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Auzentech HDA X-Plosion 7.1 DTS Connect Sound Card

Company: Auzentech, Inc
Product: X-Plosion 7.1 DTS Connect
Date Reviewed: March 31, 2006
Reviewed By: Jason Rabel
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Auzentech HDA X-Plosion 7.1 DTS Connect Sound Card


Auzentech's new HDA X-Plosion sound card is a step up from their previous model, the X-Mystique. Both cards feature Dolby Digital Live capability, but the X-Plosion takes it one step further with DTS Connect 7.1. For those unfamiliar with the technologies, both DDL & DTS Connect essentially take any audio source (usually 2-channel) and convert it into a multi-channel (5.1 or 7.1) Dolby Digital or DTS bitstream. That data can then be sent over a single SPDIF cable (either coax or optical) to a surround sound system.

The technology isn't exactly new, NVIDIA's SoundStorm on the nForce 2 chipset would encode audio into 5.1 Dolby Digital format, and that's initially what got a lot of enthusiasts hooked. However, NVIDIA made a fatal mistake and decided not to adopt their SoundStorm technology with the future nForce 3 & 4 chipsets, though there are rumors it might make a comeback in the nForce 5.

Intel brought back DDL with their HD Audio specification for the 9xx express motherboard chipsets, again exposing a large audience to the capabilities of real-time Dolby Digital up-mixing & encoding. The downside is that this capability is only for Intel motherboards, so AMD users are left out in the dark.

C-Media, the manufacturer of the onboard audio chip for the Intel motherboards, took that technology and converted it for use in a standalone PCI sound card. Several companies have adopted these new C-Media chips and designed PCI cards, each slightly different than the other. Auzentech, Turtle Beach, and Diamond are probably the most well known with the DDL technology, and Auzentech is the only one that I know of currently that offers a model with DTS Connect.

Those who may be wondering, Creative's X-Fi does not have this technology. Yes, in a certain mode (CMSS-3D) it can up-mix the source, however it has to be sent via the separate multiple analog audio cables, it can't do it via SPDIF. The advantage of DDL & DTS Connect is that it can up-mix the source and encode it into a bitstream that can be sent over a single cable to a surround sound decoder. My disappointment with the X-Fi resulted in it being boxed back up and returned to the store after several days of frustration.


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