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Quick n' dirty Xonar DS and Koss KSC75 review

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
This is the first time I give a pronounced review on anything I buy, so I tough that for such an occasion I could try a detailed approach. Feel free to ask details and give your feedback!

After years of using my onboard VIA soundcard, it finally started to make weird noises, so I tough it would be a good time to upgrade in the sound department. I finally went ahead with a DS and later the KSC75. Was it worth it? Let's see.

Xonar DS : Unboxing.


Nothing spectacular here, the bundle is restricted to an optical adapter, the driver CD, a low-profile
bracket and the card itself. The card looked sturdy and everything was clean.

Installation:


I used the UniXonar drivers with the C-Media panel right out-of-the-box, as people mentioned the Unified
being vastly superior to ASUS's own offering. The interface is simple, sleek and everything you need is
right there. Only 2 flaws: the GX option doesn't seem to work at all on ASUS's panel and sound frequencies doesn't
apply itself: you have to set it manually in Window's sound panel.

the following test were executed firstly on my old Sony MDR-V150, then on my KSC75

Soundcard settings:
7.1 virtual surround
Headphone preset
Numerical 192 Khz


Gaming:

IMPORTANT NOTE: Some games, such as S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, will need to be re-installed in order to play correctly.

Games tested: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl, Battlefield 3 and Witcher 2

MDR-v150

The sound is a bit more detailed, footsteps are more audible, environmental sounds are way better and subtle.
Positioning and soundstage, on the other hand, didn't change at all: everything sounds like it's packed up in a soup can.

KSC75

The difference is night and day: greater details, sound is way more open and everything, from footsteps on grass and
sand under tires, is now clear and crisp. Special note for Battlefield 3: it's even better than the rest. I can hear a silenced weapons
at a greater distance and the ruffle of clothes rubbing on the concrete 2 floors bellow.

Music:


Samples used:
Chrono Trigger 'Back 2 Skala' OC ReMix 160Kbps MP3
Demon Hunter - The Tide Began To Rise 320Kbps MP3
Across the Sun - Before the night Takes Us / Variation on a Scream / The Sun Set 320kbps

MDR-v150

More details are perceptible and some instruments I never heard before are now audible, such as organ, low bass and some
low violin. Everything is a bit more open, but same scenario as for gaming.

KSC75

That's what I call an upgrade: crisp and clean, everything sounds miles ahead of anything the old headphones offered.
I found even more in my music than before, it's like listening to a whole new song: everything is well separated, the bass is twice as punchy
and detailed, more open and airy. It even felt like the sound was coming from the room itself. Only thing that got on my nerves is that the
intro of the 2nd sample have a pronounced popping in the high pitched guitar, and even after recompiling the mp3 file it's always present even when heard on YouTube.
Maybe it's a recording defect, but I found the DPC latency to climb drastically when it happens.


Conclusion

While the card has it's gripes (no Dolby Headphone support or configurable amps) I still say that for 40$, it was worth it.
But the biggest upgrade was the headphones, and for 20$ they really live up to their hype.
post #2 of 3
Thanks for the review mate. I've been considering this soundcard for my secondary rig, it will be for mainly music listening with headphones...it should be enough.
MusicPC
(13 items)
 
Headphone rig
(2 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i7-920 2.66Ghz Quad Core Processor Asus P6T Deluxe Gaming Motherboard nVidia 9800GT 512MB GDDR3 Video Card 3GB DDR3-1333 Triple Channel Memory (3x1GB) 
Hard DriveOSPower
Western Digital 1TB SATA-II Hard Drive Vista Home Premium 64-bit 580 Watt Power Supply 
OtherOther
Burson HA-160Ds Hifiman HE-400 
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MusicPC
(13 items)
 
Headphone rig
(2 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i7-920 2.66Ghz Quad Core Processor Asus P6T Deluxe Gaming Motherboard nVidia 9800GT 512MB GDDR3 Video Card 3GB DDR3-1333 Triple Channel Memory (3x1GB) 
Hard DriveOSPower
Western Digital 1TB SATA-II Hard Drive Vista Home Premium 64-bit 580 Watt Power Supply 
OtherOther
Burson HA-160Ds Hifiman HE-400 
  hide details  
Reply
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicPC View Post

Thanks for the review mate. I've been considering this soundcard for my secondary rig, it will be for mainly music listening with headphones...it should be enough.

If you will be using headphones, grab the DG instead as it has a dedicated headphone amp that will be very useful. The DS is a card more situable for a surround speaker system.
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