Package, Accessories and Design
The accessories are gorgeous. Besides an installation manual, the box contains four analog cables 1.8m long (mini-jack → 2xRCA), a thin one and a half meter long optical cable, a bracket with a MIDI port, and a lot of CDs: installation disc, applications, demo disc from Dolby Laboratories.
The card itself differs from regular sound cards with its anodized-aluminum armor which endows it with a very imposing, serious appearance. The round cutout in the armor makes it look like a graphics rather than sound card.
The mounting bracket is ordinary enough, though. It’s the same as with the Auzen X-Fi Prelude 7.1: six 3.5mm connectors (microphone input, line input, four stereo outputs) and two RCA connectors (digital input and a digital output).
Another similarity to the Auzentech product is that the digital connectors support both coaxial and optical cables via special adapters you can plug into them.
ASUS’ engineers found a way to make their product different, though. There are multicolored LEDs inside each of the six mini-jacks. This resembles, though remotely, the color coding of connections according to the PC 99 instructions (page 60).
Besides just being pretty, this elegant solution makes it easier to connect the cables to the sound card. You can tell you hit the necessary connector if the appropriate light doesn’t shine behind your PC. By the way, the included cables have a small diameter of the plastic part of the connector for easy connection of a multi-channel speaker set to the card.
The PCB carries CD IN, AUX IN and MIDI I/O headers. You can attach low-quality sources such as a TV-tuner to the former two. Their signal goes to the recording mixer but it can also be sent to the sound card’s outputs by pressing the appropriate Monitoring button in the Xonar Audio Center. The bracket with a mini-DIN port is connected to the MIDI I/O header. Large DIN connectors (MIDI In and MIDI Out) are provided by a special Y-shaped adapter.