If you’re into heavy weightlifting and you’re proud to play it loud, this is the amp for you, kids. It is built rock solid, side to side, top to bottom and it weighs just the way it looks. The finish is matte black all over with an Aztec-looking jaguar in the middle of the flat surface. It is one of the newest players in the audio business; meet the Asus Xonar Essence One.
Asus, first known for making computer hardware, is now getting their feet wet in high-grade audio material and it actually makes sense. Xonar and Essence are Asus’ entry level and audiophile-grade sound card lines respectively that’s now being offered as an external DAC (Digital Analog Converter) and it does that job extremely well. It does it so well in fact that you won’t be able to take it to the max without frying your headphones or your eardrums, whichever comes first. Unless you have speakers packing some major components, 50% of the amplifiers capacity would be enough to get your adrenaline pumping.
The Xonar Essence One very faithfully reproduces digital input into sounds that human ears can hear and appreciate. I was very impressed with the USB 8x upsampling capability. It boosts the sampling of compressed material (mp3s and the like) in a clean and balanced rate allowing you to hear every detail in the recording. Sporting the ASIO 2.2 driver, digital input is processed directly from source to output taking away any latency issues encountered so often in digital to analog audio conversion.
Aside from the USB connection it also has S/PDIF input option which makes it more versatile. As an amplifier, it not only powers speakers but also has built-in headphone amps which can power even headphones with an impedance of 600 Ohms! Signal-to-noise ratio is at an impressive 120dB, giving you crystal-clear music and none of that noise.
Asus went all out in the Asus Xonar Essence One – high-end, audiophile-quality materials in each and every chip, bolt and nut. If you’re planning to upgrade your system, you can put this in serious consideration. With a price of about Php 20,000 to 25,000, you can expect platinum-quality sound as well, so long as you’ve got yourself a better-than-decent set of hi-fi speakers or headphones to complement your shiny, new Asus Xonar Essence One.
Plus: USB 8x upsampling capability; ASIO 2.2 driver; Built-in headphone amps