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Written by Vito Cassisi - Edited by Olin Coles   
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
Table of Contents: Page Index
ASUS Xonar Essence STX PCI-E Sound Card
Closer Look: ASUS Xonar Essence STX
ASUS Xonar Essence STX Detailed Features
ASUS Xonar Audio Center Software
Features and Specifications
Listening Test Results
RightMark Audio Analyser Results
Final Thoughts and Conclusion

ASUS Xonar Audio Center Software

ASUS bundled their Xonar Audio Center software with the card. This software is similar across all the Xonar products, with small changes specific to particular models. In this screenshot we have the main screen showing the currently enabled modes, master volume, and frequency bands. There's also the option to change the number of audio channels, sample rate, and the analog output (i.e. 'Headphone', '2 Speakers', or either via the front panel).

Along the bottom of the blue status area are the available Dolby technologies. These include Digital Live, Headphone, Pro Logic IIx, and Virtual Speaker. Digital Live encodes audio into a 5.1 channel 16-bit/48 KHz signal in real-time over S/PDIF. 'Headphone' allows stereo headphones to emulate the positional audio effects of a discrete 5.1 surround sound set up. Pro Logic IIx up-converts stereo or 5.1 channel audio into a 6.1 or 7.1 channel signal. 'Virtual Speaker' is similar to 'Headphone', but is suited to any set of stereo speakers.

ASUS Xonar Essence STX Main Screen

The mixer allows the adjustment of the left and right channels. Hitting the 'Record' button gives us further options for MIC, line-in, aux, Mix and Wave volumes.

ASUS Xonar Essence STX Mixer

Environmental effects simulate different sound stages, whilst the equaliser gives us control over the frequency response of the output. The latter is great for compensating for deficiencies you may identify in your audio equipment.

ASUS Xonar Essence STX Effect

KARAOKE is a set of options to adjust key shifting, vocal cancellation, and microphone echo. These options were not tested, in fear of destroying the delicate STX with horrendously off-pitch vocal attempts.

ASUS Xonar Essence STX Karaoke

FlexBass gives you control over the LFE (Low-frequency effect) crossover frequency. Basically, this moves low-frequency (bass) signals from satellite speakers to your subwoofer. This can improve bass quality.

ASUS Xonar Essence STX Flexibass

VocalFX gives the user a few options for in-game chat and VOIP. VoiceEX can be enabled for the former (which adds EAX effects), and the latter has options to annoy people with 'ChatEX' environmental effects and 'Magic Voice' voice alterations.

ASUS Xonar Essence STX VocalFX

Evidently, ASUS have produced a respectable software solution for their Xonar range of cards. The aesthetically pleasing style and functionality make it a valuable asset. It does have some quirks, such as the volume dial which is counterproductive for interaction via a cursor, but that's being a tad pedantic. On the other hand, the five small preset buttons to the right make it super easy to quickly swap between modes such as Hi-Fi and gaming. If only they had associated keyboard shortcuts!



 

Comments 

 
# RE: ASUS Xonar Essence STX PCI-E Sound CardMack 2010-12-15 22:45
Good Review.
I am curious about the THD peak at 1Khz.
Is this something commonly seen?
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# RE: ASUS Xonar Essence STX PCI-E Sound CardVito Cassisi 2010-12-18 05:26
Yes, that peak is normal.
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# RE: ASUS Xonar Essence STX PCI-E Sound CardJoe 2010-12-22 03:09
If the purpose is just for headphone listening, how this would compare to a similarly priced external DAC/Headphone Amp like a Fubar III or Fire-eye?
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# For MusicDouglas 2012-09-25 18:24
My self i dont game much but i love my music i do have to admit this card will test your sound system and if you set yourself up right you'll listen to sound with the highest quality..My sound system is average the Logitech 5500 but i set up my system the right way them i go as far as converting to Flac music which is 24 bit/96khz 6 channel with the kbps in the 8640 range so thats extreme HD sound also true surround its what you call.. ear candy...
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# Very clean and impressive SoundAmit Karmakar 2012-11-29 10:26
Before this sound card I am using Creative audigy 2 Zs card after change my old creative card and installed Asus card my denon AVR & spk like live sound output it is amazing. Many more different sound quality bit win creative and Asus. Ma is Asus are making STX card for special for Indian music. Grate sound card of nominal price. Then I love Asus product. I all so love creative sound cards but listen Asus card it was a very bad for creative sound card (just launch 3d recon. Finally Asus was grate sound quality Music?s or DVD movies
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# For best quality MusicDouglas 2012-11-29 10:58
If you really would like to hear what this card can really put out try listening to some music that was ripped from a dvd Audio disc..Now your listening to the best of quality 24bit 96khz 6ch 8000kbps if your wondering how find this type of quality drop me a line
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