Asus Essence One Headphone Amp/DAC (CeBIT 2011) - Page 8
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- 162 Posts. Joined 10/2008
- Location: Fremont, CA
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Humm, it's gonna cost a fortune to roll opamps in this thing...22 opamps, 11 browndogs, a whole afternoon of soldering. Talk about dedication.
Nice to see that they use a USB chipset neither us or google have ever heard of, but apparently C-Media is owned by Asus so that'd explain a thing or two. We can only hope that it abides by the USB Class 1.0/2.0 standard, coz C-Media are not the sharpest knives in the drawer when it comes to WDM drivers.
For well-paying customers like Asus, C-Media has always been happy to build special chips (that is, to paint custom labels on top of existing chips).
This particular chip (USB 2.0 input, stereo I²S output) looks exactly like a CM6610.
All their USB 1.x chips are class compliant, and cannot be changed.
The high-speed chips (CM6610/20) are described as being class compliant, but have the embedded CPU and flash necessary to implement a custom firmware. Anyway, I doubt that Asus would bother to change the USB interface's firmware.
For me, the most interesting thing is the Shark DSP (but doing nothing but oversampling, it's probably half bored, the poor thing).
With support for 44.1, 48, and 96 kHz, all the necessary clocks and dividers are there. In the worst case, Asus would have to extend the firmware.
Sorry, Sharc DSP.
This is just what the ADSP-21xxx family is called by Analog.
I don't think adding 88.2 would be trivial, considering C-Media being as careless as can get.
I guess it's got so many opamps because there are 2 discrete DAC chips in mono, so it takes 2 dual opamps for each DAC +/- polarities, 1 dual opamp buffer to amplify them to line level, 2 dual opamps for the balanced XLR output, 1 dual opamp for the unbalanced RCA output, so that's already 9 dual opamps just for the DAC output, then 2 more for the HP out I would guess. Still, they're all 5532 and 4562 which will provide killer measurements...but if you wanna use audiophile parts like OPA827/AD797B/LT1028/ADA4627-1B, it will cost a lot of money and time soldering them. It'd better sound eye popping stock already to warrant all these expenses.
You can't take them away that 1) they used a good PSU 2) all opamps are swappable 3) that's an original design to say the least. I guess Asus aren't crazy, if they've thought it'd be worth it to use that many opamps we'd better hear it before judging. Luckily it doesn't require proprietary drivers, so that's good =)
Edited by leeperry - 8/26/11 at 10:08am
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Well, not really. I use an Essence ST + H6 in my HTPC build...
But sometimes I want to switch to digital-out for my AVR/Separates.
If this had digital-out & multi-ch analog-out, I'd mount it inside my HTPC.*
T'would be a nice replacement for my Essence ST + H6, no more PCI slots used.
I hope they release a revised Essence ST/X that integrates a H6, & maybe a multi-ch amp.
The latter's not a big deal, as I generally prefer using separate amp/s.
*case is a Silverstone CW02B
Anyone reckon Asus will release a revised ST/X soon with the above characteristics?
I'd prefer PCIe-based, but I don't care if it becomes external/USB-based.
Edited by jalyst - 8/28/11 at 1:15am