ASUS Xonar Essence STU USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier Launched

Subject: General Tech | October 23, 2013 - 06:44 PM |
Tagged: Xonar Essence STU USB, xonar, op-amps, headphone amplifier, DAC, audio, asus

Fremont, CA (October 22nd, 2013) - ASUS today announced the Xonar Essence STU USB external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and headphone amplifier, based on the acclaimed design and quality of Xonar Essence ST/STX internal sound cards and going beyond their already high standards. Offering audiophile-grade performance, Xonar Essence STU delivers USB connectivity and accessible external controls.

It offers clear sound with a 120dB signal to noise ratio (SNR), strong 600ohm headphone amplifier, asynchronous USB audio and swappable Op-Amps for DIY sound modification. Precision clock tuning technology further enhances audio fidelity, making Xonar Essence STU a great choice for discerning music lovers who need a quality DAC and headphone amplifier to drive the full capabilities of high-end headphones.

"We received considerable positive feedback from customers regarding the excellent sound quality of Xonar Essence ST/STX sound cards, which led us to develop Xonar Essence STU as a USB device that offers even more premium audio quality plus easy controls and connectivity to notebooks. This is another example of ASUS listening to the community and acting on consumer demand”, said Ives Chiu, Audiovisual Product Manager at the ASUS Multimedia Business Unit.

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High quality precision audio
Xonar Essence STU delivers clean, clear, and low distortion sound with 120dB SNR. It achieves this thanks to exacting hardware design, which includes balanced (or mirrored) PCB layout for accurate reproduction of all sound sources and minimal component crosstalk, or interference.

ASUS uses audio industry-leading components such as the Texas Instruments PCM1792A DAC and TPA6120A2 headphone amplifier, which supports up to 600ohm impedance. Also included are audiophile-approved WIMA FKP2 and Nichicon Finegold capacitors for balanced and rich sound.

To satisfy the most demanding users, Xonar Essence STU features precision clock tuning technology and asynchronous audio transfer. Both ensure accurate and jitter-free sound fidelity, allowing customers to enjoy music in its purest form. Bit-perfect playback is aided by support for ASIO audio drivers.

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Complete ease of use
As an external device, Xonar Essence STU offers readily-accessible controls with no need to go into software menus. Customers can switch between low and high gain settings, accommodating better listening experiences across a wide range of headphones, from in-ear headsets (typically 16ohm-32ohm) to premium full-size headphones (up to 600ohm). This is especially useful with the increasing popularity of mobile devices, which normally ship with low impedance/high sensitivity headsets.

Dual volume controls help users change speaker and headphone sound levels simultaneously, similar to features offered by dedicated audio decks. The USB interface means connectivity with USB-compliant devices, while I/O ports include stereo RCA out, a 6.3mm headphone jack, two digital inputs, and auxiliary in.

Xonar Essence STU can be placed horizontally and vertically with a bundled stand, giving customers more space-saving flexibility for different locations and situations.

Tonal tuning and advanced controls
Texas Instruments NS-LME49720 and NS-LM4562NA Op-Amps (or operational amplifiers) deliver acoustics fine-tuned by audio engineers to support livelier and more detailed spacious sound.

Xonar Essence STU has room for three swappable Op-Amps, which can be replaced by users to adjust tonal performance based on personal taste. This open-ended and customizable design is inherited from previous Xonar Essence audio products, and remains true to the series’ commitment to accommodating as many customer preferences as possible.

Additional advanced features are a jumper switch that re-routes sound via Xonar Essence STU, allowing it to be used as a pre-amplifier in conjunction with a dedicated power amplifier. Customers can opt to adjust master volume directly on the power amplifier without having to reach Xonar Essence STU controls. Also, a selectable DC servo headphone output can be activated to minimize pop noise which may occur when powering on.

AVAILABILITY & PRICING
The ASUS Xonar Essence STU will be available from late October worldwide with an MSRP of US$399.

Source: ASUS

Ozone's 7HX can virtually surround your ears

Subject: General Tech | September 30, 2013 - 03:00 PM |
Tagged: audio, gaming headset, ozone, rage 7Hx 7.1, surround sound

The Ozone Rage 7HX has two 40mm drivers with a frequency response range of  20 to 20kHz and offers virtual 7.1 surround as opposed to covering your head in multiple speakers.  That certainly helps with the weight but some purists are not satisfied with virtual surround on headsets while many gamers just want to hear someone sneaking up behind them.  Funky Kit did like the virtual surround when gaming but also took advantage of the ability to turn off the virtual surround when listening to music or videos.  Check out their review here.

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"First I want to thank Ozone Gaming Gear for sending me this awesome Rage 7Hx 7.1 Surround headset. Its a 7.1 surround headset with a volume control module, it has a detachable microphone what i find very nice, sometimes the mic is just sitting in your way if you are not talking to anyone. And like the title said this is the White version of the Rage 7HX, there is also a Black one available."

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Source: Funky Kit

Play wireless Blues on this blue bluetooth speaker from Antec

Subject: General Tech | September 9, 2013 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: wireless audio, speaker, bluetooth, audio, antec, AMP SP1

One of the best features about the Antec AMP SP1 Bluetooth speaker is that it recharges via USB which means you can skip the power cord and not have to buy batteries all the time, though you will have to remember to charge it.  It has a 3.5mm jack for direct connection as well but it is easily paired with any Bluetooth capable device with an easily accessible button on the top, between the volume control.  The LED on the side not only indicates successful pairing but also gives you an idea of the status of the battery.  Drop by Legit Reviews to get an idea how it sounds.

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"Antec has been a popular brand for high-performance computer components and accessories for the PC upgrade and do-it-yourself (DIY) markets since 1986. Times are certainly changing in the PC industry and many companies are evolving in order to stay relevant. Antec noticed that the market was changing and in 2012 they introduced a new global electronics division called Antec Mobile Products or A.M.P with the goal of putting state of the art mobile and audio technology into the hands of every user. AMP has introduced a number of headsets, USB power banks and even a speaker. Today, we’ll be looking at the AMP SP1 Bluetooth Speaker, which is the companies first and only speaker solution."

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Audio Corner

Roccat Launches New Kave XTD 5.1 Digital Gaming Headset

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2013 - 12:50 AM |
Tagged: headset, gaming, kave xtd, roccat, audio, surround sound, 5.1 headset

German manufacturer Roccat recently took the wraps off of the Kave XTD 5.1 Digital gaming headset at Gamescom last week. The new headset is a 25% lighter update to the original Kave 5.1 and has a tweaked headband and mic. The new Kave XTD 5.1 Digital includes 5.1 over-the-ear style headphones, a removable microphone, and a desktop control pod with various audio controls.

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The Kave XTD 5.1 Digital has three drivers per ear that are placed at a 12-degree angle and reportedly provide realistic surround sound. The removable microphone has been reworked to provide better sound quality, according to the Roccat press release.

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In addition to the headset itself, the Kave 5.1 Digital comes with a control pod with built-in sound card. The desktop remote has a volume dial, mic mute, phone call answer, speaker, and movie mode buttons. Four 3.5mm audio ports on the control pod allow users to connect and control surround sound speakers. Users can then switch between audio going to speakers or the headset by hitting a button on the desktop remote. Further, it has a technology called Smart Link that allows users to pair the pod with a smartphone over bluetooth in order to answer phone calls without removing the headset.

In all it looks like an interesting product, though I would wait for reviews before putting down cash for a 5.1 headset. The Roccat Kave XTD 5.1 Digital will be available in november for $169.99.

Source: Roccat

Stream audio to your old iPod dock from new iPhones and Androids

Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2013 - 04:49 PM |
Tagged: airplay, audio, Dolry HiFi Stone S, C4 Electronics, wireless audio

If the change from the 30 pin connector to the Lightning connector has made your high end audio with an iThang dock obsolete then this review from Legion Hardware might make your day.  The tiny little Dolry HiFi Stone S will plug into that 30 pin dock and accept either AirPlay or DLNA streaming over WiFi which will allow both iThangs and Android devices to stream music to the stereo.  Since it uses WiFi and not Bluetooth you get a longer range and much better sound as you can stream up to 150Mbps instead of Bluetooth's paltry 2.1Mbps.  It does cost about $90, but that is still a lot cheaper than a new stereo.

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"So, here we have an exceptional little piece of hardware that will both impress and come in handy in many situations. Even down to chucking it into your pocket when heading off to a weekend BBQ to impress the in-laws while taking over their sound system! Less impressive however is the price tag – at a substantial $89 it is a little hard to swallow. In saying that, there is certainly a great market out there and those who will be willing to pay for it gladly, either to save selling off that expensive Bose sound system, or just to add it to a couple of average sound systems you have lying around the house."

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ThermalTake eSports goes mobile

Subject: General Tech | August 6, 2013 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: audio, tt esports, thermaltake, headset

The new TTesports Cronos headphones are a little more flexible than previous members of the Esports lineup as they will work with mobile devices in addition to your PC.  They still use 40mm neodymium drivers and have a decent frequency response of 20HZ to 20KHZ and they have included a foldable microphone in the design for you to game or make calls with.  Red & Blackness mods liked the padding and found wearing the headset comfortable over long periods of time which is even more important for mobile usage than gaming.  Check out their full review to see you prefer these to the Beats headphones you see everyday.

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"Today we take a look at some cool looking headphones that can be used with both a computer and with mobile devices such as cellphones, tablets, etc. They come from TTesports and they are called “Cronos”. Its obvious to me that a good amount of effort was put into making them as light weight as possible for mobile users. So lets take a closer look!"

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Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: Quakecon

The Densest 2.5 Hours Imaginable

John Carmack again kicked off this year's Quakecon with an extended technical discussion about nearly every topic bouncing around his head.  These speeches are somewhat legendary for the depth of discussion on what are often esoteric topics, but they typically expose some very important sea changes in the industry, both in terms of hardware and software.  John was a bit more organized and succinct this year by keeping things in check with some 300 lines of discussion that he thought would be interesting for us.
 
Next Generation Consoles
 
John cut to the chase and started off the discussion about the upcoming generation of consoles.  John was both happy and sad that we are moving to a new generation of products.  He feels that they really have a good handle on the optimizations of the previous generation of consoles to really extract every ounce of performance and create some interesting content.  The advantages of a new generation of consoles are very obvious, and that is particularly exciting for John.
 
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The two major consoles are very, very similar.  There are of course differences between the two, but the basis for the two are very much the same.  As we well know, the two consoles feature APUs designed by AMD and share a lot of similarities.  The Sony hardware is a bit more robust and has more memory bandwidth, but when all is said and done, the similarities outweigh the differences by a large margin.  John mentioned that this was very good for AMD, as they are still in second place in terms of performance from current architectures as compared to Intel and their world class process technology.
 
Some years back there was a thought that Intel would in fact take over the next generation of consoles.  Larrabee was an interesting architecture in that it melded x86 CPUs with robust vector units in a high speed fabric on a chip.  With their prowess in process technology, this seemed a logical move for the console makers.  Time has passed, and Intel did not execute on Larrabee as many had expected.  While the technology has been implemented in the current Xeon Phi product, it has never hit the consumer world.
 

CoolerMaster joins the new craze, in ear gaming headphones

Subject: General Tech | July 23, 2013 - 06:41 PM |
Tagged: audio, coolermaster, CMStorm Pitch

It seems that over the past month a new type of headphone has hit the market, an in-ear style gaming headset with an inline microphone.  While this might not make sense to many readers who game on a full system at home for those of you who game on laptops or at LAN parties might really appreciate the small size of these headphones.  The CMStorm Pitch do suffer from the same problem all inline mics share, the dreaded rub against the shirt interference and the quality of sound produced by the small drivers is not the highest quality.  On the other hand R&B Mods were impressed by the bass produced and liked the way the in-ear style blocks any outside noise from interfereing with your gaming.

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"Today we take a look at some earphones from gaming the manufacturer Cmstorm. They sent us their latest Pitch earphones that at least look very cool, lets find out how well they perform."

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Audio Corner

Turtle Beach goes all out on the Ear Force XP Seven Tournament Grade Gaming Headset

Subject: General Tech | July 2, 2013 - 03:39 PM |
Tagged: audio, gaming headset, turtle beach, Ear Force XP Seven

Turtle Beach's Ear Force XP Seven Tournament Grade Gaming Headset will function with your PC through USB and also comes with an adapter to allow use on both consoles and your TV.  It also comes with an Audio Control Unit that is rather impressive looking and offers an impressive amount of control over the headset.  Along with mute and main volume controls you can actually control the volume level of the individual surround speakers, toggle between a variety of surround sound types and also functions as an equalizer with several presets along with manual changes.  If you are in the market for high end surround sound headphones then you should check out the full review at eTeknix.

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"I feel a little privileged if I'm honest, this is our first Turtle Beach review here at eTeknix and while I'm personally more than familiar with the products Turtle Beach produce, having used a few of them myself in the past, not to mention selling them when I used to work in retail, I was stunned when I realised I was getting to review their brand new MLG grade gaming headset. Premium grade headsets are few and far between in the gaming world, each year you might see a small handful being released, more often than not they are revisions to a current model."

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Source: eTeknix

Share your personal audio device with UE Boom from Logitech

Subject: General Tech | June 14, 2013 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: audio, speakers, logitech, UE Boom

Ignoring the unfortunate PR image accompanying the product, a wireless speaker which can connect to your MP3 player allows a group of people to listen to music in a much more social way than earbuds.  Standing 7.25" tall with a 3" diameter the speaker is big enough that you won't lose it but small enough to be easily portable.  According to the review from TechGage it is also large enough to provide quality sound, even at high volume.  The next time you are out and want to share your music you won't need to blast your car stereo as it seems this device will handle the duty commendably; pity it will sell for $200.

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"The UE Boom from Logitech boasts an impressively hip advertising campaign and a promise to make music more "social" again. But past all of the buzzwords and pretty packaging, is this cylindrical speaker worth all of the hype? We take a close look... and can't help but be blown away."

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Source: Techgage