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ASUS Xonar DX  (Source: ASUS)
New ASUS Xonar DX offers more than the competition for less money

ASUS announced its new ASUS Xonar DX PCI Express 7.1 Audio Card earlier this year. The company claims that the new sound card delivers 35 times cleaner audio compared to onboard audio built into your mainboard.

The new Xonar DX card is tuned for audio quality with 116dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and features other sound enhancing technologies like Dolby Home Theater and DS3D GX. To compare ASUS says that the typical on-board audio solution has 85dB SNR.

The Xonar DX uses the CirrusLogics CS4398 audio DAC that is typically used in Hi-Fi devices. The card is also able to take advantage of the latest DirectSound and EAX 5.0 sound effects in PC games for Windows Vista. ASUS also integrates its VocalFX technology that allows for users voices to be integrated into games via VoiceEX and to emulate background scenes in online chats (ChatEX).

Other features include support for Dolby Digital Live, Dolby Headphone, Dolby Virtual Speaker, and Dolby Pro Logix IIx. The audio processor used for the card is the ASUS AV100 High-Definition Sound Processor. The analog playback sample rate and resolution s 44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz at 16/24 bits. The analog recording sample rate and resolution is the same. A digital S/PDIF Digital Output is featured as well with Dolby Digital and DTS.

The best news for PC users that like the specifications of the Xonar DX is that the card will retail for only $89. The new Xonar DX will fit into the ASUS line alongside the previously announced Xonar sound cards including the Xonar U1 external audio processor, Xonar D2 and the Xonar D2K.

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Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By mikefarinha on 3/20/2008 4:12:56 PM , Rating: 3
Hopefully ASUS will do better than Creative in keeping their drivers updated. I might actually be interested in this!

RE: Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By FingerMeElmo87 on 3/20/2008 4:29:23 PM , Rating: 2
thats the only reason why i havent decided to get a x-fi sound card because creative vista drivers blow. seeing how this thing is better on paper, its only $89, and it works with vista without the cumbersome "alchemy" type drivers, im down.

RE: Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By lexluthermiester on 3/20/08, Rating: -1
RE: Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By GoodRevrnd on 3/20/2008 5:18:58 PM , Rating: 5
Why should I have to hold my OS and the rest of my computer back just so I can accommodate a company that has a choke-hold on the market so I can play my games flawlessly? What about a year or two from now? I doubt Creatives initiative to roll out proper drivers when they can just sit around on their hobbled together shit that basically "works" as it is now.

By ChronoReverse on 3/20/2008 5:52:11 PM , Rating: 4
Indeed, the only reason why nobody else has EAX3+ on their cards is because Creative refuses to license it out lest they lose their market when everyone realizes the crappy support they have.

By marsbound2024 on 3/20/2008 8:20:49 PM , Rating: 2
Amen, Revrnd!

By goku on 3/21/2008 2:29:35 AM , Rating: 2
Why should I have to upgrade my OS just so I can accommodate a company that has a choke-hold on the market so I can play my games flawlessly?

RE: Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By lexluthermiester on 3/21/08, Rating: -1
By rdeegvainl on 3/21/2008 8:36:19 AM , Rating: 2
I have a laptop thats over a year old that runs Vista flawlessly. Considering that you can get a quad core desktop (INTEL Q6600), with 3 gb of ram for $1000 dollars (Best Buy), I want to know what NEW system doesn't run Vista Basic at full tilt. You then tell people who had problems with creatives drivers to go cry in their milk, and then complain that you had problems with Vista and are far from alone. LOL at the hipocrisy. And if you aren't concerned about your rating, why did you feel the need to write a whole paragraph about it? You know why people rated you down is cause "Not worth reading" directly applied to your post.

RE: Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By GoodRevrnd on 3/22/2008 2:45:52 AM , Rating: 1
You should have been around a few years back when a Creative driver install completely wrecked my XP install. That's all I'm gonna say.

By lexluthermiester on 3/22/2008 6:00:40 PM , Rating: 2
I would like to have seen that. I've had that happen to me before, not with Creative drivers though. It happened with Nvidia, ATI and modem drivers. Always turned out to be a problem with hardware, usually BIOS settings causing conflicts or with XP itself. Hasn't happened in a long while, and we can hardly blame the manufacturers for that kind of thing...

RE: Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By 1337cookie on 3/20/2008 8:32:37 PM , Rating: 2
Intel's current onboard audio beats the crap out of an old SB Live! And why are you advertising the X-Fi as having a lead over the rest due to it doing its own processing? All discreet sound cards do their own processing. Creative just like to make you think that they are really good even though they have gotten really slack over the years.

By Jedi2155 on 3/20/2008 10:59:27 PM , Rating: 2
Many discrete soundcards off load the processing to the CPU such as the old but popular Via Envy audio chips.

RE: Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By BansheeX on 3/21/2008 1:50:02 AM , Rating: 3
Indeed. Creative inherited their reputation from back when games had MIDI audio and they were the proprietary de facto card to have. Soon as streamed PCM came along, they invented all this 3D-effect proprietary bull, made deals with game developers and major stores like bestbuy, and basically marketed the idea that they were the nvidia or ati of audio. But then CPU's got ridiculously powerful and 5.1 sound became cheap. No more do people flock to buy their cards to save a few fps at the cost of crappy sound and bloated drivers.

By jajig on 3/22/2008 2:28:09 AM , Rating: 2
EAX isn't 3D sound it's environmental audio e.g an echo in a large hall.

Straight from Wikipedia
EAX has nothing to do with actual 3D audio positioning. Positioning is done by Microsoft's DirectSound3D API.

By lexluthermiester on 3/21/2008 5:51:32 AM , Rating: 2
Intel motherboards use c-media, via or the like sound chips and are not, nor have they ever been better than a Live 5.1. Heck I'd rather have the lowest end Turtle Beach card than use onboard sound...

Really it's like talking to people with this[ ] problem sometimes...

RE: Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By omnicronx on 3/21/2008 2:57:32 AM , Rating: 1
Stop hating on vista, creative doesnt know the meaning of the word driver..

By lexluthermiester on 3/21/2008 6:06:11 AM , Rating: 1
I don't hate Vista! It's got some really cool things to it. But it's problems far outweigh it's qualities... And I feel no need to sort out all the issues myself. XP works well and runs fast. If I had not received my copy of Vista Ultimate free from Microsoft themselves, I would have taken it back and demanded a full refund.

As for your Creative driver comment, see statement posted above....

RE: Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By Hare on 3/21/2008 3:08:20 AM , Rating: 2
But any built on sound chip is going to suck compared to a good discreet sound card any day.

I use my motherboards digital output and there's obviously no difference between it and a 10 000$ sound card. Ones and zeros sound the same no matter what the source is. My amp does the decoding...

By Hare on 3/21/2008 4:09:56 AM , Rating: 3
My comment went to zero in a few minutes? Obviously someone here doesn't understand the concept of ones and zeros. Sound coming out of the digital output is ones and zeros (digital). Ones and zeros don't degrade in transfer and are identical no matter what the sound card costs (as long as the drivers don't resample or add any effects to the sound). Basically it's the same thing with hard drives. There's no way an mp3 can sound different from a Western Digital drive compared to Seagate.

Ps. Jitter and other Voodoo stuff can be disregarded.

RE: Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By Alexvrb on 3/20/2008 8:58:14 PM , Rating: 3
Sadly, the poor Vista drivers are not entirely Creative's fault, and Alchemy is the only way they can offer you hardware accelerated EAX sound on Vista. For once, MS really is to fault here. Still don't understand?

Read both pages of that article. EAX was nerfed by MS, and Alchemy is an EAX -> OpenAL wrapper to help overcome some of this problem. Eventually things will work themselves out, with newer Creative driver/wrapper releases and with games natively using OpenAL or similar.

RE: Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By BansheeX on 3/21/2008 1:52:25 AM , Rating: 2
EAX is needless complexity and I'm glad MS is trying to shove it out of the picture. Creative can go screw themselves, audio standards should be open and simple.

RE: Lets hope for consistant driver support!
By goku on 3/21/2008 2:31:48 AM , Rating: 2
That is where I hope openAL will fill in the void, unfortunately OpenGL and AL are out of date and need a serious overhaul to take advantage of newer graphics cards.

By robinthakur on 4/2/2008 5:20:22 AM , Rating: 2
Actually its all Creative's fault you tool. OUt of MS and Creative I would trust MS 100% of the time to write software which works and that's saying something. Your loyalty to Creative is misguided, they are one of the worst companies out there in IT for customer service and driver support. MS provided Vista to creative yesars before its release. That they didn't bother writing drivers which work for vista and purposefully obsolesce the Audigy down is reason enough to avoid them untill their company goes down (as it will)

By Myrandex on 3/21/2008 10:57:18 AM , Rating: 2
Are you retarded? Alchemy is not required. It is an option for those of you that don't want to listen to M$'s BS that audio cards can no longer accerate audio through hardware. You can use the X-Fi without Alchemy, and it would be the same as the Xonar. Under XP (or Vista with Alchemy), the X-Fi can accerate audio while the Xonar cannot. Sure Alchemy is a bass-ackwards solution, but it is the only solution under developers start using OpenAL for everything. The X-Fi and the Xonar are both good cards.

Analog, your grandfather's audio connection
By mcnabney on 3/20/2008 4:52:18 PM , Rating: 1
This is only important to people that are running the analog outputs to their speakers.

If you want to just get the digital signal out of the computer there is no reason at all for this. I imagine that ASUS will charge a fair bit more for their upcoming HDMI cards...

RE: Analog, your grandfather's audio connection
By hellokeith on 3/20/2008 5:03:19 PM , Rating: 3
The vast majority of PC users also use PC speakers.

And if you want the best audio fidelity + not having to deal with lossy codecs, jitter, and HDCP handshaking, then analog is still king.

By lexluthermiester on 3/20/2008 5:18:19 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. And most people that use pc speakers use crappy ones. But for anyone who wants clear, crisp, warm sound from their PC, uses a premium sound card of some type. This ASUS card is a good card for that purpose. The Creative X-Fi is better, and I wouldn't trade mine for anything, but ASUS has produced a winner with this card.

RE: Analog, your grandfather's audio connection
By Hare on 3/21/2008 3:13:38 AM , Rating: 2
but ASUS has produced a winner with this card.
What makes you think so? There's no info about the quality of the analog outputs, op amps etc.

About the PCI version of Xonor.

"The RMAA results of the Xonar is certainly disappointing compared to the rest of the cards tested" - VR-Zone

By lexluthermiester on 3/21/2008 6:33:00 AM , Rating: 2
Notice in that review they didn't compare any onboard sound solutions. I also have to question the the testing methods. They used a loopback pci card instead of using an external audio analyzer. There are inherent problems with that kind of set up, ones that VR-Zone failed to take into account, or even comment on. Of course, thats assuming they knew.

But even by those results, the Xonar still faired better on a sound reproduction level than ANY onboard sound chipset[the only exceptions being the very few Turtle Beach and Creative Labs chipsets that are used buy a few manufacturers]. Even the newest onboard sound sets, pale in comparison to quality discreet sound cards.

So my previous statement stands as valid.

By Orbs on 3/21/2008 6:42:30 PM , Rating: 2
That is not the same card. The D2 doesn't do EAX (according to the VR-Zone article) and the DX does.

By 325hhee on 3/21/2008 1:36:43 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, I'm not giving up my Z-5300 that I paid $200 bucks for, and it doesn't have digital out. And I really can't afford to throw away a set of $200 speakers, nor do I have the room to use regular sized non computer speakers.

I'll be on analog for a very long time, and these new drivers Creative just released still hits me with some BSoD. On XP and Vista, Creative sucks now, they used to be good, about 8 years ago.

RE: Analog, your grandfather's audio connection
By MrTeal on 3/20/2008 7:07:13 PM , Rating: 2
I've never really understood the desire to buy a soundcard. Granted, the DACs on a card like this are better than the onboard hardware, but it's still an incredibly noisy environment for low level signals.

You'd be much better off just using the digital out on your motherboard and buying an external DAC or preamp.

RE: Analog, your grandfather's audio connection
By goku on 3/21/2008 2:36:28 AM , Rating: 2
You're probably right, unfortunately there are two problems with this: 1. Using audio out will hurt performance unless you can prove otherwise, mostly because the information is formed on the CPU then sent to the preamp and not offloaded in some manner then sent to the DSP. 2. Using the audio out on a creative card gives only PCM 2.0 unless playing a dvd movie, basically creative doesn't have a driver that forms DSP compatible signals, using audio out on another brand may work but then you've got the CPU penalty.

What we really need is an Soundstorm solution that offloads some of the work onto the sound card, then allows for Digital Out. Soundstorm is the only soultion that I know of that actually took in game audio and made it into a DD Live signal.

RE: Analog, your grandfather's audio connection
By Hare on 3/21/2008 4:13:02 AM , Rating: 2
What we really need is an Soundstorm solution that offloads some of the work onto the sound card, then allows for Digital Out. Soundstorm is the only soultion that I know of that actually took in game audio and made it into a DD Live signal.

Soundstorm (MCP-T) was nothing more than a Dolby Digital Live encoder. Basically most motherboards today support the same thing. My old Abit AB9 has a realtek chip and has absolutely no problems encoding all multichannel stuff to Dolby Digital.

Before Core 2 Duo era, Soundstorm was pretty much the only solution. Nowadays there are plenty of DD live capable motherboards and sound cards.

By goku on 3/21/2008 5:32:17 AM , Rating: 2
I've read that the solutions today still don't match soundstorm in terms of performance, cpu utilization and reliability.

By lexluthermiester on 3/21/2008 6:52:09 AM , Rating: 2
Yet another example of a quality sound card trumping onboard sound.

Your Realtek chip maybe able to do DDL output, but ALL of the sound processing/encoding happens on the CPU, which negatively affects overall performance. That chip acts as nothing more than a specialized data pathway, not a sound processor itself. Even with analog out, the chip does nothing but convert a digital input to analog. All of the channel separation, frequency calculations, waveform production, and environmental effects are processed by the CPU. If you had a quality sound card most[if not all] of those would happen card side instead of CPU side.

RE: Analog, your grandfather's audio connection
By BansheeX on 3/21/2008 9:28:31 AM , Rating: 2
CPUs have gotten so powerful that the benefit of having hardware processing for audio is no longer worth the added cost or complexity.

By lexluthermiester on 3/21/2008 8:46:48 PM , Rating: 2
So you're not a gamer then? Because I've run these tests myself. I've run game benchmarks with my X-Fi and then without, using the onboard sound. The difference was very noticeable, drastically with a few games. Doom 3 and Quake 4 dropped 7%. Quake Wars had a difference of 12%. Crysis was an astonishing 19%! C&C3 was a little more difficult be cause of the 30FPS cap, but the minimums dropped 8% to 10%. And those are just the game that I personally own. Granted, I'm not as much of a gamer as I used to be, but those numbers, to me at least, justify the $100 I spent on my X-Fi. By way of further comparison, I measured the difference between my Audigy2 and onboard sound the numbers were similar, in the same order listed above, 5%, 11%, 15% and 7%. And those are just frame rate numbers. If you want to talk about how much better the sound is... I could speak volumes about how much better the Audigy2 and X-Fi sound over onboard, but it is enough to say that both are superior, whether you use analog or digital connections.

So my point is, yes CPU's have become very powerful, but your overall system performance is still going to take a hit by using onboard sound, and in some cases[like Crysis and Oblivion which are very CPU dependent games] a serious hit. And my system spec are above average. Core2 2.93GHZ, 3GB of Kingston 1066 DDR2, MSI 8800GTS 320MB and Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6. Now can you imagine what the test result numbers if I were using a more average system?...

By mcnabney on 3/25/2008 4:09:11 PM , Rating: 2
Fine. But I imagine if you added the cost of a X-FI soundcard ($150) to your CPU budget you would buy more than the lost performance in CPU power and that power could also be used for other things as well.

PCI-E mmmmm gooood.
By RjBass on 3/20/2008 3:39:57 PM , Rating: 4
I like the fact that it is PCI-E. To many motherboards have the PCI-E slot but there just have not been enough inexpensive cards to put in them. To date I have only ever purchased one PCI-E device, and that was only because it happened to be about $5 cheaper then it's standard PCI counterpart on Newegg.

RE: PCI-E mmmmm gooood.
By jax1492 on 3/20/2008 4:28:55 PM , Rating: 2
It would be nice to see some PCI-E devices but as far as i know, sound cards have not yet pushed the PCI bus to its limits so its not really any advantage as of now to have a PCI-E soundcard.

RE: PCI-E mmmmm gooood.
By Googer on 3/20/2008 4:57:51 PM , Rating: 2
I am glad to see PCI-e Audio coming around, even though Legacy PCI (PCI-L) has been the interface of choice for audio due to the nature of the old parallel bus' slightly lower latency.

RE: PCI-E mmmmm gooood.
By Lazarus Dark on 3/20/2008 5:03:31 PM , Rating: 2
pci has past its prime, mostly due to bus contention issues. It's legacy now and intel is supposed to drop pci support from its chipsets soon. So everything needs to be pci-e now. I don't have any pci devices now, even my tuner card is pci-e. Those pci slots on my maximus formula are a waste. I wish I had more x1 slots instead.

By DigitalFreak on 3/20/2008 3:45:32 PM , Rating: 3
I wonder if Creative is actually licensing EAX 5.0 for non X-Fi based boards now, or if Asus is going to get sued...

RE: Hmm...
By shiznit on 3/21/2008 2:01:23 AM , Rating: 3
I think Asus is just letting the game run 5.0 and then donwsampling to 2.0.

They don't have a 5.0 license and you bet if they were actually stealing 5.0 Creative wouldn't hesitate to sue. Hell, a lawsuit reward is the only reason they made a profit last year.

RE: Hmm...
By Spivonious on 3/21/2008 9:39:19 AM , Rating: 3
I'm wondering how Asus gets EAX to work on Vista, since Vista's new audio stack makes EAX impossible.

By BansheeX on 3/20/2008 4:44:12 PM , Rating: 2
You know what the best thing about this card is that you rarely ever see in a sound card?

a) low profile design so it will fit in desktop AND htpc cases
b) pci-express to finally make use of those otherwise unused slots

Kudos to you, ASUS, you listened.

RE: Awesome
By whirabomber on 3/21/2008 7:42:57 AM , Rating: 2
Now to wait until the card hits $50.

Sounds Good
By Sentry2 on 3/20/2008 6:01:30 PM , Rating: 2
The X-Fi isn't that great of a card. The POS opamps need to be burned. I will be replacing my opamps next week. You'd think that they would put better components on the X-Fi's to justify the price. If I was in the market though I'd seriously consider that Asus card.

RE: Sounds Good
By shiznit on 3/20/2008 8:56:11 PM , Rating: 2
I already did, you can get 3 samples of opamp LN4962 from National Semiconductor for free, and they won't even charge you shipping if you use a company or educational email address. My X-FI XtremeMusic sounds much better now, the DAC on it is still the weak link but it's definitely better than the one on my Pioneer receiver so I use the analog outputs (and X-FI doesnt have Live enconding).

how does this compare to the x-fi fatal1ty
By LumbergTech on 3/20/2008 6:58:56 PM , Rating: 2
how does this compare to the x-fi fatal1ty card?

i cant really tell..are the specs better or not

By Omega215D on 3/21/2008 12:11:30 AM , Rating: 2
Extremetech has a review of the Asus Xonar D2 which is around $200 so maybe this and the DX have similar sound qualities?

release date?
By legoman666 on 3/20/2008 6:59:21 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly the type of card I was looking for; low profile, decent quality components, PCIe 1x, and relatively cheap.

But when can I buy it?

RE: release date?
By yehuda on 3/21/2008 12:53:40 AM , Rating: 2
EAX 5.0 and DD Live...
By Orbs on 3/20/2008 8:04:24 PM , Rating: 2
Does this mean, I can play OpenAL compatible games with hardware acceleration and get all the EAX effects and have the sound come out of an optical or S/PDIF output with Dolby Digital 5.1 encoding?

Also, would DVD's/BD's pass digital audio over the optical or S/PDIF channel (my guess is 'yes' as most sound cards do this)?

Finally (and this is probably a 'no'), is there any solution for hardware acceleration for non-OpenAL games that use DirectSound 3D on this card?

Even if the answer is 'no' to my last question, this is still probably the card to get. DD Live and EAX 5.0 is a dream come true!

RE: EAX 5.0 and DD Live...
By shiznit on 3/20/2008 9:01:33 PM , Rating: 2
good question, the asus website for this card says:

"Latest DirectSound & Ability to Play EAX 5.0 Titled Games
With the new audio architecture in Vista, users will sometimes be unable to achieve multi-channel sounds, DirectSound; and EAX 5.0 sound effects in EAX 5.0 Titled PC games. With the ASUS Xonar DX, all these problems will be solved. With support for the innovative DS3D GX 2.0 technology, the Xonar DX automatically supports the latest EAX and DirectSound HW after installation without the need to search for additional drivers or OpenAL – as most games are DS3D/DirectX compatible."

Does this mean they have made a wrapper for DS3D calls like Creative's ALchemy? If so and it works, I might buy this card.

How about notebooks?
By DanaGoyette on 3/20/2008 6:30:34 PM , Rating: 2
Here's what I want: a Cardbus and/or ExpressCard version of one of Asus's sound cards -- or at the very least, a USB one with 5.1-channel analog surround.

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