ASUS launches its first USB DAC, the Xonar Essence One

By Kul Bhushan | Published on 26 Aug 2011
ASUS launches its first USB DAC, the Xonar Essence One

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With most modern audio signals stored in digital format, ASUS has launched its first USB digital-to-analogue converter (DAC), the Xonar Essence One. The USB DAC comes with 8x symmetrical upsampling technology and features a 120dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), audiophile-class headphone AMP and an eleven operational amplifier (op-amp) design for distinct tonal customisation.

While common upsampling USB DACs indistinguishably transfer various audio sources to 192kHz bit rate, the Xonar Essence One upsamples 44.1/88.2/176.4kHz input to 352.8kHz and 48/96/192kHz input to 384kHz symmetrically (Note: 44.1*8=352.8kHz; 48*8=384kHz). As a result, data volume is also increased by upsampling the bit rate to 32bit, corresponding to the original content and faithfully preserving the details of the user’s music.

The average SNR, of other USB DACs is about 110dB, but with an extremely high 120dB SNR, the Xonar Essence One provides audiophiles with clearer sounds, enabling minute sound details to be heard while significantly reducing noise levels. A dedicated power supply ensures that clean power is delivered so the sharpest sound is heard, with improved immunity to noise and disturbance from the AC line.


The Xonar Essence One features a fully swappable op-amp design, unprecedented for a high-end USB DAC. An op-amp is the key part in a DAC that amplifies the analogue signal and affects tonal characteristics, such as darkness or brightness of sound or the overall sound image. The Xonar Essence One allows the user to swap every op-amp that is on board, for a truly customizable sound.

The Xonar Essence One combines three different functions:

1. USB DAC (Digital-to-Analog Convertor)

It upgrades digital music stored on your computer into clear and detailed sounds. It also features XLR and RCA connections for plugging end audio devices.

2. Stand-alone DAC

With an S/PDIF input and input selection, the Xonar Essence One also serves as an independent DAC, which can connect to standard CD/DVD players and provide high quality music without the need for a computer.

3. Headphone amplifier

The Xonar Essence One integrates an audiophile-class headphone AMP circuit which powers up all Hi-Fi headphones, enabling 100% performance even with impedance of sets up to 600ohms. It offers extra dynamics, sound details and low distortion for the absolute best sound quality possible.

ASUS'  Xonar Essence One is priced at Rs. 21,000. Below are specifications of the device:



Audio Performance

Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted):

Output Total Harmonic Distortion Noise at 1kHz@-3dB (A-Weighted) :

Output/Input Full-Scale Voltage
Balanced Output: 4Vrms
Unbalanced Output: 2Vrms
Headphone: 7Vrms
Frequency Response (-3dB, 24-bit/192kHz output ):
<10Hz to 48kHz
Sample Rate and Resolution
Analog Playback Sample Rate and Resolution
44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/176.4K/192KHz @ 16/24bit
Upsampling capability

Up to 352.8kHz (44.1/88.2 /176.4kHz input) or 384kHz (48/96/192kHz input), 32bit

I/O Ports
Output Jack:
Balanced Output (XLR)
Unbalanced Output (Dual RCA)
6.3mm Jack headphone output
Metal with plated gold, black housing
Input Jack:
USB jack
Coaxial / Toslink jack
Metal with plated gold, black housing
USB cable (‘B-A’ type) *1

Power cord *1 (Some versions may have 2 power cords for different countries)

6.3mm to 3.5mm adaptor *1
User manual *1
Audio Precision (AP) test report *1
Installation driver CD *1


Kul Bhushan


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