The subtle clue is in the name – the X means this is the PCI-Express x1 version of the Xonar D2 soundcard that we reviewed in September of last year. Since then the promised PCI-Express x1 version has finally arrived, along with better DirectSound, EAX and Vista support via updated drivers.
Comparatively, there’s very little change in terms of the style and feature sets available on the D2 and D2X – they both have the same EMI shield and illuminated parts, and apart from the change of interface the only other notable thing is that now the card requires an additional power source. Yes, PCI-Express x1 may be an improved interface but it apparently provides the wrong type of power.
In the box the bundle is still the fantastic fully packed selection which we got with the original D2:
Cyberlink Power DVD 7.0 (5.1 audio support comes as standard, although you have to pay extra for the 7.1 Dolby Pro Logic IIx decoder however the Xonar will upscale to 7.1 in its own drivers using Dolby Virtual Surround),
Right Mark Audio Analyser (version 5.6 is supplied, unlike the latest 6.06 available for free from the RMAA website),
Ableton Live music production software,
Cakewalk Production Plus Pack containing SonarLE, Dimension LE and Project5 LE
In addition the hardware features:
The Asus AV200 HD audio processing unit
A signal to noise ratio (SNR) of up to 118dB using Burr-Brown and Cirrus Logic components
7.1 Channel High-Definition surround sound up to 192KHz, 24-bit that includes six, backlit 3.5mm analogue audio jacks, S/PDIF in and out and even a Midi DIN connection as well.
The specifications are clearly impressive and it gets better when you read the software support for popular Dolby and DTS features:
Dolby Digital Live
Dolby Pro Logic IIx
Dolby Virtual Speaker
And there is also;
ALT (Analogue Loopback Transformation) Technology
OK, so the list of Dolby and DTS features is the same thing as we've been seeing for the last two years – all the way back to at least the release of the C-Media HD Oxygen processor the Asus AV200 is based on. EAX 2.0 will hardly set the gaming world on fire either, since it is also available on most HD Audio motherboard codecs as standard, and Creative has been using 5.0-HD since 2004. What should interest you though is the ASIO 2.0 support, which bypasses the OS kernel to provide an extremely low latency direct sound communication and, even more importantly; the ALT.