While we were checking out Asus' massive booth, we noticed Asus had their Xonar Essence STX audio card on display, and the company is heavily marketing this card for having a 124 dB SNR (signal to noise ratio). The company also claims a frequency response of “<10Hz to 90KHz” but take this with a grain of salt, and we’ll soon tell you why.
The card comes with integrated headphone amplifier capable of driving headphones with up to 600 ohms impedance but note that headphone out has a 117dB SNR. It comes with complete Dolby technologies and DS3D GX2.5 3D gaming engine technology. Additionally, Asus made sure line and headphone outs have independent power and included EMI and Cu shielding, all in order to improve the signal fidelity.
While we won’t argue whether the card actually can reproduce 10Hz or 90KHz, we can’t help but ask ourselves why even go for such figures. Humans hear from 20Hz to 20KHz (in ideal conditions), and anything below 35Hz (in best case scenario) is more felt than heard, and anything over 20KHz is useless, as humans can’t hear above that threshold, and it gets worse with age. Additionally, pumping out 10Hz would require some serious air to be pushed, and you’d need way more than just this card to pull off such a feat.
That being said, the card does sound nice, but we’ll reserve our final judgment until we’ve actually had a chance to take it out for a spin. Until then, you can check out the pictures we’ve taken at the booth.
Oh and we think the correct spelling is iMpedance.