Asus Xense Review
Soundcards have come a long way from the early days. Once the ability to create MIDI music was absolutely mind-blowing. Then Creative and Turtle Beach released soundcards that really did enable sound, as we'd expect it.
This new technology quickly caused an explosion in the soundcard market with everyone and their granny releasing stereo soundcards. These were quickly supplanted by 5.1 soundcards but still the market showed no signs of relenting. Choice was almost too great, especially at a time when drivers still weren't always utilising the DirectSound API.
Like most emerging technologies though, quickly the pretenders died off and one or two models were left standing proud. With soundcards this was Creative and their Sound Blaster. For a long while it was pretty much the only choice which gave benefits to the consumer as nearly all software was compatible, but like any monopoly had the drawback that development almost stopped. Driver updates became infrequent until finally Windows Vista left thousands with a soundcard that did anything but produce sound.
This opening in the market was swiftly filled by Asus with their Xonar range of soundcards. Bringing fresh ideas and regular driver updates it blew away all the cobwebs that had accumilated in the soundcard marketplace.
The Xonar model range expanded quickly and now runs from a basic model all the way up to HiFi quality options. With more and more gamers using headphones as the PC has moved from the bedroom to the lounge, Asus have paired their Xonar technology with a headset from the daddies of headphones, Sennheiser, to bring us the Xonar Xense with PC350 headset in a single package. That's what we'll be looking at today.
Popping over to the Asus website to grab the technical specifications it's clearly a big list thanks to the voluminous technology crammed into the Xense.
|Audio Performance||Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted):|
Input Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted):
Output THD+N at 1kHz:
0.00039% (-108dB) for Front channel of Line-out
Input THD+N at 1kHz:
0.0003% (-110dB) for Line-in
Frequency Response (-3dB, 24-bit/96kHz input):
<10Hz to 46KHz
Output/Input Full-Scale Voltage
2 Vrms (5.65 Vp-p)
|Bus Compatibility||PCI Express: |
PCI Express Rev.1.0a specification compatible.
Maximum full 2.5Gbps bandwidth per direction and optimized latency for high-definition audio processing.
Compatible with X1, X4, X8, X1 6 PCI Express slots.
|Main Chipset||Audio Processor:|
ASUS AV100 High-Definition Sound Processor (Max. 192kHz/24bit))
24-bit D-A Converter of Digital Sources:
Texas Instruments PCM1796*1 for Front-Out (123dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24bit); Cirrus-Logic CS4362A*1 for other 6 channels (114dB SNR, Max.192kHz/24bit)
24-bit A-D Converter for Analog Inputs:
Cirrus-Logic CS5381 x 1 (120dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24bit)
High Fidelity Headphone Amplifier:
Texas Instruments 6120A2*1 (120dB SNR, -117dB THD+N @ Vcc+-12V, RL=600Ω, f=1kHz)
|Sample Rate and Resolution||Analog Playback Sample Rate and Resolution:|
44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @ 16/24bit
Analog Recording Sample Rate and Resolution:
44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @ 16/24bit
S/PDIF Digital Output:
44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @ 16/24bit, Dolby Digital
ASIO 2.0 Driver Support:
44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @16/24bit with very low latency
|I/O Ports||Analog Output Jack:|
6.30mm jack*1 (Headphone out); 7.1ch analog output (via bundled audio splitter cable)
Analog Input Jack:
6.30mm jack *1 (Shared by Line-In/Mic-In)
Other line-level analog input (for CD-IN/TV Tuner):
Aux-In (4-pin header on the card)
Digital S/PDIF Output:
High-bandwidth Coaxial/TOS-Link combo port supports 192KHz/24bit
Shared by Headphone out / 2 channels out / Microphone in
|Driver Features||Operation System:|
Dolby® Digital Live, Dolby® Headphone, Dolby® Virtual Speaker, Dolby® Pro-Logic II
Smart Volume Normalizer™:
Normalizes the volume of all audio sources into a constant level and also enhances your 3D sound listening range and advantages in gaming
Xear 3D™ Virtual Speaker Shifter:
Virtual 7.1 speaker positioning
Professional Bass Management/Enhancement system
10-band Equalizer/27 Environment Effects
3D Sound Engines/APIs:
DirectSound3D® GX 2.0 & 1.0, EAX®2.0&1.0, DirectSound® HW, DirectSound SW, OpenAL generic modes, 128 3D sounds processing capability
GX 2.5 supports EAX gaming sound effects and Di rectSound 3D hardware enhanced functions for more games on Windows XP/Vista/7. (DirectX/DirectSound 3D compatible)
|Accessories||1 x S/PDIF optical adaptors|
1 x 6.3mm to 3.5mm stereo adapter
1 x 7.1 channel audio splitter cable
1 x Driver CD
1 x Quick Start Guide
And for the Sennheiser PC350 Headset
|Cable length||3m (9.8 feet)|
|Connector plugs||2 x 6.3mm|
|Speaker type||Dynamic, 38mm, Nd magnet|
|Frequency response||10 – 26,000Hz|
|Distortion||less than 0.1%|
|Frequency response||50 – 16,000Hz|
|Pick-up pattern||Noise canceling|
|Sensitivity||-38dBV at 94dBSPL|
As you can see the specifications for the card are very similar to the excellent Xonar D2X which isn't a great surprise considering how popular the Xonar D2X is with websites and consumers, and that the price of a D2X + Sennheiser 350 is very similar to this single package.