At last, someone is stepping up to the task of providing a decent PCIe x1 audio card. Surprisingly, it's Asus...
How about a PCI-Express x1 sound card? We've certainly been waiting for one ever since the first PCI-Express mobos came out back in 2004.
Asus is expected to break the non-trend by releasing an ultra high fidelity sound card with a 118dB SNR playback and 115dB SNR recording capabilities in the near future.
The company is deliberately not supporting any form of EAX, in preference for Dolby and DTS technologies. We're told that the reason behind this decision is because all of the next-gen consoles support Dolby and DTS instead of EAX. Thus, many games will be ported from consoles to PCs and only support the popular home theatre technologies, because developers don't want to spend extra time implementing EAX into their engines.
With this in mind, and the fact that Asus is persuading large publishers and developers to use Dolby and DTS technologies in their games, it could mean a shaky future for Creative soundcards.
The card incorporates many of the features we have seen before on soundcards from other companies, especially those based around the CMedia Oxygen HD audio processo. The features include Dolby Headphone, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Virtual Speaker, Dolby Digtal Live, DTS NEO:PC, DTS:Connect and DTS:Interactive.
However, rather than going down the third party audio chip route, Asus decided to develop its own entirely customised
audio processing chip in its own labs and have spec’d out the soundcard with ultra high end OpAMPs, DACs and ADCs. The company even included an EMI shield covering because the internals of a PC case are renowned for being an hive for RFI.
Even though I have personally never had a good experience of DTS NEO:PC, DTS is offering licenses for its IP at extremely aggressive price points to gain traction against the dominant technologies from Creative and Dolby. Also, considering Creative's dominance in the discrete audio market, all kinds of extra competition can only be a good thing for consumer choice.
The Asus rep we spoke to expects the card to retail at a similar price to Creative's X-Fi Extreme Gamer cards.
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