Then, I played the games. Doom 3 came alive. When I had reviewed the game, I had played it in all of my 2.1 glory. Now, with Logitech
THX Z-5300e 5.1 surround, it was absolutely jaw-dropping. My initial tests with Quake 4 were terrible. It failed to recognize the
surround sound speakers at first. When I finally got Quake 4 to recognize surround sound, the game would occasionally fail, and the
audio would loop continuously. The sound made me feel like I was stuck in a Moby nightmare. Auzentech pointed me to some potential
fixes, but I found that simply re-installing the drivers for the HDA X-Plosion fixed the issue. Quake 4 then ran like a dream.
My last test was placing my PC in my home theater. I hooked it up to a Sony Wega KDF-42WE655 TV via DVI to HDMI cable, and to my Yamaha
HTR-5730 AV Receiver. It's a meager home theater, but the room is only 3-passenger, so it's not so bad. I booted the machine, opened
the PCI 3D Audio Configuration and set the output device to Dolby Digital Live 5.1. I set the Yamaha to Dolby Digital + Matrix 6.1. I
popped in Star Wars Episode I. I like the podracing scene, so that's what I decided to use to test the DVD portion of the audio. Wow!
What an awesome sound. Then, I switched the Audio Configuration on the PC to DTS Connect 5.1, and changed the Yamaha to DTS + Matrix 6.1.
Damn! I think I may have actually soiled myself. I didn't even have to crank it up to notice a huge difference in my receiver between
Dolby Digital Live and DTS coming out of the HDA X-Plosion. Then, I started playing some mp3s. This was the way that audio was meant
to be played. If you ask me, this was the true test of this sound card and it kicked ass. I think I will build a small form-factor
machine around this device just so I can play mp3s in exquisite fidelity in my TV room, just as soon as I change my underwear.
Overall, this card is an excellent alternative to the Creative Labs Audigy 2ZS that I was using. It was missing some features that made
usability easier like a connector for the front ports, but the card makes up for that in versatility of the Dolby Digital Live and DTS
Connect features. If you already have the Audigy 2 or better, and it is working fine for you with your current speaker setup, there may
be no compelling reason to upgrade to this card. If you find yourself needing the features of the Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect, then
is your card of choice. Based on the multitude of features and the sound quality in my TV room, and despite front connector shortcomings,
I give the HDA X-Plosion a Grand Slam! Thanks to Stephane Bae of Auzentech for the