by Anton Shilov
10/16/2013 | 11:50 PM
Asustek Computer has announced Essence III, a USB digital-to-analog (DAC) converter with a fully balanced design and the latest direct stream digital (DSD) playback designed for those who demand the purest audio quality and listening flexibility. With brilliant input and output flexibility and fine control, Essence III is an audiophile’s delight.
“Essence III is more than the flagship product of our audio range. It is a representation of how dedicated and how serious we are in the pursuit of high-quality audio. We have crafted Essence III to be just as satisfying to use as it is to hear,” said Ives Chiu, product manager of Asus multimedia business department.
High-precision clocks and asynchronous USB virtually eliminate jitter, while separate printed-circuit boards for digital, analog and power ensure that the Essence III’s audio delivery is crystal-clear and free of crosstalk. Remote-controlled volume driven by stepped attenuators allow output levels to be set with great precision – even from the far side of the listening room.
Essence III has dedicated AD1955 DACs for each stereo channel and separate circuitry for analog and digital audio signals, and power. This design and choice of high-end components creates a perfect balance that bolsters Essence III’s top-notch audio clarity. Premium ceramic AD 827SQ and Japanese-made MUSES 02 operational amplifiers (op-amps) combine to enable Essence III to deliver profoundly rich sound for all types of music – from classical to rock.
Essence III has native support for both DSD64 and DSD128 encoding rates, allowing audiophiles to indulge in digital listening at the highest possible quality levels.
Pure-gold temperature-compensated crystal oscillators (TCCO/TCXO) and asynchronous USB provide exceptionally precise timing, enabling Essence III to deliver audio output with fantastic dynamics and ultra-low jitter for incredible fidelity.
Essence III is powered by a high-quality toroidal transformer that provides clean and consistent power and keeps noise contamination to a minimum. ASUS engineers also fitted the transformer with a unique strip of silicon steel to prevent energy loss by hysteresis, further supporting a smooth supply of power.
As well, Essence III’s power supply delivers independent power sources to the left and right channels — minimizing crosstalk interference. It also employs a low-dropout (LDO) regulator that ensures stable power and German-made WIMA FKP 2 capacitors to reduce ripples.
Essence III’s built-in amplifier is capable of driving 600ohm headphones with a single 6.3mm jack connection or a balanced set that uses two mini-XLR connectors for the best possible signal clarity and minimal interference – perfect for those who demand the finest headphone control. Inputs can be made digitally via USB, Toslink, AES/EBU or coaxial cables, or via stereo auxiliary, while for line outputs stereo RCA (phono) and balanced XLR outputs are available.
For extremely precise control, Essence III includes a set of stepped attenuators that works for headphones and line outputs. The relay-based construction eliminates the distortion associated with traditional volume controls, while the line output can be controlled remotely — a very rare ability in DACs with stepped attenuators. A remote control is included and can be used to set both volume and input/output levels, allowing fine control from anywhere.
Designers from the Essence team spent considerable time perfecting Essence III’s physical design. The front panel features power and input-selector buttons for quick control and device selection, minimalist indicator LEDs that provide clear, uncluttered input information.
The elegant case can be easily stacked with existing Hi-Fi equipment, while the surface is treated with a special coating that simply brushes off fingerprints – so Essence III stays looking great.