We found the Essence One to have excellent overall sound quality. The unit has a more laid back, mature type of sound quality usually presented from more well established DAC builders and missed by those new to this area. In comparison a source such as the STX is more upfront and in your face whereas the E1 is a bit mellower and laidback.
The fully discrete opamp design is generally not seen at this price point and people have various attitudes on this feature. Personally, we find it an excellent idea, allowing people to tune the sound signature more to their personal taste or gear.
We didn't really find many cons when reviewing this product, we would have preferred a longer USB cable as it is really quite short but perhaps ASUS figured its intended market generally uses aftermarket cables. Negative point none the less- The second is the price point as this is a significant investment for many people but prices are always higher on new items and they tend to settle after awhile. A point to consider on the price though is Asus has managed to offer the audio community boutique audio quality and components at a mass production price point. A remote control might have been nice for such a high end unit but such options would invariably drive up the price point further. Until now, the boutique and mass production products have been quite separate but it seems the Essence One has blurred that line.
The torodial power transformer was a welcome touch also offering cleaner power over more traditional transformer designs. We will note that while the external DAC market is full of great product the landscape surround the price point of the Essence one is rather sparse. There are many products over and below this price point but sitting at this mark is only few.
Based on what we have heard and the overall internal design of the Essence One we will say that ASUS has done their homework when they went to the drawing board for this unit and they hit the proverbial nail on head. This product is aimed at a very specific market so if you are part of this intended market, we suggest you do your best to audition the Essence 1 with your favorite headphones and be the judge as to if this product is right for you. Once you hear that warm, detailed, refined sound signature and immersive soundstage you want to add this unit to your system.
ASUS worked some design magic packing in a lot of audio muscle into this new product and when we consider this is their first offering to the external audio market place, needless to say we are quite impressed with the build sound quality and vast array of features.
We would say the Essence One is one of the best audio sources we have tested in the Guru3D Audio Lab to date. We easily give the Essence One our Top Pick Award and suggest you find one and have a listen for yourself. Until next time, this is Robscix rocking on in the G-3D Audio Lab with the Essence One External DAC.
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ASUS Essence One review 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?