Asus Cine5 Speaker and Xonar D2X Sound Card
Author: Rutledge Feman
Editor: Shawn Knight
Date: 08-30-2010
Provided by: Asus
Xonar D2X First Looks

Along with the Xonar D2X card arrives a hefty bundle, including: user's manual, various audio software and driver DVDs, a MIDI panel with connection, three two-mono-to-one-stereo cables (one pictured), several optical cables, and a two input MIDI cable for microphones and similar (not pictured). Some kind of a storage bag would be nice for the large variety of included cables.

Aside from the beefy RF shield covering the whole card, the Xonar D2X has a pretty standard layout and output set. Because the inputs are pretty difficult to distinguish on the all-gold colored output panel, each input emits an LED light of unique color. This is a very convenient feature for plugging in cables in the dark or in awkward corners where you just can't read the labels.

You might notice a power connector at the back of the card. That's a floppy power connector necessary to run the card properly. This power connector is obnoxious for several reasons, including but not limited to the fact that it is all but a legacy connector, and that it is on the motherboard side of the card (not the outer side, as you would find on video cards), which makes installation awkward.

The software included with the Xonar D2X seems to have a lot more in the way of form than function. Asus clearly puts a lot of effort into the way that their software products look, with fancy knobs and pleasant color gradients, but the Audio Center doesn't offer any more than your typical Realtek control panel. The main panel is littered with unlabeled icons and buttons which make the whole experience unintuitive and unnecessarily complex. Also included is the Asus PMP music conversion software. Over the past few years, review after review has criticized the narrow scope and rough functionality of PMP. Nevertheless, Asus still seems to be shipping the same old program they originally packaged with the product two years ago.

Testing just ahead...

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