Headphone heaven with the Xonar Essence One

January 16th, 2012 in .Home Entertainment & HTPC .Products
Mrs Mario
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In my last post I managed to get the Xonar Essence One safely installed on my PC. The entire process took me about ten minutes from start to finish (including hunting for a kettle plug and rebooting the PC) which impressed me no end. In this post I am going to dive into the Xonar’s capabilities head first and see how it sounds with a pair of sexy headphones on.

I must point out right from the start, though, that I am no audiophile so I don’t have the coolest headphones nor do I know the ins and outs of sound as well as they would. I am testing the Xonar Essence One as fresh as can be and learning quite a bit along the way.


Setting the Xonar up is an easy feat and plugging the headphones in is hardly any more complex. I used a pair of audio-technica dynamic stereo headphones to listen to an array of music and movies I have loaded up onto my PC. The headphones did need an adaptor to fit the socket on the front of the Xonar Essence One though. Fortunately I had one lying around.

The first thing I listened to was a 1001 Running Songs that were transferred from my mobile phone onto the PC. The sound was crisp and the music brilliant. I really enjoyed the quality of the sound compared to the tinny, almost metallic, sound that comes from my speakers. I then compared this to both the built-in PC sound (urgh) and the speakers. In both cases, the Xonar Essence One excelled.

My next step was to see how well the Xonar Essence One fared with my home movies, shot on my Android phone. These are really dodgy quality at best and the sound spits and hisses like an angry cat. Would the upsampling make a difference?

I played around with the various settings on the Xonar Essence One while watching the same home movie on repeat. While using the headphones all the while, of course. I have to say that I was astonished at what a difference they made. They couldn’t cure the shoddy quality, of course, but the sound was driven to a much richer point where I could make out more words and didn’t wince as much as I watched.

I’m starting to understand why audiophiles exist…

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