I bought a Xonar around 1.5 weeks ago to replace my X-Fi. I'll write a lengthy post at some point with more info and pics, but the reader's digest version is that I moved my gaming rig (which I spent decent money on -- 8800GTS w/ 640MB, 4GB RAM, 500GB, etc.) downstairs to my home theater area because I was not using it much upstairs in my office. I usually just ended up chilling on the couch to play Xbox instead. After getting everything moved, I find my Pioneer Elite VSX81TXV will NOT take multichannel sound input while it is sending HDMI to the screen. So I had to find a card that would do Dolby Digital Live or DTS Interactive and this card fit the bill.
So far I cannot tell a difference in sound quality between the X-Fi and the Xonar. Basically, I am VERY happy with the Xonar. The only thing I can't figure out and that I am a bit unhappy with is PowerDVD + Xonar. I upgraded to PDVD Ultra (OEM version came with the card) to play backed up HD DVD. Everything plays fine, but if you enable SPDIF out in PDVD you get no sound. The only way I could make it work was to tell PDVD I had a six speaker setup (so PDVD is decoding AC3 to the separate channels) and then have the card re-code to DTS to go to my receiver through optical. I am not sure what kind of loss this is imposing but the mere fact that it is doing something crazy like that just totally irritates something deep inside my personality.
I am not sure if it's a PDVD issue or a Xonar issue. When I emailed PDVD tech support about it, their first response to me was to tell me how valued a customer I was, and send me a link to a full download of PDVD Ultra. I thought SWEET! They are giving me a free copy of Ultra, so I can return/refund my paid copy. Then I realized the product key they gave me for the download was the key I paid for.
Yeah, that makes perfect sense Cyberlink, I am an extremely valued customer, so for my trouble, you are letting me download the same product I already have, again.
I emailed back a little bit sarcastically because I really put a lot of time and effort into filling out all the fields in their tech support form and providing detailed information on how the issue was manifesting itself, and they gave me a canned response that really didn't address my questions. I could go on and on, but to make things a bit shorter, after going back and forth 3 times they finally came back and said "Yeah, we know the issue, we're working on it". It seemed to me this was their way of getting me off their back. But who knows, maybe they really are working on it.
Is anyone else having this issue? Or is it just me. I am on Vista (I should know better....) so it may just be a Vista driver issue. I know a few things changed around between the XP/Vista sound architecture that caused a lot of hassle for games and other audio applications.
Oh, and when I test my speakers through the SPDIF connection in Control Panel it plays fine. But other apps seem to have a hard time using that device as well. So this further leads me to believe it may be a driver issue.