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Sound Cards item created by jacksonchansf, Apr 2, 2013
Pros - Very fun sounding, good for gaming, beautiful
Cons - Not neutral, ACM is junk, powered by PCIe
I built my first ever PC with this sound card, I had already brought a Asus board that has SupremeFX and well the ZxR dethroned the Asus immediately. I have not heard any of the Asus Xonar PCIe cards but anything is better than integrated onboard sound.
The sound cards look beautiful to me except for the cable that connects the main card to the daughter board, they could have made the cable not have to do a 180 degree bend to connect to each other which would look nicer.
Sound quality is amazing, it has a lot of onboard features which I didn't use because it made the bass sound like it was all over the place and made the highs unnecessarily powerful. It's definetely not neutral sounding, it does have a slight bass emphasis since it is a gaming soundcard, but the bass is very clean and accurate, depending on the headphones it doesn't change the sound much, just adds a tiny bit more bass. The DAC is really good but it downsamples anything above 24/96 to 24/96 if headphones are directly connected to the soundcard. Using stereo direct gives you 24/192 through the RCA to an amp of your choice. The onboard amp is pretty good, it has a software based gain switch to change from low to high gain. I never used the high gain because I only have low impedance headphones and they are plenty loud at low volume. I never heard any kind of distortion ever or noise, very clean power from PCIe, although I would still prefer Asus' version of PSU molex power, instead of going through the motherboard to get power, shorter travel is always better, even though I doubt I will be able to hear a difference.
The SPDIF on the daughterboard is a huge disappointment, for the price it should be able to output 24/192, instead it can only do a maximum of 24/96, one plus though is that it supports 88.2 sample rates, the onboard on my motherboard doesn't. The ACM module is also completely useless, plugging headphones into this instead of directly off the card reduces volume considerably, it's basically a really bad extension cable, it looks really nice though, what a shame.
Overall, great sound card, but it has been replaced by my Schiit Bifrost and Asgard 2. First reason for replacement was my PC is on the floor and a 10ft headphone cable still just barely reaches me.