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Creative
Creative Sound Blaster Zx PCIe Gaming Sound Card with High Performance Headphone Amp and Desktop Audio Control Module - Creative
Asus
ASUS XONAR DG Headphone Amp & PCI 5.1 Audio Card - Asus

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Creative http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Y0aqToDvL._SL160_.jpg
Creative Sound Blaster Zx PCIe Gaming Sound Card with High Performance Headphone Amp and Desktop Audio Control Module - Creative
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Asus http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51XLHHhWxVL._SL160_.jpg
ASUS XONAR DG Headphone Amp & PCI 5.1 Audio Card - Asus
Rating info
eComparisons Score
eComparisons ScoreThe "Comparison Score" Is calculated based on the average number of times this item was compared with other items in this category by our users
8.4
8.2
User Rating (Amazon)
User Rating (Amazon)

Five Star Reviews:

63%
Both the price and sound quality is amazing! Now
September 14, 2017
Just recently built my first PC and have MSI motherboard sound. Is it ok? Yeah, it did what it was suppose to do but you would have to turn the volume all the way up to make it clear enough to hear. Especially being a gamer, sound clarity and direction is a must! After about 3 months, I finally got the money to upgrade to a sound card instead of the stand alone motherboard sound. After researching for several days, I finally come across the Sound Blaster Z. Both the price and sound quality is amazing! Now, I have only had it for 3 months and if it lasts, I will be tickled! I cannot review on the beam forming mic because I have not used it but everything else works great from the Optic port and the mic ports. I recommend this sound card to anyone from beginners to hard core gamers!
It seemed like a nice compromise between the razer sharp precision of ...
May 2, 2017
The Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z Review

I bought this card for the sole purpose of taking advantage of SBX Pro Studio for Headphone. After listening to stereo mix versions of multiple HRTF formulas (CMSS3d, Dolby, Razer, Crap) I settled on going for this specific solution. It seemed like a nice compromise between the razer sharp precision of CMSS3d and cinematic fullness of Dolby Headphone.

Upon testing SBX Pro Studio through multiple headphones the surround sound was impeccable. It is very accurate, without having harsh tones and dead spots that you get with even CMSS3d in certain situations. The game audio is not particularly impacted in a negative way, playing Nier which part of the experience is auditory and musical it still sounded quite great. There was a fullness in the sound stage, without having any negative effect on its deadly accurate positional cues. In a game like Counter-Strike Go I found myself catching people to my back and sides at the exact angle they shot at me from. Rather then having a rough idea, I felt as if I was enveloped by a believable 3d space.

I had the Sound Blaster Z output a stereo mix through Optical output to my USB dac, and it imparted no noise or nasty oddities.

In short, if you're a gamer looking for great surround sound capabilities through headphones this is probably the best card for you. If you are an audiophile, or music affectionado then you probably own a USB dac already with optical spdif input. This card benefits you by providing you with the surround sound processing for games as well as the high Digital to Analog fidelity of your current headphone audio system. So it most definitely is not a waste if you buy this card solely for gaming as either group, unless you don't enjoy SBX Studio.

As a gaming card it does its job. Seriously gets a 10/10 if all you care about is this functionality.

The digital input while only 2.0 is also good, clean and low latency. I tested this out with my Playstation 4 connected to my sound blaster Z. While it would be great if you could get use SBX Studio Pro, it basically acts similar to a switch. Except if you wanted to play with your PS4 while using PC Discord on the same pair of headphones it is /very/ possible and perhaps one of the best reason to use it.

---That ends the good things about this card. ---

The microphone input is one of the worst i've had the displeasure of plugging my microphone into. It was more of a curiosity thing since I own a cheap USB dongle for my headset mic. There is a considerable amount of static on the input, with or without microphone boost. None of the settings seem to really make things better, for instance noise cancellation severely degrades the audio quality while eliminating most of the noise from interference.

The only redeeming factor of the microphone input is Crystal Voice, so everyone can bring out the inner Alien in themselves. That said if you're going to get this card, investing in a $10 USB soundcard dongle w/ mic input is highly recommended.

Since I started writign this review and holding it here for a later date I had an opportunity to try the Dac/Amp from the headphone output over a fairly extended period of time. (problems with my USB device)

The amp on the headphone output is fairly weak, and while in most cases you can get more then enough volume out of a song, and video. There are some where not even 100% windows volume can you elevate the volume to get a desired level. In games it hasn't been a problem because they generally run much louder then anything else.

The output is not destroyed by interference of any kind (I guess these components have better shielding or are higher quality then the mic section). With no audio, or slow audio there is no discernable noise being generated by the card through my headphones. The result is clean sounding audio. Despite the circuitry being well designed in my case, the DAC itself has poor to average audio quality.

Slower, or even sounding music sounds about decent enough. There is a warm veil that you tend to get from cheap dacs but its not an overbearing loss of resolution if you're going from a $70-$150 USB dac. Where the problems start is when the energy of a song starts to r ise, especially those with fairly heavy bass. The sound card looses all of its coherence, as if it is struggling to keep up with the song. Voices become a bit wobbly in some songs, and you can tell there is a fairly poor cut off in frequencies the lower and higher you get. This card does not do Music good at all over its analog headphone output. If you get this card merely to listen to music you will be gravely disappointed. That said ignorance is bliss, but even so the problems it has are immediately obvious.

I never tried the included Microphone as I have a far better mic attached to my headphones, and no 5.1 speaker system.

-----------

All in all its one of the most amazing sound cards for gaming if SBX Studio tickles your fancy (check youtube). But for everything else it is terrible and your dollar can go further.

I gave this card a perfect rating because of how it handles its main job of providing believable HRTF through SBX Studio. Especially when you pair it with a better outboard dac then the one inside of the card. For those that have more expensive, higher end equipment you will reap its benefits.

If you want a general purpose sound card plus amplified headphone output then this card is an absolute miss and you should ignore the rating. It is terrible for general usage. If you want a good microphone input, look to be paying an extra $10 for a USB Dongle.

Edit:

Quick edit, even for the discerning audiophile the crystallizer and bassboost on SBX studio is incredibly fun to use. Even while using the sound cards dac. The dac is pretty bad still but the sound is 'fun' with all the processing. The bassboost is not as detrimental as other software solutions.
A must have - WAY better than USB headset or on-board sound
December 27, 2016
This card is a BIG upgrade from my on-board sound hardware, and from my USB Logitech G930 headset. After spending some time tweaking with the settings, I have profiles that work perfectly with a set of Logitech 5.1 speakers, with Bose earbuds connected to the headphone output, and now with the Creative Labs BlasterX Tournament Edition headset (which I also intend to review - it is EXCELLENT).

Music has never sounded better. The sound enhancements quite literally take recorded music from sounding dull and compressed to sounding like you are THERE. I sometimes toggle the enhancements off and I am amazed that what I hear (the recording I have always listened to) sounds so ... flat. Having true hardware-based analog sound processing makes a huge difference. Apparently, the Crystalizer enhancement takes compressed recorded audio and essentially reverts it back to it's original uncompressed form before it hits the outputs. I believe this claim. So do several siblings and friends, who literally have had dropped jaws and about all they can say is "wow... wtf.. I am getting one of these!". And,. they did. lol

Games also have never sounded better. Positional sound through a stereo headset or earphones is every bit as good as it was through my old Logitech G930 with it's simulated 5.1 surround. Actually, it's better. And as with music, using the same enhancement settings, games sound equally better. I notice details that went unheard before. Everything is richer, more dynamic. For an example of "more dynamic", I'll use Battlefield 1. With compressed audio, all sound that is mixed together basically gets their levels (volume relative to one another) balanced out so all are pretty well even, The result is a relatively flat sounding mix. There are no significant volume differences. Through the Sound Blaster Z, with the Crystalizer in use, the game sounds ALIVE. With the ambient sound at a comfortable level, nearby gunfire and explosions have a power to them that literally has made me jump on multiple occasions. I can FEEL my own shots. It makes a BIG difference.

The Crystal Voice enhancements are also great. They allowed me to dial in my mic setup to be perfect with voice activation. No activating from my breathing or keyboard taps, no background noise or hum, and my voice is crystal clear (according to others).
Uhhhhhh...
January 12, 2016
I usually do not leave written reviews, but I felt it was necessary. First off, let me say that I have used alot of USB headsets in the past, and also non USB. Steelseries, Plantronics, Razer, etc.. I also seen alot of people complaining about the ACM on here. Which made me very weary if I wanted to get the Zx or the Z. So I went with the Zx and figured, oh well, if it is as bad as some people were saying, I am out $30. Big whoop. Installed it in my computer, downloaded the newest drivers for 64 bit W10. And all I can say is, unreal. I just popped my iPhone earbuds in for s***s and giggles, due to my headset being a USB one (Plantronics GameCom 788). And the difference in quality was just unreal. I have NOT used the back jacks yet, but I honestly feel no need to at all. The ACM module works so wonderful. Not quiet and soft as people were saying. I NEED my games as loud as they can get. My dial on the ACM was at around 75-80%. Still super loud and great quality. May the back jack be better without the ACM? There is a possibility, sure. Using the ACM is already better than my current headset I was using. So I do not feel the need to plug into the sound card itself. Do not listen to people complaining about the ACM. I feel like there was some sort of hardware interference that had to be messing with it for some people. It works absolutely great for me. Could not be happier with what I got for the price!
Didn't think I needed it
March 23, 2013
I thought I didn't need a sound card because my motherboard, Rampage 4 Formula, came with really good onboard sound. I bought it anyway and I'm really glad I did. There is a distinct difference between this and the onboard sound, it's clearer and amplified and has an equalizer that I love. The lights on this card are really bright and will most likely overpower what ever lights you have in you rig so if your theme is red great but if not beware. If you thought your onboard sound was great believe me this is better and I play BF3 with no problems, buy this.
58%
WORKS WITH WINDOWS 10: Great Sound at a Great Price
January 7, 2016
I just received this in the mail today and am very happy with my purchase. It is easily plug and play in most computer configurations unless you're on a newer OS such as windows 10 which I am. So let me address the issue I've been reading in comments about drivers & this device not working in 5.1 with windows 10. Let me clarify it is FULLY FUNCTIONAL on windows 10.

1. Insert card into PCI slot

2. Install Drivers (there are 2 options for this) most people are trying the "beta" driver from the Asus site I'm assuming & it does not function properly. There is a custom driver specifically for these cards made for windows 10. I will provide links for the Asus drivers and the UNI drivers for this card. The UNI drivers are 100% working with this card on windows 10.
ASUS DRIVERS: https://www.asus.com/us/support/Download/21/3/0/2/R3E8hhLCEgwyAOt9/41/

UNI DRIVERS:
http://maxedtech.com/asus-xonar-unified-drivers/

3. The UNI drivers will also include the Xonar DG software which is also working flawlessly on windows 10. EQ, Mixer, AEC, FX all features are working properly.

***For those of you that are attempting to use this card with a 5.1 system like myself, make sure you're using all 3 cables to connect your speakers to your sound card. For my logitech set there is a green, orange & black cable that all 3 have to be connected to get sound out of all 5 speakers.

I hope this saves some people a headache or at least helps with your purchase decision!
For its price bracket I don't think you'll find anything better
March 14, 2015
This card has been really just the ticket for me. I've always liked the Asus brand & this item is no exception. I originally was using a completely top of the line Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum card with its external box. Its sound was both rich & full. However, when I recently purchased and installed a Sparkle 1Gig PCI video card, there was huge incompatibility with the Blaster. So I removed SB card and substituted this one & all is fine. The sound with the Asus is really good although the Audigy still had the edge due to it's initial high cost & extensive software additions.

Initially I had trouble with the High Definition Audio driver (it couldn't start) that was included with the Sparkle PCI video card. So after trying everything under the sun to get it right (I'm an experienced tech) without success, I opted for the nuclear option. I reinstalled my system & did a lot of windows updating followed by installing the Asus driver. Did some more updating and then installed the Sparkle video, high def audio plus 2 other extras. After this approach everything was harmonious. I used DriverMax to update my Intel system board devices to lend more support to the PCI and USB buses. Should use DriverMax remember to create a restore point (it'll prompt you) before updating any drivers. That way you can undo the new addition by booting from safe mode in the event things were made worse..........
Great Card on a Budget
April 20, 2014
This card does all of what you would expect, but with a few other key features often reserved for much more expensive cards.

The headphone amp is great. It can easily drive a pair of studio monitors (MDR-V6) without any distortion, even when turned to 100%. It also has the option to boost the signal depending on the impedance of the headphones (or speakers) you're using. It has three settings: <32 ohms, 32-64 ohms, and 64 ohms. This will cover the vast majority of headphones you're likely to encounter. Anything higher likely falls into the category of specialty headphones anyway.

Its audio outputs allow for a 44.1KHz, 48KHz, and 98HKz audio output to headphones, speakers, or the front panel output jack. It can output true 5.1 audio to a real speaker system or it can simulate up to a 7.1 speaker system on a normal pair of stereo headphones or speakers. If your system requires a digital signal then there is an optical jack you can use.

The line/mic input has even better specifications than the outputs. It features a 192KHz stereo input which will accept very high quality audio. I have used it to play audio from external MP3 players, CD players, and even a vinyl turntable (see my Behringer PP400 review). My only complaint is that the gain boost available for microphones is not high enough for my Pyle Pro PDMIC48 dynamic microphone! Upon making a recording, I need to bring it into Audacity and boost the gain another 22dB. I do not take any stars from this product for the simple reason that, after boosting the recording at least 22dB, the signal is still incredibly clear.

The AsusAudioCenter program it comes with is very easy to use. It doesn't hog memory when not in use (a massive pet peeve of mine when installing drivers) and it has a lot of useful features. It also has a lot of features which I would not use. Such as the voice changer. The voice changer is awful.

In summary: This is an amazing sound card. Anything more expensive is overkill and, I dare say, overpriced. Unless you have a very, very specific reason for buying anything higher end (absolutely need 7.1, professional recording, 600 ohm headset, money allergy, etc.) then this card is all you will need.
Replaced a Realtek ACL892 onboard mobo sound card
March 29, 2013
I got this because onboard sound card just wasn't cutting it. It was extremely low, so I had to resort to plugging my headphones through my Logitech speakers, which comes with a subwoofer and has a power cord, so it served as an amp. One problem though, it made a hissing/buzzing noise which pissed me off. This sound card doesn't have a hissing/buzzing noise at all, it's complete silence until I play any audio.

The audio is great, can't compare it to anything but really it sounds good, what more can you ask for? I use ATH-M50 headphones with this product, it's fine but it didn't make it sound better or anything.

The drivers work fine on Windows 8 64-Bit, I don't see why people were complaining. It installed perfectly, and it's very easy to work with.

It even has ports for front case audio connectors, so now I have HQ sound from the front of my computer as well.

For $30 you can't ask for more, this is a good deal.
Pretty Great, especially for the price
September 6, 2012
Right off the bat-- I am not planning on using the analog outputs, so I'm not going to talk about those; I had a very specific set of needs. Since I'm using the S/PDIF output exclusively, there isn't much need to talk about in terms of clarity, noise, etc., since that will be dependent on my various DACs.

Okay, I upgraded my computer and ended up taking an unexpected audio downgrade. I moved from a P31 gigabye board to a Z77 board of the same brand and thought the audio performance would be about the same. Windows 7 compatibility issues aside, I found I was wrong. I had a headache of a time getting the audio to work (you can see that in my review of the motherboard) and simply gave up on ever getting the realtek onboard audio to play nicely with my ATI's audio. Even though I had gotten the old S/PDIF lead from the P31 board to work on the new board, it cut out intermittently and was generally annoying. With the Realtek drivers I could NOT get the audio from my video card to work over HDMI because they never recognized that a cable was attached, so I just gave up, uninstalled the realtek drivers, disabled the chip, and sound over HDMI was working again. This left me with no sound at my desk, though!

What I needed was (preferably) 2 S/PDIF outputs (one to go to the receiver at my desk and one to the receiver in the living room). I could forego one of them if HDMI worked, but I'd prefer not to have to switch audio devices all of the time. I thought I'd try this Xonar card and after a little finagling I now have 3 spdif outputs and HDMI audio! The card, as you can see, has one optical out, but it also has a S/PDIF header that has SPDIF and power so that it can support another optical output offboard. I used the old header from gigabyte that has optical and coax and modified it just a tiny bit to get it to mate with the board.

This DOES DO DOLBY DIGITAL. It has the emblem right on it. So if you're watching DVDs, you can get DD and DTS passthrough with this card. What you will not get is Dolby Digtal Live or DTS Connect which are both real-time multichannel encoding and compressing so that you can send mutlichannel game audio to a receiver with a single cable. For some reason I was under the impression that this card has DDL, but it doesn't (which I didn't need because I have HDMI audio, but I kind of wanted to play around with it so I could potentially recommend it to friends). However, and I want to repeat this because if some bad information here, it will pass through recorded DD and DTS streams, it simply won't convert other audio streams to DD or DTS in real time.

To get the 2 channel PCM to work over S/PDIF, you do have to go into the control software and click a little box to enable S/PDIF output, otherwise you'll be a bit frustrated by the PCM signal that your receiver sees but the audio you don't hear.

All-in-all, I am far more pleased with this card than I was expecting because it suited my needs perfectly. If you need DDL, expect to pay 3+ times more than this. If you need really clean analog audio for your 88.2 or 96kHz high-def audio, get a high-end card from Omega HT or something higher up the Asus food chain. But just need a good, non-frustrating S/PDIF output that won't fight your ATI card? Get this. It'll work. Be happy.

Four Star Reviews:

16%
I went from a crappy sound board on the MOBO to this
March 31, 2017
I guess it's working? I went from a crappy sound board on the MOBO to this. And at the same time I went from Razer Krakens to ATM50x so that there is an improvement in itself.

THE ONLY issue i have with this is the software and its lack of abilities. I'll continue below

I use voicemeeter banana for many reasons, apart from streaming. And it's caused major issues with this device. I can't use headphones and speakers at the same time anymore like how I had it set up on my other program. I have to chose one or the other. Thats stupid! I needed the flexibility VM banaba has but this device just screws all that up.

Then again maybe I am not doing it right lol.

All in all there is a definite improvement. I can hear things that I have never heard before in games and movies, heck, even music i'm hearing new things. I do noticed I am always getting the upperhand when I can hear someone before they can hear me in certain games. And no i don't use the Gaming setting or whatever its called. Just leave it as it is.
Blows away onbaord PC audio but that ugly red, useless LED!
March 7, 2017
I mostly listen with headphones and this just totally blows away the PC onboard audio. I don't know how to explain it except that if you've ever done a serious upgrade to your car stock audio syste, the difference in sound is similar.to this sound card compared to onboard audio. I love the rotary pod and the fact it can take the 1/8" jack of my Sennheisers without an adapter. Plenty, plenty of headphon volume room. But...oh that awful red LED! Santa wouldn't need Rudolph on Christmas Eve, he'd just have to power up this card! So as I think I'm going to keep it, I'm going to take the cover off the card and remove the LED. I'm assuming this can't be turned off in software?
Might be a placebo effect, but it works for me!
November 9, 2016
Although the audio fidelity is indiscernible from my motherboard sound chip, I use it for all my audio input and outputs and it sounds great no matter what I throw at it.

Only thing I can really say for sure is the card adds more timbre to each sound that comes from it. Highs are more crisp; bass is more resonant; mids are warmer.
and a built in headphone amp is great. The ACM (the audio control module) as has ...
August 22, 2016
This sound card is great- lots of options, and a built in headphone amp is great.

The ACM (the audio control module) as has been mentioned in the past, is a bad device. If you have high impedance headphones, you'll notice this if the ACM is set to anything but max volume- which means the ACM is virtually useless, aside from giving you a shorter access to the headphone and mic recording jack.

The impact that the ACM has that I noticed was that when the overall total volume was the same and the ACM was low (ie Computer volume at 75%, ACM at 25% vs Computer volume at 25%, ACM at 100%) it sounded like the headphones couldn't produce the bass tones- it sounded like it was struggling to play sounds.

I don't consider myself an audiophile in the least- I have high impedance headphones I bought specifically for use with this card, given its amplifier, so I'm a bit disappointed in the ACM.

The card overall is great, the ACM is just a waste of desk space.
Still pretty "sound," it seems.
March 31, 2016
I really only bought this thing out of a bit of nostalgia-- Sound Blaster cards were all the rage back when I was getting into computing, but I never had one --but it seems to have a decent bit of value all its own.

Before going further, I'll just put it out there that the gap between onboard audio & dedicated sound cards has narrowed tremendously in the past few years, due to a combination of improved technology (the Realtek chips manufacturers love to use getting better) and motherboard manufacturers actually bothering to implement various supports for their onboard audio codecs. Gone are the days where onboard audio was an inherently screechy, crackly mess.

That being said, even coming from a rather good onboard audio solution (ASRock Purity Sound 3), I noticed some improvements with the SBZ.

First, and simplest, is the ability to get amplified headphone while bypassing the front panel IO on my case-- as you probably know, having headphones & a USB device plugged in to your front I/O at the same time can be a recipe for loads upon loads of noise. Some motherboards bypass this by amplifying the rear headphone instead (or both), but others (like mine) leave it as a basic line out for plugging up speakers. It's nice to be able to listen to music while having a thumb drive or wireless adapter plugged into the front.

Alone, that'd hardly be enough to justify a sound card . . . fortunately, there also seems to be a degree of audible improvement with the SBZ over my motherboard's audio. High tones are less prone to "ring" or seem shrilly distorted, and lows feel both a bit punchier & more tightly contained.

(Side note: I've disabled all of the "enhancements" for the time being, and unless you REALLY want slightly better positional audio in games, you probably should too.)

The included amp does a VERY good job of driving my 64-ohm NVX XPT 100 headphones . . . maybe a bit too good of a job, actually, as there's really no reason for me to raise the Windows system volume above 20%. I suppose this is to be expected given the 600 ohm rating, but my motherboard's onboard audio was substantially quieter (not that it mattered) despite the same ohm-rating. Room to experiment with higher-impedance headphones, I suppose.

That being said, there's an elephant in this room which I suppose I've failed to address: drivers. If you look around the internet, you'll see numerous people reporting problems ranging from minor to severe with the software set provided with this card. Personally, I've had no issues outside of needing to reboot TWICE after installation rather than the specified once, but my good experience certainly doesn't invalidate anyone else's problems. Do your homework before buying this, or any other moderately expensive piece of tech.

I got mine used for $58. This may or may not have influenced my opinion on the card; that being said, there's a good chance a similar or better discount will be available when you're reading this.
19%
Be smart, go and get the correct/updated drivers from the ...
September 30, 2016
Bought this as an alternative to an on-board sound card. The front headphone jack was probably not grounded well enough and you would get the scratching and hissing.

Be smart, go and get the correct/updated drivers from the Asus website before you install this. Also, keep in mind that PCI sound cards can be a pain in the backside. I had to remove it from the first slot I put it in, and move it to a second slot so it would not conflict with other hardware.

Finally, Asus does have support for this, but be prepared to spend a LONG TIME on hold, with the same 3-4 messages playing over and over and over... and you get the idea.

Other than that, the card work beautifully. One of the outputs in the rear is also designed as a stereo headphone plug in. That eliminated the scratching and hissing from the playback, and that's what we wanted.

Oh, one last thing. If you are planning on using the card as a headphone jack upgrade or replacement, don't forget to pick up an extension cord for your headphones. You will probably need it.
if you're looking for a sound card for better quality audio I'd look elsewhere
June 26, 2016
Not the highest quality card, but its higher quality than most on-board audio offers. If you're looking for a cheap sound card for an extra output device or to replace your dead on-board audio this is the card I'd choose. However, if you're looking for a sound card for better quality audio I'd look elsewhere.
Difficult driver installation but sucessfull in the end.
November 2, 2015
Difficult driver installation. Windows 7. Start guide says install audio card driver before installing Xnor DG driver but gives no details on how to distinguish between the two. Autorun of CD gives an option of installing an audio driver but when loading it refers to it as a Xnor DG audio driver which is hard to figure out if it's the correct driver to load first. The right side of the loading status bar touches the window so you can't tell if it's finished or not. After about 5 minutes of inactivity I decided to use the task monitor to end the installation but before I did, I received a message that the installation failed. The Device Monitor showed the ASUS card as an "other device". I also received a message to install the card, which I had already done. I decided to remove the card and start over but just rebooted first. This time the device manager listed the card under sound controllers and everything was working. Sound quality is very good but the installation was stressful.
So close to perfect.
June 10, 2015
I bought this after my onboard audio died and then my front port audio started acting goofy. I wanted to not have to plug my speakers into my monitor because my monitor produced terrible sound. Utterly horrifying.

Pros
1. This makes everything sound awesome. I plugged my Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear and Sony over-ear studio phones (I'm sorry, I can't remember their model number). Both sound like they've had new life breathed into them. It's absurd how much better they sound than they did on the on board audio or when plugged into the monitor. Absurd.
2. The Xonar DG Audio Center isn't half bad. 10-band EQ helped me get the sound I wanted. A variety of effects and such I'll never use but it's nice to know they're there. Awesome equalizer effects let you see how your adjustments are changing things in real time.
3. Cheap, sub $30 is an amazing price for this.
4. I plugged my front panel speakers in my computer case to this. Not only did it fix my front panel audio (only one headphone was working, now both work), but the sound coming out of it is blowing my mind away. Refer to pro #1.

Cons
1. The card doesn't fit in my case. I had to actually bend back the bracket a bit to get it to fit. I'm very upset about this. If ASUS had added literally 2-3mm of extra length to the bracket, this con wouldn't be here. Now, the reason I didn't drop more than 1-star is because I acknowledge that this is partially due to the case itself. It's a Haf series case from Cooler Master. I've had this same problem with a number of 3rd party PCI-e cards (including a WiFi card and another sound card). I guess these things were designed for a more standard, slightly thinner case. Thus, I'm admitting I'm half in the wrong, but really, a few mm wouldn't have wrecked anyone's experience.
2. These made me realize just how bad my computer speakers are. Time to go shopping for more of those because these just aren't good enough now :(
3. The DVD is entirely useless unless you're running Windows 7 or earlier. On Windows 8 or 8.1 you'll need to go to ASUS' official site to get drivers. Google Search "ASUS Xonar DG drivers", the first link should be ASUS' site. Use the Support tab, and then drivers. Follow the instructions, download the drivers, unzip them (they're in a rar file, if you can't handle those, download 7zip, it's free), then install.

Overall, I'm extremely impressed with this sound card. My computer is making noises I've never heard it make before and my headphones sound amazing. My front port audio works now (a happy side effect, I guess it was a mobo problem) and I can plug my speakers into my computer and not my monitor. I would recommend to anyone EXCEPT Haf owners. I'm not saying you shouldn't get it, I'm saying be prepared to tinker and bend the bracket to get it to fit if you do.

This is quite good.
Entry Level Card, Decent Audio Quality, Questionable Build Quality
January 10, 2013
Pros:
- Excellent audio for an entry level sound card
- PRICE!
- Software is pretty decent for a low level card.

Cons:
- Questionable build quality

After about 3 weeks of research for a new set of headphones and a sound card combo I decided to instead of going mid-range on both I'd go big on the headphones (Beyerdynamic DT770 80ohms) and low end on the sound card. The goal was to get something that could drive my new 80ohm cans and would serve its purpose until I could afford a suitable upgrade. The Asus Xonar DG did just that.

The audio quality is pretty good and the built in amp was more than enough to drive my DT770's. This is certainly an upgrade from my on board Realtek ALC892, but only by about as much as the price of this card indicates. Music and movies sound fantastic and given the proper settings (mostly personal preference) you'll cringe when having to listen to audio from another source.

As for gaming, this was the primary reason I went with this card: the Dolby Headphone is just outstanding. You get virtual 5.1 that is brilliant and the built in software does a wonderful job of creating a sound stage that is excellent for FPS gaming specifically. The expensive can help, of course, but the sound card is what provides this feature.

My biggest issue with the Xonar DG is the build quality. After about 3 weeks in my PC, which I admit I tend to move and shuffle around once or twice a day, one of the capacitors on the sound card became loose and started to bend slightly. Suddenly, I lost all right side audio while in Headphone mode only. I opened up my PC, noticed the bent capacitor, straightened it out, and after a restart all was well. Although I do think this card is a fantastic value, I'm considering a return (possibly just a replacement). I dropped a star for this issue.

If you're looking for an upgrade from on board audio and are entering the world of being an audiophile, I completely recommend this card. If, on the other hand, you can spare a bit more cash, I would opt for something with a bit better build quality.

Edit: Tip for anyone interested in squeezing some more quality out of this card, use the UNi Xonar drivers. They are fantastic and I have switched to them until Asus updates theirs.

Three Star Reviews:

8%
3/5 based on it working properly
May 13, 2015
Let me start off by saying I am not an unfair reviewer who takes off stars for "the package came in late" or the product was "DOA". This review will pertain only to the product's quality. Let me also say that I returned this, and this is a rather 'generous' review in terms of the number of stars I am giving it.

I first unwrapped the package - excited and eager to install the card. This card should be should installed in a PCI-E x1 slot. However, on my current configuration, this slot was not an option. So I installed it on a PCI-E 3.0 slot. Sure, that sounds like a mistake on my part, but after some research, I found that it was okay to install the card on that slot as long as the lane was turned down to x1 speeds. My motherboard does this automatically. The card was installed, the drivers installed, and I was ready for some great sound.

When windows first booted after the initial drivers install, my AKG K712's blasted with sound (unexpectedly) with windows start up music. I mean, it was by default at 100% volume! Ouch! Other reviews had complained about this, but I only saw that issue AFTER the install...my poor headphones...my poor ears...

The Good:
Anyway, I fiddled with the options (SBX, EQ, etc). Music quality was excellent! Games sounded incredible with SBX Pro on (fantastic positional ques). Obviously, SBX Pro does 'taint' the sound a bit. You aren't getting 100% reproduction of all the original sounds due to the surround processing algorithms. But that's fine, you should expect this with any DSP. Also, the headphone amp was enough to power my headphones with no white noise (at least not at the volume I had it at).

The Bad:
When I have a new product and I expect it to do something, I test the *bleep* out of it. I wanted to make sure I got what I paid for. Unfortunately, I don't think I did...After playing for 30 minutes or so, I started noticing sounds on my right surround were lower than sound coming from my left surround. (R/L surround - referring to the surround speakers on the 5.1 channel setup) And yes, I am still referring to my headphones. At this point, SBX was enabled to properly downmix 5.1 to binaural stereo.
I tried with Dragon Age Inquisition, Warframe, Far Cry 4. Each time I tested this I came up with the same results. I put my character next to a fixed sound source and spun around. It kept happening! I thought I was going crazy...or deaf in one ear! So I swapped headphones, I even wore my headphones backwards. Nope, it wasn't my ears or the headphones. It was the card...

Aside from this, the drivers and software aren't great either. I tried multiple versions (factory version of drivers and latest drivers) and still had the same issue. You know the drivers are terrible when you find multiple forum posts about "how to uninstall sound blaster drivers". It is literally an art form! Ok, maybe not literally...

Also, switching from headphones to speakers in the software would crash apps that were currently playing sound. For instance, I would have to reload a youtube video I was currently watching in my browser if I switched mid-video. I've never had to deal with this inconvenience before.

So for the terrible drivers and software, I knock off 2 stars.

The Ugly:
I didn't knock off stars for the following complaints because I believe these issues were caused by the PCI slot I used (despite other sources saying it "should" be fine). Maybe using a PCIe x1 slot would have eliminated or at least mitigated these issues.

I was just playing a game, minding my own business, when suddenly WHAM! The sound card went into "screech mode". Yes, this is actually a problem with these cards. Because many people had this issue, it may not even be due to the PCI slot I installed it on. But I'll give Creative the benefit of the doubt. Screech mode is when all sound coming from the sound card is at 100% volume and is highly distorted. It sounded like I was listening to an Atari game console have a stroke. It was so sudden, I threw my headphones off and quickly unplugged them before any damage was done to my headphone speaker drivers.

As if that wasn't bad enough...It happened TWICE! Arg!

The icing on the cake was when I got a BSOD from this card. Yep, I powered down the comp and yanked the card out. That was crossing the line. My computer has all the latest tech, runs windows 7 with rock-solid stability. This card thinks its going to just walk into my computer and cause BSOD's? Not on my watch.

Conclusion:
Unfortunately, Creative has a bit of a hold on me due to their SBX technology. It is superior to Dolby Headphone and (of course) the Razer simulated surround sound (the worst of all of the DSP's). So I returned the card and went with a USB sound blaster unit. I will be using optical out to feed the signal to a schiit modi 2 and schiit magni 2 (DAC/Amp). I had this plan in mind with the Z, but I wanted to hold off a bit (a bit of a costly combo).

I'll be honest, if anyone else produced a card with DSP as good as the SBX Pro, I would gladly jump ship and figuratively watch the Creative boat sink. I would have a smile on my face, a fancy drink in my left hand and use my right hand to pump a clenched fist into the air in celebration for Creative's demise.

Someone needs to challenge Creative (besides Asus) by coming up with a competitive sound card that caters to gamers. And I don't mean casual gamers, I mean for the kind of gamers that want high end sound. Gamers that want the best competitive edge in FPS games. If creative was truly challenged, maybe they would wake up and push a better product.

Bottom Line:
If you have a free PCIe slot open, you can give the card a shot. You may still encounter the same problems I did. If you don't have a PCIe slot available, start looking else where. This thing will quickly become the bane of your existence if you don't heed my warning.
It's annoying that I have this module just sitting on my ...
March 22, 2015
I have to agree with Povell42's assertion that the module degrades the quality of the output in headphones. I'm using an Audio Technica M50x, and while the difference isn't immense, it is noticeable, especially in the mid-high range. It isn't worth buying the Zx for the module. Also worth mentioning: it has to be plugged in the headphone output for the volume control to function, so you can't use the volume control without sacrificing headphone quality.

Also, I had to send back my first card because the back mounting plate was bent. The new one Amazon sent (hassle-free, yay) also has a bent edge on the back plate, but I got it to fit. I'm still considering sending this one back just because of the module though. It's annoying that I have this module just sitting on my desk just taking up space. It'll be better off back in the box.

Edit-
I forgot to add that the audio output definitely sounds way better than the on-board audio even when plugged in to the module (better without the module still). The board is worth it. The module isn't.
Fortunately the card is working without the updates in my ...
December 19, 2014
This is a difficult review to write: I just installed the card, software, and hooked everything up. Installing the software took a bit longer than I would have expected. At the end I was asked if I wanted to check for updates - and I did. The two "CRITICAL" updates I was told to install add up to 184MB. My network download speed (just tested) is 58.8 Mbps. But I am into my THIRD HOUR waiting for the download of the updates.

Fortunately the card is working without the updates in my win7 64-bit system. But three hours for an update doesn't cut it.

So far I'd give the card a 4 or 5 star rating and the service a one. I compromised at 3. If tonight proves to be an aberration, I'll revise the review.

Update: the downloads completed overnight (approx four hours) and are now installed. I am still pleased with the function of the card; I have not tried another download to see if performance is any better. However I see this morning that the download URL that one gets from downloading off the Creative site is located in Singapore....
Decent Card with pretty good sound quality. Doesnt play nice with Denon receiver...
January 4, 2014
I recently installed this card and am happy with the quality of the sound it outputs and the great build quality. I can see how a lot of people don't like the red led but my case sits to the left of me so the light isn't a problem for me. It is very bright however and there isn't a cover on the "back" of the card to block the led's from shining in your eyes. My issue is that when hooked up to my Denon 1705 receiver the card will either play using the Spdif or Speakers setting in windows 8. When using the Spdif the rear channels are pretty quiet compared to the front. When using the Speakers setting there is no sound at all from the rear channels. I have contacted Creative about this earlier this morning so I am waiting for them to reply. I have also asked the experts on Overclock.net and will post on Head-fi.org in a little while. Is anyone else having this issue? I like the card but don't like these problems I am having. If you are using headphones or PC speakers you should have no problems at all and it really is a good card. I will give it 3 stars now and if I can get my problems fixed I will give it 4 stars. People throw out 5 star reviews because they are merely happy with their purchases but for me to give a product 5 stars it has to completely blow me away. Don't think that 4 stars is bad, it is actually very good.
VERY IMPORTANT if you are looking into buying this...Please Read
March 30, 2013
There is a major flaw with the more expensive ZX model of this product. The Audio Control Module (ACM) that you are paying about $50 more, LOWERS the QUALITY of the audio signal versus plugging your headphones directly into the back of the sound card.

Seriously, how has no one else caught this? I checked online and found no one complaining about this. So, I thought my ACM was defective. Amazon kindly sent me a replacement. I got the replacement and plugged the new ACM into the back of the sound card and then plugged my headphones in the ACM. SAME ISSUE. (I tried both the 3.5mm and 1/4in plugs) I then changed out the sound card with the new replacement card and reinstalled the software and drivers just to be sure.....SAME ISSUE.

If you already own this.....and you love the ACM....you most likely did not compare it to the sound when your headphones are plugged directly into the back of the sound card.

I noticed this dramatically because I did not use the ACM for the first week or so. I did all my initial testing in music and gaming without it. As soon as I plugged it in I thought something was wrong with my headphones or the sound card went bad on me. I quickly discovered that it was solely the AMC.

PLUGGED INTO THE ACM
- The sound is significantly softer making me believe that the built in AMP is being weakened by the ACM. This is a bigger issue for those that have high impedance headphones

- Second it affects the balance and quality of sound. For example: While playing COD Black Ops 2 - I immediately noticed that the sound of my gun was muffled and recessed even at the same volume level. I then plugged my headphones directly into the back of the sound card...and it is so much better! Everything is louder, clearer, and precise. Don't believe me, try it out for yourself. I also immediately noticed that my music sounded worse playing through the ACM. The surround sound effect through the ACM sounds more tinny and echoy.

So bottom line....the ACM degrades the sound quality significantly (I tested this with two ACMs). It baffles me that both Sound Blaster and Consumers have not noticed this issue with the ACM. I did find a forum of audiophiles debating if the ACM would degrade the sound quality and amp....but there was no definite answer and the topic ended with the assumption that it did not since Sound Blaster said it is the superior model.

Please mark this review as helpful so others can see it before spending the extra money on this model...and if they do, hopefully they will do the sound test themselves and compare the sound difference. How knows, maybe I got two bad AMC in a row? I highly doubt it though.

The Sound Card itself is very good and I highly recommend the Sound Blaster Z (not ZX)purchase to anyone. Great PC sound and software for customizing your preference of sound. You can plug in your gaming console via Toslink/spdif cable and and use the software for superior virtual surround effect (compared to Astro Mixamp or DSS/2)and customize your console gaming sound as well. The only down side to that, is that you need your PC to be on while you play a console game. Again, I highly recommend the Sound Card. Save yourself $50 and get the Z model.

UPDATE - 4/20/13

So, I have brought this issue up with others on Head-Fi (audiophile website forums). Many others have tested this out for themselves and have reported back with the same problem. There have been many differnt headphones used and the problem exists with all of them (Superlux HS668b, Ultrasone Pro900, Sony V-6, Sennheiser 558...ect).

It is worth noting that while the ACM degrades audio quality, the built in microphone on the ACM is better than the microphone on the Z model. I have tested out both mics and compared them with my Zalman Zm-Mic1 ($8) and the Zx mic is on par with the Zalman - while the Z model mic is not as good.

Also, it seems the people with the ZxR model ($250) are not noticing a big difference in audio quality with the ACM. That does not mean it does not degrade the audio - but those I have conversed with on Head-fi stated that the audio was not significantly affected. So, MAYBE the ZxR model has a better ACM.

UPDATE: 6/6/13:
Here is a link to the Head-fi forum where I first started this conversation. The conversation goes on for several pages of the forum. My username on Head-fi is Povell42

Link: [...]

Here is a link to the same forum (pg 31) where others agree with me and the user phrozenspite confirms that the same issue happens with his ZXR Model.

Link: [...]
9%
Rebate not honored, Static Hissing, otherwise good sound quality
July 3, 2015
I've been using the Xonar DG for 4 months so far. I mainly use it with headphones the JVC Harx 700, and occasionally some generic speakers. It is a mass improvement for the speakers, but the headphones is another story. With the headphones it creates a static hissing sound when plugged in. I tried muting it, plugging it in the back and front, no matter what I do I cannot rid the sound. It isn't very loud but very audio wise very noticeable. The culprit is the amplifier. When switching from Headphone mode to Speakers the hissing sound disappears, it is nice and quiet. That is because the headphone mode has an amp while the speaker mode do not. However I cannot use this mode because the "speaker" output is only in the back of the sound card and not the FP. Therefore I cannot use both the speakers and headphone jacks as there it only one output in the back. I can however, plug the speakers to the FP but that will result in a wire hanging out in the middle of nowhere creating a hazard, besides speakers are meant to be plugged into the back. A way to circumvent the hissing sound if using the headphone amp is to not wear your headsets unless sound is being played. The sound can easily mask the hissing and it won't be an issue. I can confirm this happens on all headphones, although they are more tolerable compared to my HARX 700. The HARX 700 are the best headphones I have at the moment so it's not worth downgrading headphone just to rid the hissing noise. I also tried grounding and moving the card to another slot with a thought that electrical interference may be the issue. No results, same thing.

Now the positive things before I move onto another negative. One being the sound quality is great, both headphones and speakers, however some headphones and speakers will have a better improvement than others, the headphone I use currently sounds only a little better, while other headphones have a huge improvement. Two, it also improves your microphone quality, I thought my microphone was just fine, until I plugged it in with the sound card. Makes the microphone emit very crisp and clear sounds.

Another negative part is a very horrible Rebate experience that never went through. It's as simple as sending the required items. I did, I sent everything, only to get declined saying I was missing the UPC code. I emailed them trying to find out what exactly I was missing, and the one person that handles emails is more over just a conduit to phone support and will not help you at all. That's fine, until I found out that their phone support is M-F with a 6 hour time window, in which in which gives me no chance to call as I have work and school covering 8 hours a day. After exchanging more emails, the abysmal rebate e-mail support finally sent me a sentence saying I was missing the UPC as if I was unaware of that as I obtained that information from the rebate submission webpage. I'm 100% sure I sent in the serial number and barcodes the first time, and I did not do anything wrong, but I went and searched all around the box until I found a very strange barcode code tucked inside, I didn't what it was exactly but I just went head and mailed that as well, only to be declined AGAIN, with the same reason. At this point after looking around inside and taking apart the entire box, I can confirm that there is no more UPC or barcodes to cut out and send. There was absolutely nothing I could send anymore, I sent in total 4 UPC/Serial No./Barcodes and none of them apparently was what they were looking for. I came to the conclusion that they just wanted to take your money and not honor the rebate they offered. So again I emailed the rebate support ran by a single person, took a couple emails back and forth until he gave me a message that was actually written by him, and again states I was missing the barcode. I emailed him back telling him that this If felt this was a scam and there was nothing I could send him other than a box that with many cut-out rectangles and squares. I also told him to be honest and really dig through to find what exactly is going on. He stopped replying, so I send him another one, no reply. After that, I just gave up, it's not worth my time to get $10. The only thing I learned this entire time trying to send my rebate is that the ASUS Rebate Center will try their best to thwart your rebate. That and their rebate e-mail support is ran by a single person who gives you robot responses telling you to need call this number.
opt out to pay more to get something better than this.
April 4, 2015
first off, this product works without flaw, which is good, but apart from its functionality, it doesn't pack much.

Before I begin, I should say "YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR". This is due to the fact the sound/amp quality is really average at best. It has issues where static noise continues to ring through out your speakers (google it because I'm not the only one with this issue). Also the driver/sound manager provided by Asus is total crap. It looks like something that was created in the windows 98/ME era, as it looks like 16bit UI, with not much real customization at all. Also, one thing to note is you CANNOT split your audio, meaning you can't have voip chat from your headphones while music is playing from your speakers. If you want to do that, you need to get a separate USB audio adapter. Last but not least, it lacks the ability to change latency for ASIO capabilities, meaning if you want to use your computer as an amp, you're stuck with 80ms - 300ms of latency which you're unable to change so when you pluck your string on a guitar, your speaker would relay the sound much after.
The card works and the sound is great, it's just the driver issue in windows 7
January 15, 2015
Problem with this card is the drivers are not digitally signed and I've been unable to locate on internet where one is available. It is not available from ASUS(the official ASUS driver isn't digitally signed). The card works and the sound is great, it's just the driver issue in windows 7. Which is really a Microsoft issue. You can go to this link [...] and it will show you how to get around the driver signing issue. I just don't understand why one isn't available? ASUS is a great vendor for products, just not sure why they would have a non signed driver for a really good sound card. Hope this helps any who are having the driver sign issue.

Link again below.

[...]
Sound is nice but buggy performance/drivers kills it
June 26, 2014
I bought this to replace my onboard Realtek ALC898 sound on my Asrock Z77 Extreme4 motherboard. Installation went without a hitch. I used the unofficial Xonar Unified drivers for Win7 64 bit as I read they were superior to Asus's official drivers. I fired up a song to test it out and the music sounded flat which I predicted it would because I hadn't configured the equalizers yet. So after setting the EQ to my liking I tried the song again and there was a marked difference. I could tell right away the sound was much improved over the onboard Realtek. Music sounded brighter. The clarity was much better. The highs and lows were better. The mids I think were just ok but overall it was a definite improvement over the onboard sound. In games I could hear echoes more clearly and realistically when firing a gun inside a room. It looked like this sound card was a keeper....until I enabled the Xonar's volume normalization feature (SVN or Smart Volume Normalizer).

I need the normalizer when watching things like action movies or playing FPS games so the guns, explosions, and music don't drown out the dialogue and voices. But this feature was seriously flawed for me. When enabled, there is a discernable pop/hissing when sound first plays. After that initial pop/hiss it will be fine, until there is a moment of silence. If the silence persists for a certain amount of seconds (like 4-5 seconds), a very noticeable white noise comes out of the speakers that lasts for about 5 seconds. When sound resumes the pop/hiss occurs again and when there's silence the white noise happens. It keeps doing this indefinitely. Based on these annoying (and unintended I'm sure) audio cues, it makes me think the volume normalizer is activated only when sound is detected and then shuts off when it's not, instead of just always being on. I don't know but it's very irritating and makes the normalizer function unusable for me. My onboard sound's normalizer does not exhibit any issues at all.

Now, if you don't use SVN then it shouldn't be a problem. I did not encounter the popping/hissing or white noise when I disabled SVN. In fact when I was experiencing the white noise I unchecked SVN and the noise ceased immediately. I could have lived without using SVN when watching movies because the media player I use (Media Player Classic - Home Cinema) has its own normalizer. But video games do not. At least none that I've played. And I need SVN to prevent guns/explosions from being too loud and character voices from being too low.

Some other issues:

The Xonar software looks really outdated. It could definitely use a more polished GUI.

You can't configure the EQ with keyboard arrows, only the mouse, which makes it difficult to get the EQ bars precisely where you want it.

There's a usability issue with the Xonar program. If it's not on the main tab and you plug in headphones to the front panel it will not automatically change to the headphone configuration.

Speaking of headphones, I tried them on briefly and even though my headphones weren't very high quality (not Dolby) they did sound better compared to onboard sound. So the headphone amp appears to work well.

I tried using the official drivers by Asus to see if it would fix the normalizing problem but it had exactly the same issues. I had to return this sound card because the normalizing feature didn't function properly. It's unfortunate because it sounds pretty good. If you don't need to use the normalizer then I can recommend this card. If you do then you should avoid this as you might have problems.
Good but difficult to get it to work
November 6, 2013
I felt tempted to return this card because I couldn't get it to work correctly. But I decided to stick with the installation by reading about the experience of others, and I'm glad I did. The sound is excellent and the price can't be beat.
I have an Asus motherboard P5WD2 Premium, Windows 7 Pro, 64bit, Graphics card Nvidia Geforce 9600, 2 speakers and 1 headphone. I installed this card in PCI port 3 which in my board is at one end of it, the wires are within reach, and it fits perfectly and out of the way. This helped because I had to take it out so many times I lost count.
I couldn't get the driver to install until I read somewhere that I had to uninstall my previous Realtek drivers. The instructions that came with the card and the manual did not mention any of this. Once I did it, the new driver installed without a problem. Like others have said, I recommend you download the newest drivers from ASUS. But this was only the beginning, because although the sound thru the speakers was very good, I couldn't get the headset to work in the front.
The cord coming from the front of the case brings individual wires in different colors with labeled plugs (7 in total). (R-out(blue), R-out(green), L-out(light orange), L-out(orange), Ground (black), Mic Power(red), Mic In(yellow)) and these wires were connected to a chassis mounted module (labeled AAFP and green in color). I carefully took out the wires from this module and connected them to an audio header on the sound card labeled "Front Panel", but be careful when you do it. Pull on the plugs, not the wires, and don't bend the pins. If these wires had been unified into one connector everything would have been easier, but that was not the case. Again, the instructions don't offer any help on this part of the installation.
Anyway, to make a long story short, I consulted my manual (P5WD2 User guide,page 2-30) and tried to match the colors I had to the individual pins on the audio header. After a long time, and by trial and error, I got the headset and speakers to work. I don't have any complaints about the quality of my MB, and I feel the same about the sound card, but I'm surprised the company does not offer better instructions.
The following list shows how I matched the wires and the pins. Do the bottom first (pins: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5), and then the top (pins: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10). I wear glasses and a magnifying glass came handy.
Top: 6 7 8 9 10 x x x blank x
Bottom: 1 2 3 4 5 x x x x x
port1 L (Mic In(yellow)) 1. 6. Ground (black)
Port1 R (Mic Power (red)) 2. 7. Presence# (NOT USED)
Port2 R (R-out (blue)) 3. 8. Sense1-Return (R-out(green))
Sense-Send (NOT USED) 4. 9. Blank
Port2 L (L-out(light orange) 5. 10. Sense2-Return (L-out(orange))
Note: The R plugs use pin 3 and 8. The L plugs use pin 5 and 10.
I couldn't have done it without the help of those who offered opinions and advice on this blog. I've used this card for a long while, and I haven't had any problems.

Two Star Reviews:

5%
Great sound, not as great construction
July 28, 2017
Exactly 30 days after my warranty expired both the center/subwoofer and rear speaker out died on me. Apparently this is not uncommon, and after reading reviews on this product now it seems I was lucky to have it last this long. I have a great 5.1 setup that is now unusable until I can find a replacement for this card. Will not be a creative product, even though I have been a customer for a LONG time
Remarkably Disappointing...
July 27, 2017
After 9 months of use the rear ports died. I tested all the ports for a signal and detected nothing, unbelievably the mic port still works. I currently am using a work around to get stereo output but this is remarkably disappointing. The mic was sub-par with a very tinny sound and the software that came with it had poor noise suppression that just needs to remain off and serves no use. For the price you pay on this thing you would expect it to last longer than 9 months and offer better recording options.
Very frustrating and no drivers available for download!
January 17, 2017
I can't recommend Creative Labs or this product. I've been using it for awhile and it does produce sound, but the software it comes with isn't easy to use or useful. I've had a better experience with most sound devices built into motherboards. Plus I just upgraded to Windows 10 and I can't find ANY reference to drivers or downloads ANYWHERE on their web site. Extremely frustrating, this will be the last Creative Labs product I purchase.
BUGGED
November 19, 2015
Pros:
Easy to install, nice looking.

Cons:
Super bright RED LEDs junking up system's case visuals.
Stopped working after 30 days, can not get to work again.
Good Sound - Bad Light
June 18, 2014
Sound quality is good, but this card is a joke in design. Creative made a horrible choice putting two red leds in this card. The leds are blinding bright and light up the whole bottom and front of my case. Plus my case is windowed so it lights up a big portion of my desk. Luckily for me I have a monitor to block direct sight of the leds. If you have a visible window I would advice going with another sound card. Asus has cards with similar dacs & capacitors. Minus the ACM and a little less fancy driver layout, but very similar in sound.
5%
Couldn't get it to Auto Detect any input to the Front Port audio jacks, negligible sound difference to Onboard Audio
November 1, 2015
Based on everyone's comments about offloading sound processing to a dedicated card, I purchased this sound card as a cheap replacement for my onboard HD Realtek sound system. The logic was that a $30 audio card would provide me with better audio and a mic amp that my on board card wasn't able to give me.

Software was underwhelming - there are actually different drivers that you can install that allows this card to run without any of the CPU/memory hogging stuff that comes with the factory drivers. Included software is poorly documented and not very easy to use.

Didn't matter in the end because this card refused to auto switch to my case's front port audio when I plugged in a headphone, which is one of the main reasons I wanted to try this card. When I plug in my mic/headset it should know that I've plugged it in and automatically route the signal to the headset instead of my speakers, but this card refused to do that. It would only change if I manually went into the crappy software's control panel to force it to output to FP Audio.

I tried everything but Auto Detect simply never worked, and every time I wanted to use my headphones I had to access the software to manually select Front Port Audio. This was both inconvenient and frustrating. Everything was plugged in properly on my case and motherboard. Didn't matter if I used the HD Audio headers or AC97, it just simply refused to auto sense my headphones when I used the front panel jacks. I followed forum after forum thread trying to solve this problem with no luck.

I tried both the default drivers and the 3rd party Uni drivers that are available. I spent hours screwing around with this card and was unable to get it working the same way that my onboard sound card did with the front panel jacks.

Microphone input was buzzy as well. No matter what settings I tried, there was always a hum/buzz in the microphone recordings. Sometimes for no reason the mic had a rapid tap-tap-tap sound behind it, and sometimes it just had a low buzz. I verified this with Adobe Audition and looking at the raw wave file.

I removed the card and went back to my on board audio and my system immediately auto detected my headphones and microphone via the front port and my Microphone recordings sounded fine. Again, Adobe Audition's recorded files via my onboard Front Panel jacks were much cleaner and buzz free compared to using this card. After I removed this card and went back to on board audio, my Teamspeak friends were happy to tell me that my voice transmissions were "finally fixed, what did you do?".

This card simply didn't offer me anything that my on-board audio already provided me. I suppose it's a decent card but in the end it gave me nothing that I didn't already have, and the screwing around to get my Front Port jacks working every time I wanted to use it just wasn't worth whatever negligible audio or system performance increase I may have. In the end I bought and tried this card to solve a problem that didn't need solving.
A good soundcard....but did not fit my needs
November 1, 2013
I bought this thinking that I could DDL for optical use and was disappointed that it only applied to headphones use. The software interface is not that user friendly to me, but some will beg to differ. The headphone amp is good taking the price range that the card falls into. I have tried to install it on a Windows 8 x64 computer and it was somewhat of a chore. Once I got it to work, music sounded Ok, movies were fine as the signal was passed through the optical out. Games were good using speakers, but no DDL via optical out. Just have it sitting in the box on a shelf, and will use it as a worst case scenario if I need a temporary fix for sound. It is not that bad of a card, it just did not fit my needs.
Doesn't seem to cut the mustard
July 23, 2013
The main reason I purchased this, was because it was difficult to control the settings for my on-board audio - specifically with recording from audio-cassette; there were serious issues with controlling the input volume.

I currently use an AudioEngine D1 external DAC and volume control, so to add a sound card without losing this facility, it had to provide TOSLINK output. This card does.

So far, I am not impressed. The input through the 'line in' port does not appear to work. Instead of having poor control over volume, I now have no volume to work with at all! The instructions are extremely vague, and suggest selecting different mixer inputs depending on what you are importing. It is not at all obvious which I should be using, and indeed, none of them seem to work in any case!

The TOSLINK output to my D1 does work, but it causes intermittent pops and clicks in the audio. Simply unplugging the optical cable from the D1 causes it to automatically take its input through USB, and the noises immediately cease.

I am talking with tech support, but my first impression is that this will be going back. It is certainly not an expensive card, but my performance is worse than before, in both of the categories which matter to me.
Spent hours finding what was causing random freezes during gameplay.
September 14, 2012
I've upgraded this sound card over Gigabyte Intel Z68 ATX DDR3 2133 LGA 1155 Motherboards GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 on board audio.

Long story short, It was a very slight upgrade that I couldnt really tell that much difference.

Thats not the reason why I was given this a 2 out of 5.

I've been suffering random gaming freezes.
At first, I thought it might be my graphicard overheating and such.
Replaced it with GTX670, nothing has changed.. still freezes here and there.
Then I thought it might of been my RAMs.
So i've replaced'em with a known good RAMs,however problem persisted.
So I scanned for virus.. nope that wasnt it.

So I finally came up with a conclusion, It might of been the sound card that I've recently
installed.
AND YES THAT WAS IT!
After I removed it from my pc, I didnt get random freezes anymore! NOT EVEN ONCE!.
Also, sometimes when I clicked back on internet explorer. It didnt go back. So I had to refresh my webpage...

This was a nightmare experience for my first sound card.
I bought this because the reviews were so good..

Buyers, beware!
Great sound, bad recording.
May 25, 2012
Pros: The quality of the sound coming from this card through a set of Razor headphones (headset), is quite nice. The effects panel has an assortment of options, although I could not get all of them to work properly, and the 2.1 channel capabilities for both speakers and good headphones make it good in my book :)

Cons: The recording of the device is quite questionable though. Yes, the crisp quality of speech through a well designed microphone is nice, and a lot of background noise is filtered out through the card's functions, but it comes with a loss of microphone volume. You can enable a boost, and turn the level all the way up, but you can only be heard to a certain extent. Programs such as Mumble and Skype, both of which I use regularly, will automatically turn up your mic volume to stay at a modest level. If you are looking to record yourself though, as I was with Fraps in custom videos and possibly future Vlogs, your voice will be overwhelmed by any other sounds you wish to add to the recordings. You would have to turn down everything, and everyone else just so you would be at the same level, and with that you lose out on overall volume. The front panel header gave me a lot of guff as well. The audio seemed to work just fine, because my speakers were plugged into it and the quality sounded nice and clear. The mic jack on the other hand, would not work right using the sound card's audio device. I used this jack for playing (with listen), and recording my electric piano, of which I am having no difficulty using the piano on the front panel with my on-board VIA HD audio driver. With the card plugged in, the piano would sound like a sweet harmonious dishwasher, or garbage disposal. After returning to my on-board sound, I find NO crackling or sound distortion from the front panel audio using my piano. It is safe to say I plan to return this item tomorrow and look for more sound card solutions. I may stick with what I have though, but the audio jack on my motherboard doesn't work, so I have both my headset, and speakers plugged into the front panel header using a splitter. It works fine for now.

PS: I worked with this card for almost 30 days, never got it to function how I needed it. Quite disappointed in the recording quality. But if you are looking for great 2.1-5.1 sound quality for music and games, then this is a card I can recommend. As for my needs, they were not met.

One Star Reviews:

8%
I have Windows 10 PC and the sound is horrible. I am going to remove it and go ...
June 7, 2017
I have Windows 10 PC and the sound is horrible. I am going to remove it and go back to using the sound built into the motherboard. Creative does not seem to be the least concerned about creating a driver that actually works with W10. I have scoured the forums and tinkered with a lot of settings and nothing is helping.
Bad
May 5, 2017
I bought this sound card for my husband for Christmas. ever since he installed it, the sound on his computer has made really strange and annoying popping noises. He has tried multiple times to fix the problem and today he finally decided to remove it completely and guess what, the popping stopped.
Totally unreliable
October 19, 2016
this is the most frustrating Sound card i ever had ! the software from creative is from the stone age and is soo buggy, the headsets decide to suddenly ... disappear.
i do not usually write reviews and specially not negative ones.
but this is the worst purchase i ever made and a waste of money.

The Mobo Sound card is a lot more reliable.

P.S. the sound card is good when it actually works.
As much as I wanted to love this thing
April 5, 2016
As much as I wanted to love this thing, after spending 6 hours trying everything possible to get it to work right I gave up and sent the item back. The product is run by Drivers and the drivers are complete trash with Windows 10. I could get the speakers working, but not the headset plug in. Then I'd install the drivers to get the headset extension to work and the speakers to work and all i'd get is an extremely obnoxious screeching and static noise from either device. I did a ton of research after I purchased this item and it seemed like the majority of people had the same issues. It's really too bad because the idea of the item was great for my gaming, but having a product run on drivers rather then the product having all the functions built in is a terrible idea. Asus Xonar products on the other hand are the opposite, they use drivers for little updates, not to run their entire product. Just look at the difference in the two products.
I should have known better than to buy another Creative sound card
September 28, 2015
I should have known better than to buy another Creative sound card. I thought things would have gotten better in the 6 years since I last had one but I was wrong. This card is a nightmare. I could not get 5.1 working over optical for the life of me. I spent 3 hours messing with drivers and every permutation of the settings you could imagine and another 2 hours with tech support and still couldn't get 5.1 audio over optical. I guess I'll be spending twice as much and getting the HT Omega Claro Halo instead. It really is amazing how bad the software and drivers for this is.
9%
No 5.1 through Optical output, only through the Multi-jacks
July 18, 2015
I purchased this because I need 5.1 optical output. I was using a Sound Blaster Audigy Rx that worked 100% from the first install, but had to replace my Motherboard and this one doesn't have a PCI Express slot :-( so I ordered this card. Well guess what? You only get Stereo out the Optical Jack!!! To get 5.1 you have to use many cables from the phone jacks. in addition the software is a pain, buggy... I feel totally ripped off, not worth the trouble to return, only negative review I have ever wrote... Standard Stereo sounds fine...
worked for about a month just fine on my gaming surround sound system then it just ...
July 3, 2015
worked for about a month just fine on my gaming surround sound system then it just started using the 2 speakers your basic sound. i.ve tried everything updated all the audio drives everything then i noticed others online having the same issue and finding NO! solution. the only way to get bass is to use the flex bass just to get my woofer to work which makes the sound very painful(2 speakers and a woofer not all five) to listen too but its better then having no bass this card is JUNK! do not buy this and i really don't like saying that because asus usually is a very good company and all there other equipment other then this that I've purchased has worked extremely well so i was shocked that they would put there name on such a crappy sound card and it is crappy I'm back to using my on-board audio card and have put xonar in the garbage where it belongs there are no fixes for this card its junk plain and simple please don't waste your money there are no fixes for this card trust me I've tried EVERYTHING! asus just isnt good in the audio department P.S. i gave it 1 star cus you can't put no stars and thats what this is starless
ASUS XONAR DG Sound Card - Avoid This Product!!!
May 11, 2015
I was extremely disappointed with this product. The sound quality is clear but there is a problem with latency between your input and output signals when trying to use for music studio recording. A delay of approx 1/4 to 1/2 second is present between the input and output signals which is not acceptable to record studio quality music. I've tried every suggestion on the blogs from updated and re-installing drivers and operating systems and still the latency problems is present. I found out this problem has existed since 2010 with this product. Other customers on the ASUS blog sites had made several attempts to get ASUS to correct the problem which appears to be in the software telling the hardware how to process the signal. I just tried to return this product to Amazon for refund but missed the return window because I was trying to correct a problem that ASUS has no solution for. Don't waste your time or money on this product.
poor quality, perhaps damaged out of the box
March 11, 2015
This card was a waist of money. The card did not amplify audio but degraded it. When I took it out of the box all the tiny pieces on the board were bent. When I tried to straighten them it didn't fix my audio issues. The card was really flimsy inside the slot before you put it in. the audio kept popping every second when you played audio. Thought it was the drivers so I installed windows 7 (vs 8 instead) just to see if that made a difference but no luck.
Does not work for all Windows 8 programs.
December 11, 2013
Follow up: This card does not work with windows 8 apps that use DRM, for example Netflix. "To play the protected content, the underlying audio driver must be a trusted driver; that is, the driver must be logo-certified for DRM."
Unfortunately there is no certified driver for this chipset.
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Pricing info
Old Price
Old Price
Price
Price
$124.99updated: Dec 17, 2017
$39.29updated: Dec 16, 2017
from 72 sellers
Features
Answered Questions
Answered Questions
Article Number
Article Number
0054651181083
0610839339976
Binding
Binding
Personal Computers
Personal Computers
Brand
Brand
Creative
Asus
Currency
Currency
USD
USD
Format
Format
CD-ROM
CD-ROM
Formatted Price
Formatted Price
$149.99
$30.99
Height
Height
35.8 in
-
Language
Language
-
Array, Array
Length
Length
210.6 in
-
Manufacturer
Manufacturer
Creative
Asus
Model
Model
SB1506
XONAR_DG
MPN
MPN
SB1506
XONAR_DG
Name
Name
English
-
Number of Items
Number of Items
1
1
Number of Parts
Number of Parts
SB1506
XONAR_DG
platform
platform
Windows 7, Windows 8
Windows
Product Group
Product Group
Personal Computer
CE
Product Type
Product Type
SOUND_CARD
SOUND_CARD
Publisher
Publisher
Creative
Asus
Quantity
Quantity
1
1
Reviews
Reviews
Score
Score
8.6
8.2
Studio
Studio
Creative
Asus
Warranty
Warranty
-
Comes with Manufacturer Warranty.
Weight
Weight
1.4 oz
0.0 oz
Width
Width
196.1 in
4.7 in
Feature
Feature

Features the Audio Control Module (ACM) which incorporates a built-in microphone array and mic/headphone I/O connections, plus a knob on the ACM to adjust the headphone levels

Features Sound Core3D Audio Processor for accelerating advanced audio and voice technologies

SBX Pro Studio sound technologies create unprecedented levels of audio realism including stunning 3D surround effects for your speakers and headsets

Scout Mode allows you to hear your enemies before they hear you, from further away, giving you a distinct advantage

DTS Connect, connects your home theatre system through a single digital cable and enjoy cinematic DVD movies by transforming any stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1 audio stream into high fidelity surround sound

Audio Performance: Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted): 105 dB; Input Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted):

Frequency Response (-3dB, 24-bit/96kHz input):

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