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.


 
 
 
 

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  • erwos - Friday, June 06, 2008 - link

    Deep Color is an optional feature of HDMI 1.3, not its defining characteristic. I wouldn't get too hung up on it - and I say this as someone who actually owns a Deep Color-capable display. Reply
  • gwolfman - Friday, June 06, 2008 - link

    Yeah, but it still seems limited and incapable of that feature, right? Reply
  • leexgx - Monday, June 09, 2008 - link

    vista does not support 1.3 spec only 1.2 mosty due to the fact it cant do 24bit Reply
  • AlexWade - Friday, June 06, 2008 - link

    I see a lot about audio but nothing about video. HDMI delivers audio and video on the same wire. How does this bridge the two since this is an audio card. Reply
  • ViRGE - Friday, June 06, 2008 - link

    My understanding is this:

    Video card out (HDMI/DVI) -> Asus HDMI In -> Asus HDMI Out-> Receiver and beyond

    HDMI is packet based, using TMDS. So they're just creating a new stream by disassembling the video input stream, running it through their Splendid HD video processor, and then creating a final stream combining the output of the video processor with the audio packets generated by the sound card.
    Reply
  • chizow - Friday, June 06, 2008 - link

    Hopefully there isn't HDMI handshake problems that are common when you attempt to do *anything* to an HDMI signal other than run it over a cable from device A to device B. Between my receiver, LCD, a monoprice HDMI switcher and Motorola HD cable box, I have to jump through all kinds of crazy hoops to get the signal to sync sometimes.

    The product looks very good though. Asus does have a knack for putting out some neat peripheral gadgets like this with customized versions of existing software. I really liked their TV 880 tuner card from a few years back and this reminds me a lot of it.

    Its also nice to see they're able to output at a full 24/192, although realistically it won't matter too much as most HD movies are only 24/48 with a small handful in 24/96.
    Reply
  • madgonad - Friday, June 06, 2008 - link

    I have already read some negatives about what Splendid does to video. This also will add a few links in the chain and valuable milliseconds to the process. I hope there are precise controls for adjusting lip-sync. I am also worried about this device extending the delay between clicking and seeing the result in games. Reply
  • chrnochime - Friday, June 06, 2008 - link

    I don't know the details of the DTS-HD and whatnot, but wouldn't it make more sense for the general public (who can afford it) to get an AV receiver that allows uncompressed 7.1 LPCM output, without resorting to using such audio card and trying to figure out how to make everything work?

    And I trust receiver/amp manufacturers like Harmon Kardon/Denon more than Asus, when it comes to audio equipment...
    Reply
  • bonzichrille - Friday, June 06, 2008 - link

    Hey Gary, just as Olaf pointed out isnt the comment about the analog outputs being better then the hdmi output totally dependant on what hdmi based reciver you got... Reply
  • pnyffeler - Friday, June 06, 2008 - link

    Kudos to ASUS for pulling this off. I just won't be clammering to the store to buy one. I understand the desire to up the level of competition, but how much better is this than what is out there? Perhaps a better question is who will actually notice the difference?

    It seems to me to be like Bugatti Veyron. It's great that it can go 253 mph, but the only reason to buy it is because it can do it, not because you'll actually personally enjoy the top speed regularly.
    Reply

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