ASUS seems so serious to jump into sound card industry. Since the first Xonar sound card launched several years back, ASUS keeps doing a lot of innovative things. I think, ASUS tries to change the game play on this industry. As on its motherboard lineup which offers a lot of tweaking and/or upgrading opportunities, ASUS seems apply the same policy to its sound card. We’ll see more later.

So we welcome ASUS Xonar Essence One. Long story short, this is an USB sound card with capability of becoming a stand alone DAC. Specification wise, this is ultimate an USB and DAC with 8x oversampling capability up to 352.8 kHz (for 44.1/88.2/176.4 kHz input) or 384 kHz (48/96/192 kHz input). Well off course you have the option to let the signal ‘as-is’.

Standard input options: Coaxial, Optical, and USB. While the output is available in RCA Unbalanced or XLR Balanced. ASUS also provides dedicated headphone out jack with dedicated volume control. The headphone amplifier provides up to 7 Vrms which more then enough to drive any kind of headphone. It’s your call to decide.

The top view of the machine. Many WIMAs around, some Nichicon and no-brand electrolytics.

This single toroidal transformer provides both 12 and 5 VAC.

Three regulators to regulate +5, +12, and -12 VDC rail.

Quite a lot of opamps to provide several functions: I/V, LPF, and buffer. The best from them are: they are all easily upgradeable because ASUS provides socket for the opamp. Changing opamp never been so easy!

Output relay from NEC Japan.

LM4562 on the buffer stage. Some note: the opamp could be different as there are several option sold for this ASUS Xonar Essence One.

NE5532 in the LPF and I/V section.

This LME49720 is on the headphone amplifier section.

This LME49600 also on the headphone amplifier section, as output buffer, I believe.

The ‘core’ of the machine: ADI ADSP-21261. This super-power processor should be enough to handle complex computation needed by Essence One.

This cFeon is something like EEPROM to store some firmware or specific instruction for machine.

Finally, the DAC, BB PCM1795.

S/PDIF receiver. Also the top notch AKM AK4113VF.

There should be 4 crystals inside, one is 24.576 MHz as shown below for S/PDIF. While the other three are 12 MHz (for USB), 45.1584 MHz (for 44.1KHz sample rate), and 49.152 MHz (For 48KHz sample rate)

In overall, I can say that this is a damned serious machine. Although the best ’boutique’ parts that I could see is WIMA capacitor, but I see a lot of opportunities for tweaking. Just wait… 😉