Next goes the Mixer section.
Like with many other sound cards, the reproduction mixer is independent from the recording mixer, which makes you press an extra button when you need to adjust your recording settings. The original control panel from C-Media contains the reproduction and recording settings on the same page, which is handier. The problem is the Xonar D2 Audio Center has no level indicator (the so-called peak-meter) although C-Media’s panel has two such indicators. A good example is the control panel of the Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 where each volume regulator is accompanied with a signal level indicator.
Besides the traditional volume regulators for Wave, MIDI and CD, you can independently adjust the volume of each of the card’s analog outputs. Take note they are not set at their maximum volume by default.
In the recording mixer you can select a sound source to record: the popular SPDIF In, Line In, CD In, Aux and Mic, the less frequently used Wave and Mix, and the unique Alt. While Wave is a digital loop-back, allowing to record the reproduced sound with bit-per-bit accuracy, Alt is a bridge between the sound card’s line output and line input. This recording source can be useful for the reproduction of protected content (for which all digital recording sources must be disabled according to the license agreement). I could not check this out in practice, but found other useful applications for Alt. For example, the manufacturer recommends measuring the card’s parameters in RightMark Audio Analyzer using this source.
As you can guess, Mix joins the signals from all the sources together. That’s a nice opportunity, but it would be even better if the user could choose what exactly sources to mix and what to ignore. It is also somewhat inconvenient that the original recording level is achieved by setting the volume regulator to its maximum. To raise the volume of a quiet signal you have to use you sound-editing software. That’s why I could not measure the card’s parameters normally with headphones attached: the volume would drop by over 10dB under the low-resistance load and RightMark was unable to normalize the sound level whereas using a Creative card for recording produced incorrect results.
Well, that’s enough about the drawbacks. The card’s mixer has one very handy feature: the monitoring of every output. The buttons with the eye icon reproduce the signal from the appropriate input for auditory control – multiple buttons can be pressed simultaneously. I wish the “input selector” worked like that…
Well, let’s see what other features are offered on the other pages of the improvised menu.
On the Effect tab you can see fanciful settings of the environment (reverberation) effect and an equalizer. The developer’s logic is not quite clear here as he put four environment variants on buttons and left the rest in the drop-down list. When you select a variant from the list, you should press a fifth button to enable it. The lack of the option to adjust the reverberation intensity is annoying. You may want to have more echoes in games, but you won’t get it. Just be satisfied with what you have.
The equalizer is tiny. It is virtually impossible to set the necessary parameters with it. And its operation is questionable, too. I tried to lower the volume of the 4kHz band but could hear no changes in the sound. And when I lowered the slider to its bottommost position, I realized the 4kHz band had been cut out completely. I could only restore that frequency back by resetting the settings with the Default button. The saving of the user-defined equalizer settings is implemented in a non-intuitive way. You have to type in the name of your profile in the text field below and press the “+” button. Pressing the “‑“ button removes the saved profile.
I guess the equalizer deserves a separate menu tab especially as there are no timbre controls many users are accustomed to.
The Karaoke tab offers three settings: music tempo, voice muting, and an echo effect for the microphone. The purpose of these settings should be clear to everyone who has ever sung karaoke.