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Asus Xonar Essence One Review (w/ Raysonic CD228 & Audeze LCD2)

Rating: 9.0.

Today we are looking at the latest ‘audiophile’ grade Asus Xonar Essence One external soundcard and digital to analogue converter. The Essence series of products have targeted the enthusiast and audiophile user now for some time, using high grade components such as BurrBrown DAC chips. Today we analyse the latest Xonar Essence One from ASUS in a very challenging environment, paired up with a flagship, limited edition Valve/Tube CD player and award winning Audeze LCD2 headphones.

I will be honest, when I read audio reviews on many tech oriented publications I get slightly frustrated when the reviewer tests the equipment with only compressed MP3 files, or with a Lady GAGA CD crammed inside a £15 external DVD burner. Any weaknesses in the chain, including poor cabling will lead to audio degradation, which really has nothing to do with the product on test.

With this in mind, I will be testing the Essence One with my custom modified Little Dot Mk VI+ tube amplifier, Raysonic CD 228 player (with power amplifier) and Audeze LCD2 Planar headphones. I have been tube rolling now for many years and have amassed a huge collection costing more than I would probably like to admit.

Why?

I really haven’t warmed to digital audio …it can be harsh and cold. My system has been configured from the ground up for analogue style warmth, while maintaining as much detail as possible. Can the Asus Xonar Essence One really slot into an audiophile grade headphone based system? Today I aim to find out.

Specifications

Audio Performance Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted) (Front-out) :
120 dB
Output THD+N at 1kHz (Front-out) :
0.000316 %(-110 dB)
Frequency Response (-3dB, 24bit/192KHz input) :
10 Hz to 48 KHz
Output/Input Full-Scale Voltage :
Balanced Output : 4 Vrms ( Vp-p)
Unbalanced Output : 2 Vrms ( Vp-p)
Headphone : 7 Vrms ( Vp-p)
Bus Compatibility USB
Chipset Audio Processor :C-Media CM6631 High-Definition Sound Processor
Sample Rate and Resolution Analog Playback Sample Rate and Resolution :
44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/176.4K/192KHz @ 16bit/24bit
S/PDIF Digital Input :
44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @ 16bit/24bit
ASIO 2.2 Driver Support :
Hz @ with very low latency
Upsampling capability :
I/O Ports Analog Output Jack :
2 x 3.5mm RCA jack
1 x 6.3mm RCA jack
2 x Balanced Output (XLR)
2 x Digital S/PDIF Input : 1 x Coaxial, 1 x Toslink
1 x USB Input
Accessories Driver CD x 1
6.3mm to 3.5mm stereo adapter x 1
Audio Precision (AP) test report x 1
User manual x 1
USB cable x 1
Power cord x 1
Dimensions 261.33 x 230 x 60.65 mm ( L x W x H )

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