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ASUS Xonar Essence One Review

Listening Impressions

Hans Zimmer – Mombasa (Inception OST)

We were really impressed by the speed and accuracy of the delivery and the distinct separation of the percussion instruments on this track. On lesser sound cards the drum beats are usually a distorted mess but the Xonar One reproduced every hit with gusto. The electric guitar riffs were also brightly coloured and we could make out a lot of tiny details that we didn't notice before.

Amy Winehouse – Back to Black

Lennard's favourite sultry british singer (he listens to her everyday in the office) may be long dead from a fatal alcohol overdose but she sure came back to live on this track with her powerful deep contralto vocals.


Pink Floyd – Time (The Dark Side of the Moon)

1970s English rock band Pink Floyd's "Time" from their iconic "The Dark Side of the Moon" (not to be confused with the recent Transformers movie without Megan Fox) is a mandatory  test track during an audio evaluation. The 2:30 minute long sequence of clock chimes and alarm bells at the introduction was originally meant as a quadrophonic test by Alan Parsons, one of the most influential audio engineers of all time. As expected, the laid-back sounding Xonar Essence One piped out the song with ease and it sounded extra special on the headphones.


David Guetta – Titanium (ft Sia)

Moving on to more mainstream music, we used the emotion filled "Titanium" from French DJ David Guetta's "Nothing but the beat" which is a mix of pop, house and urban dance. We are happy to report that the Xonar Essence One is equally adept if you want to deploy it in a club scenario, dishing out earthquake inducing beats and Australian singer Sia's excellent vocals with ease.


Gaming (Battlefield 3 and Counter-Strike):

The 3D sonic imaging of the battlefield was spot on and we could react to well defined footsteps of enemy players. More crucially, we didn't notice any input lag between the action on the screen and the sound of gunfire and explosions.




We re-listened to thousands of hours/gigabytes of music over two months to do this review, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.


Difference between typical onboard sound/noise and the Xonar Essence One:

Shit and Chocolate, Period.


Difference between Xonar STX and the Xonar Essence One

This is a tricky one. Unless you have golden ears and speakers/headphones which cost more than the Xonar Essence One (S$699), it is difficult to justify an upgrade. We would though…


Positives Negatives
  • Seraphic audio reproduction
  • Stylish design (especially the large volume knobs)
  • Internal power supply
  • Working ASIO 2.2 implementation
  • Simultaneous and independent outputs for speakers and headphones
  • Swappable Opamps
  • Expensive relative to other USB DACs
  • Limited to 2.0/2.1 setups only
  • No recording input
  • Bundled cables could be better

Lennard Seah
Why can't I have sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads

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