ASUS Xonar Essence STX Review [Guru3D]

Discussion in 'Frontpage news' started by Guru3D News, Feb 13, 2009.

  1. Guru3D News

    Guru3D News Ancient Guru

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    The recent addition of the ASUS HDAV 1.3 and Essence STX soundcards have targeted two new markets for the ever moving Xonar sound machine landing impressive contributions to the high end HTPC audio...

    More...
     
  2. Hilbert Hagedoorn

    Hilbert Hagedoorn Don Vito Corleone Staff Member

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    Hey everyone, we took a little bit of a new approach with this review, photo's of all chips, explaining them etc, the music listening tests, RMAA results. We'd like some feedback on how much info you think is actually needed for a soundcard article.

    Did you like it, is too much ? Let us know please.
     
  3. RamGuy

    RamGuy Master Guru

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    I really appreciate the "in-depth" information, can't really get enough of it!
    It's not that many sites out-there which goes into the depths of the audio cards which makes it almost impossible to really compare different cards and audio chips!

    I just received a Asus Xonar D2X card yesterday as a temporary card while my Auzentech Prelude is getting confirmed defective because of the well-known "Prelude has a not working mic-input"

    And I have to admit I like the Xonar D2X better, the over all audio quality when playing music and watching games is impressive! And the Dolby Headphone, Dolby Virtual Speaker and Dolby Pro Logic IIx when watching movies while using headphones beats the crap out of Creative's CMSS-3D features!

    But for me there is one major downside, the DS3D GX emulation of EAX isn't working as well as I hoped.. I'm mostly playing games like Battle for Middle Earth II and the EAX3 option isn't available at all, making the DS3D GX 2.5 feature not able to emulate the EAX3 effect at all, leaving me with barley any surround or environment effects on my 7.1 analogue speaker system. Which is a real shame! Asus has be bragging about how well this DS3D GX 2.0 emulation works (now in v2.5) and I have to admit I'm disappointed as it's clearly not working as advertised, in my games it barley works at all?

    Which leaves me in the situation where I have to choose between these cards as a replacement for my Prelude:

    - Asus Xonar D2 / DX2 (there aren't any differences besides the PCI / PCI-Express part, is it?)
    - Asus Xonar HDAV1.3 Deluxe (need the Deluxe version to be able to hook up my Creative Gigaworks S750 speakers!)
    - Auzentech Forte
    - Auzentech HomeTheater HD


    Only recommendation on this matter?
    I guess the HDAV1.3 Deluxe is rather pointless? Does it offer anything to my 7.1 analogue setup that the D2 / D2X doesn't?

    When it comes to Auzentech I found the Prelude to be overall decent, but I find the D2X to be better? It's just the complete lack of EAX with the Xonar cards making me re-consider Auzentech X-Fi cards..
     
  4. sharkchu12

    sharkchu12 Master Guru

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    I use to have the Prelude, but it was sitting in the only spot avaliable, which was between two GPUs, and I got heaps and heaps of interference, so i got myself the HDAV 1.3 Deluxe, and lucky I did, cause I needed the extension board for the extra cabling for my z-5500 speakers.

    I'm not sure y is it pointless?
     

  5. Rancoor

    Rancoor Banned

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    I thought Rob was gonna do the X-fi Forte review???????????
     
  6. Hilbert Hagedoorn

    Hilbert Hagedoorn Don Vito Corleone Staff Member

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    Stay on topic please, and yes that one is worked on as well.
     
  7. RamGuy

    RamGuy Master Guru

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    By pointless I mean the fact that the HDAV1.3 Deluxe doesn't really offer anything new and better over the D2 / D2X when it comes to analogue throughput / speakers, does it?

    The HDAV1.3 is more about the HDMI and getting no downsampling digital audio, for us with analogue only speakers what do we really gain from the HDAV1.3 Deluxe card? It's like paining much more and not really getting anything back? The extension board might be nice for some, but the fact that it takes up more space in your case, is not EMI shielded etc.. What does it give you that the D2 / D2X doesn't give you? It's about the same connection also? Just RCA not minijack plugs?
     
  8. TyrantofJustice

    TyrantofJustice Ancient Guru

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    Once again Hilbert goes wayyyyyyyy above the call of duty to bring an awesome and totally immersive in depth review that you will not find any where else except for here at the magnificent Guru3d forum.

    If only all sites would set their standards by here the net would be alot better (but then i guess Hilbert would have to work much harder LOL)

    Great review
     
  9. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    Actually, the HDAV 1.3 Deluxe offer higher qulaity sound then what is available on any other Xonar -aside from the Essence STX.
    The HDAV1.3 Deluxe offers full resolution HDMI based audio formats such as TrueHD, DTS-HD over HDMI conenction or non downsampled through analog. The card offers quite a few things the D2/D2X doesn't.
    Here is a accurate breakdown of the cards SNR's:
    Essence STX (SNR124)
    HDAV1.3 (SNR120)
    D2X(SNR118)
    D2(SNR118)
    DX(SNR116)
    D1(SNR116)
    U1 (SNR96~100)
    To note, SNR is a decibel scale so a difference of 2 is quite a difference indeed. Depends on the qulaity of your speakers or headphones on if you can hear the difference or not. Sorry Hilbert, back on topic..

    Personally I like the new format;)
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009
  10. zifnab

    zifnab Active Member

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    Very nice review guys. One thing I think you guys should do during your reviews is hit the suppot forums of the products you are testing. Asus sound cards..the hardware is there...the customer support is nonexisitent for all of their cards. Known issues go for 6 months and longer with no resolution. Their forums are full of customers totally pissed off at them and yet you rated it "top pick?"
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 13, 2009

  11. Hilbert Hagedoorn

    Hilbert Hagedoorn Don Vito Corleone Staff Member

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    Mate, the review was written by ROBSCIX :nerd:
     
  12. Cybermancer

    Cybermancer Don Quixote

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    Although a bit pricey imo, a very nice card it seems.

    The article shows the love to detail (from both the manufacturer, and the reviewer), and that this is certainly a HQ product.

    Anybody who doesn't want to read the in-depth information, can always skip ahead to the conclusion, which is always a very important part of any article, imo. Again: all in all a great, and impressive review - not only for audiophiles! It's articles like these which separate the wheat from the chaff. A great second article from you, ROBSCIX! :thumbup:

    p.s.: The only critique I do have, is just a minor one, and probably negligible anyway: how's its gaming performance? I know that at most it'll only make a difference of 1 fps (or 2 at at most), but it would be nice to see how this card performs against an X-Fi (for example) in terms of speed, imo...
     
  13. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    re-check the article. I compared it to a Prelude in terms of synthetic game tests using 3Ds.. It held it own quite well, I used 3 version of tests data.
    Xonar d2 NO GX drivers..
    Xonar DX GX 2.0 drivers
    Xonar Essences GX 2.5 drivers
    The contrast of results is quite startling you can see the driver optimizations and the card is very close to the hardware card as CPU's are getting faster so the software effects take less and less %...
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009
  14. Cybermancer

    Cybermancer Don Quixote

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    D'oh. :bonk:

    You got to excuse me. It's still early in the morning for me. :coffee:

    I guess, I was looking for a chart with fps, although I saw the one which you just mentioned. :rolleyes:
     
  15. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    Yes, I did say it was a top pick. Not everybody has issues with the cards. This card is all but error free as I have been folowing forums around the net about it. I have found no known issues with this card, aside from a compatibility issue with WoW, which ASUS has patched inthe latest drivers.

    ASUS has been working updating the drivers for the HDAV 1.3 etc and they have been releasing new drivers for that card every 30 days or less, so unsure where your getting this 6 months with no resolution.

    I have tested and have owned basically every one of the Xonar cards. Software and hardware is pretty solid across the board on all of them.
    I wouldn't put my reputation to a product that was a lemon....not a chance. This is one wicked sound card.
    Your specs say you have a D2X, are you having troubles with it?
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009

  16. justifireb2b

    justifireb2b Member Guru

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    Hilbert, on wich system did you test the Xonar ?
    On RIIE with tri-sli ?
    Did you had SCP (popping / crackling) in games with tri-sli enabled ?

    *edit* See review is from Robscix, wonder wich system you used for testing.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009
  17. RamGuy

    RamGuy Master Guru

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    Doesn't the DX / DX2 have GX v2.5?
    I'm trying to figure out this whole DS3D GX thing, but in all the games I play (Battle for Middle Earth, Battle for Middle Earth II and Rise of the Witch King mostly) I'm not able to tick the EAX3 option at all? Making the surround and environment effects noticeably reduced compared to the Prelude with X-Fi and "true" EAX5.0.

    This is on Vista 64bit.
    I don't really know how this DS3D GX actually works, but it's a part of the driver right? Might it be that Asus need to do like we owners have to do with Creative Alchemy? Add specific game support? Might it be the lack of BFME support in the drivers making the game refuse to enable EAX3?


    When I get home from work I'll see if I manage to get this Asus Xonar D2X + X-Fi card for EAX5.0 DSP to work!
     
  18. eat@joes

    eat@joes Maha Guru

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    I really enjoyed the deeper technicalities of the review and it really shows the research and craftsmanship the manufacturer puts into their hardware.

    On the other hand, I would have like some comparisons. Seeing lots of specs and tests for that card is one thing, but if I could see it compared to say...a Realtek HD audio chipset, that would be awesome. Currently I just use on-board sound because, short of buying reeeally expensive speakers to be able to hear the quality of an aftermarket sound card, I'm not quite sure how it compares otherwise. I would love to own a nice sound card, but it's a large investment if it won't really do me justice.

    I'm running Logitech z-2300's for the PC. My htpc is hooked up to a Pioneer DSX-1014 with Klipsch synergy series quintet II speakers and a 200W powered adjustable range sub. Sadly I can't hook up another PCI/e card in the htpc because I have the Mozart sx case with the EVGA sli micro ATX board.

    The review in itself though was really awesome!
     
  19. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    @Ramguy, send me a PM. Lets try and keep this topic on track.

    Please guys, give your opinions on the soundcard reviews layout, do you like the new format, with all the detail?
     
  20. Knox

    Knox Ancient Guru

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    I'm glad you put some different amps in there. Don't see that very often during a review. Including gaming results was a big plus too. :thumbup:
     

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