I'm looking to get a great sound card for my new HTPC build. Uses would be for 90% music and movies in a 5.1 or 7.1 setup. I have an old pioneer receiver with no hdmi support so I need a card that will give me outstanding analogue output. I also have a pretty good set of speakers (Altec Lansing 605b Front, Jamo Classic Series 4 bookshelf satellite). Also this build will probably never be use with headphones.
Currently I'm considering the following 2 cards:
Assus Xonar DX
HT Omega Claro II
Are there other cards I should be looking at? Xonar Phoebus perhaps? What about the creative line? People seem to be pretty vocal about their disappointment with creative's recent high end products.
PCI vs PCI-e is a non issue for me.
I've heard that both cards use the same audio chipset. If that's true, what's the difference between the cards and how does that affect the sound? Considering the Xonar is half the price of the Omega, how much better will the sound for the Omega be? Is it a big enough difference to justify the cost? My wife and I are professional musicians, so very high quality sound is important to us, but at the end of the day we don't care much about what looks good on paper. Just what sounds best.