ASUS has announced the new Xonar Essence STU, which is an USB external DAC converter and headphone amplifier in one. It is based upon the company's Xonar Essence ST/STX sound cards, which are ASUS' top tier sound cards. The new product is aimed primarily at laptop users, who seek better sound quality and more power for their headphones.
The Xonar Essence STU delivers a 120 dB signal to noise ratio, a 600 ohm headphone amplifier, asynchronous USB audio, and room for three swappable Op-Amps to allow audiophiles to tweak the sound to their liking. To appease HiFi users, the Xonar Essence STU offers precision clock tuning technology. That along with the aforementioned asynchronous audio transfer helps ensuring accurate and jitter-free sound fidelity. It is also possible to use the Xonar Essence STU as a pre-amplifier, if it is connected to a power amplifier.
The user can control low and high gain settings on the device itself to match headphone specifications. There is also dual volume controls for separate speaker and headphone sound levels, so these can be controlled independently. The I/O ports include stereo RCA out, a 6.3 mm headphone jack, two digital inputs, and auxiliary in. So there should be plenty of connectivity options depending on what device the consumer wish to output to.