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4.0 out of 5 stars ASUS reliability, 22 Nov. 2013
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This review is from: Asus SOUNDCARD XONAR DSX, XONAR DSX (Electronics)
EDIT: I have just noticed that the price has DOUBLED from when I bought this card so in that case I am re-thinking my review. There are much better options in the £90 price range ! I bought this for about £45 so my entire review is based on that price point which is why I gave it 4 stars, this card for £90 only deserves 2 stars even with the upgrade !

I bought this because I was very unimpressed with the quality of on-board sound and was getting more disappointed every day. I am a Linux user so I realised that my choices for sound cards could be limited, also I didn't have a lot of money to spare which created further restrictions on my choices.

Straight out of the box, I installed it and it worked ! (with some minor configuration alterations in Linux) so that was a major bonus (well done Linux Mint 15 Olivia !). Unfortunately I didn't get the massive sound quality upgrade I would have liked although it was very slightly better than the ALC887 on-board option.

One of the major features of this card is the swappable Op Amp, it is an excellent feature ! I swapped it for a 'LM4562NA HI-Fi Audio Operational/Op Amp, Low Distortion/Noise' unit from Ebay for £4 and was very surprised at the improvement in quality, in fact I would say that this is an essential upgrade for this card !

Before the upgrade, the sound was muddy, vague, narrow ranged and really not worth the price of the card. After the upgrade the sound is open, clear, dynamic, punchy, tight and has much better range with excellent sound stage and presence ! The difference is incredible and I am fully satisfied with this sound card. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who listens to high quality audio recordings as long as they replace the cheap nasty Op Amp that it is fitted with. It also helps to have a good quality amplifier and speaker system to get the full benefit.

On the other hand, if you only listen to internet radio or video clips on YouTube and low quality MP3's (and don't have any good quality recordings) through cheap plug in/USB speakers then you will not get much benefit from it. You must have a reasonably good quality audio system and high quality recordings to hear any real improvements.

It has also improved my gaming experience too by allowing me to hear far more detail than before, allowing me to pin point sounds and other players positions.

I can't comment on the software as it is not compatible with Linux but I wouldn't use it anyway, I have no need for extra effects.

So basically, if you are looking to improve your sound quality but don't have good speakers then just don't bother. If you are expecting an immediately noticeable improvement straight out of the box, you will be disappointed. If you only have low quality MP3's that you downloaded on your phone, it's a waste of money. But, if you know about audio, have a good sound system, are on a limited budget (don't want to spend more than this) and are able to upgrade the Op Amp, then you will be very pleasantly surprised as long as it is around under £50, it is not worth the current asking price of £90 IMO.
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