Asus Xonar D1 Reviewhardnrg - November 9, 2008
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Rightmark Audio Analyser wasn't on the CD, but at the bottom of the specifications and features, you can see that the software is subject to change. I guess it changed then. Rightmark is free and has been updated quite a few times since the manual was made, so much that the GUI has changed, making it impossible to follow the manual's directions on how to set up RMAA for the test. Luckily, there is a guide available to download at the RightMark site on how to set up the Xonar D2 for testing with v6.0.5 of RMAA. Using this guide is very straightforward as setup is essentially the same when using an external loop-back cable.
RMAA works by sending test signals out of the soundcard and then recording the signals back into the soundcard, and making comparisons and measurements to assess the soundcard performance.
I chose to use a loop-back cable for RMAA because if you use internal hardware loop-backs, some soundcards bypass some of the output and input stages, to pipe the playback audio directly into recording. This is essentially cheating, and doesn't represent an actual loop-back, so an external cable ensures each soundcard is doing a complete loop-back during the tests.
The test results page shows you the average values across the frequency range. The frequency response you want to be as near to flat as possible, so small numbers are better. The noise level is the amount of background hiss, etc, so this needs to be as low (large negative values) as possible. The Xonar D1 using all high quality DACs and op-amps on analogue inputs and outputs shows its superiority over onboard audio, and even the X-Fi (I haven't change the input op-amp yet). The dynamic range is almost always nearly the same as the noise level, except positive. The remaining measurements of distortion, noise, and crosstalk, need to be as small (or large negative values) as possible. The Xonar D1 triumphs in all areas here too!
Each of the graphs is included here to show the measurements vs. frequency.
So overall, the Xonar D1 beats both the ALC899 and X-Fi XtremeMusic in the RMAA loop-back tests. Numbers and graphs aren't the only way to assess audio equipment however, although the X-Fi's better performance in the Stereo Crosstalk test, at frequencies above ~2kHz, might help to explain some of my findings in the following subjective listening tests.