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ASUS Xonar Essence One Muses Edition D/A processorheadphone amplifier Measurements
Sidebar 3: Measurements
I used Stereophile's loan sample of the top-of-the-line Audio Precision SYS2722 system (see www.ap.com and the January 2008 "As We See It") to examine the ASUS Xonar Essence One Muses Edition's measured behavior. I used my 2012-vintage Apple MacBook Pro running on battery power to examine the processor's performance via its USB port.
ASUS Xonar Essence One Muses Edition D/A processorheadphone amplifier Associated Equipment
Sidebar 2: Associated Equipment
ASUS Xonar Essence One Muses Edition D/A processorheadphone amplifier Specifications
Sidebar 1: Specifications
Description: Upsampling, stereo D/A processor/headphone amplifier with independent volume controls for line-level and headphone outputs. Digital inputs: 1 S/PDIF (coax), 1 S/PDIF (TosLink), 1 USB 2.0 (type B). Analog outputs: 1 pair balanced (XLR), 1 pair unbalanced (RCA), 1 headphone output on ¼" (6.3mm) stereo phono jack. Compatible sample rates: 44.1192kHz, all inputs. Frequency response: 10Hz48kHz, 3dB, with 192kHz data. Channel separation: not specified. Signal/noise: 120dB ref. 0dBFS, A-weighted.
ASUS Xonar Essence One Muses Edition D/A processorheadphone amplifier Page 2
The midrange receded slightly with upsampling engaged, as Michael Lavorgna described in his review. The voices in the Bachian arrangement of Noël Coward's "I'll See You Again," from The King's Singers Sing Flanders & Swann and Noël Coward (24/192 ALAC file from 1977 LP, EMI EMC 3196), acquired a touch more palpability. However, the recording lost a little bit of "air" around the singers' images, and the inevitable ticks in this needle drop sounded slightly softer.
ASUS Xonar Essence One Muses Edition D/A processorheadphone amplifier
Back in the summer of 2009, USB-connected D/A processors that could operate at sample rates greater than 48kHz were rare. Ayre Acoustics had just released its groundbreaking QB-9, one of the first DACs to use Gordon Rankin's Streamlength code for Texas Instruments' TAS1020 USB 1.1 receiver chip.
Channel Islands Audio Transient Mk.II & VDC5 Mk.II USB D/A processor & power supply Manufacturer's Comment
Editor: First, I'd like to thank the gang at Stereophile for reviewing our unique product.
As mentioned in Jon Iverson's review, we wanted this product to be completely portable, and to provide the industry-standard 2V analog output while running from USB power. There are only a small number of DAC integrated circuits with this capability that have the digital filtering and output stage built in. Being that there isn't much surrounding circuitry to work our "magic," we chose the IC that we felt offered the best musicality (not specs).