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While I was very impressed with the lower end sibling, (Xonar U7), I was less impressed with the ASUS Xonar Essence STU. The mediocre bass was a rather glaring fault considering the U7 faced so such issues.
That said the DAC has a good build, good amount of tweaks available and swappable OPAMPs is always a plus. Also the treble and detailing is a level above the U7 or even Creative ZX and Recon 3D sound cards.
It would be great if ASUS can bundle few OPAMPS to let users get a feel of OPAMP swapping in future.
The STU costs $399 on Newegg and about $406 on Amazon US. For that price I am a little hesitant to wholeheartedly recommend it. Its still a good quality product that’s well made but ASUS’s own U7 DAC has better bass performance and costs far less than the STU. Its the mediocre bass performance that’s holding back my recommendation of a value for money product.
For those who want a USB sound card that’s sounds not too far off from the STU and has 5.1 channel support to boot I would wholeheartedly recommend the Xonar U7 to anyone for the following price: