Package and Accessories, Testbed and Installation
The box with an Auzen X-Fi HomeTheater HD consists of two individual compartments that contain the card and its accessories including a lot of connecting cables:
- One HDMI-HDMI cable (2 meters long)
- One short DVI-HDMI cable
- One optical cable with an additional RCA-TOSLINK adapter (2 meters)
- Analog adapter from D-Sub to six mini-jack connectors
I guess this selection of cables is going to be enough for most users. I also like the packaging: the two individual compartments with a common wrapper are handier than the composite cardboard structures inside the tall boxes of the earlier Auzentech products.
Besides an illustrated installation guide in six languages, there is a small brochure in the box for you to learn about the exceptional benefits of PowerDVD 9 Ultra.
As I am not going to test the transmission of multichannel HD audio, which is available in Windows Vista or 7 only, I will use the same old testbed as in all my previous tests.
The testbed is configured like follows:
- Mainboard: ASUS A8R-MVP (Radeon Xpress 200 chipset)
- CPU: dual-core AMD Opteron 165 (@ 2.7 GHz)
- System memory: Corsair CMXP-3200XL 2 GB
- Graphics card: Gainward Bliss 9800GTX
- Hard disk drives: Samsung SpinPoint S250 and Hitachi Deskstar T7K250 (SATA)
- Optical drives: Plextor Premium and BENQ DW1640
- Sound card: ASUS Xonar D2 (PCI)
- Power supply: Rosewill Turbo Series RT550-135-BK
- Microsoft Windows XP SP3
The software from the included disc installed in the same way as with the Auzen Forte, but not that successfully. No compatible sound card was identified at first. The problem was solved by means of a patch downloaded from the Auzentech website. Then I began my tests but quickly found a strange noisiness of the sound card’s analog output. Could it be some defect? No, it was only due to the enabled FP_Microphone monitoring which translated the noise from the microphone input directly to the output. The integrated microphone amplifiers in this sound card are not as high quality as to eliminate all noise. The input/output settings for each of the card’s operation modes (Entertainment, Game, Audio Creation) are stored individually, so don’t be surprised if you hear the hiss again when you switch, for example, into the game mode.
The Windows XP software for the Auzen HomeTheater HD looks and works the same as with other products based on the X-Fi audio processor. For example, the screenshot below shows the control console in Audio Creation mode. The single difference from the Auzen Forte console is an added fourth column called HDMI-In and a new recording source (called HDMI-In as well) in the Recorder section.
Theoretically, each column in this section means that the input can be used individually (in parallel to the others) but the HDMI input is not yet supported by ASIO, so we have to rely on Windows Vista/7 that can take the sound card apart into its components and use them simultaneously.
channel: 0 (Mix FL) — Int32LSB
channel: 1 (Mix FR) — Int32LSB
channel: 2 (Mix RL) — Int32LSB
channel: 3 (Mix RR) — Int32LSB
channel: 4 (Mix FC) — Int32LSB
channel: 5 (Mix LFE) — Int32LSB
channel: 6 (Mix RC or SL) — Int32LSB
channel: 7 (Mix RC or SR) — Int32LSB
channel: 8 (Line /Mic /Aux L) — Int32LSB
channel: 9 (Line /Mic /Aux R) — Int32LSB
channel: 10 (Digital-In L) — Int32LSB
channel: 11 (Digital-In R) — Int32LSB
channel: 12 (Mic In L) — Int32LSB
channel: 13 (Mic In R) — Int32LSB
I could find no other defects, errors or oddities about this sound card. Everything works just as it is meant to. To check out the HDMI interface, I connected the card to a TV-set with the included cable and watched a couple of movies. The Auzen HomeTheater won’t reproduce audio over HDMI without video, so you must connect it to your graphics card and enable a secondary display (at least in the desktop extension mode) in the latter’s settings.