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A number of other setup options open up on your pressing appropriate buttons. Why did they have to hide all this abundance under the control panel’s very slow cover? Fortunately, you only have to wait once for the cover to move. The selected position is saved in the registry thereafter.

As you see, the available selection of settings depends on the configuration of the speaker system. For some reason, the DPL IIx and DTS settings are missing for two speakers, and Pro Logic is turned on automatically on enabling Dolby Virtual Speaker. For headphones, Virtual Speaker Shifter is enabled only when Dolby Headphone is turned on.

In C-Media’s basic driver the Virtual Speaker Shifter option is independent from Dolby Headphone to enable technologies for converting stereo into multi-channel sound. Thus, Virtual Speaker Shifter seems to create a virtual 7.1 system and then mix the sound into the necessary number of channels. There is nothing like that in the latest driver, and it may be just a trivial error in the driver or its control panel.

The position of a speaker in the virtual room determines the volume of the appropriate playback channel. If you transfer, for example, the right speaker to the left, both channels will be mixed into the left “ear”. This setting can be viewed as a simplified alternative to Creative’s THX Console but with lower functionality. In THX Console you can specify the distance (in meters) and direction (in degrees) for each speaker system component, and the volume and signal delay for the appropriate channel are adjusted accordingly. ASUS’ implementation is not linked to any measurement units. The user is supposed to select the position of the speakers “by ear”. Why is there no test signal then I wonder?

For comparison, C-Media’s basic driver shows the relative volume in decibel and allows you to specify the delay for the central and rear channels. It also offers three test signals to evaluate the result. By the way, if you install ASUS’ driver manually rather than through Setup.exe, you can see the original control panel from C-Media.

ASUS’ digital output settings differ from those of the basic driver, too. This time the difference is for the better. You can select the output format and frequency for the whole card (including its DAC/ADC) – it remains in effect even when the digital output is disabled. C-Media’s control panel only allows selecting the base frequency when the S/PDIF interface is on.

The Xonar D2’s S/PDIF interface can transmit uncompressed stereo (with a sample rate of 44.1 to 192kHz) and 5.1 sound in Dolby Digital Live or DTS Interactive formats. It can also transfer the unprocessed signal from the digital input. The latter option allows using the card as an adapter from a coaxial into optical cable and vice versa. When DDL or DTS encoding is enabled, the card enters 5.1 mode, disabling the analog outputs. The volume control continues to work then, and you can enable the automatic SVN adjustment.

Dolby Pro Logic IIx is responsible for splitting stereo into 5 speakers although this technology can do the opposite thing for headphones or a dual-speaker system, i.e. it can downmix multi-channel sound into stereo. DPL IIx supports 7-speaker systems and has three operation modes but the ASUS Xonar offers only Music and Movie modes, the Game mode being missing. In the Music mode you can set up the sound field depth and the balance of medium frequencies (vocals) between the central and two front speakers. The Panorama option, available in the original control panel from C-Media, has been lost somehow, too.

Stereo can be split into multiple channels by means of the alternative technology DTS Neo:PC that has the same settings of the operation modes.

Well, we’ve given enough our attention to one settings group. Let’s proceed further.

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