Yea, the other players are actually more uselessly complicated and others overly simplistic with no real gain or benefit(cPlay for instance).
Foobar has a balance between function and simplicity which I like.
Basically heres how it goes
Win-->Search Sound---->Click sound
Set Default format for shared mode to 24-bit/48khz as most movies output 48khz and will be using direct sound from the player unless you want to go through reclock hastles for no good reason ;)
Next up, download foobar
Download the WASAPI component
Disable Replaygain, and set output format to 24-bit. Mess with the buffer a bit, I have mines set to 300 for instance and it works fine.
WASAPI skips Win7's audio pathway all together so a 44.1khz file should theortically output at 44.1khz(we will get to that in greater detail after this).
Now you have the best clean pathways for music, lets give you a toy.
One toy I suggest is googling "Noise Sharpener" for foobar and finding the latest plugin(there are two, one works and the other doesn't. Don't have a link ATM). This will significantly make poor recordings sound better and livelier. Good recordings don't really benefit from it, instead some sounds will be slightly awkward if used. It is way better then the
So everything is set up from a software stand point, not out of the woods yet. The X-Fi xtreme Gamer doesn't give much in the way of giving you the cleanest analog signal or digital for that matter. I doubt your card has some of the features my prelude has but generally Audio Creation mode is the best for purity. While entertainment mode has some fun effects you can tweak. Really depends on you but that sound card is the weakest link in your chain.
I couldn't really comment on the Xonar line of cards and their drivers but I know the Auzentech X-Fi's give you what you need. I have a prelude but I think the home theater model is the same just for PCI-Express. Prelude gives you better analog output for music, and a bit-matched/perfect digital output if you ever bought an external DAC. While still offering Game modes for different effects.
Though in terms of game audio, or rather surround sound for headphones
Dolby Headphone > CMSS imo
Regardless another option would be to just make it even simpler, buy a USB dac/amp combo that has a controller chip that supports up to at the very least 24/96khz(really won't be going that high but the standard windows driver for other dacso nly supports 16/48)
What are the benefits of that? Simple plug in your DAC via USB and install the driver to get the best music. Connect your X-Fi via the analog inputs(which will skip the dac entirely, and you needa make sure it has analog inputs) for your gaming. Most dacs have a source selector so you can just turn the dial depending on what you want to do. You would basically set your default sound output in windows to your X-Fi Gamer, and in foobar or any other media player you would set it to output strait to your USB DAC.
Edited by ninjikiran - 7/27/10 at 7:23am