Another Computer Toy: Asus Xonar DX

I have several more posts to make regarding certain games and certain game updates that were released recently. I even have a few cheesy videos, yay. Anyway, I finally got around to picking up a new sound card for my machine last weekend. I never bothered installing the X-Fi on this machine; I think I’m kind of done with Creative’s crap ass drivers, though in all fairness I haven’t used it in about a year. The Realtek onboard sound was actually pretty decent and more than sufficient if you aren’t picky. By the way, I’m not an audiophile or an expert of any sorts. I am however, picky enough to want decent sounding audio on my computer (and a new toy).

Anyway, I was at Fry’s and picked up a Xonar DX for $69. I read quite a few reviews and system guides stating that it was good, providing the most “bang for the buck”. I figure, Worst case, I get a mediocre card for a low investment and/or return it. My sound is notably clearer, I really wasn’t expecting that much of an improvement. I mean, I expected my sound quality to somewhat improve but I didn’t think that there would be that much of a difference.

It’s particularly fantastic for music. I spent quit ea bit of time going through my stash, listening to things that were previously way to heavy on the bass or way to trebly with onboard sound. For example, I used to have to manually turn my bass down on my volume doodad whenever Streets of Philadelphia would cycle up in iTunes. Otherwise, neighbor angering bass would flood out from beneath my computer. No so much anymore, it’s quite nice and balanced. Gaming is pretty good as well. From what I understand, GX’s EAX emulation isn’t quite as good as the real thing, but I can’t really tell the difference. It sounds great to me.

For what it’s worth, here are a couple of things that weren’t really included in any of the hardware reviews that I read. It’s a great card for the price, but there are a couple of quirks:

  • SVN kills the dynatic range and causes loud popping noise whenever I start certain sounds (like playing something in iTunes and changing songs). Solution was to turn it off.
  • There’s no automatic headphone detection for whatever reason. In order to switch to headphone mode and kill the speaker sound, you have to manually switch the analog out settings. It’s not that big of a deal but it’s a little irritating.
  • I don’t know why many of the newer cards do this but: Mic input and line-in are on a shared jack.

Also, don’t use the installation disk. Download the drivers from Asus’s website, especially if you are running a newer operating system. The disk is a little out of date.

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