ASUS Xonar DX PCI Express 7.1 Audio Card

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Just a few years ago, if someone said that integrated audio would deliver great performance with many of the features of a full-blown add-in card, it might have raised an eyebrow or two.  Today, however, thanks to vastly improved integrated technologies, today's integrated audio solutions are often more than satisfactory for a large portion of consumers.  Nonetheless, there are those who want a better audio experience, which can only be delivered from the likes of an add-in card.

A few months ago, ASUS jumped into the audio card market with both feet with the introduction of the Xonar product line.  One of the first models to market was their premium class
Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 sound card.  The D2 boasted a superb retail package with all of  the cabling, software and extras one would need thrown in, along with a slick, eye-catching design, for around $180.  Not only did the Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 deliver on all fronts, it proved to be solid competition for Creative, who garners the majority of the add-in audio card market.




To further infuse themselves into the audio card market, ASUS didn't stop with the Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1. ASUS has also developed several other models to meet the needs of consumers of all budgets.  Today, we're going to take a look at ASUS' latest offering which targets the mainstream market, with our assessment of the Xonar DX PCI Express 7.1 Audio Card.  Selling for about $89, the Xonar DX takes many of the Xonar D2's more desirable features and condenses them into a smaller PCI Express ready PCB with the goal of delivering a major improvement over common integrated audio solutions.


ASUS Xonar DX PCI Express 7.1 Audio Card
Features & Specifications
Audio Performance
Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted):
116 dB for Front-out
112dB for other channels

Input Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted):
112dB

Output Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise at 1kHz (-3dB) :
0.00056% (-105dB) for Front-out

Input Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise at 1kHz (-3dB) :
0.0004% (-108dB) for Line-in

Frequency Response (-3dB, 24-bit/96kHz format):
<10Hz to 48KHz

Output/Input Full-Scale Voltage
2 Vrms (5.65 Vp-p)

Bus Compatibility
PCI Express
-PCI Express Rev.1.0a specification compatible
-Max. full 2.5Gbps bandwidth per direction and optimized latency for high-definition audio processing
-Compatible with X1, X4, X8, X16 PCI Express slots

Main Chipset
Audio Processor
ASUS AV100 High-Definition Sound Processor (Max. 192KHz/24bit)

24-bit D-A Converter of Digital Sources:
Cirrus-Logic CS4398*1 for Front-Out (120dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24bit)
Cirrus-Logic CS4362A*1 for other 6 channels (114dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24bit)

24-bit A-D Converter for Analog Inputs:
Cirrus-Logic CS5361* 1 (114dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24bit)

Sample Rate and Resolution  
Analog Playback Sample Rate and Resolution
44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @ 16/24bit

Analog Recording Sample Rate and Resolution
44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @ 16/24bit

S/PDIF Digital Output
44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @ 16/24bit, Dolby Digital, DTS

I/O Ports
Analog Output Jack:
3.50mm mini jack *4 (Front/Side/Center-Subwoofer/Back)

Analog Input Jack:
3.50mm mini jack *1 (Shared by Line-In/Mic-In)

Other line-level analog input (for TV Tuner or CD-ROM):
Aux-In (4-pin header on the card)

Digital S/PDIF Output
High-bandwidth TOS-Link optical transmitter (shared with Line-In/Mic-In jack) supports 192KHz/24bit  

Front Panel Header
Headphone / Stereo Speaker Out
Microphone In

Driver Features
Operation System
Windows Vista(32/64bit)/XP(32/64bit)/MCE2005

Dolby® Digital Live
Dolby Digital Live encodes any audio signal on PC in real-time to Dolby Digital (AC3) 5.1 surround sounds to your home theater environment through one single S/PDIF connection
Dolby® Headphone
Dolby Headphone technology allows users to listen to music, watch movies, or play games with the dramatic 5.1-channel surround or realistic 3D spacious effects through any set of stereo headphones.

Dolby® Virtual Speaker
Dolby Virtual Speaker technology simulates a highly realistic 5.1-speaker surround sound listening environment from as few as two speakers.

Dolby® Pro-Logic IIx
Dolby Pro-Logic II is the well-known technology to process any native stereo or 5.1-channel audio into a 6.1- or 7.1- channel output, creating a seamless, natural surround soundfield.

DS3D GX 2.0
-DS3D GX 1.0 supports EAX gaming sound effects and DirectSound 3D hardware enhanced functions on Windows Vista. (DirectX/DirectSound 3D compatible)

VocalFX™
Xonar DX provides VocalFX, the latest vocal effect technologies for gaming and VoIP, including: -VoiceEX: produces vivid environmental reverberation for your voice in EAX games -ChatEX: emulates different background environment effects when you chat online -Magic Voice: changes your voice pitch to different types (Monster/Cartoon…) for disguising your real voice or just for fun in online chatting

Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC)
Provides advanced Acoustic Echo Cancellation (AEC, eliminates up-to-40dB speaker echo return) and noise suppression technologies for best voice communication quality in VOIP applications or online gaming

Smart Volume Normalizer™
Normalizes the volume of all audio sources into a constant level and also enhances your 3D sound listening range and advantages in gaming

Karaoke Functions
Music Key-Shifting and Microphone Echo effects like professional Karaoke machine

FlexBass™
Professional Bass Management/Enhancement system

Xear 3D™ Virtual Speaker Shifter
Virtual 7.1 speaker positioning

Other Effects
10-band Equalier/27 Environment Effects

3D Gaming Sound Engines/APIs
DirectSound3D® GX 2.0 & 1.0, EAX®2.0&1.0, DirectSound® HW, DirectSound SW, A3D®1.0, OpenAL generic modes, 128 3D sounds processing capability

ASIO 2.0 Driver Support:
Supports 44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @16/24bit with very low latency

Bundled Software Utility   
Portable Music Processor Lite utility
Converts digital music content or CD audio into regular MP3/WMA files with Dolby Headphone, Dolby Virtual Speaker (w/ Pro-Logic II), and Smart Volume Normalization processing (Windows Media Player 10 or above is required)

MCE Software Kit
Software kit with 10-ft GUI for Windows Media Center Edition

RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.0.6
Easy but powerful software intended for testing the quality of audio equipments


Article Index:

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i already saw a review of this card at another site, and i have to say for under 100 this has to be the best card to buy feature wise. creative has a monopoly on sound cards and now finally another company is giving creative a run for their money.

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After seeing so many good reviews of this card I'm going to get it for the rig I'm slowly but surely putting together. I like that it has a standard hookup for front panel audio outputs unlike Soundblaster where you have to spend more to get that 5 1/2 add on that has 10 jacks that you most likely will never use and takes up a 5 1/2 slot.

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Perhaps there will be another race to the bottom (or race to the top, if you look at technology) for soundcards just as there is in videocards and processors

It would interesting, too, to see how long it takes vendors to pick up on the ASUS cards in their desktop configurations.

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A real valuable comparison would've been the xonar versus Creative's xi-fi or audigy sound cards. We all know onboard HD sound is halfway decent for casual dvd watching or gaming.

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