ASUS announced Friday they would be bringing the Xonar Essence ST to market very soon. AS mamy of you may remember Guru3D released a sneak peak on the Essence ST hardware awhile ago: Essence ST sneak peak Here is the link to the ASUS Information: Press Release World’s First Precision Tuning Down to the Picosecond for Ultra-accurate Audio Details Xonar Essence ST is the first soundcard in the world to focus on precise audio clock tuning. Using a technique that was once only seen on top-tier living room equipment, PC users can now experience 31% less audio jitter interference and enjoy ultimate sound quality that frees the audio signal from unsynchronized input streams and results in extensive music details and lively sound image for the ultimate listening experience. The improvement is most significant during general audio CD playback where the sample rate is 44.1kHz. Industry-leading 124dB SNR for Pure Sound, Pure Music and Pure Listening Pleasure Utilizing only the finest components and design, ASUS has delivered a soundcard that is able to reproduce truly pure sounds at an industry-leading 124dB SNR (Signal-to-Noise Ratio). This is 64 times clearer the most onboard audio solutions (85–88 SNR). It also features the ASUS exclusive Hyper-grounding circuitry design that utilizes a PCB design to separate signal and noise—ensuring that only the cleanest signals are passed on to ultra-sensitive components for decoding. The Finest Component Selection to Deliver Crisp, Clear Audio With a top-of-the-line Burr-Brown PCM 1792A Digital-to-Analog Convertor (DAC) to convert audio signals at 127dB SNR, users will be able to enjoy minimum loss from the process of converting digital signals to analog sound. Additionally, Nichicon “Fine Gold” capacitors deliver rich bass and crystal-clear high frequencies (like the sounds from a piano or violin), allowing the Xonar Essence ST to achieve an amazing <10 Hz–90 kHz frequency response and 124dB dynamic range. Furthermore, The Xonar Essence ST’s EMI shield protects all analog outputs perfectly from any exterior electronic magnetic interference—resulting in the cleanest sound generation and delivery for the user's enjoyment. High Density Sound Performances with Built-in Headphone Amplifier Most quality headphones usually require additional driving power. Without it, the sound quality becomes bland. The Xonar Essence ST is equipped with a built-in headphone amplifier capable of driving every available headphone with up to 600ohms of impedance to their full extent and less than 0.001% of distortion—all without additional amplification. This ensures that only the highest density sounds can be heard from these headphones without the need to purchase an extra amplifier. Furthermore, the Xonar Essence ST also comes with swappable OPamp sockets to help tune up unique sounds effortlessly, complete with Dolby Home Theater technologies and the latest DS3D GX2.5 3D gaming engine technology. Beefing Up Performance with Expansion Capabilities The Xonar Essence ST is not a stand-alone product that will become obsolete with time. In fact, it is designed to be scalable so that users can enjoy fuller sound. With the high fidelity Xonar H6 multi-channel extension board, users can enjoy full 7.1 surround sound. The Xonar H6 is sold separately from the Xonar Essence ST. Whether it is about wanting that full home theater experience, enjoying the thrills of gaming, or even just listening to music, audio quality has become a defining feature for PC users. So why should you settle for anything less than the crispest, clearest audio to ever come out of a PC? Specifications Audio Performance Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted): - 124dB for Front-out, - 110dB for Headphone-out Input Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted): 118dB Output total harmonic distortion + Noise at 1kHz (-3dB): - 0.0003% (-110dB) for Front-out - 0.001% (-100dB) for Headphone-out [/B] Input total harmonic distortion + Noise at 1kHz (-3 dB): 0.0002% (-113dB) for Line-in Frequency response (-3 dB, 24-bit / 96 kHz format): <10 Hz to 90KHz Output/Input full-scale voltage: 2 Vrms (5.65 Vp-p) Headphone impedance Optimized for 32–600Ω Bus Compatibility PCI PCI 2.2 or higher Main Chipset Audio Processor: ASUS AV100 High-Definition Sound Processor (Max. 192KHz / 24bit) 24-bit D-A Converter of Digital Sources: Texas Instruments PCM * 1 for Front-Out (127 dB SNR, Max.192kHz / 24bit) High Fidelity Headphone Amplifier Instruments 2 * 1 (120dB SNR, 100dB THD+N @ Vcc±12 V, RL=600 Ω, f =1 kHz) 24-bit A-D Converter for Analog Inputs: Cirrus-Logic CS5361 * 1 (114 dB SNR, Max. 192 kHz / 24bit) Sample Rate and Resolution Analog playback/ recording, sample sate and resolution 44.1K / 48K / 96K / 192 KHz @ 16/24bit S/PDIF digital output 44.1K / 48K / 96K/ 192 KHz @ 16/24bit, Dolby Digital I/O Ports Analog output jack: RCA jack * 2 (Front R / Front L) 6.30mm jack * 1 (Headphone out) Analog input jack: 6.30mm jack * 1 (Shared by Line-In / Mic-In) Digital S/PDIF output: High-bandwidth Coaxial / TOS-Link combo port supports 192KHz / 24bit Other line-level analog input (for TV Tuner or CD-ROM): Aux-In (4-pin header on the card) Front panel: Shared by Headphone out / 2 channels out / Microphone in Driver Features Operating system Windows Vista® (32 / 64bit) / Windows XP™ (32 / 64bit) / MCE2005 Dolby® technologies Dolby® Digital Live / Dolby® Headphone / Dolby® Virtual Speaker / Dolby® Pro-Logic II ASIO 2.0 driver support Supports maximum 192KHz @ 24bit with very low latency Do we have any opinions? Here lets have a look: Lets have a look at the card with the H6 DAC expansion board. For sake of clarity, the H6 DAC Expansion baord will be offered a little later and will not be bundled with the ST on first release.