System requirements for the Essence are as follows:
- One PCI Express 1.0 (or higher) compatible slot for the audio card
- Microsoft Windows Vista (32 or 64bit) / XP (32 or 64bit) / MCE 2005
- Intel Pentium 4 1.4GHz or AMD Athlon 1400 CPU or faster
- 256 MB DRAM system memory
- 60 MB available HDD space for driver installation package
- CD-ROM drive (or DVD-ROM drive) for software installation.
- High-quality headphones, powered analog speakers or a Dolby Digital decoder to enjoy the ultra-high fidelity sounds of the card.
Installing the Essence is simply a matter of locating an empty PCI-Express slot on your motherboard, fixing the card into place and running the drivers in Windows. Both XP and Vista are supported.
I had no problems installing the Essence and everything went smoothly. Attention should be paid here to the quality of the speakers and headphones used with the STX as well as the quality of the audio being played back; they all have a hefty bearing on what performance you will receive from the boards high-end components.
The software interface is very similar to the original Xonar D2 interface which makes the transition a little smoother and it's really not a bad little control center either. I especially like how little the amount of RAM it uses is when compared to others.
The control center allows setting of all the main features of the Essence along with a handy EQ and environment setting. We also have controls for karaoke, three gain settings for headphones of varying resistance, low frequency crossover, environment settings for gamers, controls for Dolby Headphone, a simple mixer and a graphic readout of the active frequencies in blue at the top. It's very simple, but that's what I like about it and within a couple of minutes I feel most will be quite comfortable in manipulating the various settings of the Essence.