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Review and Measurements of Asus STX II PCI Sound Card

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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #121
Well, they should have made it 24 bit asio by default, but it seems like kind of a freak occurrence that he wasn't able to set it to 24 bit in his software. You only need to set it once in any asio software, and then it's a global setting that sticks. There's a portable exe that does nothing but opens the asio panel, and you could just use that . http://www.djdecks.be/asioconfig.exe
This did work although not at first. After it opened the ASIO panel I was indeed able to set it to 24 bit. But upon access AP software was complaining. I did a reset in there and it started to work:

1540489711904.png
 
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Thread Starter #122
Must be system specific then. Something running on your system is actually arresting the ASIO functionality.
Nothing that is changeable should be grayed out. To the extent that you can change it still, there clearly is a bug there. So I would say the arrow points to their code than anything on my system which has worked for tons of other devices.
 
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Thread Starter #123
At the very least, there needs to be a disclaimer about how a 24 bit mode was later discovered but couldn't be tested due to time constraints, performance results not final.
I added a note to this effect to the review:

1540489987357.png
 

Sythrix

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Nothing that is changeable should be grayed out. To the extent that you can change it still, there clearly is a bug there. So I would say the arrow points to their code than anything on my system which has worked for tons of other devices.
Well with Windows, and how applications handle priority, I'm thinking it's just another application that you have taking priority, which won't allow you to access it from ASUS.

Their software is certainly a buggy, nasty mess though, and it's not going to get better because they don't have an interest in this card anymore.
 

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I think when I get some time, I'll write an email to ASUS, showing them this review and the state of their software/card.

Probably won't do anything, but never hurts to try.
 

mindbomb

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@amirm

I know I'm asking for a lot of time to be put into this niche hardware review, but would it be possible to do the other 4 tests with 24 bit asio (dynamic range, linearity, imd vs level, jitter)? I think there may be substantial differences in some of the tests.
 

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Probably won't do anything,
Yep, it probably won't. I was a big fan of Asus in the past (and also owned a mk1 Essence STX) I stopped to buy their products recently, once my GTX1080 STRIX died after few months. Their customer service was simply absent as they completely denied the issue... I don't think they even care about these measurements.
 
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@amirm

Hi! First time poster, I am very excited to find this website. You are doing a thing that I was literally talking to somebody about wanting to do on Friday!

I wound up in an internet argument (not on an audio site for a change) in which somebody insisted that you were biased against this card. Among other things, he claimed that you didn't test the card properly because it is advertised heavily for use with headphones and you didn't test the headphone output. I explained that a 10 ohm output impedance is unacceptable and that a vast majority of headphones are not the 80 ohm cans that the rule of thumb recommends, but he was having none of it.

I was wondering if you could go into a little bit of detail about why you chose not to test the headphone output at all. Was it merely that the 10 ohm impedance makes it not fit for purpose and therefore not worth investigating, or does that make it significantly more difficult to test?

Thanks!
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #129
@amirm

Hi! First time poster, I am very excited to find this website. You are doing a thing that I was literally talking to somebody about wanting to do on Friday!

I wound up in an internet argument (not on an audio site for a change) in which somebody insisted that you were biased against this card. Among other things, he claimed that you didn't test the card properly because it is advertised heavily for use with headphones and you didn't test the headphone output. I explained that a 10 ohm output impedance is unacceptable and that a vast majority of headphones are not the 80 ohm cans that the rule of thumb recommends, but he was having none of it.
Welcome to the forum. As to your friend's argument, the headphone output follows the DAC. It cannot improve that subsystem's performance -- it can only make it worse. As measured, my motherboard audio had better performance there than the Asus.

I have nothing against this unit. I shorten my testing regardless of brand if early data is not very good. And such was the case here.
 
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Welcome to the forum. As to your friend's argument, the headphone output follows the DAC. It cannot improve that subsystem's performance -- it can only make it worse. As measured, my motherboard audio had better performance there than the Asus.

I have nothing against this unit. I shorten my testing regardless of brand if early data is not very good. And such was the case here.
I got hung up on the impedance thing, that (in retrospect obvious line of reasoning did not occur to me). You know how these things are, when you get into arguments sometimes the trees get in front of the forest.

Thanks!
 

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@amirm,

I just remember, back in 2012, French blogger Nicolas Bécuwe reviewed the Essence STX Mk1. What he described was an exceptional performance. He also said many times in the review that the performance of the Essence STX would be widely (computer) PSU dependent.

If I may ask your thoughts about these measurements: (made with RMAA Pro, but no idea about the hardware used)

http://www.hdfever.fr/2012/02/24/test-asus-xonar-essence-stx/

(Measurements start from "Analyse du circuit analogique", graphs are in English :))
 

Sythrix

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He also said many times in the review that the performance of the Essence STX would be widely (computer) PSU dependent
While I personally believe this and other computer noise would be huge factors, it is not fair to the testing to require a certain PSU or environment in which the card will operate.

It's ASUS's responsibility to ensure the card operates at the stated parameters, regardless of the system it is placed in.

Next time I am not buying an add-in sound card, but rather a standalone where performance can be verified despite environment.
 

bennetng

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The 24-bit THD+N RMAA value (-101.1dB) is actually same as the AP measurements. Other tests are limited by the 16-bit driver issue rather than interference. For example, if you generate a 16/44 test file in RMAA and measure that file, dynamic range will only be -97.8dB.

Here's another measurement I just googled:
https://audiophilesoft.ru/articles/rmaa_reports/stx.html

The differences are not that big, right? Stereophile also measured 114dB DR.
https://www.stereophile.com/content/asus-xonar-essence-ststx-soundcards-measurements

It is really not that hard to get 110dB+ DR for internal soundcards, my X-Fi can do that as well. If I unplug my GPU card and use the onboard Intel GPU I can get 119dB DR. However, using discrete GPU or not I can only get about -95dB THD+N from this card.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/fat-sounds-best.3509/post-85525
 

bennetng

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Next time I am not buying an add-in sound card, but rather a standalone where performance can be verified despite environment.
External doesn't automatically mean immune to interference either. Archimago's external Asus DAC got severe noise from the USB connection when running stress tests. He also needed to move his EMU0404 USB ADC 3 feet away from the PC to avoid interference when running tests.
https://archimago.blogspot.com/2013/02/measurement-asus-xonar-essence-one.html

JDS Labs also has a recommendation like this in their manuals:
https://www.jdslabs.com/instructional-guides/
To ensure an optimal noise floor, always position audio equipment as far away as possible from wireless devices.
Archimago tested an internal Lynx soundcard with only minor increase of noise when running stress tests.
https://archimago.blogspot.com/2017/04/retro-measure-2002-lynx-l22-pci-audio.html

If you look at the updated 24-bit dashboard of your card, almost all spikes are spaced at 1kHz and therefore harmonics, other spurs are lower than -140dB. There is no spur below 1kHz as well. That means there is no sign of EMI and power supply related pollution, at least up to 20kHz.
 

mindbomb

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The performance problems in this review mainly stem from a software issue, the apparent lack of 24 bit support. I have used other asus cards and didn't have an issue setting them to 24 bit, but I haven't used the stx II specifically, so it's either a bug specific to that series or we never really got to the bottom of how this card performs.
 

Sythrix

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The performance problems in this review mainly stem from a software issue, the apparent lack of 24 bit support. I have used other asus cards and didn't have an issue setting them to 24 bit, but I haven't used the stx II specifically, so it's either a bug specific to that series or we never really got to the bottom of how this card performs.
It must be system specific. I finally reinstalled the card today and setting it to 24-bit was seamless, without any additional software. Asus hasn't updated the drivers in ~3 years, so there's bound to be some incompatibilities and conflicts that pop up.

However, I honestly can't tell a difference between it and my motherboard audio I was using (also Asus, with lofty claims).
 

chenxuwen

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Such a result is very unexpected.

There are multiple RMAA results available for the card and they are usually 117db or something... Like this one: http://borisgermanov.blogspot.com/2014/04/asus-xonar-essence-stx-rmaa-tests.html

Of course, those result are not AP2 results and ASUS insist that one must use the card's own loop for the RMAA test. (By the way, same as Creative)

Is there any chance that the card detects a RMAA loop and cheat when being tested?
 
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Such a result is very unexpected.

There are multiple RMAA results available for the card and they are usually 117db or something... Like this one: http://borisgermanov.blogspot.com/2014/04/asus-xonar-essence-stx-rmaa-tests.html

Of course, those result are not AP2 results and ASUS insist that one must use the card's own loop for the RMAA test. (By the way, same as Creative)

Is there any chance that the card detects a RMAA loop and cheat when being tested?
it can't cheat, RMAA analyzes the audio stream and in no way a card can cheat, even if it can detects somehow the loop. It can't produce better results when under testing, as the stream is analyzed by a third-party software.
 

chenxuwen

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it can't cheat, RMAA analyzes the audio stream and in no way a card can cheat, even if it can detects somehow the loop. It can't produce better results when under testing, as the stream is analyzed by a third-party software.
Then it puzzles me why other's RMAA result is so different from the AP test here.
Is there a reason you can think of? AP is the standard while RMAA usually gives a result worse than actual.
 
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Then it puzzles me why other's RMAA result is so different from the AP test here.
Is there a reason you can think of? AP is the standard while RMAA usually gives a result worse than actual.
i really can't explain, the only two things that comes to my mind is the different test system that may have influenced the measurements (especially PSU, gpu and mainboard) and a faulty card.
Maybe @amirm can explain.
 
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