Page 4 of 6 - Test setup, RightMark Audio Analyser
All of today's testing has been run on the following:
- Intel Core 2 Duo E6600
- 2GB Corsair PC6400 DDR2 RAM
- MSI 975X Platinum PowerUP Edition (Socket LGA 775, PCI Express)
- 250GB Western Digital Caviar SE16 hard drive
- Pioneer 16x DVD-ROM
- NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT 512MB
- ASUS Xonar D2X sound card
- ASUS Xonar D2 sound card
- Auzentech X-Meridian sound card
- Auzentech X-Fi Prelude sound card
- Realtek on-board HD sound card
- Creative Labs SoundBlaster X-Fi Fatal1ty sound card
- 1000W power supply
- Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
The latest available driver release was used for all sound cards used in this review.
- RightMark Audio Analyser v6.0.5
- Unreal Tournament 2004 v3355
Our testing of ASUS' Xonar D2X will be carried out on two fronts - First, by examining the performance of the part against some of its rivals (particularly Auzentech's X-Fi Prelude products and Creative's SoundBlaster X-Fi Fatal1ty Edition, alongside the PCI-based version of this very part, the Xonar D2, using an older driver release to see how things have improved in this field) in a theoretical manner, using both RightMark Audio Analyser to examine the quality of the parts audio output as well as testing of the performance hit garnered when using 3D audio in gaming situations.
We will then move on to embark upon some subjective testing, using a variety of movies, music and games to see how the Xonar D2X sounds to this reviewer's ears. So, let's get cracking!
RightMark Audio Analyser
We start our testing courtesy of RightMark Audio Analyser, checking out our review samples capabilities at three different output settings - First at 16-bit/44.1kHz, followed by16-bit/48KHz and 24-bit/96KHz.
Noise level (16-bit, 44.1kHz)
Compared to D2, the Xonar D2X shows a much improved noise level, very slightly better than Creative Labs' own X-Fi part, but not quite up to par with Auzentech's X-Fi Prelude.
Dynamic range (16-bit, 44.1kHz)
All four of the parts we're comparing here are reasonably comparable with regard to dynamic range at 16-bit, 44.1kHz, but the Xonar D2X certainly impresses, offering the best overall results.
THD (16-bit, 44.1kHz)
THD stands for Total Harmonic Distortion, basically meaning that this test measures the amount of distortion caused by the passing of the audio signal through components of the sound card. The Xonar D2X outperforms the X-Fi-based cards here, while also showing slight improvements over the Xonar D2 running older drivers.
IMD - Swept frequency (16-bit, 44.1kHz)
IMD is an acronym for InterModulation Distortion. Intermodulation is the result of two signals of different frequencies being mixed together, with IMD being the appearance of frequencies not initially present in the input signal, usually created by the mixing together of other frequencies. The Xonar D2X performs fantastically here, some distance above the other competing boards and far better than the Xonar D2 with its initial driver set.
IMD + noise (16-bit, 44.1kHz)
Our other IMD test result finds the Xonar D2X leading the way slightly over Auzentech's X-Fi Prelude.
Stereo crosstalk (16-bit, 44.1kHz)
While stereo crosstalk for the D2X is improved over the Xonar D2 thanks to those updated drivers, the Auzentech X-Fi Prelude offers the best overall results across the spectrum.
Frequency response (16-bit, 44.1kHz)
The Xonar D2X just about comes out on top with regard to frequency response, although both ASUS boards and the Auzentech X-Fi Prelude all offer good results here.
Noise level (16-bit, 48kHz)
At 16-bit/48kHz, we again see the Xonar keeping pace with Creative Labs and Auzentech's offerings - Indeed the D2X just about manages to beat out its two main rivals at the high end of the spectrum.
Dynamic range (16-bit, 48kHz)
As per 44.1kHz/16-bit, the ASUS cards both offer impressive dynamic range performance, with the D2X in particular offering the best overall results.
THD (16-bit, 48kHz)
The Xonar D2X again impresses at these settings when testing THD, beating out the rest of the pack across the spectrum.
IMD - Swept frequency (16-bit, 48kHz)
Testing IMD swept frequency at these settings sees all of our other parts fail to even come close to the Auzentech X-Fi Prelude and, beyond that, the Xonar D2X.
IMD + noise (16-bit, 48kHz)
The Xonar D2 comes out on top here, again closely followed by the Auzentech X-Fi Prelude.
Stereo crosstalk (16-bit, 48kHz)
Once more, the one area where the Xonar disappoints a little is with regard to stereo crosstalk, particularly at the high end of the spectrum where both Creative Labs' X-Fi chip-based parts outperform it.
Frequency response (16-bit, 48kHz)
Again at 16-bit, 48kHz settings, the Xonar D2X shows impressive frequency response readings, on a par with the Auzentech X-Fi Prelude while bettering those of the Xonar D2 at the high end of the spectrum.
Finally, as a tougher test for the Xonar D2X, we test again using 24-bit, 96kHz audio input and output.
Noise level (24-bit, 96kHz)
Although its noise level increases rather than drops at the very top-end of the spectrum, the Xonar D2X overall offers the best results at these settings, albeit with far more fluctuations than either of the two X-Fi sporting boards.
Dynamic range (24-bit, 96kHz)
The same can be said of the Xonar D2X's dynamic range results, as they come in below rival parts but with more fluctuations in the output.
THD (24-bit, 96kHz)
The same can be said of THD performance at these settings. Lower readings for the Xonar D2X, but not as clean.
IMD - Swept frequency (24-bit, 96kHz)
The Xonar D2X by far offers the best IMD swept frequency performance at our 24-bit, 96kHz settings.
IMD + noise (24-bit, 96kHz)
The Xonar D2X also impresses in our other IMD test at these settings.
Stereo crosstalk (24-bit, 96kHz)
As per our other crosstalk testing, the Xonar D2X sees a large increase in crosstalk at the high end of the spectrum, putting it behind the Creative Labs and Auzentech X-Fi boards.
Frequency response (24-bit, 96kHz)
Once again, frequency response from the Xonar is exceptional, with the D2X proving to be top dog overall thanks to its impressive high end performance.