We were quite impressed with the X-Meridian when we reviewed it in early 2007, but Auzentech ended up discontinuing the sound card mere months later. What happened? PC Perspective has the skinny on the politics behind the move, and it says Asus is the culprit.
Auzentech chose to base the X-Meridian on C-Media's Oxygen HD CMI-8788, an audio chip loaded with features like 32-bit/192kHz, eight-channel output and Dolby Digital Live encoding. Asus made the same pick when it was devising the Xonar line of sound cards, but with one key difference. PC Perspective says Asus struck a deal with C-Media whereby it gained exclusive rights to the CMI-8788 after a given date.
In light of this deal, Auzentech faced two choices: buy a gazillion CMI-8788 chips to secure a few years' supply of X-Meridian cards, or go with another solution. The firm chose option B and came out with the Creative X-Fi-based X-Fi Prelude a few months later. Asus' dominion over the CMI-8788 may have encouraged it to implement features like EAX 5.0 emulation support in Xonar cards (via DirectSound 3D GX 2.0), but PC Perspective believes C-Media could be better off allowing competition between its customers, although we don't know exactly what or how much Asus offered to C-Media.