Soundcards are no longer an easy sell ... can the ASUS STRIX Soar tempt consumers?

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2015 - 05:50 PM |
Tagged: STRIX Soar, sound card, audio, asus

Ever since the NFORCE2 chipset's onboard audio codec we have seen a huge increase in the quality of integrated sound on motherboards and we have hit a point where you no longer need a soundcard for general usage.  This has sparked an interesting competition among soundcard makers, searching for a way to make their product relevant to users.  We have seen the return of tubes, programmable and replaceable OPAmps, powered headphone ports and a variety of other features.

ASUS has released the STRIX Soar 7.1 PCIe card recently and Kitguru got a chance to review the board.  It certainly looks as pretty as the cards which come with high end motherboards and is thin enough not to encroach on systems with multiple cards already installed but does it offer compelling reasons to purchase the card?  Kitguru gave it their "Must Have" award so there must be something attractive about the card, check out the full review to hear more about it.

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"Today we look at the most affordable of the STRIX sound cards, the Soar. Although it has much the same hardware and features as its bigger brothers, it is more affordable which could be the real kicker in convincing potential buyers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: Kitguru

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December 7, 2015 | 07:11 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

given the undeniable truth in the first paragraph, wouldn't Nvidia or Amd be well advised to "acqui-hire" the engineers, or the tech itself, that power these sound cards? would seem like an easy and yet demonstrative way to separate yourself from the competition. and given the smaller volume that gpus are taking now and in the future, room on the substrate shouldnt be an issue. 'shielding' maybe...but nah.

trueaudio schmoo-audio. tell me that this new gpu im buyng here also has the same audio tech/performance as a stand alone soundcard, and im more likely to grab this chip over the others...let alone be a 'user' of your audio products in general. a product line, into which you've clearly invested some valuable resources and are undoubtedly interested in seeing some roi.

December 7, 2015 | 07:22 PM - Posted by arbiter

Less you build HTPC audio on a video card is kinda minor mostly useless thing. Most people that use HDMI probably use SPDIF pass-through on audio mostly skip any audio hardware on the gpu and let TV/home theater system do the decoding. Least that is what I would do.

December 7, 2015 | 11:47 PM - Posted by thatmouse

The pros are laughingly: quality components, attractive looking, good software, supports 7.1 (we all have 7.1 speakers right? lol) and 192KHz which no one would ever record at, and it's affordable... compared to the free audio that comes with the motherboard AND the GPU??? It doesn't help for HTPC and doesn't help you for music production - no real mic inputs, multiple IN's or OUT's. You'd be lucky to get record "what you hear" I bet.

December 8, 2015 | 02:30 AM - Posted by Hakuren

First of all it looks like a freak of nature. If it is possible to remove shroud then fine. There is vast difference between most on-board sound cards and dedicated card. But... big fat but

Knowing Asus support I would be highly reluctant to buy this. They basically abandon any peripherals within 6 months or so. Xonars don't work properly on plethora of newest boards (X99 in particular). I miss my old Xonar on new system. On-board sound from Creative is competent at best but that's about it. Put few audio streams at once and it will choke itself to death. That's why sound AICs matter. Still looking for some strong card, but I have to be certain it works properly before purchase. This one above is not it.

December 8, 2015 | 03:36 AM - Posted by Dr_Orgo

Can onboard audio like Crystal Sound 3 in the Asus Z170 Deluxe drive 250 ohm or 80 ohm headphones? The motherboard manual says that it has an headphone amp on it, but it was unclear what it can actually drive. If you need a sound card to support high impedance headphones I could see it being worth purchasing, otherwise not so much.

December 8, 2015 | 01:06 PM - Posted by 3dsurfer (not verified)

The last audio card I bought was Creative's Sound Blaster Z and like previous models they completely dropped any help or updates. The card has a 50% chance of working when I start the computer and when it does it sounds great. But that will be the last time I ever buy another Creative product. The on-board audio is all you need anymore for any game or music.

December 8, 2015 | 05:21 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Everything Creative that I owned was a total POS. Admittedly, it has been a very long time since I have purchased a Creative product, but I haven't had any reason to buy one of their products again.

December 8, 2015 | 05:35 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It is somewhat unclear to me what the actual flow is for current audio systems. If I plug a digital audio cable into my computer and run it to an amplifier capable of Dolby Digital "whatever", do I actually get any of that with current software? What does the current Direct sound API or whatever allow developers to do? I assume things like DVD or Blu-Ray playback software would actually be able to support pass through. Do many games support more than stereo sound? There was a lot of talk of such things when the nforce chipsets came out, but I don't know where all of it ended up as far as current integrated sound.

For immersion, multi-channel sound based on game geometry and surface materials will be more important for VR. It makes sense to do the necessary calculations on the video card rather than a separate sound card. It would be interesting if the simulation could take into account the actual placement of speakers in relation to the VR user. I don't know if the supposed multi-channel surround headphones actually accomplish that. I seem to have a very good sense of where sound is coming from, and headphones generally completely remove that sense. I generally prefer to listen through speakers than headphones when I can. I haven't tried the multi-channel headphones yet though.

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