Otherwise known as the CMI8788, the Oxygen HD supports resolutions and sampling rates up to 32 bits and 192kHz across eight channels. More importantly, the Oxygen HD's feature set includes the ability to encode Dolby Digital Live and DTS, allowing it to produce multi-channel digital output via a single S/PDIF connection rather than a mess of analog cables—a capability not even Creative's vaunted X-Fi can match.
Of the handful of manufacturers building sound cards with the Oxygen HD, Auzentech and Sondigo have the most divergent approaches. Sondigo's Inferno is a basic implementation of the Oxygen HD that takes full advantage of the chip's capabilities but doesn't really push the envelope on features and extras. Auzentech's X-Meridian is a little more exotic, with a focus on output quality and flexibility that goes so far as to allow users to swap out onboard chips. Keep reading to find out which of these implementations we prefer and whether either can challenge the X-Fi's mix of features, performance, and sound quality.