Sound card, what is that?
There once was a time when a discrete sound card was a required component for any computer build and as technologies changed so did those requirements. These days any motherboard you buy will come with a sound system onboard and much like onboard video the sound card isn’t all that great. There are a few notable exceptions like the new gamer style motherboards and yet despite higher-end audio chips, digital connections and custom hardware they will never have the same quality of a discrete sound card.
Many factors play into the quality of the audio. When speaking in terms of onboard solutions the motherboard mfgs will often look for the least expensive option or something compatible with previous product designs. This saves them development cost at the expense of improved driver and hardware support. Onboard solutions also have to deal with other components on the motherboard. For instance the CPU VRM or PCI Express PLX switch may introduce noise into the audio solution causing the audio quality to diminish. In response to this some mfgs have stated physically separating the audio components from the rest of the motherboard. While this may help alleviate some of the induced noise there is still a power connection and limited room for audio components.
In this review we will be looking at the Xtreme Sound 7.1 from Diamond. This is a little more than your basic sound card supporting 7.1 channel audio either via the analog plugs or using either of the digital connections. The card is also low profile and uses a 1x PCI Express connection.
- Supports 24bit 192KHz/96KHz/48KHz/44.1KHz Playback (THS -90dB and SNR 100dB)
- Supports 24bit 192KHz/96KHz/48KHz/44.1KHz Recording (THS -85dB and SNR 100dB)
- 7.1 Channel Audio Output
- Anti-Pop protection circuitry
- Easy Connection to Home Audio Equipment
- Special Effects Including Concert Hall and More
- Total Gaming Surround Sound Experience
- Supports 7.1 channel output, 4 sets of 3.5mm stereo outputs for front R/L, rear R/L, side R/L and center/subwoofer
- 3.5mm stereo connectors for line-in
- Two RCA connectors for coaxial input and output
- Two optical connectors for SPDIF input and output
- HD Audio Link for front audio
General Product Information
- Product Dimension : 4.7 x 2.2 x 0.5 inches
Discrete devices offer you a variety of benefits over onboard solutions since they can be specialized for their task. Video cards can provide better performance and more diverse video connections simply because there is more room available. The same is true for a sound card.
The Xtreme Sound 7.1 comes with five analog audio connections followed by a break out panel for digital connections. You will find two optical connections for SPDIF in and out along with two RCA connectors for coaxial in and out.
For those of you building a small form factor system Diamond also includes the low profile brackets allowing you to install this card into any half height chassis.