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4.4 out of 5 stars
Asustek Xonar DX/XD PCI-E Low Profile Sound Card
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2012
I'd bought a decent set headphones and thought they sounded a bit 'woolly' with the onboard VIA sound chip that came with my ASUS motherboard.

After doing a round of Internet reviews, I settled on the Asus Xonar DX as an attractively priced sound card where the sound quality was compared to products costing far more. A review at techreport.com from 2008 was the best review I found (it's old but sound card technology improves at a much slower pace).

From reading the user reviews however, it became apparent that many people were having technical difficulties installing the card so I made sure I was well prepared before starting the installation:

1. Disable onboard sound

To avoid conflicts, it is good practice to disable the onboard sound first. To do this, boot into the operating system and remove all the existing audio software especially the driver/codec.

Reboot the computer into BIOS setup and disable the onboard sound (on my ASUS motherboard, this was called 'HDA' for High Definition Audio).

Boot into the operating system to check that no sound components are discovered (if all is well, the loudspeaker icon on the task bar will have a red cross over it).

Shutdown the computer.

2. Physical Installation

The card has a PCIe x1 connector which is very short and therefore it's easy to pull the card out of the socket when tightening the screw holding the adapter plate. On my installation I found that it helped to loosen the two small screws securing the adapter plate to the card and gently pulling the top of the adapter plate away from the card before re-tightening the screws. This helped the adapter seat better in the socket.

To provide the Xonar with clean power, the card requires a four pin power connector normally used to power a floppy disk drive. Fortunately the card comes with an 4" long adapter cable that lets you use a regular molex power connector from a IDE hard disk drive. Make sure you have a spare molex that can reach the sound card before starting.

3. Drivers
Don't use the ASUS CD supplied with the card!

Boot into the operating system, cancel any driver installation instigated by Windows. In device manager check that the sound card has been discovered (it will have a yellow exclamation mark against it).

I downloaded third party drivers created by someone called 'Daniel K', these are highly recommended and easy to find on his blog site.

I ran the simple installer and rebooted when prompted (the Xonar made some 'clicking' noises during the installation which is normal). Once the reboot has completed you should now have a Xonar icon in the system tray and the red cross over the loudspeaker icon will have disappeared.

The installation is now complete.

Using the Xonar, I immediately noticed the difference in quality to the onboard sound using my Shure SRH440 headphones. The sound was noticeably more detailed and there was no 'hiss' at higher volume levels. There are lots of sound processing controls on the control panel which allow you to configure the sound to your personal taste.

I think the quality difference more than justifies the cost and makes this card great value for money. If you are using low quality headphones or speakers however, you might struggle to notice a difference in quality over onboard sound.

I've given the card 5 stars because I had a trouble free installation thanks to prior research. I can see why people could easily come unstuck during the installation and give lower scores. It seems incredible that the manufacturer doesn't supply decent drivers for their own product but thanks to the efforts of some generous people this doesn't cause a problem. ASUS are not alone in producing poor quality drivers for audio hardware btw.

I'll update when I've gained more experience of the card.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 November 2013
The sound from my onboard ALC887 card coupled with a relatively cheap Panasonic 5.1 surround sound was grand for music but absolutely appalling for movies. I wasn't sure which was to blame. I read all the forums, all the blogs. Still couldn't pin which was at fault. So after humming and hawing eventually decided to take the plunge. I'm glad to report it was definitely worth it. The card comes with an adaptor for optical input/TOSLINK and a standard aux cable. I'm using the adapter with optical input to great success. Also it was recommended to use a different set of driver which I downloaded and installed with no problems, without looking at drivers in box. The ASUS drivers are apparently quite dodgy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2013
Excellent build quality with the exclusion of the 4-pin connector (I had to "crush" the female end of the contacts on the 4-pin connector to allow the contact to be enough so the card to actually work).

The Asus software works but should be more user-friendly and informative.

Product looks great and the jacks on the back of the card are very durable and feel extremely solid (look fantastic too).

Assume this product as 5 stars if you don't mind the potential of having to play around with the 4-pin contacts to get the card working.
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on 8 August 2013
The most finicky, least updated official drivers on the planet, however there is an alternative, community driven third-party equivalent based off the same drivers that is a "post-periodically" updated and actually improves on the original drivers in every way, dramatically lowering latency and fixing bugs in the process.

They can be found here:
[...]

When using these drivers the card shines bright. The only niggle I would have is that stereo up-mixing is still so-so and the front panel most be enabled and disabled through a batch file in order to use them. Other than that they are great for Traktor DJing, casually listening to music and gaming. Currently have mine hooked up to Dell 5.1 speakers.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on 2 April 2010
I bought this sound card because I found the onboard sound on my Gigabyte EX58-UD3R motherboard, whilst being fairly clear, was not loud enough in some of the games I was playing and lacked punch. I searched the internet and this seems to be a problem associated with using the Windows 7 operating system rather than the integrated sound chip according to many posters. I already have a Creative X-Fi Soundblaster Xtreme Gamer sound card but can't use it with this motherboard. Unfortunately I use two graphics cards and the PCI slot I would have to use for the Soundblaster is so close to the PCI-E x16 slot for my lower graphics card that the sound card obstructed the graphics card cooling too much for safety. I bought this Xonar DX card because it fits into a PCI-E x1 slot I have available without blocking anything. Apparently it also works in PCI-E x4 and x16 slots if you have one of those spare also.

I didn't use the drivers on the disc supplied but downloaded the Windows 7 specific drivers from the Asus website (only about 13MB).The good news with this card is that it sounds superbly clear, can go very loud without additional amplification and has an easy to use control panel. I normally play games while listening to headphones and all I had to do was select Dolby headphones, the game mode (which is a preset that changes a few frequencies), and set the volume in the mixer to maximum (I control volume using a dial on my Logitech G11 keyboard) and I was away. The sound quality is slightly better than the Creative card (which was petty good). The sniper rifle in Far Cry 2 for example sounded very sharp with a slight echo whilst the Uzi sounded beautifully staccato. For older games there is a DS3D switch which seems to replicate the EAX effect that Alchemy does for Creative cards.

The bad news about the card and the reason I only give it thee stars is the set up is pathetic. I read a review of this card in Custom PC and neither this nor Amazon's product details made it clear the card needs additional power. This seems ridiculous given that some mid-range graphics cards are now able to run on the power from the motherboard alone. This is just hassle and clutters up the case further. Anyway you need a spare lead from your power supply with a Molex connector on the end. This plugs into the supplied floppy 4-pin connector which fits into the back of the card. If you havn't got a spare lead on your psu this card will not work. When I installed the card it wouldn't work initially and I kept getting a message saying the card wasn't plugged in (which it was). I did an internet search and found this was a common problem. It seems the connection on the card is badly designed and the 4-pin connector doesn't fit properly. The plug snaps in quite reassuringly but there is far too much play on it and it doesn't take much to lose the electrical connection. This is completely unacceptable on what is supposed to be a high quality electronic product and I am very surprised at Asus who normally excel in quality design. One chap on the web has resorted to bending the pins on the card to get a tighter fit whilst another has resorted to sellotape - ridiculous! I very nearly sent the card back for a refund but eventually got it to work by rerouting the cable through a higher entry point to the motherboard tray (I have an Antec 1200 case where you route cables behind the motherboard tray). This meant gravity was not pulling on the cable so the connection was secure.

In summary this is an extremely good sound card for pc gaming (I can't comment on other uses) with excellent vibrant sound and plenty of grunt. It is also very good value for money given its high specification and very low noise level. If you have a spare molex power cable on your power supply and are prepared to fiddle about with the connection to get it working it is well worth buying.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2009
Creative have had many problems with their vista drivers and some still manage to have problems. I upgraded from an onbaord Realtek ACL888 to this which is the same as the D1 just slot differences. The major difference was noticed during games crisp clear voices and sounds. Music had more definition than usual no more muddled bass lines. It is currently ran by vista x64 ultimate, and they run Logitech's Z-5500. All i can say is that they do the job exceptionally well and perhaps better than some of the other pricey soundcards out there.
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on 2 October 2014
I bought this as I aspire to become a professional gamer (I play League of Legends and a few different FPS games). Playing at a competitive level means that the small details such as the sound of footsteps really do matter as they help you to determine where the enemy is.

I've paired this card with my Astro A50 headphones and now it is like I'm actually there!
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on 18 February 2015
Good sound quality and lots of options to tailor the sound within the control panel. The only complaint was mine had a fault on the line in. It did not really matter though, since I also use a Juli@ soundcard for my DAW, so the line in was unnecessary. The option for Dolby rooms, environments and karaoke settings provide a lot of individual adaptations.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2014
This is a quite old model from Asus. There are plenty reviews already, but I thought it is fair to write a new one since the software has changed a lot and a good summary maybe more helpful.

The goodness of the Asus Xonar DX:
1. It is a low profile card. For full/mid tower, it creates very little blockage of airflow which is good for most gamers. Especially good for the people running SLi/XFire. And it will fit a slim case using the adaptor provided.
2. The sound quality is well worth the price. You probably won't be able to find a second card does such a good job of punching the low and crystal the high. Many of the cards in the price bracket of 80-100 pounds can't even beat this card.
3. Surround, it indeed lacks of true support of EAX5.0, THX cert etc. But in games and movies, the Dolby Digital surround with this card does a pretty job. As a few reviewer called it out, you probably won't feel any difference. With the price tag in mind, this is probably much more worthy than getting a creative card.

The badness of Xonar DX:
1. The card came with a CD driver, which is very out dated. The asus website isn't doing a very good job helping you download the latest driver. From the support page the Xonar DX page will return you Error. You'll need to go to the download page or product page to get the latest driver.
2. Front Audio jack is not auto detectable. To use the front audio you need to manually select the output in the control center. Which can be quite painful as it takes a good few click to get to.
3. Volume control doesn't work from the Asus software. Every other feature worked, just not the volume control.

The arguable aspects:
1. Although Asus declares the external power supply requirement is for the good of the getting cleaner power source, which I totally agree its necessity, but in conflict there is no static isolation cover for the card (D2X has the cover, but the price is double to triple of DX). There you can argue why not draw the power from the PCIe slot. I suppose one improvement is better than none. Some may think if it's not perfect, why not simplify it for easier usage.
2. Software, it's vastly improved. The driver works. I pretty much don't care about anything else. But do call it out, that the driver software is not the best. It looks old and designed in the old fasion of how UI should be. Buttom line, it works. Just don't expect any enjoyable experience configuring it. P.S, I'm using WIN7-64bit.

Overall it's a balanced card for music, movies and gaming. Not like the Creative cards, they are more for the gamers with little improvement to the music experience. The price tag is almost the same as the Sound Blaster Z OEM. It is the balance for all audio needs Xonar provides ultimately influenced my decision to choose this card.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 24 April 2011
Overall I love this card, sound quality is better than some of the rivals cards costing twice (if not more) as much!

It's not without its issues though, and for those looking to buy one, i shall give you the bad points:

1) External power. Personally I don't see this as an issue, as the card comes with an adaptor (if your PSU has very little or even no FDD connectors). According to ASUS the reason for the external power is that PSU power is a lot cleaner than power through the motherboard. So there's no hiss, or annoying "popping" sounds. Can you hate them for that? No. I don't either.

2) Drivers. I see other reviews on here hint at this too, but the driver control panel really does look like a 6yo designed it. It's awful to use. One more issue is that although the card has ports for FP connections (Front Panel), the port will not auto sense connections. So plugging in headphones for example will do nothing until you actually select `FP Headphones' in the control panel. Another slight annoyance, so be aware.

Everything else it does perfectly well. Even more so than most of the Creative cards, which are also plagued with driver issues, but Asus do listen to their customers instead of ignoring them as Creative do.

Verdict:
Even with the control panel issues (how often do you go in there anyway!) I'd highly recommend this card (I managed to get one for under £50) and it can't be beaten at this price point. Also beats any on-board codec into a cocked hat.
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