Top positive review
37 people found this helpful
Great (low profile) soundcard for your HTPC
on November 24, 2012
I purchased this sound card because the motherboard in my HTPC doesn't have HDMI or optical out, but my sound system only accepts those two methods for inputting audio. I needed a low profile soundcard, due to the size of my HTPC case, but I didn't want to spend too much. The ASUS Xonar line of cards fit my needs, so that is how I ended up with this card. I opted for the DSX rather than the DGX because it can encode audio into DTS when outputting via optical.
I was worried that adding a sound card to my system because they always seem to have various incompatibility or stability issues. Despite this, I'm happy to say that I haven't had any issues since installing the card. I did initially install the card in a full size (16x) PCIe slot, and I had to move it to a 1x slot before the PC would recognize it. I'm not sure why this would matter...but look out for it if you are having issues with your install. As far as the output, I'm no audiophile so I probably can't comment on any sound quality increase or decrease seen when using this card over the motherboard's integrated sound. It sounds good to me, but this probably has more to do with my Sony sound bar than this card vs another.
The one downside (which has been brought up in other reviews) is that the software for this card (and I assume other ASUS sound cards from this line) looks terrible and is way too confusing. The interface looks similar to an application I would have installed on windows 95, and I'm still not sure if I have the correct settings selected for my setup. I got it to the point where my sound system is showing the dolby symbol or DTS symbol when I watch TV or movies...so I assume I am outputting a surround signal, which is what I want.
Having said all this, the bottom line is that there aren't actually that many options for low cost and low profile audio card. For most of us, on-board audio is probably good enough, but if you are reading this review then obviously you probably have some random reason (like me) for needing an add-in card. If that is the case, then don't hesitate to pick up this card. It does the job well with little setup hassle and (in my experience) no stability issues.
Update: I'm adding this update to my review because although initially I thought I had avoided any of the stability issues sound cards are known for, I was wrong. A short while after installing this card I started getting BSODs about twice a week. For a while I ignored it as I was being lazy and it wasn't happening enough for my to want to troubleshoot it. Eventually however, it was happening enough that I looked into what was going on. Long story short, it was the sound card drivers. Luckily, there are enough people out there with similar issues that someone has developed open source drivers to replace the faulty ones provided by ASUS. If you search the web for "ASUS XONAR Unified drivers" you will find them. Once I got rid of ASUS's drivers and installed these my BSODs were gone. Hopefully this information can save someone the headache and troubleshooting I went through before finding a fix.