|ASUS Xonar DS PCI sound card review|
|Specification&heading=ASUS Xonar DS sound card review|
|ASUS Xonar DS|
|Test setup, RightMark Audio Analyser|
|3D audio performance, subjective testing|
ASUS Xonar DS PCI sound card review
It's been a couple of years now since ASUS first launched their Xonar series of sound cards, with the excitement and anticipation which led up to said release proving to be largely justified, giving another injection of interest to a discrete sound card market which has burgeoned over recent years. Sadly, ASUS' exclusivity arrangement with CMedia has seen the bottom drop out of the breadth of offerings available in the market, leaving ASUS and Auzentech as the only two major forces in the discrete audio market, but that hasn't stopped the former from continuing to improve and broaden the depth and range of their Xonar products in the subsequent period of time.
Most recently, ASUS' attentions have turned the Xonar towards headphone users via the Xonar Essence STX, and Home Theater buffs via the HDAV 1.3 Deluxe - Both parts aimed towards the high-end of the discrete audio market. However, if you're looking for an improvement over on-board solutions but aren't willing to break open the piggy bank, then you may feel a little left out... Until now. ASUS' recently released Xonar DS is firmly aimed towards users looking for quality audio on a budget, offering the kind of performance seen in previous Xonar parts but using the older PCI interface and with a reduced feature set.
So, is the Xonar DS a great budget discrete audio solution, or too shorn of features to be worthy of consideration? Let's take a look and find out.