ASUS Prepares PCIe x1 Sound Card
Anh Tuan Huynh
March 23, 2007 11:29 AM
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Xonar EMI shield concept
Xonar D2K at CeBIT, image courtesy of VR-Zone
ASUS readies its upcoming Xonar D2 and Xonar D2K PCI and PCIe x1 sound cards
ASUS last week at CeBIT demonstrated its
sound cards. The upcoming Xonar-series spawns two variants, the D2 and D2K in PCI and PCIe x1 interfaces. Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect multi-channel audio encoding technologies are available for digital multi-channel audio. The Xonar-series also features 7.1-channel analog outputs for those that prefer analog to digital.
Early reports claim the ASUS Xonar-series feature an Analog Devices audio DSP, however, ADI denies any involvement in the sound card.
“I checked with our sales team and there is not an ADI part in this unit,” said Sandra Perry, product line manager, SoundMAX, DSP Division.
ASUS also touts Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Virtual Speaker and Dolby Virtual Headphone technologies for multi-channel upconverting and surround sound with stereo speakers and headphones. ASUS rates the Xonar-series with an 118dB playback and 115dB recording signal-to-noise ratios. The upcoming Xonar-series sound cards support 24-bit/192 KHz playback and recording resolutions and ASIO 2.0 as well.
ASUS internal testing reveals the Xonar-series is capable of low total harmonic distortion rates. The Xonar-series has 0.000006% THD on all eight analog outputs and the single line input, between the frequencies of 20Hz to 20 kHz. ASUS also equips the Xonar-series with an EMI shield and touts it provides “stable audio quality.”
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3/23/2007 10:50:53 PM
Actually, with HDMI/DVI you're right, there's no difference.
The only difference with the cables might be that a $5 one will not last long, and a $25 one with minimal gold plating will. The other thing is that jitter might be present, but every TVs pass the data input through a signal processor, which corrects the signal.
With analog signals, power supply noise, DAC quality, etc. matters a lot more(Not to the point of buying a $2000 player tho. Get a $150 player, get $40 worth of better quality components, replace the ones in the player with those, and you have what a hundreds worth more player is).
SPDIF is a digital signal, but might not always give the greatest quality, but that depends of the source and receiver. Jitter might affect the SPDIF decoder and audio DACs, as they're hardware(and synchronous, data comes in and out) and do not necessarily understand clearly an unclear signal. A software DSP would correct it(It has time to work on the signal), but not every receivers work with one.
Here, the computer has an advantage. For example, the computer doesn't read the DVD in real-time, so it has time to re-read the data if it's been misread. To the opposite, a standalone DVD player running at 1x has to do everything in real time, and will use hardware-dependant error correction, and the data on the disc isn't re-read a second time.
It's the same thing through all the computer : The data is asynchronous, it's sent in packets, and re-sent and corrected if it's not valid, so, with a computer, you're sure that the data read by the laser is the same going to the PCI and PCI-Ex buses to your sound card and video card(Unless there's processing somewhere between). An overly scratched disc is the only thing that could get the data wrong.
Then, it's up to the sound and video card to do the async to sync digital job(They're the only things that can get the sound worse). For DVI/HDMI, it's up to the TV to be good. For the sound, the sound card might play with the sound quality, and a good external sound card is preferred to a not-high-end receiver(Simply for the way the stream is handled between the SPDIF or I2S stream transmitter and receiver).
OK, compared to the computer, a $2000 player does every thing in sync and in real-time and doesn't take the time to correct everything. It's DVD drive is running at 1x, forget error correction, and the signal that comes in is coming out instantly. Every of the ICs in the player could be affected by jitter, as well as the signals between components as they are not asynchronous packets.
BTW, I've been talking about jitter for a while, it's important because if the signal shape is not as square and synchronized as possible, the reciever might not know immediatly if the bit received is switched or kept to 1 or 0, it might hesitate and cause errors in the output it will give. A system working in real-time is going to be affected by this as it's directly affected by the input signal. DSPs and computers process data in software and not in sync, so they have the time to receive the data correctly and handle it the same way.
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