• Frequency Response: 10Hz to 48KHz
  • DAC Chip: ESS SABRE9016 Premier 8 Channel Audio DAC
  • Headphone Amplifier: TI LME49600
  • Sample Rate: 44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/176.4K/192KHz @ 16bit/24bit
  • Ports: 5 audio jacks, 1x line in/mic, 1x S/PDIF, 1x Box Link
  • Dimensions: 190 x 130 x 22mm
  • Pros:
  • Full control
  • Audiophile-grade parts
  • Performance
  • Cons:
  • None

Be One With The Game

Sounds cards have rarely been popular among consumers and were a niche market for avid gamers and audiophiles. ASUS on the other hand had seen the potential in the audio market now that more music lovers and audiophiles are flooding the consumer scene. Gamers are now more willing to spend on better headphones and speakers and even full surround sound setups.

ASUS has sent us their ASUS STRIX RAID DLX sound card to give it a whirl. The sound card comes in 2 parts, first is the sound card itself and then there’s the control box, which is connected to the sound card and is detachable. The sound card requires a 6-pin PCI-e power connector which usually isn’t required on older sound cards.

The ASUS STRIX RAID DLX uses high grade audiophile parts such as Nichicon Muse and WIMA capacitors, but that doesn’t define a great sound card. The sound card also has an ESS SABRE9016 DAC and a headphone amplifier from Texas Instruments the TI LME49600. ESS Sabre and Texas Instruments are not new names in the audiophile industry and have many of their parts used in premium audio hardware all around the world.

With the built-in headphone amplifier, the sound card was able drive headphones with high ohms, like the BeyerDynamic DT770 PRO 250 Ohms. Using it together with the bundled Sonic Studio it gave us control over our sound with its Equalizer and many other functions such as Bass Boost and Compressor. For the gamers Sonic Radar Pro is a hugely useful feature, enhancing in-game sounds and visualisation of sounds that is required in first-person shooters. Playing CS:GO together with Sonic Radar Pro gave a much better visualisation of enemy footsteps, if not it probably did make footsteps much more discernible.

Then of course there’s the RAID mode which can be toggled on the control box, RAID mode is basically a preset sound profile which you can customise and switch to on-the-fly. So you can switch between your gaming profile and possibly your movie or music profile. This gives you the option to customise sounds specifically for gaming which you would normally not use when enjoying movies or music.

Finally, the sound card comes with all the ports you need for a 7.1 speaker setup along with an Optical and S/PDIF output if you ever decide to add-on another DAC. Although we didn’t have a 7.1 speaker setup lying about, our stereo speakers were perfectly and sounded great. Bass was tight but can be customised to be boomy for bassheads, no static noises could be heard even at higher volumes which could show that grounding is done well.

CHIP CONCLUDE: If you rather have a great DAC or amplifier inside your PC instead of outside, the ASUS STRIX RAID DLX is a great alternative. High-grade parts may not define good sound (in this case the sound is great), but you can be sure that the parts are of high quality and are reliable.

(previously published in issue April 2016)