ASUS Essence One review -
Movies - Gaming - Music
For movie testing, the Essence one was used on its own and with the Xonar DX connected by S/Pdif to the Essence one for Dolby Headphone for surround sound modeling. We basically look for issues produced from playing movies in both surround sound and normal stereo modes.
Saving Private Ryan, those of you that follow my reviews know I tend to use this DVD for testing as the sound track is amazing, multi layered and multi-directional. We tested this and a few other movies using stock stereo sound and with Dolby Headphones Mode 2 for better imaging sourced from the DX.
The stereo soundstage is very impressive, very wide and deep offering excellent imaging and effect localization. Great bass, clarity and detail were all present during the testing of DVDï¿½s. The Essence One can go from dead silence to loud passages quite easily and we noticed no noise or distortion during our movie testing.
Although we would suggest the Essence One is not aimed at the gamer market, we think people may use it for gaming none the less. For gaming, the Essence One was used on itï¿½s own in stereo mode and used with the Xonar DX connected by S/Pdif for Dolby Headphone for surround sound modeling. Battlefield 3 and COD MF 3 arrived just in time for some excellent FPS testing. During our game testing, we generally look for anomalies or issues with the reproduced sound. We found no issues; we enjoyed great gaming sound through the E1.
Although a stereo device the Essence 1 still produced excellent modeled surround sound viaï¿½ Dolby Headphone Mode 2.
For music testing, the Essence one was tested in bit-perfect mode viaï¿½ ASIO through the latest Album Player software and tested in S/Pdif mode for various frequencies.
Band: Puddle of Mudd - Album: re:(discovered)
This is a great sounding album when using Album player and the E1. The Essence One brought through all these classic cover songs in fine style.
One of my favorite sounding tracks was the classic Cocaine, the guitars just sang through the Essence over warm tube sound guitar riffs. The unit allowed the character of the guitars to come through without washing out or glossing over. We were also treated to an impressive sound stage during out audition of this album.
The Essence is true to the music for better or worse, so you guys with the lower res Mp3 collections should toss them for high resolution tracks to hear what this unit is capable of.
If you donï¿½t have any high resolution files on your PC, you can also use the Essence with a CD or DVD player through S/Pdif and run some CD or DVD Concerts through the Essence 1.
We played a few of our favorite concert DVDï¿½s through a mini DVD player connected to the E1 through S/Pdif and we were very impressed with the sound quality. The multiple inputs allow easy integration into an HT system is where we had the E1 for half of the tests.Band: Ozzy Osbourne - Album: Live At Budokan DVD
Note: Essence One connected to DVD player through S/Pdif output in stereo mode.
This is a live concert DVD so it is far from a perfect mixing of these classic tracks which makes for great testing media. This system reproduced the concert DVD in fine detail with no noticeable anomalies or noise. The vocals and instruments all had their own place in the mix with no mushing or blurring of the imaging.
During our testing, the Essence One produced and excellent signature that is very smooth, laidback, with amazing imaging and soundstage. Picturing players, instruments and vocal tracks in the stereo image was very easy as the clarity, spatial presentation and overall audio reproduction was very good.
The ASUS Essence 1 is easily one of the most anticipated products to come along in the PC audio community in quite some time as many seen it as ASUS moving out of the general audio market and taking a shot at entry into the true high end audio marketplace. Can this new product offer excellent sound quality, features demanded by the external audio market and all for a reasonable price?