|The Essence has slightly better specs for recording, up to 192kHz @ 24bit vs. 96kHz @ 24 bit for the Sound blaster. Unless you are doing 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS audio recording, you would never need this. CD audio only uses 44.1kHz 16 bit so you are well above specs on either card.|
Playback in 5.1 for the Essence is 192kHz @ 24 bit, 96kHz @ 24 bit for the Sound Blaster. Stereo direct is 192kHz @ 24 bit for both. This isn't going to matter if your listening to CD's or MP3's. CD's are recorded at 44.1kHz @ 16 bit and most MP3 are ripped from CD's so the same specs apply.
Signal to noise ratio: 118 for the Essence, 116 for the Soundblaster. You aren't going to notice the difference.
Frequency response: 10Hz to 90kHz for the Essense, 10Hz to 88kHz for the Sound Blaster. The average human ear can only hear up to 20kHz and the headphones are listed as going up to 20kHz so you won't hear the difference.
Total Harmonic Distortion on the Essence is 0.0003, the Sound Blaster isn't listed.
The Essense card will encode 5.1 Dolby Digital, the Sound Blaster will encode 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS (I think, it says DTS Connect, never heard of the Connect part). Unless you are a musician and are recording surround mixes none of this will matter.
Neither card will decode 5.1 Dolby Digital or DTS without third party software.
They are both great sound cards, if I had to make a choice I would go with the Essence. But in all honesty, if you're listening to MP3's, they are a lossy format and you aren't going to come close to hearing the full potential of what the card can do.
Games also use lossy compression on the audio tracks.
message edited by THX 1138