We reported on the release of the ASUS HDAV 1.3 audio card a couple of days ago and had an opportunity to sit down with part of the development team today to discuss this unique card. Our visit with Sean Lai, Ives Chiu, and Viki Chen was extremely interesting to say the least. This small project team along with a group of dedicated hardware engineers and software developers are responsible for the audio products coming out of ASUS today.
As reported earlier, this card will be the first and only audio hardware released for the personal computer that has the ability to fully output uncompressed 7.1 channel, 24-bit/192kHz LPCM or bitstream DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. ASUS, with assistance from C-Media and ArcSoft, has been able to adhere to the PAPS and AACS content schemes without having to downmix the audio sources (resulting in 16-bit/48kHz DVD quality audio) or even dropping support for DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD altogether.
The output of these particular audio formats requires the use of the bundled ArcSoft media player from ASUS. Any fans of PowerDVD Ultra or WinDVD Plus will be out of luck if they expect uncompressed output of DTS-HD or TrueHD. Our impressions today after spending more time with the card have only increased our desire for it.
We were able to fully test DTS-HD and DTS-HD MA output today and it worked flawlessly in several titles in two-channel to eight-channel mode. ASUS is still fine tuning Dolby TrueHD and we were not able to fully test it. However, ASUS expects to have Dolby TrueHD fully tuned within the next 60 days or so. The other interesting detail about this card is fully support for Windows XP and Vista currently for all playback capabilities. Our test system today was running Windows XP SP2. Also, unprotected BD content is fully supported at this time for playback from the hard drive or streaming over the network. Hopefully this does not change as we imagine fans of AnyDVDHD will be rejoicing over this capability. We will have additional details over the coming weeks along with a preview of the card as Sean prepares this product for final release. ASUS also confirmed the pricing for the HDAV 1.3 will be near the current Xonar D2 with the Deluxe kit obviously carrying a higher premium with the inclusion of the daughter card.
In the meantime here are a few pictures from today and additional images can be found in the updated gallery.