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Sound Cards item created by jacksonchansf, May 28, 2012
Pros - surprisingly powerful at high gain, dolby headphone dsp, optical output, low price
Cons - somewhat high output impedance, somewhat high noise floor, equalizer lacks fine control
I've learned a lot about this card over the course of using it for a while, so I figured I would write a review about it. Ok, some strange install issues off the bat - on windows 7 sp1, the initial install was finicky. The first time the driver setup was run, it wouldn't detect the card, but upon a restart, it could. I don't know if this was a microsoft issue or an asus one or possibly an issue specific to me. Another strange thing is that GX was on by default. GX helps with really old games, but it's not very useful nowadays.
Anyway other than that, I actually really liked the asus driver panel. It has a very simple layout. There is one option that is particularly important: the analog out option. When set to headphones, this enables the built in headphone amp. Additionally, it unlocks the various gain options. Low gain is .32 vrms, medium gain was .9 vrms, and high gain was 2 vrms. The output impedance I measured at 13 ohms. I was actually surprised at how powerful it was with high gain. I would say it can power a sennheiser hd600 on high gain, since 2 volts is about what you would want for them, and the 13 ohm output impedance is negligible compared to the 300 ohm headphone impedance. Perhaps somewhat paradoxically, balanced armature iems, and to a lesser extent, the sennheiser hd 558 and hd 598, are not going to work as well with this card due to the output impedance. The hd 558 and 598 get almost a 2db boost at 90hz due to the high output impedance, but people may find this enjoyable though. In terms of noise, I could faintly hear the noise floor of low gain with a pair of shure se215 iems. These are not the most sensitive iems and you generally expect lower noise when there is relatively high output impedance, so this is not a great sign. In speaker mode, which is basically like setting the card to line out, I measured 1.17vrms output with 110 ohm output impedance.
The thing that most separates the asus xonar dgx card from like a usb dac+amp, and probably the main reason to buy one imo, is dolby headphone. If people aren't familiar with dolby headphone, I'd describe it as a super crossfeed. Most crossfeeds work by taking stereo, and moving it in front of you. Giving it that directionality helps reduce listening fatigue. Now, not only does dolby headphone do that better than any crossfeed I've listened to, but dolby headphone also takes the rear channels of a 5.1 signal and moves them behind you. This creates this front-back axis that is just amazing for gaming. When you are setting this up, it is key for the application to be set to output surround sound, and set the asus panel to 6 channel/48khz/headphone+dolby headphone. And since this card has optical output, you can hook up this card to any toslink dac, amp, and headphone combo to turn the headphones into surround sound headphones. So forget crappy gaming headsets; you can get gear with some serious audiophile bona fides. I personally use optical out to a fiio e17 and akg k7xx with the dh1 setting. I should mention that dolby headphone does a lot of mixing, and whenever you do a lot of mixing, there is a risk of clipping. So you should always leave yourself some headroom and keep the windows volume close to 50-60% tops.
Now on to something I don't like about the xonar. Let's talk about the equalizer under the effects tab. An equalizer can be very helpful to ameliorate headphones with known frequency response problems, but this one leaves a lot to be desired. It is only 10 bands, and the change per band isn't immediately clear. If you are going to be using the equalizer, the precise values for each band is stored in C:\Users\User\AppData\Roaming\ASUS\Xonar DGX Audio Center in the cmicnfp.ini file, using multiples of 2^16 to represent change in decibels.
Overall, how is the DGX? Well, these things often go for $20 used, so it is hard to be critical. People who are spoiled with high end dacs and amps might turn their nose up at the output impedance and noise floor of the analog out, but my motherboard, the msi x58 pro-e, actually had a much higher output impedance at 100 ohms, a lower voltage at 1.65v, and a higher noise floor. If that is representative of integrated audio, I would assume the xonar dgx is a pretty solid upgrade over motherboard audio in terms of analog out for headphones. Dolby headphone is awesome, and the spdif out is perfect for using with an external dac. So, all things considered, I really like this card.
Pros - Dolby Headphone, Adjustable Impedance, Cheap, Optical Out
Cons - Fit in case is funky, jacks seem a bit cheap, EAX support not very good
Overall a great little card. Dolby headphone is amazing I preferred this card to my Sound Blaster Z, I sold that card when I needed a bit of money and bought this one to replace it for cheap and I actually liked the sound on this one more for gaming. It has a decent amp built in but if you want to plug another in for using dolby headphone it does not have a standard line out option, so I recommend using the optical out to send to something like a FiiO D3 and then connecting your amp to avoid double amping. It is great that dolby headphone is sent through the optical. It does lack Dolby Digital Live so sadly you aren't going to be able to send out surround via optical, you have to use analog connections to computer speakers for that. For the price though it is a splendid card, the microphone input is clean and gave me less noise than my Sound Blaster Z/
A weird thing about the card; it fit into my first PC case just fine but when I upgraded to a Nanoxia Deep Silence 1 case (This case is nice and quiet!) The DGX did not fit properly in the PCI-E slot. I had to bend the backplate to get it to screw in to the case and it still sticks out.
Pros - Excellent sound quality; Most awesome positional sound through Dolby Headphone; Low-Price; Stable and Low-latency UNi drivers with accurate 7.1 sound
Cons - Difficult to make it fit into PCI-E slot while keeping it fully attached to case
First of all the other reviewers may have had issues with drivers for this card, but I had 0 problems. It was as easy to install as pressing "Install". It required nothing more and at the moment, UNi drivers are of the highest quality, offering Low-Latency installation and very accurate Dolby Headphone 7.1 profile, far more accurate than official ASUS drivers provide. Do not download or use official ASUS Xonar drivers - install UNi Xonar drivers ONLY.
The UNi Drivers Dolby Headphone Surround Sound 7.1 profile is truly a miracle for gamers. You can spot your enemies just by listening to their foot-steps or gun-fire, knowing instantly from which direction they are coming and how far they are. It truly immerses one into gaming, as if being right then and there. I find UNi Xonar 7.1 Dobly Headphone profile more accurate than CMSS-3D and SBX Surround Sound technologies, but it does produce slight echo and reverberation that some people dislike. The sound quality itself is excellent. There is no crackling, noises, hissing, or latency issues that I experienced with Sound Blaster cards like X-Fi Titanium, no matter how updated drivers were. This card is rated @ 10ohms impedance, so for the best quality sound, please use headphones rated@ 80ohms or higher. However, this card performs extremely well even with 64ohm headphones, such Sennheiser HD-280 Pro.
The worst aspect of this card is that it often comes with inaccurately positioned metal tab, on which resides a hole needed for attaching the card to the case with a screw. It may affect only some cards, but I know several people with this exact issue. There was no way for me to keep the card fully inserted into PCI-E slot, while being tightly attached to my PC case with a screw. I had to pick to either have it fully inserted into PCI-E slot that would prevent me from attaching the card to my case or I could attach to my case, but the card would be inserted about 70% into PCI-E slot. I left the card attached to my case without it being fully inserted into PCI-E slot simply because the card still worked without any issues, which means all the contacts worked in PCI-E slot. Another solution is to manually bend the metal tab that attaches to the case in a manner that would allow both - full insertion into PCI-E slot and complete attached to my PC case, but the metal tab would be bent and it would be visible on the back of the case.
I recommend this card to any gamer on the budget who wants to experience truly high-end sound quality, accurate surround sound quality, problem-free performance, and the best value sound card their money can buy!
Pros - Great sound quality, good microphone input quality, built-in headphone amplifier, compact size, surround sound simulation
Cons - High output impedance, drivers can be annoying
This card is really great if you're looking to power higher impedance cans at a bargain price. Another really great thing about this is that it's microphone input is vastly superior to that of most onboard solutions. The drivers work well most of the time, but sometimes mess around during installation. Also, like most dedicated sound cards, it has a high output impedance so it might not be well suited for low impedance headphones or IEMs.
However, all in all, it's still a great card because it's so ******* cheap and gives you so much.
Pros - better than your on board soundcard , crisp clear sound better than creative codecs, 24 bit dac, TOSLINK optical outpu pass through, budget card
Cons - hard to install, drivers suck (get uni xonar drivers and they are still hard to install),
Ok I bought this card just for my Schiit Gungnir because my optical output on my motherboard broke off. So I went to microcenter and picked up this guy, the associate tried to sale me and crappy recon3d I knew this guy had no idea what he was talking about because creative cards are mostly codec based. So I went and bought the DGX and got home open the box, the pins were bent to ****. I tried to adjust them. I spent like 3 hrs trying to install the PCIe card and I almost gave up, until I saw this guy bend the ends where it screws in at, so I did that couple of times, I did not get the flushed result I want, but it was good enough. Then when I finally got it installed drivers took like 2 or 3 times to install. Then I realized my toslink was passing through the speakers and I honestly thought it wasn't hitting the gungnir wasnt being utilized. So I installed a modded driver and I had to put my windows 8 in test mode permanently to install the drivers for the driver enforcement bs. Well I got it working, foobar was recognizing the SPDIF pass through.
- Drivers suck on the soundcard the overall chip is good just the drivers not so much
- SQ and Dolby Headphone (I don't use but its a cool feature, cause i'm running everything through DAC and amplifier don't want to distort the sound)
- Hi-fi Mode disables all processing (which is awesome)
I'm just using this for my Schiit Gungnir, so far no jittering or noise. So its doing it's job