ASUS Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 PCI Sound Card - HotHardware

ASUS Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 PCI Sound Card

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Claiming to be the best at anything is bold.  From professional athletes to product manufacturers, stating you or your product is the best out there opens things up for closer scrutiny.  Being the best at what you do, or what you make, means near flawless execution.  Regardless of the context, one thing is certain, if you claim you are the best at what you do, you better be prepared to back those statements up.  This is the position ASUS has put themselves in, stating that their latest product is the best of its kind, period.

In this HotHardware showcase we're going to take a look at a new sound card from ASUS called the Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 PCI Surround card.  Although this is the first sound card ASUS has delivered to market, they've come right out stating they feel this is the best sound card currently available.  That's a confident statement, especially considering this is their first sound card release, not to mention the current state of integrated solutions that can rival the performance of some of the best add-in cards out there from the likes of Creative and others.  With that said, we're going to take a complete look at the
Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 PCI Surround Card to see if it really is the best of its kind or if ASUS' claims falls short.

ASUS Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 Sound Card
Features & Specifications

Audio Performance:
Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted):
118 dB

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

Output THD+N at 1kHz:
0.0004% (-108dB)

Input THD+N at 1kHz:
0.0004% (-108dB)

Frequency Response (-3dB, 24-bit/96kHz input):
<10Hz to 46kHz (for all channels)

Frequency Response (-3dB, 24-bit/192kHz input):
<10Hz to 90kHz (for all channels)

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

Sample Rate Conversion Quality:
Almost lossless, high-fidelity floating-point filters, which has:
-140dB THD+N (typical value for 44.1K->48KHz, 24bit)
-145dB Dynamic Range (typical value for 44.1K->48KHz, 24bit)

Main Chipset:
Audio Processor:
ASUS AV200 High-Definition Sound Processor (Max. 192KHz/24bit)

24-bit D-A Converter of Digital Sources:
Burr-Brown PCM1796 *4 (123dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24bit)

24-bit A-D Converter for Analog Inputs:
Cirrus-Logic CS5381* 1 (120dB 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, WMA-Pro

S/PDIF Digital Input:
44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @ 16/24bit

ASIO 2.0 Driver Support:
44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @ 16/24bit

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

Analog Input Jack:
3.50mm mini jack *2 (Line-In/Mic-In)

Other line-level analog input (for CD-IN/TV Tuner):
CD-In, Aux-In (4-pin header on the card)
Digital S/PDIF Output:
Coaxial and High-bandwidth Optical Combo Connector
Supports 192KHz/24bit

Digital S/PDIF Input:
Coaxial and High-bandwidth Optical Combo Connector
Supports 192KHz/24bit

MIDI Ports:
Additional MPU-401 MIDI I/O bracket and converter cable


Driver Features:

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

Dolby® Technologies:
Dolby® Headphone, Dolby® Virtual Speaker, Dolby® Pro-Logic IIx, Dolby® Digital Live

DTS® Technologies:
DTS® Connect (DTS Interactive Encoder and DTS Neo:PC)

Smart Volume Normalizer™:
Normalizes the volume of all audio sources into a constant level

Xear 3D™ Virtual Speaker Shifter:
Virtual 7.1 speaker positioning

Magic Voice™:
Modifies the sound of your voice, for VOIP and online chat applications (Windows XP)

Karaoke Functions:
Music Key-Shifting and Microphone Echo effects (Windows XP)

FlexBass™:
Professional Bass Management/Enhancement system

Other Effects:
10-band Equalier/27 Environment Effects

3D Sound Engines/APIs:
EAX®2.0&1.0, A3D® 1.0, DirectSound® HW & SW

DirectX:
DirectX 9.0 or above required for 7.1ch output

Bundled Software Utility:

Portable Music Processor utility:
Backup 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)

Professional Audio Editing Utility:
1. Ableton Live Lite
2. Cakewalk Production Plus Pack (SONAR LE, Dimension LE, and Project5 LE)

PowerDVD 7.0:
Software DVD player with Dolby Digital 5.1 decoder

Accessories:
-3.5mm-to-RCA adaptor cable *4 (8ch)
-S/PDIF optical adaptors *2
-S/PDIF optical cable *1
-Additional MIDI card, cable, and external standard MIDI adaptor Y cable *1
-Dolby Demo CD


Article Index:

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WOW, with Dolby Digital Live, that IS the best sound card ever!!

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This seems like an excellent card for someone doing analog recording, or who does not have a digital receiver (etc).  The specs for recording are well beyond the best I have ever seen.  And it has a lot of good formats for converting digital to discrete analog channels for ampification and speakers.

My home theatre system is built around an upgraded Accurus audio processor (the digital equivalent of a pre-amp, very high quality d/a) and separate amps.  Aside from some new formats not covered by my processor, it seems to me that going from digital straight through does not require a high-quality sound card.  If anyone thinks otherwise, I'd like to hear.

I would love to replace my audio processor with a card like this, but it would require: 1. the ability to connect outputs directly to power amps - and I'm not sure that the line-level outputs from this card are enough.  2. The ability to switch between a number of digital and analog inputs.  This card does not seem to have more than one of each.

Of course, if I had not already invested in the Accurus, I would be studying the question carefully about whether the analog outputs could drive power amps directly. And the need for separate inputs diminishes as legacy inputs (e.g. an external DVD which is multi-region, a VCR, a tuner) are replaced by the HTPC.

I'd like to hear comments from those considering this for their HTPC, which includes quality separate power amps and speakers.

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