When it comes to soundcard software, I usually just install the drivers and forget about all of the control panel stuff. Although, I can’t dismiss the Xonar Xense Audio Center. I found myself using it almost all of the time, trying to tweak settings, or different configurations to see how it’d change the final product. Basically, everything you need is here.
The top half of the audio center is an overview of the current settings. It shows overall volume, DSP mode, EQ mode, output devices, and any preset modes that are selected. The bottom half is where all of the fun occurs. Here you can pick the number of audio channels (2,4,6,8), sampling rate (44.1, 48, 96, 192kHz), analog out (headphone, 2, 4, 5.1 (6 channel), 7.1 (8 channel), FP headphones, or FP 2 speakers), and SPDIF ouput which can be PCM or Dolby Digital Live. Also depending on your output mode, you can pick Dolby Headphone, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, and configure your speaker arrangement by dragging the speakers in the picture to where they actually are at in your room. This will set the proper delay and volume for each speaker so sounds end up exactly where they’re supposed to be. Also one nice thing is ASUS has included a “Reset” button on each tab. This is nice in case you go twiddling a little too much and you just want to go back to the defaults.
The Mixer panel has your playback and recording volume controls. Playback controls are relatively simple, left and right volumes 0 – 100%. The recording panel can be a little confusing. You will see all of your inputs, much of which you’ll probably be familiar with, but the selection and monitoring process isn’t too obvious. The red/gray square under each volume control is if the device is selected or not. Then there’s another button under mic, line in, aux and front mic. This button is for monitoring, local echoing of the input. After you figure that out, it’s really easy to switch inputs, or monitor multiple channels. It is also nice that ASUS has included the Mix and Wave as inputs. There have been too many times where I’ve had a nice soundcard (M-Audio Revolution 5.1, I’m looking at you), and a stereo mix/wave out are not available as inputs. Although this is not the case with the Xonar Xense, you’re covered on all levels.
The effect panel has a 10 band equalizer, a bunch of presets and environment settings like concert hall, arena, auditorium, etc. I actually spent the least amount of time on this panel mainly because I believe the EQ presets are horrible, and I don’t really care for environmental effects. To sum it up, the rap preset essentially removes all bass, while insanely boosting mids and highs. This is the opposite of what rap music is. Rap is supposed to take down walls with deep bass, not be tinny and poppy. Also, I found the other presets didn’t really match their labels either. One thing that is nice about this Effects panel is you can set your own EQ levels and save them for later. Although, for the time I used the Xonar Xense, I just left the EQ completely flat.
Finally the FlexBass panel allows you to set the crossover frequency. Most PC speaker systems just take the full range input and parse it out themselves. Although this is a nice option to have if you have a truly segmented system and want to get your satellites sounding a bit more clear.