ASUS Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 PCI Sound Card

7 thumbs up

HotHardware's Test Systems
AMD & GIGABYTE

AMD Athlon X2 5200+
(2.6GHz)

GIGABYTE GA-M59SLI-S5
(NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI)

Ultra ChillTec Thermo-Electric Cooler

2x2GB OCZ PC-6400

ATI HD 2600XT
On-Board Ethernet
Realtek HD Audio On-board

ASUS Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 Sound Card

WD1500 "Raptor" HD
(10,000 RPM SATA)

Windows XP Pro SP-2

Testing Methodology:

In testing the performance of the Xonar D2 Ultra Fidelity 7.1 Sound Card, we've taken several approaches.  First, we ran RightMark's Audio Analyzer 6.0.6 to gauge the card's vital statistics, configuring the card as outlined in the instructions provided on RightMark's website specifically for the Xonar D2.  Next, we ran RightMark 3D Sound 2.3 for synthetic gaming performance, from 8 buffers up to 60.  For real world gaming performance, we ran F.E.A.R. with minimum video settings and toggling EAX 2.0 on and off.  In all tests, performance was compared to our test bed's Realtek HD Audio integrated controller as well as an older AudioTrak Prodigy 7.1 Sound Card.  All tests were run at 24-Bit.

Subjective audio testing was done with 70 Watt
Logitech X-530 Series Speakers.



Rightmark Audio Analyzer 6.0.6
Audio Testing
The RMAA suite is designed for testing quality of analog and digital paths of any audio devices, be it a sound card, an MP3 player, a consumer CD/DVD player or an acoustic set. The results are obtained by playing and recording test signals passed through the tested audio path by means of frequency analysis algorithms.

ASUS Xonar D2

Realtek HD Int. Audio



AudioTrak Prodigy 7.1


The Frequency response was tighter with the Xonar D2 when compared to the Realtek integrated sound controller, staying within +.05/-.03 at 44.1 and 48KHz while widening somewhat to +.06/-.04 where as the Realtek HD Audio had wider deviations, most notably at 44.1KHz.  The elder Prodigy 7.1 demonstrated the widest swings in frequency response, while Noise Level and Dyamic Range fell between the Realtek HD Audio and the Xonar 2.  Looking at Noise Levels closer, the Xonar D2 ran at a difference of -18dB compared to the Realtek HD Audio and -13dB compared to the Prodigy 7.1.  Dynamic Range was the mirror image of Noise level, with the Xonar D2 averaging +18dB over the Realtek HD Audio controller and +13dB over the AudioTrak Prodigy.  Total Harmonic Distortion, IMD + Noise and Stereo Crosstalk all favored the Xonar D2 as well. 

Another reference point that you may want to consider are statistics we collected when we reviewed a Soundblaster X-Fi ExtremeMusic sound card.  In that piece we found the X-Fi ExtremeMusic to offer better results with Dynamic Range and Noise levels, however the Xonar D2 had a much tighter Frequency response overall

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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