I'm looking for a relatively cheap sound card that is on the same level as the Astro Mixamp.
Needs to have Dolby headphone 7.1.
Edited by jTizMLG - 12/8/13 at 11:35am
I am not sure if this is correct, but the Xonar DG/DGX may also only virtualize a 5.1 speaker setup. If that is the case, the Xonar D1 (PCI) or DX (PCIe) might be the right choice, but note that those cards - designed mainly for use with speakers - have only line outputs and no real headphone amplification.
Actually it does do the 7 stv - from the DG manual "7.1 virtual speaker shifter can only be selected when Dolby Headphone is enabled; expands / upmixes audio to 7.1 surround sound; virtualizes 7.1 surround sound over any set of speakers" Dolby Headphone on the Xonar is 5.1 - the speaker shifter is Xear. I'm pretty sure I'm pretty sure all the Xonars have this feature. And it works well too.
OP, when they say 5.1 or 7.1 that's the amount of physical speakers it can handle without virtualization. For stereo headphones it's moot - but if you've also got 5.1 analog speakers then get a DG - if you've got 7.1 analog speakers then get any Asus card with 7.1 in the title, as it'll have more jacks.
I know - it gets pretty confusing fast.
Hi jT .. yeah firstly all the Xonar cards will do Dolby Headphone 7.1 as long as the virtual speaker shifter is on... it's kind of a subset of DH.
Also the absolute general consensus round here is that if you own a PC, then get a soundcard over a Mixamp as they'll always be cheaper, be at least as good and have far more control over EQ, overall sound, speaker selections, microphone control etc. Also the Xonar has a headphone amplifier = a good thing. All the Xonars are good. If you do get one get the 3rd party unified drivers. You could also get the new Sound Blaster Z - drivers work well now and is just as good if not better than Xonars.
Nothing wrong with Mixamps as they are great for consoles. Remember gamers are easy pickings if you flash a bit of bling at them - same goes for headsets where you can get better performance for far less with a headphone (minus an attached mic ofc). If in doubt do a search on Mad Lust Envy's thread in the video games subsection.
The Mixamp doesn't have 7.1, either. Claims of advertising be damned, S/PDIF can only fit 6 channels with LOSSY compression (Dolby Digital/AC-3 and DTS), not 8. To handle 8 channels, it would need HDMI input.
As everyone said, you're better off just getting a cheap Xonar DGX. You even get some rudimentary DirectSound3D/OpenAL support that way.
Don't just look blindly on the Price. The Mixamp is an Astro product, so its a "gaming" device.
Everything with "gaming marketing" at the Audio section has a higher Price than it should, because the consumer is paying for the "gaming Marketing". Thats why Hifi Headphones have a higher soundquality than Gaming Headsets at the same Price range.
In Addition to that, the Astro Mixamp works for Consoles. That alone is also a good amount of Price you are paying in addition. Since the Consoles are very limited to which audio devices can be used with, because you need special "soundcards", who work together with Consoles.
So, working with consoles + allowing to use a Microphone on Consoles + Surround simulation (should be Dolbi Headphone) + Gaming marketing are all Features, which are rising the Price :)
For Example look at the Output Power of this, and a Fiio E10 (almost half price, but has a double output power for headphones (just missing all the features)