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Gaming enthusiasts will be aware how important sound is to games espcially when it comes to first person shooters. Most computers have onboard sound cards but they aren't always good at picking up the little details of many games for example footsteps.
There are many expensive sound cards available that gamers will use, but to be honest, a mid ranged sound card can achieve a very good audio experience.
Asus aren't well known for making sound cards, but it is a brand that I know and trust, so I went for this mid ranged card as opposed to a Creative Soundblaster. The Xonar D boasts 24bit 192kHZ sound that has a decibel rating of 107. It also features a 7.1 channel surround sound. These are technical jargon that probably wont matter much, especially if like me, you use headsets.
So what are the requirements to use this sound card? Your motherboard probably already meets it - you will need a free PCI slot. On my system, in order to use it, I had to disable the onboard sound from the BIOS settings - this may not be required. It really depends on your BIOS so it helps to be aware of this.
Once the card is placed and the sound drivers are installed, load up your favourite game and you can immediately hear the difference. Sounds are much clearer, sharper and feel more accurate. Footsteps for example in MW3 feel as though they are actually in the real world and you can sense the direction easily. Not only does this enchance your awareness but it also helps you to be ready for that killshot or that flank. Your tactics can be changed simply with being able to hear out for things which would normally not be heard on an onboard sound device.
Many times I was even accused of cheating because I was always able to anticipate enemy movement and ready myself. As surprising as it may be, sound does make you a better gamer, especially with first person shooters.
In terms of other playback, well needless to say that everything is a lot clearer. I mean listening to music and comparing it to onboard sound you can pretty much make out the huge improvement in audio quality - especially if the music is high def. Similarly movie playback experience is also boosted.
The audio drivers come with a variety of features ranging from sound environment settings, equalizer and a plethora of other settings which is tiresome to write about.
Personally speaking, Asus here have a good sound card, although it still probably lacks compared to more expensive Creative cards.
Designed by the CES-award winning ASUS Xonar team, this latest member of the Xonar D series is equipped with design features found only on high-end audio equipment, fully catering to audiophiles seeking to enjoy high fidelity audio on their PCs - across all forms of entertainment including music, movies and games.
The Xonar DS boasts 107dB SNR, which is 12 times clearer than most onboard audio solutions. By eliminating 91% of background noise, the Xonar DS lets gamers hear every detail in the game audio, allowing them to locate enemies from a distance and thus giving them the edge in their games. This noise elimination also leads to a more enjoyable movie watching and music listening experience, with previously noise-obscured sounds coming to life with the Xonar DS' high fidelity audio presentation. The Xonar DS performs equally well in a wide variety of usage scenarios, delivering the best sounding audio in each situation.
VocalFX is an innovative voice processing technology that allows users to insert voices into realistic game landscapes (VoiceEX), or inject audio backdrops' into online chats (ChatEX). It also allows them to change their voice pitch to disguise who they are (Magic Voice). These features dramatically increase the fun of voice communication during multiplayer gaming and online chats.
The Xonar DS offers a host of connectivity options and conveniences. It boasts an Intel HDA compatible jack-sensing front panel header which automatically switches signals from the back panel to the front whenever headphones are plugged into the front panel output. Providing the best digital output connectivity among low-profile cards, the Xonar DS' S/PDIF output combines with the less utilized rear surround analog output jack, and the optical digital output adaptor is bundled in package. This means that users no longer need to purchase extra digital I/O modules, unlike certain competitors' products. The Xonar DS has another onboard internal S/PDIF header, offering excellent digital audio to HDMI-ready graphics cards.
Normal sound cards can only support up to 96 kHz, which just cannot keep up with the 192 kHz/24-bit lossless audio content standard. The Xonar DS 192 kHz/24-bit playback support allows users to enjoy every music file converted at the highest quality without any sample rate downgrade.
Normally only present on high-end audio equipment, the design utilized by the Xonar DS includes swappable OPamp sockets that allow users to customize their sound by solderlessly adjusting the OPamp, creating the listening flavors with ease.
|Product Description:||ASUS Xonar DS - sound card|
|Device Type:||Sound card|
|Signal Processor:||ASUS AV66|
|Sound Output Mode:||7.1 channel surround|
|Sample Rate:||44.1 kHz (min) - 192 kHz (max)|
|Signal-To-Noise Ratio:||107 dB|
|System Requirements:||Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows XP 64-bit Edition, Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, Microsoft Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows Vista (64-bit versions)|