This PCI-Express Asus sound card is absolutely great. There is not a lot to say other than that this card does everything that is advertised to do and does it outstanding. Great sound threw all 4.1 of my Klipsch THX speakers. This card gave this old speaker system new life and the headphone amp is also excellent. It's a great gammer card for anyone that plays first person shooters and would like an edge against the enemy. Really nice surrond effects in headphones or with a surround speaker system. Makes you forget about that lame Realtec on-board sound that's been the main stay for too many years on all boards. This Asus card uses the O2 C-Media chipset that is found on the much more expensive Asus cards.
People are complaining about the software and having issues getting the microphone to work. Well no such troubles for me, it works just perfect with the latest drivers and software available at Asus's web page.
If your looking for a really nice sounding card, that won't make you pay for a name then this is the one. I have been working in I.T. since 1994 and am a Level 3 Tech. This is the most bang for the buck that you will find in a nice slender, PCI-Express 1 sloted sound card, bar none.
Note after working more with the card:
Don't expect the built in amp to work effectivly with the HD front port. It does work however if your using high end headphones similar to my Sennheiser 598's with a rated impedence of 50 ohms you will need to plug into the back of the card and use the software E.Q. to boost your Headphones by 20 D.B.
I tryed various settings with the card and my Klipsch Promedia 4.1's sound fantastic with this card. I can blow myself out of my apartment with these 4 little speakers and the huge subwoofer that are all amplified like most P.C. speakers, but with much more power and with maual adjustments as well.
However if you plan on using headphones for gaming you are limited to using the cards middle selection of 32 to 64 ohms to get the proper game sound effects through this card. Also this setting is a bit on the low side with it's impedence rating. My 50 ohm headphones do sound really great on the high setting for music playback, when set on the 64 OHM amplifier setting.
I always do my research at HardOCP.com and TomsHardware first, then check out a few reviews to narrow the field and then buy, based on that information. If for some reason I don't like it; I send it back and go with a different card. This go's for Video cards, sound cards and even Motherboards, although I have always been very happy with Asus when it comes to Motherboards.
So this card is a lot of take, and a little give. So you have to manualy change your plugs from your speakers to your High End headphones if you want the best sound.
This is not ness. if you have cheaper very low impedence head phones. If that's the case you can simply change the setting thru the software and be happy. I'm a picky gamer and very picky with my music.
So others might not care at all about this little inconvience, I know I didn't. Also keep in mind that this card does not have any type of sheilding like some of the $200 cards with amps do.
But once again it's only $40 and well worth it. I would have paid $65 and still kept this card, maybe even $80 since I could see no sound improvment between this a the new S.B. 4 core amplified card.
The S.B. Quad core audio card has a lower D.B. rating of 100 D.B.; this Asus card is rated at 105 D.B. The Asus card also has a 2.1, 4.1, and a 5.1 setting to use with you speakers or your headphones.
The S.B. Quad cores only advantage is the more powerful headphone amp, and it's 256 individual gaming sounds, which is double that of the Asus.
However it will not support 4.1 surround sound speakers and with a price of over double the Asus, does not even come close to the depth of music playback quality of the Asus, 24-96 HZ as opposed to the high end cards 24-192HZ.
I can'thear the difference between this cards analog 4.1 surround sound, and the Hi-Def Onboard running thru a Digital co-ax thru a Sony reciever. This little Asus PCI-Express x1 24-96 hz. 105 D.B. audio card is beter or on par with just about every new sound card I have heard.
Plus the fact it can run my Kliptch 4.1 Promedia speakers without me using a seperate reciever really sells the card! Now my desk is clear or that bulky Receiver, and I'm again using a $300 4.1 speaker system that quite simply rocks my apartment, with great music and nice game sound effects as well.
Just thought I would give everyone an update, so they know what to expect as well as what not to expect. If you have trouble setting up the microphone, then you need to follow the instuctions. It's not hard to do, but as usual I find so many customers that can't follow simple instructions and then want to blame the hardware! Something I have grown very used to since 1994.
Still if you buy your sound cards thru Amazon you have the option of just returning the card if your not happy with it. I had already heard the S.B. Quad care and was not impressed, however the games sounded better than the music playback. So I ordered the Asus to just try it out, mostly due to the fact it supports a 4.1 speaker system still and has a much nicer software setup as well.
One more note about Sound Blaster: Over the years S.B. has really gone downhill as far new driver support for new O/S's. It's all about getting people to buy a new Audio card every time a new O/S is released and I really dislike that practice.
This Asus card just came out a few months ago, and has great support for Win 8 64 bit, Win7, Win Vista, and even XP Pro 64 and 32 bit O/Ss. You can't find a S.B. Audigy SE in the same price point that won't have buggy drivers for Win7 and will not include a H.P. amp that is really needed with todays Headphones.
This is a great sound card, at a great price. I simply don't think you can do better for the money. It also uses an Oxygen sound chipset that will play 128 individual gamimg sounds at one time and play MP3s and Wma files and sounds almost as good as the $199 cards.
I have heard all the expensive sound card including Asus's top two as well as Creative Labs top two and there is absolutly no way those cards can justifiy the cost of $200, over this $40 card that comes very close to them.
They are quite simply not worth the money wasted unless you plan on doing a bunch of sound recording. Even this card can handle some decent sound recording if you use the optical out port on the card. Nothing can touch this card, nothing!!!!