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Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:34 pm

Asus is celebrating a birthday. The company's line of Xonar sound cards turns three this year, and to commemorate the occasion, Asus is introducing a high-end Xonar Xense sound card bundled with a Sennheiser gaming headset. Like the Xonar Essense STX, the Xense has a built-in headphone amp and 6.5-mm headphone and microphone jacks.

While the Essence can only pipe multi-channel audio over its digital output, the Xense has a digital out and an output dongle with a standard array of 3.5-mm analog outputs. Asus is bundling the card with a version of Sennheiser's PC350 gaming headset, and the combo is expected to hit shelves over the next few days with a suggested retail price of $300.


If you'd rather not drop three hundred bucks on a PC audio upgrade, don't fret. Asus has generously donated one Xense bundle and a couple of its upcoming Xonar DG sound cards for our latest contest. The Xonar DG isn't due until the end of the month, so you actually have a chance to get your hands on that card before anyone else.

To enter, all you have to do is post in this thread, describing your PC audio setup and explaining why you chose its various component parts. Eligible posts need to be 300 words or less, and while you should feel free to flex your photography skills, please don't post more than a couple of pictures. Any images need to be 1600 pixels wide or smaller.


TR editors will judge the entries based on the quality of writing and photography. Creativity counts, too, and we reserve the right to award at least one of the Xonar DGs to the person who is clearly most in need of an audio upgrade. The forum thread will stay open until 2:00 PM CDT on Tuesday, September 14, and we'll announce the winners within 48 hours of the contest closing.

Since we have to ship these cards ourselves, the contest is limited to residents of the US and Canada. (The Xonar DG is going to retail for only $30, and it'd cost more than that to ship the card to some parts of the world.) We're only allowing one entry per person, and we'll be checking IP addresses to make sure no one tries to game the system. As with our previous contests, cheaters may have their accounts banned from the forums and the front-page comments.

In addition to providing fodder for this giveaway, Asus is also soliciting suggestions for new sound card features in an online survey. Those who complete the survey can ask Asus for a free OPAMP upgrade kit for their existing sound card... while supplies last, we're told. Asus is handling that particular giveaway.

If you'd like to talk about the contest, or chime in with your thoughts on future sound card features, you may do so in the discussion thread stickied at the top of this forum.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:01 pm

Xonar DX and a Sennheiser headset.

These were chosen because:

Xonar: I won this at the last big TR giveaway. :wink:
Headset: I wanted a nice headset for playing multiplayer games, and this one had good reviews and a reasonable price. Don't remember what model it was, I got it at least two years ago.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:04 pm

I'm so poor ("How_poor_is_he?!?") that my sound card is just a Gregorian monk who chants about the on-screen action.

"Yoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuu haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaave diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeed oooooooooooooooooooooooooof dyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyysssseeeeeeeeeeeeeeenteeeeeeeeeeeeerryyyyyyyy."

Wait a second. Before I say I don't need to be in this contest, will this sound card improve audio pumped through an ATI video card's HDMI-out port? Or does the ATI video card have its own DSP on board that creates the signal? Right now, I'm using my mobo's on-board Realtek sound chip and pushing the sound through my ATI video card over HDMI to a receiver that my speakers are hooked to. Would this card be bypassed in that setup?

Update: Well, since no one seems capable of answering my question you might as well remove me from the contest. Thanks, anyway.
Last edited by bdwilcox on Tue Sep 07, 2010 2:08 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:08 pm

My primary home theater PC system includes an M-Audio Audiophile 192 PCI stereo sound card feeding an Apt/Holman preamplifier, a trio of McIntosh MC2200 200w/ch stereo amps driving a pair of Martin-Logan Monolith speakers (stereo, only - no center, surround or sub-woofer channels).

Most of my audio equipment is quite old by today's standard; however, in its day, it was among the best there was. I chose equipment that sounded the best to me at the time. I bought mostly trade-ins that other, much more affluent audiophiles had cast off in their inane attempts to improve on the already near-perfect with the latest and greatest on the market. I ended up with three complete high-end stereo systems, which, had I been foolish enough to purchase new, would have cost me many tens of thousands of dollars. My total outlay? About 20 cents on the dollar. Still, it was quite a lot of money. Regardless, today, my systems are still near state of the art and will provide listening pleasure for many years to come.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:20 pm

When I bought my sound components, I was looking for the best bang for buck. If I'd known how deeply into music (listening and a few fairly successful cracks at rolling my own) I'd get, I would have dropped a lot more. My card is a Creative SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS Gamer, always a weirdo in the Creative lineup, and definitely showing its age. The quality's not bad, though I'm definitely not a fan of Creative, with their bloated driver packages and dodgy support. My headphones are Audio Technica ATH-PRO700s; solid cans for the dollar, but a little weak in the bass department, and not the best fit for my gorillaesque noggin. The speakers are dated, but still very strong, Altec Lansing 251s. All in all, a decent, though aged combination which would certainly benefit from a refresh.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:25 pm

My setup is as follows. I have my gaming pc hooked up to my living room TV and a 23" Acer monitor.
I have a really nice Onkyo 1000W 7.1 surround sound system for when I watch TV and I have a Logitech gaming headset hooked into the headphone jack for when I play games. My X-fi sound card failed so I am forced to use a Realtek onboard audio chip. Due to connection limitations on my mobo I am stuck with stereo audio for everything. I have been shopping for a replacement but as I am unemployed I have no extra cash to make the needed acquisition. :cry:
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:29 pm

Sound card: a creative labs sound card, X-FI Soundblaster Platinum Champion.

The reason for buying it? the card itself offers great sound, and the pricepoint that I got it at really delivers as far as a sound card is concerned, I don't like that it did not have an optic port in the back, but the front I/O plate took care of that, although I would have prefered not needing the extra cord inside my case, now the flat silver cable looks tacky in my case =/

Headphones: Logitech G330, they are comfortable, but they go behind my ears, so I can lay on a pillow and have them secure,without worry that they will fall off if i tilt my head.

The theatre system I owned was a Logitech Z-5500 surround with a clearchat comfort, overall I loved the system and it worked well with the creative labs card, but I felt that it was missing something, the software that comes with creative isn't the most impressive i've seen due to the bugs they have and EXTREME lack of customer care, even their service numbers to call if you have questions is VERY sketchy. I sold the speakers and resorted to just my headset, with a better sound card I may consider going 5.1 again.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:42 pm

Nothing fancy here:

1. Sound Blaster X-Fi Music from Creative Labs
2. Klipsch Pro Media 5.1 speakers

The first one was chosen because it was fairly cheap and accelerated sound in games taking a load off the CPU. Since I purchased it while still rocking a fairly slow CPU back in the day it was important. The Klipsch setup was received used from a friend who needed to sell off excess computer equipment. I sold a bunch for him including these and a set of Logitech speakers. After plugging in both I decided to keep the Klipsch and sell the Logitechs since the former sounded far better to my ears. Altogether pretty happy with this setup.
Last edited by Synchromesh on Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:47 pm

My main gaming system is my proudest. Inside the machine is a Diamond Xtreme Sound 7.1 ddl. Hooked up to this is my Logitech X540 speakers. They may not be top of the line, but they were a really good price and work well as a 5.1 surround sound set. After my little girl goes to bed I hook up my Sennheiser HD 435 headphones. I chose the diamond sounds card because of suggestions on here, and I really liked the feature set and price. The headphones I got for a really great price. They were regularly 100 bucks, but I only paid 65.
Sound Card-

Hooked up to my media center I've got the hdmi audio from my 5470 to my JVC 750W 7.1 receiver. The 54I got the whole set of speakers and the receiver for 150 bucks because it was missing the subwoofer, which I later got a hold of.

Hooked up to my secondary game machine is a very basic speaker set. Logitech LS21 2.1 set, hooked up to the onboard audio. As a secondary system more for visiting company it is a competent machine and, while the LS21 set is kinda low quality it is more than enough.

Hooked up to my work laptop when at home is a basic set of USB speakers. I don't even know what they are. It is a work laptop and the speakers are just for basic applications.

The folding node doesn't even have speakers hooked up to it. Why would a folding node need speakers? :P
Last edited by MaxTheLimit on Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:51 pm

I'm definitely in need of an upgrade to my HTPC, which is definitely getting a little long in the tooth.

It's built with a socket 939 Athlon 64 X2 3800 (from back when those had just come out), but I'm just peeling the digital audio off the motherboard:


That goes into a Fosgate FAP T1 surround preamp:


which drives a few Aragon 4004 mkII amplifiers hooked up to five Genesis 8300 speakers.

Why? Part of it is the coolness factor: I figured a clear case would be interesting (and look nice with the Zalman cooler), I like having the screen on the FAPt1, and it's nice to have all the speakers match, though it's a little hard to mount them as side and rear surrounds.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:12 pm

My current PC audio setup consists of a Creative X-Fi XtremeGamer and Logitech's Z-680s. I've had this setup for a number of years now and I chose it because I wanted the most immersive gaming and movie experience I could get without breaking the bank (I also remember reading reviews of Doom 3 years ago that said you'd be doing a disservice by not playing in 5.1; they were right). That, of course, was before I got married this year and starting living with someone. Now, I still want that immersive experience but I need a way to get it without aggravating the wife with the sound of gun shots, booming explosions, and Protoss warcries. That's where these headphones and soundcard come in: they're key to maintaining marital bliss :-)
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:24 pm

The last sound card I owned was the Sound Blaster Pro back in 1991. I had a pair of LabTec Speakers plugged into that beauty! I had always considered myself more of a struggling game player rather than an audiophile. Just saying "audiophile" makes my bank account shrink! So, I have been going with the on board sound solutions that my budget motherboards over the past 2 decades have provided for me. I finally wised up a bit last year and splurged on a decent pair of headphones. I got some Sennheiser PC 150! Wow! I noticed a difference in my TF2 and L4D games immediately and I could now get lost in Dead Space. I fell in LOVE with them. Then the dog ate them. I bought a second pair that I still have plugged into my cheapo motherboard sound card. Still, I feel like I'm missing something without an add-in sound card. Oh, and I have to share the Sennheisers.Image
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:41 pm

My setup:

- ASUS Xonar Essence ST w/ LME49720NAs in I/V section (foobar ASIO out)
- Sennheiser HD 650 and Shure SE530

Xonar Essence ST is technically superior to the STX because of the native PCI clock generator (instead of relying on a separate chip for conversion like the STX).
The LME49720NA opamps give the card a bunch deeper and punchier bass, but not muddy at all. The lower frequency is still very accurate and clean.
HD 650 sounds absolutely mesmerizing on the Essence ST. The SE530 picks up quite a bit of noise from the headphone out on the card, due to its low impedance and high sensitivity.

LOL obviously I don't need prize, so give it to somebody else. Just thought I'd share something.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:46 pm

I have a Creative XFI sound card with front panel audio thingy. I use the front panel audio for headphone monitors while playing music (drums, bass, guitar). This is a PCI card that is getting long in the tooth. It has it quirks and I have been itching to upgrade.

I have stereo audio from the card's back panel to my NAD 7250PE receiver. I love the sound of this receiver.

I have a pair of DIY speakers connected to the NAD. They are full range and sound amazing. Here is the link to the site I got the instructions to build them from:
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:19 pm

I recently built a HTPC to use with my 40" 1080i LCD screen in my bedroom for late night Netflix episode watching. The HTPC is built from a small form factor mAtx case by Silverstone.
Inside is an Asus M4A785-M motherboard with an AMD 720 Black 3 core cpu with all 4 cores unlocked. The TV card is an Asus EHD3-100 MyCinema as well with dual tuner capability.
Video is provided courtesy of a AMD Radeon 5850 and the hard drive subsystem is based on one OCZ 60gb Vertex and two 1tb Caviar blacks. My audio card is a PCI style Soundblaster
Xtrememusic card and as much as I wish that it was an Asus as well the Soundblaster fits the bill utilizing the only slot, that being PCI, left on my mATX board. So even if I won that card I would not
have a place to put it unless I built a whole new system!
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:26 pm

Hey Cyril,
currently I have ASRock X58 and use onboard sound with Creative GigaWorks T20 speakers for music and movies and Creative Arena Headset for gaming.

I would love the chance to win one of these Asus Sound Cards.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:39 pm

I actually kinda need a sound card with support for multi channel digital audio output. I might as well throw in my two cents to the pool to see if I am worth the time.
Here goes!

As far back as I can remember I've had the good old realtek on board sound chips to service my audio needs. I experimented with a Creative Soundblaster X-fi back in the day of Windows XP. In this brave new world of Windows 7 however, it is next to useless. I sold that to a friend and he's quite happy with it. So once again I am back to 5.1 surround sound using a Logitech X-540 speaker system. Unfortunately this won't allow my Playstation 3 or cable box deliver surround sound, just stereo from the TV. One day I had a thought: The Radeon HD5770 has HDMI audio output? What do I need to use it? A reciever? All right! 160$ later and I am the owner of a Pioneer VSX-520-k sound system which is next to useless. HDMI audio works for everything, but the picture quality is terrible. It won't allow the native resolution to pass through. So, why not use VGA on the TV like always, and have a digital audio source come from the computer? Nuh uh. That realtek chip doesn't have a coaxial digital output. Bugger.

So here I am with a 160$ brick sitting in my living room, using the same old system I have for some time, considering taking it out back with a baseball bat.

Come to think of it I really don't need a soundcard. I just need everything I allready have to work properly together. Why is that so hard?
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:41 pm

In my main pc I have a Soundblaster Audigy 2ZS connected to Klipsch Promedia 5.1 speakers. Windows7 x64 driver support from Creative seems like an afterthought for this card, with less functionality than the WinXP drivers, but they also seem much less bloated now. Something that fits in a PCIE slot with more up-to-date drivers would be nice. That would let me put the Audigy 2ZS back in an XP machine and play my DVD-Audio discs again. In my older gaming pc, which is a 486DX2 66, 32MB of ram, ATI Mach64 VLB 2MB, I have a non-pnp SoundBlaster16 ISA. This card works great for DOS games because it works without loading any resident drivers. I just run the initializer in autoexec.bat and set the blaster environment variable, and it leaves more of the 640K for games and smartdrv (anybody out there still know what I'm talking about?). Uh, going farther back, my 386DX 33 really old gaming pc has a Mediavision Proaudio spectrum 16. It has a built in scsi controller for the 2x NEC multispin cdrom. This is important because the only thing that is integrated on the motherboard is the keyboard controller!! Finally, this is not really related to audio, but is just something that I have been wondering about. Does anybody know if Win98 will run on a 386? It has Win95 on it now, but I don't know if that will run cpu-z... I just want to see what it says if it runs on a 386. Maybe this weekend I will try it and post a screenshot if it works.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:18 pm

Auzentech X-Mystique 7.1 (good price, digital output, improved audio and reliability over my old creative live 5.1)
Sony V700DJ / EX32LP (late night sounds or just traveling)
Logitech X-530
Usb sound card for headset since my Auzentech card never played nice with microphones
most are from around 2006
probably drinking some tea.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:29 pm

My love for music is undeniable. But what I love more than listening, is a desire to create music. I have a pretty modest audio studio setup that will soon need a few upgrades. I wanted to get into music creation when I finished college, and the itch was ever so aching to be scratched. My so called audio setup is comprised of the following:

Behringer UCA202 U-Control USB Audio Interface
DOD FX-17 Wah/Volume pedal
Boss MT-2 Metal Zone distortion pedal
Ibanez RG-170 6-string guitar
Fender Princeton Chorus 100w combo amplifier
Nady SP-4 condenser mic
Alesis M1 MK2's
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro
Please feel free to sculpt my insanity with your post.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:39 pm

My first speakers were a pair of black things that needed AA batteries to work and were not much larger than an archie comic book (they even had a red ribbon in the battery compartment to eject the batteries!). Perhaps realizing how terrible these were, my brother bought me a Labtec system from futureshop x (where x is certainly greater than 8 ) years ago. I would tell you the model number, but the sticker peeled off the subwoofer. Also, I think the wall wart sucks up copious amounts of phantom/vampire power, considering it has turned nice and brown from the (assumed) cream white, when it used to be young.

Most of the time, since my setup is near the kitchen, I can't hear anything and I've reduced my reliance on noise a lot when gaming. That doesn't mean I appreciate it though; it's just that I have never bothered to set up directional audio. Maybe if I had a (free) incentive, I could check it out. Also, I did try headphones for a while, but Grados + glasses, while meta-comfortable, really don't cut it in the long run.

As for music, I enjoy it just fine from my speakers. But in the long run I'm looking for something more private (closed headphones), as I don't want to engage in a sound competition with the TV.

I did invest in an external DAC! gamma1 by AMB, and I ... can't really tell the difference, except for the convenience of digital connection (and hence attenuation in the signal later in the chain other than adjusting the volume bar in windows).
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:00 pm

I have onboard audio on a Biostar motherboard paired with logitech 5.1 speakers. It's not much, my motherboard/videocard, died at the same time and are getting rma'd tomorrow. My memory, wouldn't test in this board, and may well be dead as well. The bad luck. I've got my sights on building another system soon though, and this would make great addition :lol:
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:16 pm

My current pc audio setup includes motherboard built-in Creative sound Blaster Live 24-bit onboard audio that came and 2.1 logitech speakers (but i forgot what model but i did spend only 30 USD on it). I also use a grado sr-60 headphones but the earmuffs are falling apart. I definitely regret a bit not spending some money on my pc audio setup, as i was focused on peformance and graphics when i built my PC.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:37 pm

I have Swans M200 speakers plugged into the front out of a Creative Labs X-Fi XtremeMusic. It sounds pretty good to me. It's not worth my time to try and photograph the components. Sorry, no DSLR and photo studio available to use in my living room. I'm sure others will try harder.

The speakers: ... 6836136102

The soundcard:
It looks just like a PCI soundcard.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:38 pm

I have onboard sound that freezes with battlefield games :(
E6300 b2 @ 3.5ghz on P5B vanilla
2 gigs Micron D9
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:38 pm

I'm using Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speakers (awesome speakers) with onboard audio (Gigabyte GA-P55-UD3R). These speakers have been absolutely wonderful for me and I love them.

Additionally this contest seems to come up at a coincidental time; I've been eyeing sound cards and fancy headphones recently. I'm making my foray into recording my own songs and while I'm not certain if having a sound card is truly helpful, the increased quality and clarity of sound coming out of these wonderful speakers would probably aid me in my task. I've blown the three pairs of normal, cheapo headphones I own from recording my guitar... I'm guessing I probably need better headphones. It's all very new but very exciting for this poor undergrad who is trying seriously to get into the whole making music thing!

Edit: Here are some pictures of my paltry setup! (using my webcam)


Very basic and boring looking.

Trying to make magic out of all that... sitting on my computer is a POD UX2 recommended by TR members for recording guitars, vocals, keyboards (keyboard not shown, no mic yet, drums not shown and a little bit trickier to do something with).
Last edited by SecretMaster on Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:43 pm

Actually, my sound card is one of the last components needed for my PC. I built this PC about... well, a year ago. Wolfdale 3.0GHz processor, WD SATA HDD, 4GB DDR3, ATI Radeon 4870 video card. It was my intention to buy an X-Fi ExtremeGamer, which I actually have still bookmarked to buy. Then I heard all about the horrible things Creative does for support, and I wasn't so sure I wanted it anymore. The only alternative proposed was an Asus card, which was something like $100+ at the time. Considering I didn't want to use the onboard sound (something that I've had horrible luck with in the past) I was really stuck. I'm still wondering if I should buy the X-Fi card. Newegg has a sale until the 11th, so if I don't win here, I can still get it I suppose.

As for my speakers? $20 CyberAcoustics. I love the brand and the price, but seriously need to get something for gaming.
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:53 pm

Xonar D2X, and Klipsch 4.1 speakers.

Upgraded from a SoundBlaster 2, and never looked back.
i7 920 / ASUS P6T / 6GB Crucial DDR3/ XFX GTX 285 / Xonar D2X / Dell 2408WFP/ WD Caviar Black 1TB /Win 7 Home Premium 64
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:01 pm

I currently have a Soundblaster X-Fi platinum sound card and I also have a pair of Klipsh 2.1 speakers. I went with the soundblaster x-fi because at the time that I build my prior system the X-fi was the only card availible. I mainly use headphones though and my primary set which was a pair of able planet headphones bit the dust a week ago I am currently using a set that was borrowed from a friend. I always wanted an ASUS soundcard and I love Sennheiser headphones and would love to have this set.

I currently have the following
Antec P183 case w/750 Thermaltake power supply
Asus P7P55D Mobo with Intel core i5-750
8 Gigs RAM
1 Tb Western digital black harddrive
1 Tb Western digital green harddrive
Samsung DVD drive
Creative labs X-fi platinum
Klipsh Promedia 2.1 speakers
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Re: Win one of three Asus Xonar sound cards

Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:04 pm

Integrated audio on a 740G motherboard hooked up to (if they deserve that description) some cheap Logitech speakers from Walmart, largely because I'm tight as a duck's butt. It's not that I can't tell the difference between crap speakers and great ones, I just can't justify the outlay. So I'd be a terrible person to receive one of these cards, I only replied to air my shame :oops:

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