Auzentech X-Meridian 7.1 sound card
At last, a real rival for Creative's X-Fi?
This is the background against which Auzentech has to convince us that its X-Meridian is worth considering as an upgrade. To do so, it has worked its socks off to come up with a sound card that has a startling specification. The X-Meridian uses a C-Media Oxygen HD CMI8788 processor which fully supports Dolby Pro Logic IIX, Dolby Digital Live, DTS Connect and Dolby Headphone Technology.
The X-Meridian has four DACS which give 24-bit/192kHz support for recording and playback with up to eight speakers with a ten-band EQ for each channel. Some sound cards can manage this in stereo but this is the first card I've seen that can manage it in surround sound.
This 24-bit/192kHz support extends to the S/PDIF transmitter and despite the minimalist looks of the Auzentech the two coaxial S/PDIF connectors accept adaptors - which are included in the box, incidentally - so you can plug in an optical connection.
If the six mini jacks and S/PDIF aren’t enough for you then you may want to consider the optional X-Tension board. This adds two more S/PDIF, one 6.35mm microphone jack, two 3.5mm jacks with adapter cables that connect to standard 5-pin MIDI in and out, and one S/PDIF DIN 9-pin mini DIN jack for 8-channel Pure PCM Output. Phew.
The X-Tension will be available in the UK late January/Early Feb 2007.
You also have the option of plugging the front panel audio on your PC case into the X-Meridian so the truly crazed could connect three microphones with one plugged into the sound card, one connected to the X-Tension bracket and one at the front of the PC.