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Rob Williams 09-03-2007 11:06 PM

ASUS Xonar D2 Sound Card
At Computex 2007, ASUS wowed us with their new Xonar range of audio products, aiming to take a chunk of Creative’s market share in the high end PC audio category. Now we’ve got our hands on the ASUS Xonar D2, and we’re putting it to the test. Does the newcomer Xonar D2 have what it takes to challenge the X-Fi?

You can read the comprehensive review here and discuss it here!

NicePants42 09-04-2007 09:33 AM

Very nice, detailed review. Too bad about the CPU overhead, but those people lucky enough to be running quad-core already have plenty of CPU to spare.

Any chance of seeing a comparison with the D2 vs. D2X?

One thing - on page 9, just below the backplate picture, is this sentence: 'The Xonar sound card also lacks support for EAX versions above 3.0...' This should be EAX above 2.0. I didn't see this mistake anywhere else in the article.

Rory Buszka 09-04-2007 10:55 AM

I doubt there will be much change from the D2 to the D2X, since current sound cards don't send enough data along the PCI bus to tax its capabilities. The real value of having a PCIe card is to have something to use your PCIe 1x slots for. My motherboard, the ABIT KN9 Ultra, has four PCIe 1x slots and two PCI slots. With no PCIe 1x devices available at the time to speak of, my full ATX motherboard was limited to the expandability of a MicroATX board. ASUS's decision to release a PCIe version of the Xonar sound card really just reflects a greater initiative by manufacturers to transition to the new technology.

Thanks for catching that mistake -- it should probably have read "EAX versions 3.0 and above." This article took way longer to write than it should have, and also ended up being way longer than it needed to be. I'll be taking steps to make sure that future reviews from me are shorter and more to-the-point. I don't want to spend entire three-day weekends writing review articles in the future.

Rob Williams 09-04-2007 01:55 PM

Thanks again for the quick review Rory, the result is incredible for something that was thrown together in a single weekend. I admit I am not an audiophile, but I appreciate a good sound card when I see one. Therefore, I want this card, badly. I -love- the lit ports in the back. Very sharp.

I wish there was better C-Media support under Linux, though.

Unregistered 09-05-2007 02:30 AM

Great review!
I really enjoyed this review, I hadn't heard of this card until now and im pretty in the know. No prelaunch hype or anything and this card delivers. It looks awesome, like futuristic almost with the amber lights that glow while power is on.

This card will be on my list next time I go for a sound card upgrade.
Good job on the review, it was detailed enough and got to the point.

derrick 09-08-2007 03:10 PM

I was wondering you are able to test any of the SPDIF input features of this card. Specifically, I'm wondering how well it handles decoding a Dolby Digital stream from the Xbox 360. The X-Fi doesn't handle this well, there is a general delay, and distortion with any loud sounds. And it doesn't work at all in Vista.

IrfCore 09-10-2007 01:14 PM

How are AUDIOTRAK Prodigy HD2 and AUDIOTRAK Prodigy 7.1 HiFi compared to the soundcards in this test?

Unregistered 09-14-2007 09:00 PM

Nice Review
First off nice review thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed discreption of the product. However I'm surprised to see that no movies were watched with this sound card seeing as it is dolby pro-logic and all and I think I have even heard that bio shock(the game) is supposed to be Dolby it would have been nice to see how that stands up to the EAX of other games. Just a thought.

Buck-O 10-01-2007 02:12 AM

Tater, thanks for the awesome review.

I really appreciate you going into the hardware of the card. I started to read the review, and pondered to myself "I wonder what type of DAC's and Op-Amps they are running? I will probibly have to take one apart to see for myself..."

*Page 2*

"Nope, guess not!"

Very well written.

You can write an audio review for me anyday!
Great stuff!

Rory Buszka 10-03-2007 11:05 PM

Hey, Buck-o,

I really appreciate the compliment, especially coming from you. After my first sound card review (the Razer Barracuda AC-1), I really tried hard to iron out the bugs I encountered the first time around.

Re: Bioshock, I'm not too interested in letting it loose on any of my PCs, because of the insidious SecuROM software. However, it's good to know that there are some games out there that aren't tied to Creative's proprietary EAX technology - the whole thing stinks in my opinion.

I agree that I didn't spend enough time evaluating the movie performance of this card, so I'm going to give you my thoughts here and now. I popped in Van Helsing (one of my favorites of all time), and threw the card into 5.1 mode. I usually watch movies in stereo using Dolby Virtual Speaker, but to provide a surround reference, I'm using the Razer Barracuda HP-1 headphones - such as they are, they'll suffice. The surround effects of the final battle between Dracula's demonic form and Van Helsing's werewolf form was rendered with resolution and fullness, no matter whether I chose Dolby Digital mode or one of the surround DSP modes (Pro Logic IIx or DTS Neo:PC). The DSP modes still provided good center focus of dialogue, while creating compelling effects from the rear surround channels. The tactile transducers in the HP-1s reassured me that sub-bass effects were being delivered with depth-plumbing authority. Even with the sound card's volume maxed out, there was no hint of compression or clipping during the loudest dynamic peaks, and the same overall sound quality I enjoyed with music remained intact - every time I try another of this card's features, I find more to be pleased with.

There you go, the missing paragraph from the review.

Unregistered 10-05-2007 06:45 AM

audiophile response
just read your review of this card and i am impressed inspite of the absolute crap you used to review it -no offense -i have 4 main pairs of speakers and 6 amplifiers of various types and inevitably the sound of computer sound cards often comes up short -and i run a computer business so i am very excited about this -they usually are flat sounding with no depth or body to the musical image and have a lifeless quality so i think you are right on the money -low distortion low emi interference all add up to i want one!

Rory Buszka 10-05-2007 08:43 AM

I wouldn't say that all my stuff was absolute crap, (for only $150, the Cambridge Soundworks MicroWorks have an incredibly 'hi-fi' sound) but I have considered purchasing a pair of small 'studio monitors' for review purposes. I'm actually working on a design for some 8" two-way speakers using a high-quality midbass from the French company Audax and a tweeter from Norway's SEAS - perhaps those would be more useful, if I can tweak them for absolutely flat on-axis response.

Cynical 12-18-2007 04:34 AM


Originally Posted by Rob Williams (Post 16673)
I wish there was better C-Media support under Linux, though.

I registered just to let you know that support for the C-Media Oxygen HD CMI8788 chip in Linux has improved tremendously only recently. The driver is a part of ALSA and is currently 98% complete. Here is some more info

I'm considering getting the Xonar DX2, especially with X-FI support for Linux being so terrible. (I also love the backlit ports :D)

Rob Williams 12-18-2007 02:37 PM

It's great to hear that the drivers progressed that much in only a few months. I kicked myself when I saw how great this card was but then realized the Linux drivers were horrible. I am really considering on picking one up soon if that's the case. I love the Chaintech AV-710, but the Xonar would kick its ass :-)

Thanks for the info.

b1lk1 12-18-2007 08:38 PM

Quick question on this. Did you notice any framerate loss when gaming with DDL/DTS enabled? As for EAX, I have found it doesn't make enough difference to me in games and DDL/DTS pretty much makes up for it. I just bought this card as I have never been fully satisfied with this X-FI Prelude. I am only using Z680's, but since they can handle DDL/DTS this sounds like a sure winner for me, especially since I found it for $150 for an open box at NCIX. Also, even if it does take a hit on the CPU with enough draw to effect framerates, in your opinion, would a Quad core take that hit easier than a dual core?

PS: Killer review. Wish I read it before I bought this X-FI.......

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