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Very nice build quality, good sound for the price.

A Review On: Asus Xonar D1 Sound Card (Black)

Asus Xonar D1 Sound Card (Black)

Rated # 13 in Sound Cards
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Price paid: $67.00
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Pros: Sound quality, low noise, built well, decent components.

Cons: Asus Xonar driver can be buggy, switching output sources can be better.

This is a decent card for the price. This card comes with good but not great components. If you want better you will have to dish out more $$ but for the $67 I spent for this I think the quality is more than adequate. This was a breadth of fresh air coming from the Creative camp which has been problematic ever since direct sound was dropped from Windows. This is not to say that the D1 had its fair share of audio issues in games like Fallout 3 but then again I had these same issues with the Creative Fatality Pro which leaves me to believe that this may be an issue with the game engine not supporting add on sound cards. Holding the D1 in your hand will give you an idea of the workmanship that went into this device. While the D1 is capable of accelerating audio in hardware I personally found the Xonar Unified driver in Low DPS Latency mode to be more responsive than the Asus driver. Low latency mode removes hardware acceleration on the Xonar AV 100 chip on this card but with most modern games off loading sound processing to the CPU, hardware acceleration is not a must. In my experience I have few issues with game audio in Low DPS Latency mode. If you have a processor released over the last five years, you would not have to worry about loosing significant frames due to offloading of sound to the CPU. Whats important to look at from a sound perspective is the DAC and Op-Amp which are responsible for the sound quality on the analog outputs. The D1 boasts a front channel Audio DAC (Cirrus Logic CS4398) with a signal to noise ratio of 120db which is nice and a JRC NJM5532 Op-Amp which is good at this price point. I am looking at upgrading from the trusty D1 to the Xonar STX to power my Sennheiser HD 380's and Senn HD 598 as the STX has a headphone amp capabable of driving cans up to 600ohms. A low budget alternative to the STX would be the Xonar DG priced at $30. Bear in mind that the DG while boasting a headphone amp will not have enough power to drive very high end cans like the Sennheiser HD 650 or 700 (The Xonar D1 does NOT have a headphone amp). Other alternatives to the Asus line up are the Omega series but while I have herd good thing I don't have any first hand experience with them. I have seen some folks talk about distortion/noise on the front panel analog out, I had this issues with the D1. However I isolated the issue to not the D1 but an uninsulated cable in my case, when I upgraded my case to an Antec 600SE the first thing I noticed was the front audio out wire was thick and well insulated, thereafter the noise/distortion was not present.             


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