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34 Reviews
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic sound, the software could be better
I'm very pleased with the sound from this device. Running through my stereo speakers with Dolby signal processing enabled, my music sounds amazing. Since installing this card I have been giving much of my music collection a fresh listen and enjoying some of it it more than I ever did on my old equipment (an Audigy 2).

With headphones, I prefer to have the...
Published on 26 Mar 2010 by B. James

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Software continues to frustrate
This card delivers in all respects. I've always considered a decent sound card to be a 'must' in order to appreciate my music collection. I've previously been using an M-AUDIO 2496. However, the lack of a PCI slot on my new PC has meant that this had to be replaced. Unfortunately, the STX seems to suffer from a software issue where, upon start-up, the card is not...
Published 12 months ago by Poetman


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic sound, the software could be better, 26 Mar 2010
By 
B. James (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I'm very pleased with the sound from this device. Running through my stereo speakers with Dolby signal processing enabled, my music sounds amazing. Since installing this card I have been giving much of my music collection a fresh listen and enjoying some of it it more than I ever did on my old equipment (an Audigy 2).

With headphones, I prefer to have the signal processing off, as the Dolby Headphone modes can distort some sounds too much for my liking. The dedicated headphone amp goes up to 11 and is a fantastic change from the weedy signal that I made do with from my previous sound card. It's great for getting decent volume on tracks that were mastered at quieter levels.

My only gripe is with the bundled software. Switching between the stereo component outputs and the headphone amp requires opening the software, clicking a button to reveal some menus, and then choosing the output option from a drop-down menu. This quickly becomes tedious, and it's ridiculous that there isn't an easier way to to this, such as via the pop-up menu on the system tray icon.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Staggeringly good sound. Installation fiddly and software not the best., 25 Jan 2011
By 
J. O'Donoghue (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Asustek Xonar Essence STX 2 Channel PCI Express Audio Card (Accessory)
First impressions are excellent: the card is very attractively packaged with a 'high-end' feel to it. The card itself is on a very high quality PCB substrate and clearly uses very high quality components.

Fitting into my case (a Silverstone HTPC case), the card could not be screwed down fully as the back panel is slightly too long at the bottom, and this would have caused misalignment of the PCI-E connector. Note that the card requires an additional IDE-style power connection, and won't work without it. The card is reasonably slim, but too high to fit a low profile case.

There is both a rear headphone output and a front panel headphone output as part of the HD-Audio interface (also line in and out on the rear). More on these later.

Getting the drivers to install was a pain: my brand new, clean Windows 7 64 bit installation wouldn't detect the hardware, and I needed to install the drivers myself. This turned out to require searching for the drivers on the supplied DVD-ROM as the auto-run file didn't work properly.

Once installed, my impressions of the software are not great. I have only managed to get ASIO sound operation working so far, and adjusting the volume is tricky for headphones. The software is 'skinned' to look like a cheap 1980s HiFi compo with lots of flashing lights and buttons, rather than making it easy to configure the things you need and otherwise staying out of the way. The Dolby virtual surround for headphones is fine if you have ever wondered what it would be like listening to music in a fishbowl, but otherwise it's total garbage. My card defaulted to Dolby Headphone enabled, which is definitely not what you want, so make sure you switch it off before doing any serious listening.

So far, so below average, to be honest. However...

Plug headphones into (HD 595s) the rear socket and play a couple of high quality (lossless) CD rips. All annoyance melts away. The sound is very good indeed, with excellent detail, separation and body. While it's too early to make detailed comparisons (and the headphones need a bit more 'running in'), the sound is certainly in the same ball park as my main system (Meridian CD 506, Cyrus Audio amp, ProAc speakers) and possibly better. Certainly like nothing I have ever heard coming out of a computer.

As a more concrete comparison, the same rip, via the same headphones on my iPod sounded far thinner and more constrained, so it is definitely a major step up from what is a pretty decent portable player headphone output. I am very impressed, and the proof is that I ended up listening to tracks for several hours before realising that it was 1:30am.

The front HD Audio headphone socket isn't in the same league, by the way - it was a little better than the iPod, but I won't be using it again, despite the convenience.

Very highly recommended if you have the time and technical expertise to configure it, and care about the sound enough to forgive the fiddling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Software continues to frustrate, 1 April 2013
This review is from: Asustek Xonar Essence STX 2 Channel PCI Express Audio Card (Accessory)
This card delivers in all respects. I've always considered a decent sound card to be a 'must' in order to appreciate my music collection. I've previously been using an M-AUDIO 2496. However, the lack of a PCI slot on my new PC has meant that this had to be replaced. Unfortunately, the STX seems to suffer from a software issue where, upon start-up, the card is not recognised by the computer. A restore sometimes sorts this out, but I haven't managed to find a long-term solution. I've swapped PCIE slots, stripped out other software, disabled onboard sound, reinstalled the STX drivers, but still the problem persists. Hopefully there is an answer and this is possibly due to the set-up of my system, so please don't necessarily take my review as representative. When it works, this card blows me away. However, for all its attributes, I now find myself longing for the stability of my old 2496.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars sounds like 2 clams muffing my ears, 27 Sep 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Asustek Xonar Essence STX 2 Channel PCI Express Audio Card (Accessory)
Anyone considering this card and baulking at the price...don't worry..it's worth it!
I bought the PCI-E version 6 months ago for the price it is currently (135)
..and I'd do the same tomorrow.
I cannot stress how great the sound quality is here.
Any guilt you might have about shelling out so much for a soundcard is quickly smothered in a velvet sheet of audio loveliness as soon as you start playing..anything!
24-bit / 16-bit sound is sublime. It's crisp, sharp, crystal clear...warm
mp3 /etc playback is greatly enhanced by a high signal/noise
I cannot recommend this card any higher!
Software issues can be avoided if latest drivers installed from the off.

Do it!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bar a minor gripe or two, just the best sound I've ever heard from a computer, 7 Oct 2010
By 
Mr. T. F. Norton (Maidstone, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Asustek Xonar Essence STX 2 Channel PCI Express Audio Card (Accessory)
For the last few years (mostly due to financial restrictions), I've made do with onboard sound for my computers. It's free, it's usually adequate (especially now that most onboard solutions ship with optical outs), and for the budget conscious, we're happy to make do...

...HOWEVER: After using this sound card for just a couple of weeks, I have completely changed my tune (so to speak)! The quality of sound produced by this card isn't just good for computer sound, it's good, full stop! I felt guilty for about 2 days after shelling out about 135 on this, and that guilt alleviated the moment I heard it in operation. It's truly that good.

I should qualify my hyperbole by explaining a few things. First of all, I consider myself a bit of an audiophile. I'm not entirely a nutcase when it comes to sound, but I would certainly consider myself someone with a more discerning ear than the average user. Secondly, I was looking for a sound card that would give me two things in particular: excellent stereo sound, and excellent headphone usage. This sound card has dedicated hardware designed for headphones, and one can tell. It is simply the best headphone sound I've ever come across. Admittedly, if you purchased a top-end amplifier, some sound engineer somewhere will probably claim it is better, but for the money and its intended use you aren't going to beat this sound card for headphone usage. This sound card destroys the 'competition'.

When not using headphones, my sound card is plugged into a dedicated amplifier with good quality separate speakers. Again, in the domain of sound card solutions, this is the best sound I've ever heard produced from a computer, however I do wonder how noticeable the quality improvement would be if you aren't using at least decent speakers. From this point of view, I'd hesitate to suggest recommending this card to anyone who uses standard computer speakers (unless they were a heavy headphone user, of course).

One of the reasons why this sound card rinses the rest of the field for quality is the hardware employed. I won't go into the technical nitty gritty (google the card to find numerous reviews on this), but I think it suffices to say that any sound card that requires a dedicated power supply shows you that it's not your average card!

My only minor quibble is the same as the previous reviewer: the software isn't the best. It's a *bit* clunky, and changing between speakers and headphones is a little annoying, but even so, overall I forgive Asus.

This card does have an optical out, so will pass through surround sound streams, but I'm unable to comment on this as I prefer a stereo set up.

Overall, one of the best purchases I've ever made.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Of The Line!, 13 Jan 2013
By 
L. Thompson "Thommo" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Asustek Xonar Essence STX 2 Channel PCI Express Audio Card (Accessory)
This sound card is a lot more about pure audio quality rather than gaming features or native 5.1 support. This sound card is for people who use headphones a lot and want top of the line audio quality to go with their good quality headphones and the Xonar Essence succeeds with aplomb!

It has 24 bit 192 khz upsampling, Dolby virtual surround, their own version of EAX, Software EQ, Karaoke feature, and at the click of a button you'll turn off all software features and it'll go to 'Pure' mode. That is the 1 click setting for the out and out purest audio. But the software interface while being completely workable it's a bit of a pig to look at if I'm honest. Overly garish for me.

This card also includes line input and audio output for say recording audio from a different source within Windows, so in short you can hook up a PS3 to this card and have all it's audio come from this card so you can play Uncharted and blu rays with amazing audio quality - that is inclusive for using the software EQ on the card for use on the PS3 - Oh the possibilities!

You can also use the separate audio output too if you happen to have a very strong separate amplifier better than the one utilized within the card.

So I think that just about covers everything, it goes without saying that this is an extremely high quality card. Legitimately top of the line. Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ** Great Sound **, 5 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Asustek Xonar Essence STX 2 Channel PCI Express Audio Card (Accessory)
This card was fitted into an Asus Rampage III Extreme Motherboard well away from our graphics card ATI 7970 into PCIEX16_4 slot so no problems fitting it! remember the 4 pin molex connector for the sound card.
Our case is a full tower Cooler Master HAF so plenty of room, fitting the hardware was the easy part! prior to fitting your new sound card remember to uninstall all your other sound card drivers and ensure that if you have a sound card built into your Motherboard that it is disabled in the BIOS.

When you turn your PC back on Windows will try to install a driver for your new sound card press Cancel! do not use the CD which came with your new sound card! go to Asus website and download the correct software for your version of Windows we have Windows 7 64 bit Professional.
Once you have the software download you need to open it unfortunately Windows 7 does not recognise the file type! it is a RAR file back to the good old Windows 98 days!!! if you search online you will find plenty of RAR software able to open this type of file however be careful from where you download from!! once the RAR file is opened just follow the on screen instructions.

I use Goldring NS-1000 noise cancelling headphones and the sound is amazing!! overall fantastic card it blows our previous Creative sound card away!

All Asus had to do was to put RAR file opening software on the enclosed CD instead of out of date drivers!! however the sound from this card is worth every penny!! just be patient!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BOOOOM!, 28 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Asustek Xonar Essence STX 2 Channel PCI Express Audio Card (Accessory)
After having problems with my on board realtek audio device I did a bit of research and wanted something with great quality and lastability. So this was among one of a number of cards I was looking at and I was mulling over it for a week or two, reading various reviews and what not, some of which made me hesitate. But I decided to bite the bullet yesterday and ordered it. I have had none of the problems others are complaining about.

I simply made sure that I did the following:

1. Download latest driver from Asus
2. Disable onboard sound through your bios.
3. Turn off PC, flick the PSU switch off.
4. Connect FP HD audio plug and 4 pin power
5. Connect 4 pin power pluf from PSU (make sure this is properly connected)
6. Slot the Card into the socket.
7. Start up PC
8. Run downloaded driver software from ASUS and BOOOOM! Prepare to be blown away.

To the sound itself... it has exceeded my expectations by a million miles. I am using Audio-Technica ATH-AD700X Open backed Hi-Fi headphones and the difference with the onboard sound and a previous low-end xonar I had bears no comparison. Listening to various types of rock, metal, country, electronic and other genres feels so authentic and exhilirating like you're listening live. Someone else described the sensation of listening through these as an eargasm, well I will take it a few steps further to say it's giving me multiple eargasms. lol.

My hackles rise at the prospect of gaming with it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extra detail, 27 Feb 2014
By 
PiXiL "PiXiL" (Staffordshire, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Asustek Xonar Essence STX 2 Channel PCI Express Audio Card (Accessory)
This is a really good sound card, if not the best, that allows you to hear the finer side of music and all of the extra little details that are usually drowned out. This is one of my all-time best buys for PCs and you'd do well to pair it up with decent quality professional headphones.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Eargasm., 22 Feb 2014
By 
Leon Quigley (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Asustek Xonar Essence STX 2 Channel PCI Express Audio Card (Accessory)
I use Sennheiser pc 350se headphones with this card, and what happens when you use these headphones with this sound card is that justice is delivered directly into your ear holes.

I recommend that you purchase this particular sound card. Ensure that you use quality earphones for optimal results.
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