One of the stalwarts of ASUS' audio program has been the Xonar Essence ST/STX sound cards - these are sound cards with a multi-year development cycle to ensure compatibility, usability and getting exactly down to the nitty-gritty of what a user requires.  On the back of the success of the Xonar Essence range, ASUS are launching the Xonar Essence STU device - a USB digital to analog converter and headphone amplifier, based on the Xonar Essence ST/STX design.

Features include 120+ dB signal-to-noise ratio (DAC is rated at 127 dB SNR), 0.00032% THD+N, swappable op-amps, a 600 ohm headphone amplifier and segregated PCB layout to minimize signal interference and crosstalk.

To cater for audiophiles the system is adjustable via Op-Amps, selectable DC servo headphone output, a volume bypass mode (to use the STU as a pre-amplifier) and variable resistor calibration for optimization of left/right channel outputs.

The Xonar Essence STU is due for release in North America in the next two weeks, MSRP of $399.  Other markets to follow.

 

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  • richardm - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    The "600 ohm headphone amplifier" when they really mean "the amplifier is suitable for high-impedance headphones up to 600 ohms" is damned lousy marketing. What is the actual output impedance of the headphone amp? It's definitely not 600 ohms. Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    TPA6120A2 is used for HP output. Output Impedance is circa 10 ohms. Reply
  • ninjaquick - Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - link

    The TI TPA6120A is rated for Vmax = 30, and Wmax at 1.5, which is 600ohm. Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Why only headphones? The main market for a USB audio adapter is going to be laptops when used in desktop alternative. In that mode going to a full 5.1 speaker setup would be nice except that most laptops don't have enough audio out ports. Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Xonar U7 is the 7.1 channel capable USB device from ASUS - market for multi-channel is however very small these days. Not many people like to have a bunch of cables strewn across their desktop or room. On top of that, adoption of 7.1 channel gaming oriented headsets hasn't taken off either.. Reply
  • Flunk - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Most people who use multi-channel surround on a computer are using desktops. The speaker setup is so big there is little point in using a laptop because you lose so much performance for no real mobility improvement.

    7.1 channel gaming headsets are just plain stupid, they're very pricey and the speakers are so small and so close to each other. You're better off with a good pair of 2 channel headphones.
    Reply
  • Flunk - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    As a follow up, high-end gaming notebooks actually support 5.1 or more channels natively. I have an Alienware m14x R2 that supports 5.1 analog speakers. Reply
  • stepz - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    People who buy $400 DACs do it for music listening. Music is stereo. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    Except for when it's 5.1. ;-) Reply
  • asliarun - Monday, October 21, 2013 - link

    IMHO, special effects (in movies, games etc.) are 5.1
    Music is still predominantly stereo.

    I like the fact that this product uses decent quality components and actually has an analog volume control instead of a digital one that will shed bits.

    However, the price is too high. Compare this to some of the Audio-GD products for example. The NFB 15.32 has similar quality components, and has a better volume control implementation, supports higher resolution (32bit async USB at 384k), has dual DAC chips - one for each channel. For all this, I paid roughly half the price ($235) of the Xonar STU. (Shipping was extra though and was a hefty $50, and I paid $20 more for a clock upgrade - but still...).

    Reference: http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/N...
    Reply

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