ASUS Xonar Xense 7.1 Premium Gaming Audio Set Review
Date: November 29, 2010
Product Name: ASUS Xonar Xense 7.1
Warranty: 3 yr.
When it comes to the demanding high end PC audio niche, manufacturer’s have to bring their A game if they want to impress let alone succeed. This niche is made up of extremely finicky, highly demanding consumers who know exactly what they want in terms of quality and customizability and are willing to pay boatloads of money to get just that.
A few years ago ASUS wasn’t known as one of the go-to sources for high end PC audio equipment but as they expanded into new fields, this is one area where they focused some serious efforts. The highly regarded Xonar cards we some of the first to be acknowledged as truly competitive audio products and the rave reviews started flowing in. What followed could only be considered a renaissance for ASUS’ audio division as they released s full lineup of sound cards.
ASUS has now released an all-in-one solution called the Xonar Xense. Geared towards the demands of gamers, the Xense not only includes all the usual suspects like a built in headphone amp and replaceable op-amps but also includes a pair of headphones. Asus has teamed up with Sennheiser to provide their PC350 gaming-grade headset for which the Xense has supposedly been specifically tuned for. This should deliver a perfect sound stage when compared to other headphone-oriented sound cards available on the market. Pricing for the Xonar Xense “Audio Set” is around the $260 mark which isn’t all that bad when you consider the headphones alone will easily set one back $100.
Unlike past attempts which were either aimed at the audiophile market (eXonar Essence ST or STX cards) or more towards the high end gaming market (e.g. Xonar D line) this card is aimed at BOTH markets. As such, while it has the performance specifications to compete against both the Xonar ST/STX line and the D2/D2X, so it is not a replacement for either. Rather, it is a third option which is more focused upon providing a one-stop-shop for consumers who want guaranteed performance without having to mix and match components that may not work all that well together. This of course raises the question: is this $260 combination a great way for the beginner to go?