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ASUS Xonar D2 Sound Card and U1 USB Audio Station Reviews

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Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Asus
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Introduction and Features

One of the most overlooked and underappreciated aspects of modern PCs are their ability to output high-quality sound. Most of today's mid-range and high-end motherboards come with decent 7- or 8-channel audio controllers on board, but they still skimp on many advanced features that PC enthusiasts, gamers, and audio professionals use in their daily activities like gaming and video editing.

Creative's Audigy and X-Fi series of sound cards have had a stranglehold on this market for as long as I can remember. But, with the emergence of Windows Vista, several other companies have created their own sound cards to help level out the playing field and make it more competitive for consumers.

Two recent additions to the market are ASUS's Xonar D2 Sound Card and U1 USB Audio Station. Both cards are geared toward different types of consumers with different needs.  The Xonar D2 was created to compete with the X-Fi and other high-end sound cards, while the U1 Audio Station was developed to taken on all competitors in the external audio solutions market.

We will be squaring off these two products against Creative's X-Fi Premium to see which sound solution comes out on top during our synthetic benchmarks as well as during use on some of the most power-hungry PC games on the market today.

Features and Specifications




Features

Operation System:

Windows Vista/XP(32/64bit)/MCE2005

Dolby Technologies:

Dolby Headphone, Dolby Virtual Speaker, Dolby Pro-Logic IIx, Dolby Digital Live

DTS Technologies:

DTS Connect (DTS Interactive Encoder and DTS Neo:PC)

Smart Volume Normalizer:

Normalizes the volume of all audio sources into a constant level

Xear 3D Virtual Speaker Shifter:

Virtual 7.1 speaker positioning

Magic Voice:

Modifies the sound of your voice, for VOIP and online chat applications (Windows XP)

Karaoke Functions:

Music Key-Shifting and Microphone Echo effects (Windows XP)

FlexBass:

Professional Bass Management/Enhancement system

Other Effects:

10-band Equalizer/27 Environment Effects

3D Sound Engines/APIs:

EAX2.0&1.0, A3D 1.0, DirectSound HW & SW

DirectX:

DirectX 9.0 or above required for 7.1ch output

Features

Operation System

Windows Vista (32-bit)

Windows Vista (64-bit)

Windows XP (32-bit)

Windows XP (64-bit)

Dolby Technologies

Dolby Headphone

Dolby Virtual Speaker

Dolby Pro-Logic IIx

Dolby Digital Live

DirectSound3D Game Extensions 1.0/DirectX

DS3D GX 1.0 supports EAX gaming sound effects and DirectSound 3D hardware enhanced functions on Windows Vista. (DirectX/DirectSound 3D compatible)

Smart Volume Normalizer

Normalizes the volume of all audio sources into a constant level and also enhances your 3D sound listening range and advantages in gaming

Magic Voice

Modifies the sound of your voice, for VOIP and online chat applications

Karaoke Functions

Music Key-Shifting and Microphone Echo effects

Xear 3DTM Virtual Speaker Shifter

Virtual 7.1 speaker positioning

Array Microphone

Reducing environmental background sounds and noises; keeping your front side voice input as clean as possible

Other Effects

10-band Equalizer/27 Environment Effects

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