- Specifications and Product Pictures
- Installation and Initial Impressions
- Sound quality
Creative and ASUS have been making a lot of PC gaming audio cards for many years now. ASUS created a stir in the discrete desktop sound card market when they launched the STX and then the ST sound cards that were made more for music lovers than hard-core gamers. They featured (at that time) unheard of features in sound cards like featuring a built powerful headphone amp and offering swappable OPAMPs.
However, these cards require either a PCI port (STX only) or a PCI-E port (ST only) to work. So using these cards on say laptops or on some mATX motherboards is a problem.
So, ASUS has launched a USB version of the STX and ST cards in the form of Xonar Essence STU. The ASUS Xonar Essence STU is based on the same PCM1792A chip that is found in both the ST and STX. That said just having the same chip does not mean the STU will sound exactly the same as the ST and STX. The implementation of the circuit around the DAC is very important. There are many instances of two DACs using the same chip sounding very different.
Asus Xonar Essence STU isn’t merely the STX/ST cards in a box with a USB connection. ASUS has added a few more tweaks to the sound to justify the higher price as well as some additional features like multi OPAMP switching (for further tweaking of the sound as the STX/ST had just one OPAMP that could be swapped), a dedicated volume control, ability to use the STU as a pre- amp and more.