only option, could grab a external DAC/headphone amp (or separates) but this seems to be the cheaper option….more money for the music!!!

Curious to know what others have as a set up.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

20 Jan 2011   #4
society misfit

Windows 7 Professional

Well the upgrade demons haunted me all night so I splurged and picked up this card today. I will reserve final judgment until the card is fully burnt in but so far I like what I’m hearing. It was a pain in the you know what to install but that was no fault of the card. Apparently my low-end mother board will only accept 2 PCI-e cards plugged in at once so one of my Crossfire video cards had to be sacrificed. And I had to find that out the hard way! (The motherboard was an impulse buy due to its price…next time I’ll do my homework before hand!). So after some cursing, a shot of rum, some more cursing and another shot of rum I got it working!

The card is a work of art…well at least for a sound card! I should have taken some pictures before my ordeal of installing it. Perhaps I’ll pull it out, take some shots and post them with a mini review. Stay tuned!

The good thing about music is when it hits you, you feel no pain!
Bob Marley
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Mar 2011   #5

7600x64 ultimate, not SP1

I got one of these last weekend, and I can't believe the difference over the stock sound on my ud5 gigabyte board. I use some of the Etymotic ER6i and Etymotic HF3 earbuds. I know those aren't anything special, but the sound difference is so incredible I dont regret buying the card
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Xonar Essence STX

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