sound card recommendations for shure se353


Aug 9, 2013
I have a pair of shure se535 in ear monitors and I was wondering what sort of sound card I should get.

I was thinking the Asus Xonar Essence STX but im not sure if that would be the most appropriate card for them.

Would my card/headphone combo play nice together?
As well would my headphones be too loud when driven by it? (I'm worried because these headphones get really loud even when plugged into my ipod)

Thanks for bearing with me and my noobly questions.


Jan 23, 2013
since they have a 119DB SNR (aka SPL/MV), if you want the best, you need to match this SNR as if you go higher, the monitors will be the cheap components and if you go lower with the sound card, the sound card will be the limiting factor for interferences and quality...

in the 120DB+ range and for professional use, check the ASUS Xonar Essense One (550$) or the Essence ST or the STX (210$)

Creative's equivalent is the Sound Blaster X-FI Titanium for 160$ (don't have the headphone amp and 116DB SNR) or the Sound Blaster ZXR for 250$ (124SB SNR)

The Xonar Xense is a cheaper option, not bad at 118DB SNR, still close but discountinued so you'll to be a little lucky to get one (120$)

Of course any cheaper sound card is still better than any onboard solution so if you don't have a enormous budget, please feel free to detail how much you want to put in that and we'll check for the best option for that price...

EDIT: SNR stands for Sound to Noise Ratio, basically it's a measurement for interferences resistance and quality of the input vs the output, the higher the better... for reference, onboard audio have only about a 80-90 DB SNR and every time you gain 1 DB, the quality double so it's totally exponential. In the 120DB range you're in Pro stuff

PS: if it was me i will go for an Essence ST (Legacy PCI) or STX (PCI-e) as it's the cheapest pro grade and really really good sound card


I would take the bet if anybody(maybe .01 of people could doing many blind tests) could tell the difference between 90 SNR and 120 SNR. Most newer onboard sound chips are around 90 to 100 plus.

Now for professional use in terms of recording, it's just better to record a cleaner sound if you can, just in case. I'm Shure that the headphones monitors are nice but since the priced you payed for them why not add a sound card, what's another 100.00 to 200.00 dollars at this point. Many mp3 recordings are average at best, garbage in garbage out.

Happy listening, the Prisoner...

PS: I wanted to add this because video just because the perception of what people can hear and can't hear. Feel free to search around about Ethan Winer and what has done. The video is techincal but does a good job of explaining, SNR, THD and other audio stats.
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