Like the floppy drive before it, many have claimed the final death knell of the Sound Card is just around the corner. While the floppy drive has mostly disappeared, Sound Cards are still around. Most of them are flying the colours of Creative. However with the era of high definition content and surround gaming Sound Cards are enjoying a small renaissance, and with companies like ASUS throwing their hat into the ring Creative is left counting it's cards.
The Xonar D2X sound card from ASUS is their top line sound card. Based of the design of the D2, the D2X is out with the old and in with the new. ASUS has updated some of the components on the board, and changed the interface. The AV200 HD audio processor is still there, which means that this card supports most every audio acronym under the sun. However the D2X uses the PCI Express bus, which is a huge differentiation from the many other PCI based cards on the market. Here's a quick overview of the features offered on the Xonar D2X. A full explanation of these quick points can be found on the product home page.
- Solution to Windows Vista Gaming Audio Problems
- Cleanest Voice in Online or LAN Game Chatting
- Unparalleled Sound Clarity
- Dolby and DTS for Complete Digital Home Experience
- Backup Digital Music Files and Enjoy Them On-the-Go
- Stylish Audio Processor with EAX Support
- High Quality Headphone Amplifier for Audio Listening Pleasure
- Precise 3D positioning Technologies from Dolby Studio
- Background noise cancelling by advanced Array Mic Technology
- S/PDIF output with Dolby Digital encoding easily turns NB/PC into HTPC
The specifications are just as good, or in some cases better, then the best from Creative. The signal to noise ratio is a few decibels higher, which means audio from the ASUS card should be clearer with less static. The EMI shield is a nice touch. To top it off the ASUS card has one thing that Creative can't seem to do; be compatible with Vista.
With all these added features, you would expect the price of the Asus Xonar D2X sound card to be higher than average. I wish I couldn't say that wasn't the case, but when it comes to street price the D2X sits on the high end of the scale at about $200 USD. That's nearly the same price as Creative's top internal sound card offering. So at that price does it do better than Creative? And are all the bells and whistles worth the price of admission? We'll have to find out.
The ASUS Xonar D2X sound card is a x1 PCI express card; one of only a few available on the market. The card itself isn't just bare circuits. Asus has installed an EMI shield in the hopes of blocking any EMI radiation that may affect sound quality. The centre of the EMI shield has an LED backlight which lights up with an orange glow when the card is powered up.