Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

The place to sound off on all things related to audio, from sound cards to speakers.

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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:16 pm

My sound system was chosen for a great bang-for-the-buck (and as few bucks as possible) recording studio, and it does its job nicely. There are some things in here you wouldn't normally want in your own system. The heart is an M-Audio Fast Track MkII USB interface connected two two stereo outputs - M-Audio BX5a studio monitors (bi-amped monitors, 70W) and a pair of Sennheiser HD280s. With the Fast Track, I record using a Shure SM57-LC dynamic instrument mic and an Audio Technica AT2020 side-address vocal condenser mic, as well as my two guitars, but that's neither here nor there. I stuck with M-Audio because they're in the Avid family now, which is also who owns Digidesigns (Pro Tools). I record in Pro Tools 8 Essentials (occasionally) and Cakewalk Sonar 8.5 Producer, which I've upgraded over time from Home Studio 7XL.

CLearly I don't need the card, I just love to talk about audio stuff.
Last edited by derFunkenstein on Fri Sep 03, 2010 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:33 pm

Klipsch ProMedia 2.1s, which I have had for over a decade, and which sound awesome (still the best PC 2.1 setup). Creative X-Fi, because I am a sucker for gaming, and still don't trust onboard audio. Grado open-air cans for when I need to be quiet (great value for the money).
Last edited by Spyder22446688 on Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:33 pm

Well, this is definitely of interest to me. I'm still working with my first custom build, a q9450, an Asus P5Q Pro, HD3850, 4 gigs of DDR2, and some random PCI stuff.
I use the computer mostly for video editing and some music production off on the side. Notice something missing from my build? I'm still using the onboard sound of my motherboard with my fancy headphones and speakers..mostly because I had myself convinced that onboard sound would do just fine. Maybe it works for most, but in my field, excellent audio reproduction is a must. Unfortunately, after some hard thought, I decided that my food and housing are worth more to me than a sound card, and still end up working with my onboard audio.
I would post a picture, but I don't have a decent camera anywhere here. I do however have some pictures from when I originally built it: Image
Don't worry, I since learned how to manage cabling :)
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:47 pm

Along with my lifestyle, I chose the minimalist approach to my audio experience. I have a Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speaker system attached to my gaming laptop. For evening activities I use a set of Sennheiser HD 555 headphones.

It does get simpler than that, but at the cost of what audio experience? This is the balance.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:57 pm

I currently have a creative X-Fi Xtremegamer and Logitech z523 2.1 speaker set.
I obtained both on discounted deals of 50 dollars off each when I bought. I selected the sound card because it seems like that was the standard gaming card 3 years ago and I always wanted to have a high end Creative sound card. Selected the speakers after sampling the sound of many 2.1 speaker setups in stores like Fry's and Best Buy and comparing the quality and bass provided. This one won, especially since it cost me 50 dollars after rebate and it usually goes for $100.
When I game I use my original Fatal1ty USB headset which has always worked great and took me a while to select because I tried different sets at lan parties and stores looking for the right ones. Some expensive sets are crap, especially the Tritton ones...no bass at all people.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:17 pm

I don't have a digicam because it was stolen on New Years, so no pics. Anyhow right now I am running a M-Audio Delta 66 card with stereo output via XLR's to a pair of KRK RP8's. I use this for pretty much everything except games. Movies, music, etc all sound comes from this setup. For games I bought a Logitech G35 headset. It does the fake 3D sound pretty well and I really have no complaints other than the volume could go a little louder (goes to 11 man!!). Every once in a while I'll plug in my Sony MDR-7506 or Sennheiser HD-545 reference monitors to the 3rd output on my soundcard plugged into a Headroom Micro amp. I usually only use the headphone setup when I have to be quiet and not playing any games.I used to run dedicated 5.1 setups but after losing the subwoofer/amp on my last setup I decided that I am done with 5.1 speakersets and would go headphones and a (decent) high quality soundcard and speakers.

I am far from a audiophile and only got all this semi-high end audio gear when I was contracting for Skywalker Sound and Zoetrope. They get ridiculous discounts on gear so I took advantage :D Would love a "PC" and gaming sound card though so that is why I am writing this post.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:25 pm

In the spirit of TR's system guides, I present my guide to building a budget audio system.

The Econo(boom)box!*
'Cause quality audio doesn't have to cost a fortune.
*not actually a portable boombox.

Components
Onkyo TX-LR552 - $40.00
Polk Audio Monitor 30 - $56.00
Realtek ALC888 onboard audio - $0.00
6 ft Optical Toslink Cable - $1.98
50 ft 16 gauge speaker wire - $6.42
Total: $104.40

Working with a budget of about $100, my goal was to build a quality audio system with an emphasis on music. I spent most of my budget on the component that makes the most difference, the speakers. I found a pair of Polk Audio Monitor 30s at Fry's on clearance for $56, which is quite a steal. They have a very clean and clear sound for both music and gaming, with wonderful imaging. Even though bookshelf speakers can be large, some can also be wall mounted, and I personally think they look much better than average computer speakers sitting on my desk.
Image

Next, I needed a receiver to power my new speakers, preferably with digital optical inputs and Dolby Digital. After some patience, I lucked out on Craigslist and bought a used Onkyo TX-LR552 receiver. Using a class-D digital amplifier, this receiver is smaller than average, and can also directly convert a digital audio signal.
Image

To connect everything, I bought a Toslink cable to connect my PC to the receiver, and speaker wire to hook my speakers up. Since this is a budget system, I am just using the onboard ALC888's digital optical out to connect my PC to the receiver. Future upgrades would be a discrete sound card for less digital noise interference and Dolby Digital Live, but even as it is, anyone with a limited budget would love this audio system.
Last edited by EndlessSnowfall on Fri Sep 10, 2010 8:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:27 pm

My audio setup evolves according to my needs, my recent DIY time availability, and my SO's current level of tolerance for loud noises. I love to tinker and in the past year I've swapped out a Chaintech AV-710, a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz, an X-Fi Extreme Music, on-board Realtec and a few others in an effort to get quiet, good-sounding two channel audio. In the migration to Win7 x64 I found that support life caught up with many of them (no drivers) and others were supported but with minimal feature sets. Right now I'm using a borrowed Xonar DX that's very quiet. The amplification used to be via an inboard 10W/channel switching amp that I had a hand in designing but have swapped it for an external 20W/channel switcher that features a volume control (!).

The headphones are a set of ancient Stax SR-5 electrostatics that still sound heavenly. The associated SRD-6 controller switches the amp's differential outputs between the headphones and a set of mass-market speakers I designed about 10 years ago. They're not high-end, but it's a sound I'm used to and like. Plus I know exactly how to eq them. :)

I think the nicest thing about the Xonar is the low impedance outputs. You can route the case's front panel cabling past some of the noisiest sections of the motherboard and it still sounds great at the front panel.

Shown below are two of the loudest tweeters in the world. Very efficient, though somewhat peaky. Great for surround sound!

Image
Last edited by sluggo on Sat Sep 04, 2010 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:39 pm

I'm currently using Klipsch Promedia 4.1 with onboard sound. I got the Klipsch speakers due to their awesome quality and great range. However, the onboard sound dont due the speakers justice; they were previously paired with a Turtle Beach sound card and just recently a Razer Barracuda AC-1. The Turtle Beach sound card lost support when moving from XP to Vista and the Barracuda did not fit my needs anymore because i stopped gaming and was looking to replace it with something that would provide better sound quality. I haven't had the resources to purchase a new dedicated sound card yet but my first choice would be from the Xonar line-up. This prize couldn't of come at a better time. :D
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:06 pm

My most recent PC Audio setup (before I needed to distribute the speakers properly) was pretty l33t/ghetto. I currently have onboard sound from RealTek and at the time had been using all the outputs. I have a Gaming Rocker (chair) with speakers on the shoulders and a sub in the back. I also had my ALTEC Lansing 2.1 setup as the front L/R. I used another 2.1 set I bought at a garage sale a few years ago for side L/R, and with all of this I was set with 6.3 surround. Of course the subs are not their own channel just attached to the speakers. I had the right jack from my Center/Sub plugged into an RCA theater sub I borrowed from my parents house because they hadn't used it in a year. So make that 6.4 surround. I have got to say, Battlefeild Bad Company 2 was pretty much awesome. I was easily convinced that I was in the game due to the absolute immersion of the surround speakers.

Each set of speakers was either given to me, or I purchased from Garage sales or purchased from various retailers. I do have a GameCom 777 headset. And although it is a "gaming" (google "gimmicky") headset, it performs actually pretty well as far as the Mic and Virtual Surround go. I have been thinking about getting an audio card and maybe upgrading my headset if I do so. I am a huge dubstep fan so bass is a big thing for me. I live on the 3rd floor of my Apt building so the RCA sub is now out of the picture and only used for Movie Nights.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:57 pm

My current sad audio set up consists of an ct4830 OEM part from an old Dell computer that i salvaged. Since Windows 7 doesn't recognize my sound card i need to use kX drivers that were made specifically for this line of OEM cards. One problem I have with the drivers is that they freeze my PC from time to time. Connected to this behemoth of an audio card is an OEM Antec Lansing sub with two plain jane audio speakers. I also have a collection of Plantronics headsets that have failed me throughout the years. Good thing I picked up some Sennheisers HD201 that have been a godsend. What i do most on my computer is play old favorites like Counter Strike and COD 4 where a sound card is a must since if I go integrated my FPS drops due to my PC being singlecore. I also listen to a good amount of music or at least try to. I'd love to take pictures but I don't have a digital camera.... maybe I'll borrow one. :(
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:12 am

Sadly all I have is on board audio. An asus sound card has always been extremely appealing to me since I really enjoy excellent sound but don;t have the money to sink into it. One of those cards would be oh so sweet.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:09 am

I have 3 areas of audio output. My desktop computer (where I do most of my listening), my lounge-room entertainment center (equipped with a 1080p LCD TV, custom built HTPC, and Xbox 360), and our 'special occasion' dining room.

A Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic Sound Card hides within my desktop computer, hooked up to a pair of AudioEngine 5s (self-powered bookshelf speakers). The sound of the handcrafted AudioEngine 5s are exquisite, and bestow the best midtones known to my ears. The XtremeMusic card (now discontinued) is cheap yet very powerful compared to its successors.
Image
Our lounge-room uses a pair of Creative GigaWorks T10 speakers hooked up to the global output of our TV. The Xbox and HTPC (which only uses onboard audio) then remit audio via HDMI and can share the output of the speakers. The T10 speakers are hand-me-downs from the office computer but are aesthetically pleasing, and portable, as their design does not necessitate a subwoofer.
Image
An airport express and second pair of AudioEngine 5's hide in our dining room so that music can be streamed there via the HTPC or the desktop computer. The Airport Express receives power from the AC port on the back of the Audio Engine 5s, and so the speakers are very portable, allowing music to be played anywhere in the house wirelessly if needed.

An iPod touch is available to control the media being played at any location over wifi or even for private viewing / listening of media on the HTPC. The iPod touch was relatively cheap and serves as a brilliant wifi-based universal remote, media player, and casual web browser.

Music is synchronised between my personal computer's portable hard-drive and the HTPC nightly, meaning my horrible taste can be suffered in or out of the home.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:12 am

I have an ASUS P5KC motherboard with probably the most abysmal onboard audio ever. There is digital noise over the S/PDIF. Really.

I use the analog line out to two systems.

One sends Dolby stereo to my kitchen TV for its built in speakerss.

The other 3.5mm line out is converted to Ethernet then back (courtesy of my friends handiwork) and run through the walls to my home theater, along with HDMI video to give stereo computer audio to my awesome 5.1 stereo setup. Really, my home theater is all custom. But gets some sad 2.0 audio when I switch it over to work as the HTPC. No, my PC hardware does not support 2xHDMI out, with audio on both lines. I wish it did. I tried. Nor does windows support HDMI with audio on one line, and simultaneous analog audio Line out. That would be too good to be true I guess. I was told audio cards can help with this sort of configuration.

PLEASE HOOK ME UP!
Last edited by shakyone on Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 6:57 am

My setup is one of simplicity. A logitech z-540 5.1 set serves as my surround speakers however I rarely use them. The center channel has a handy headphone jack that automatically cuts out the speakers as I mainly use my plantronic analog headset. Headphones > 5.1 in my case. (with better speakers I could be proven wrong)

My audio is unfortunately onboard realtek but I am planning on using a xonar in the next build.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 7:53 am

well, let me start with my previous setup:
Amp: analog Audiosource AMP ONE/A (80 watts x 2 Class D amp)
Speakers: 2 x Infinity Primus P160
Soundcard: Chaintech AV-710

now, to enjoy my first viewing of Star Trek DS9, i've "sidegraded" to:
Amp: Sansui QXR-3500 (wood casing FTW!)
(Franken)Speakers: 2 x Infinity Primus P160, 2 x Sony SS-B1000
Soundcard: Creative X-Fi Xtreme Audio

--

okay, so, living in an apartment, i fear getting kicked out. as a result i've limited myself to 2.0 speakers (well, and a modest 100-watt Dayton Audio sub to fill the lows).

the Chaintech AV-710 soundcard is a budget audiophile's wet dream... stereo burr-brown DACs at $20. and S/PDIF for when you're ready to upgrade a bit. i'm kicking myself for not buying a case of them, as they're long gone.

the amp was a happy accident i happened across when i stumbled across uBid or something. not sure how i got stuck on an Analog amp, but it's make-you-smile clean and flat (as far as i can tell). and the speakers, which i auditioned at a store, then eBayed later (hey, back then it was about being frugal over a warranty!) bring it all together.

at one point, drivers must have gotten corrupted or something, as the sound got hosed, and persisted through swapping out a spare AV-710, so i went with a cheap $20-30 ShellShocker X-Fi. only a year later, when i was assembling an HTPC to lug to the parents' did i find the AV-710 was still good. however, the X-Fi was louder. well, good enough, as the AV-710 was sometimes too quiet on some AC3/DTS soundtracks.

so fast foward to today. had just finished ST:TNG and had DS9 to start watching, when i noticed "5.1 Dolby Digital" being loudly proclaimed. i recalled noticing a huuuuge amp from the 70s in the basement, going unused, and totally underapppreciated. turns out it was a 4 channel. not just a quad-synthesizing amp, but 4 discrete channels!

to keep it short, all i can say is that i'm in geek heaven! the only thing left is a HQ sound device. i WAS researching DJ equipment, but this may save me!

--

and that is 300 words, according to OpenOffice!

edit: dreadfully sloppy pic; temp location for amp due to its weight :x

Image
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 8:28 am

Currently I turn off the crappy on board audio. I would rather shave with a dull and rusty knife then have to succumb to using that garbage. On Board sound for just about any motherboard is an after thought and what I perceive as the cheapest 'perk'.

So my current set up is:
Asus Xonar DX - This card rawks, I dream of owning one of the more expensive ones as if the DX is the bottom line then those "big brothers" must sound astounding.

Sennheiser 555 - I have learned the hardway with headsets, you get for what you buy. Everyone always says "buy a good set of high end cans and a clip on mic", I have always regarded that as drivel until I was on my third headset in 1 year. Since then I havant given another headset a look.

Zalman ZM-MIC1 - is my mic of choice.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 8:50 am

Currently I am on onboard 5.1 sound shooting out to some ancient, creative 6.1 6600 speakers. I've had this set of speakers since my original computer build, about 7 years ago, and they're in need of an upgrade. Also have a plantronic headset that only plays sound on the left side, but if I play with the wires and set the headset a certain way and not move, then I can get sound out of both cans.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:50 am

my audio setup needs upgrade bad! running old USB SB Audigy into a 20yr old soapbox stereo :) Y'all should have a receiver & speaker giveaway next :). I would love to be able to hook up all my band gear (via mixer,etc) to the PC tho and PC back to the band PA.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:59 am

I also have Klipsch Promedia 2.1, good bang for the buck. My headphones are Koss Portapro. I needed something cheap when the
Grados died, and these are good for the money. The card is just the basic X-Fi. I have been hoping to get a Xonar card. When they
came out, they got a nice review in an audio magazine.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:47 am

I have an HTPC that I built with a Auzentech HDA Xplosion sound card. I have this sound card for a few good reasons.

1. Dobly Digital Live. I've loved this feature since the Nvidia Sound Storm days, and feel that I can't have PC sound without DDL.
2. Excellent quality components.
3. I've always loved C-Media sound chips, and this card has a C-Media chip.

This is all hooked up to my 500 watt Kenwood receiver, which powers my 5.1 JBL speakers. Along with my 73" HDTV, I have a fairly decent HTPC setup. :P

Please ignore the bowl of fruit. :oops:
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:27 am

At the moment my audio setup is pretty weak; it’s just a pair of old stereo Altec Lansing speakers and MDR-XD200 headphones. Partially due to my lack of a dedicated sound card, as I don’t think onboard would do a better setup much justice (even though onboard these days is pretty decent). Of course, if I were to win this card that part of the problem would be solved.

The other issue is cost. I could handle either a sound card or speakers/headphones, but not both at the same time. Getting a sound card for free would allow me to buy some decent speakers (or headphones). For speakers I’d probably go with Audioengine 2 desktop speakers, for headphones I’d probably go with JVC HA-RX900’s. Heck, I could get the speakers and the headphones and still save around $40 compared to the total cost of the Xense.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:41 am

Rocking the integrated 680i soundcard. Got the board for free. I have some antec lansing speakers i got at futureshop for sale for 20$. i'm poor. hence the cheap stuff. I actually wrote an entire 1000 writeup on my pc, and how and why i chose the ones i did, UNTIL I REALIZED IT SAYS AUDIO SETUP, MAX 300 WORDS!! if you guys want to see my write up on my complete system, let me know. otherwise, cost (read "wife) demands my pc be budget neutral.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 11:42 am

Don't make us work this hard to get into the giveaways!!
I have audio through HDMI to my Yamaha receiver. I'm using the integrated Realtek chip in my board.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:12 pm

Currently using an Auzentech X-fi Prelude in my main system. the S/PDIF is hooked to the home theater speakers, while the analog outs are hooked up to a Tritton AX51 headset.

now, that sounds impressive, but the home theater setup is pretty dinky (low budget), and while the headset's 5.1 surround does actually work fairly well as far as headsets go, the microphone's broken. i'm thinking of either buying a new headset or just getting a good webcam that has a good microphone. well, if i win the xense headset, that would seal the deal for me. =)
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:37 pm

I run an old SoundBlaster XFi Extreme gamer card with a cheap Logitech head set. Speakers are Creative 2.1 I chose these because I go for 'most bang for the buck'. Please, oh please, pick me. I always hand down my hardware to my son who just has on-board sound in his old HP. If my set up is too good to be chosen for an upgrade, I'll just give the stuff to him. :wink:
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:47 pm

Where do I begin. Firstly, in the past I have had hardly sufficient PC's to play modern games. Several years back I finally saved up a bit and got a 3d card. The video card was great and it was awesome to actually be able to play games on the PC with medium resolutions. I think the difference between using integrated graphics and a dedicated graphics card can be comparable to switching from integrated sound to a dedicated sound card with good headphones. I've always used integrated sound cards until a concerned friend convinced me that you need a dedicated sound card. I've tried dedicated sound cards and high-end headphones and while it sounds great I'm still not loaded to the point where I can freely purchase said equipment. I think the experience with high quality sound is almost as significant as increasing the video card experience. The sound clarity certainly adds another level of interaction and immersion into the game. Having tested such setups I can dream of the day when I too can enjoy that clarity and quality that audiophiles desire.

At this point my sound setup is a Creative X-fi Xtreme Gamer card I got from my friend and a pair of in-ear bose headphones. While the bose headphones are fine with music on an mp3 player, gaming with in-ear headphones is simply far from ideal. I await the day when I can enjoy high quality sound to make the gaming experience that much more realistic.
Last edited by w4rrior on Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:42 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:14 pm

I started setting up my current PC audio setup 4-5 years ago when I bought a Sony VAIO desktop. I wasn't the computer savvy dude back then that I was today, and overall if I had to do it all over again, I would definitely do a lot of things different. But I didn't learn much about PC's until after I got my first computer, which was this VAIO. It came with a Pentium D 820, a gig of RAM and a 250 GB hdd- I've upgraded to 3GB of RAM and a 1TB hdd since I bought it, but that's only because I had some money left over from the financial aid money I received last spring and both components were on sale.

Audio on this machine is handled by whatever audio chip Sony or Foxconn decided to shove on this thing. It outputs multi channel audio apparently, but I've never tried it. It handles pretty much no codecs, all the fancy Dolby stuff and whatever I've seen on other cards has never even considered playing on this machine, something about having higher standards. For years I played music using the thin, light speakers Sony included with the PC. They were not very good, my iPod's stock earbuds sounded better. When I went to college last fall I made friends with a fellow computer engineering major who had owned more computers than he cared to count, he came from a long line of computer enthusiasts and had been using, modifying and just generally mucking around in computers all his life. Well, this matters because he told me he had an old PC speaker system I could have, one that I very cheerily accepted.

Here's an AnandTech review of the speakers:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/162

They're a little old, maybe. But they're the best sounding speakers I've ever owned in my life.
And that's how I listen to audio on my PC.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:40 pm

I Have a creative X-fi Platinum its ok but would like to upgrade. ASUS makes great products Xonar are top of the line sound cards and id love to own one. I use my computer everyday for music and games (WoW addict). my Speakers are Klipsch 2.1 promedia which for the price i cant say enough good things. Ive had the speakers for like 7 years and still are the best ive found for my application. The sound card i have is like 3-4 years old and at the time it was the top of the line. Id love to win an ASUS Xonar and put that sucker to the test! Thanks for your time and take care.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Postposted on Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:10 pm

Setup is pretty simple.

Onboard Realtek (ew) ALC889A
JVC FS-1000 minisystem headunit (13W x 2 RMS)
PSB Alpha A/V speakers
Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10 IEM's

I lucked out, the ALC889A's analog from the Gigabyte GA-X38-DQ6 is actually pretty decent.

Since I don't need loud loud and prefer somewhat higher quality sound for my music over anything else, the PSB Alpha A/V's fill admirably as speakers. We get too many complaints from the neighbors with even a modest Mirage Omni S8 subwoofer so I don't have one connected.

The JVC FS-1000 is one old minisystem (they still make this line, but I forget what model they're up to nowadays), but in addition to enough power for normal listening, it has three other nice features that make me reluctant to replace it with a dedicated stereo (35~50W per channel) amp-- it has a headphone jack on the front for connecting my IEMs when I want to use 'em, it has an alarm clock/radio built in, and it has a remote control. I know I could replace it with something else, but it works well enough!

Stepping up to an Xonar DX is always tempting, but I generally have just enough background noise going that I'm not too worried about it...
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