ASUS Xonar Essence STX II, & EVGA Nu Audio PCIe Sound Card (OEM OP Amps & Burson V6 Vivid's Duals)
Nov 21, 2020 at 6:25 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1

Globali

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Full Disclosure: I received the three Burson V6 Vivid Dual OP Amps used in this review from Carlos @ Burson at no cost to myself, on the proviso that I posted an honest review of the product. I am not affiliated with or Paid by any of the companies or products mentioned within the short review.

I do not claim to be an audio / sound professional, just an average music / HIFI enthusiast.

So here goes!

Equipment / Test Tracks.
  • Audio Equipment
  • Gigabyte AMD Ryzen X570 AORUS Master ATX Motherboard.
  • AMD Ryzen 9 3900X Processor.
  • EVGA SuperNOVA G5 850 Watt Modular Power Supply.
  • MSI AMD Radeon RX 570 8GB Graphics card.
  • Windows 10
  • EVGA Nu Audio PCIe Sound Card
  • ASUS Xonar Essence STX II Sound card.
  • Marantz PM66 KI Amp.
  • Mission 753 speakers.
  • MJ Acoustic Reference 1 Sub
  • Headphones Beyerdynamic Amiron Copper (Using the 3.5mm Cable)
Songs (Amazon HD)
  • Crystal Skies by John Stanford
  • Wandering by Yosi Horikawa
  • YYZ by Rush
  • Thriller by Michael Jackson
  • Empire State of (Mind Part II) Broken Down by Alicia Keys

The Burson V6 Vivid’s arrived well packed in two small plastic boxes.
20200819_163954 (2).jpg


Installing the Burson V6 Vivid’s into the cards.

Note: Whilst you can remove the OEM OP Amps without a Eprom removal tool, it is probably worth the few £’s to make life easier and avoid any costly errors.

I’m not going to go into any great detail on the cards themselves, all the information you will ever require is already available via you favourite search engine.

The ASUS Xonar Essence STX II
20200819_164919 (2).jpg

Out with the OEM Op-Amps, 1 x LM4562 & 2 x JRC 2114D’s and in with the three much larger Burson V6 Vivid Dual’s.
20200831_201730.jpg

The two capacitors behind the right pair of Burson's, have to be pushed over as far as possible to enable the Burson's to fit and even then, they are still touching. This however does not seem to cause any issues, just take care doing it. (Don’t push it to hard you don’t want to snap it them off the board.)

The EMC shield will not fit back on without some modifications, which I plan to do at some point in the future, should I decide to stick with this card.


EVGA Nu Audio PCIe Sound Card
20201114_154250 (2).jpg

The EVGA, only has 2 OP Amps, the OP275 and the specialist AD8056 (The later should be replaced with care, check compatibility before proceeding with other OP Amps)
20200908_081516 (2).jpg

As with the ASUS Card above fitment is tight, the capacitor just behind the left most Burson, requires the same treatment of pushing it over to enable the Burson to seat properly. But as above this does not seem to have any ill effects. (Don’t push it to hard you don’t want to snap it off the board.)

Also the same problem exist with the EMC shielding not fitting back on without some modification. You will also lose the RGB lighting, when the cover is removed.

ASUS Xonar Essence STX II (OEM OP Amps) v EVGA Nu Audio PCIe Sound Card (OEM OP Amps)
In my humble opinion of the sound cards in their OEM form, the ASUS Xonar Essence STX card reveals a greater level of detail from the chosen tracks and has more depth. The EVGA Nu Audio card on the other hand is a little brighter in the Mid and Upper sections by comparison. Both are excellent sound cards in terms of quality of the output, personally I just preferred the sound and space of the ASUS.

The above opinion is based on listening via both the onboard headphone output and the RCA outputs.

Adding the Burson’s

Note: The Burson’s have been thoroughly burned in prior to the testing taking place.

ASUS Xonar Essence STX II + (3 X Burson V6 Vivid Duals)
Adding the triple Burson’s to the ASUS STX, has made some worthwhile improvements, the Burson’s certainly sharpened it up.
Mid-range: More clarity and more detail than before
Bass: The bass is tighter and more controlled.
Treble: The treble has a little more sparkle, without being overbearing.
Sound stage: The sound stage is now larger with more depth and a much more spacious sound, with clearer separation.

EVGA Nu Audio + (2 X Burson V6 Vivid Duals)

Again, adding the two Burson’s to the EVGA NU Audio card has certainly made improvements in my opinion, perhaps even greater than the Improvements in the ASUS card.
Mid-range: The sound is now fuller and more detailed than before.
Bass: The bass is deeper with more control.
Treble: The treble has a little more sparkle and detailed, without being too bright.
Sound stage: The sound stage has improved with more depth and a much more spacious sound, with clearer separation.

Conclusion:
The Burson’s improved the sound of both cards in all areas, treble, mids, bass, detail, and soundstage, when listening with either headphones or speakers. Would I spend my own money on them in future projects, yes I would!
However if you do spend the £ and the sound is not to your liking then just remove them and sell them on, I venture you will get a large portion of your outlay back, so the risk may not be as big as it appears.

Finally
Which card do I prefer with the Burson’s fitted, I have not made my mind up yet, sorry, but I definitely won’t be going back to the OEM Op Amps.
I wonder if modifying and refitting the EMC shield / cover will make any noticeable improvements?
 

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