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Xonar best audio settings guide

Guide to achieve best audio quality, performance and functionality for Xonar cards and other CMI8788 audio chipset cards.

In sound card application settings (ASUS Audio Center, C-Media Panel, XonarSwitch):
  • Set Sample Rate to 44.1 kHz, this is generally good for most media (games, movies, music), while video DVDs and Blu-rays and some of the Hi-Res Audio music have a sample rate of 48 kHz. Increasing Sample Rate without having a source that’s sampled at a higher rate won’t improve sound quality, in fact, it will degrade it.
  • Select Audio Channel/System input (present only in Win Vista, 7, 8, 10) and Analog Out/System Output settings based on the number of speakers that you have. For a 5.1 audio system select Audio Channel to 6 and Analog Out to 5.1. For a 2.1 audio system, select  Audio Channel to 2 and Analog Out to 2.  By default, selecting more channels than the number of speakers you have connected won’t enable you to hear more sounds or hear the footsteps and positioning of enemies better in games.
    • If you wish to emulate 8 channels surround on 2 channel headphones, set the number of channels to 8, analog output to “Headphones”, enable “Dolby Headphones” and “7.1 virtual speaker shifter”.
    • If you have 2 speakers and a standalone subwoofer that is connected directly to the audio card check this guide.
  • Keep GX (or Xear 3D) disabled. GX is responsible with emulating EAX effects in some older games, but it’s know to cause crashes, audio loops in games and BSODs while it's enabled.
  • If your Xonar card has a dedicated headphone amplifier, set the soundcards output impedance/gain (Ω = ohm) to a value close to the headphones input impedance (look for it in specifications, data sheet or manual). Do not set the impedance much higher as it may damage the headphones. Headphones AMP (impedance) options are only available when Analog Out is set to Headphone. In ASUS Audio Center click the Hammer icon to select a different output impedance. In XonarSwitch this is available under Headphones Gain. I'm not aware of an option to control the output impedance being available in C-Media Panel.
  • Be careful which settings you enable. The effects will increase the DPC latency, which in turn could cause other problems like audio/video desynchronization or slow network/internet speed. They also change the sound not always in a good way, you might like it for your music but it might harm the audio positioning in games. You can read more on the impact of sound effects to DPC latency here.
In Windows:
  • Windows Vista/7/8/10: Setting the Windows audio playback to 24 bit will slightly improve audio quality. Open Windows Sound (right-click on Windows Volume tray icon-> Sounds or if missing type in Windows search: "change system sounds"), select Playback tab, double click your default playback device (for example Speakers ASUS Xonar Audio Device) , go to Advanced tab and in the Default format entry select 24 bit 44100 Hz (studio quality) as shown in this picture. You can find detailed information on audio bit-depth here.
  • Windows Vista/7/8/10: Set Line In and Microphone Default Format to "2 channel, 24 bit, 44100 Hz (studio quality)". Having the bit-depth set to 24 bit will slightly improve the recording quality. To do so open Windows Sound (right-click on Windows Volume tray icon-> Sounds or if missing type in Windows search: "change system sounds"), go to Recording tab, select Microphone or Line In (ASUS Xonar...) and click "Set Default" button in order to have access to it's advanced settings, then double click it, go to Advanced tab and in the "Default Format" entry select 2 channel, 24 bit, 44100 Hz (studio quality) as shown in this picture.
  • Windows XP: Don’t increase the Windows Audio Volume to 100%, instead set it to 80-90% max in order to avoid dynamic volume issue. Issue regarding setting volume to 100% is detailed here.
In audio/video applications:
  • Enable the  audio output/playback to 32bit or 24bit instead of 16bit, as this will slightly improve audio quality. This setting is application specific  so you will have to search for it in application preferences/options. For example, in Winamp the setting is located in Preferences->Playback->Allow 24bit. If you have Windows Vista/7/8/10 then you have to enable 24 bit output in Windows as well.
  • If you use ASIO as playback output:
    • recommended settings would be Bit-Depth set to 24-bit and Latency set to 10 ms.
    • if you experience cracking or popping noises, you need to run the player as administrator (right click and select “Run as administrator") or disable Windows UAC.
  • Windows Vista/7/8/10 only: Set each application volume at 80-90% in order to avoid dynamic volume issue. Issue regarding setting volume to 100% is detailed here.
In games options:
  • Set Sound Quality to Medium or High depending on the importance of sound quality in that particular game. This setting affects CPU usage so if you have a slow CPU you should select Medium and if you have a fast CPU you can go with High. Setting this to High with a slow CPU might cause to much strain on your CPU and this in turn will affect the FPS of that particular game.
  • Set the number of speakers you currently have connected is properly detected.
    • If you've enabled Dolby Headphones 7.1 speaker emulation in soundcard's application settings, if the in-game options allow it, you have to set the number of speakers to 7.1.  The game needs to generate 7.1 sounds which will be processed and converted by the Xonar driver for 2 channels output.

Related content:

Applies to:

  • ASUS Xonar DG, Xonar DGX, Xonar DG SI, Xonar DS, Xonar DSX, Xonar D1, Xonar D2, Xonar DX, Xonar D2X, Xonar HDAV, Xonar HDAV Slim, Xonar Essence ST, Xonar Essence STX, Xonar Essence STX II, Xonar Xense.
  • Other C-media CMI8786 and CMI8788  audio chipset cards:
    • Auzentech: HDA X-Purity 7.1, X-Meridian 1G, X-Meridian 2G.
    • HTOmega: Claro, Claro Plus, Claro II, Claro Halo, eClaro.
    • Razer Barracuda AC-1.
    • TempoTec HIFIER Serenade

32 Comments

  1. PrMinisterGR13 May 2018 @ 13:49

    I have an issue with 7.1 games and stereo speakers. These are my settings: https://imgur.com/Swx7m5Q

    The issue is that the back virtual speakers are way too loud. Like, when an in-game character talks to me and I face him, their voice has a 50% volume, let's say, but when I turn my character's back to them, then the volume becomes almost double. Any ideas about that?

    Reply

  2. Oguzhan Nurgaz22 Jun 2019 @ 13:53

    I have ASUS Xonar U7 Echelon. I'm playing FPS games while i'm shooting with guns the sound is rising at a time. Cause of that i can't hear anything while im shooting. I'd tried other equalizer settings but there is no effect.

    Reply

  3. Farley09 Jul 2019 @ 23:46

    Does not apply to Xonar DGX ???

    Reply

  4. Smokorus21 Jul 2019 @ 11:26

    With UNI drivers my mic is very very quite, i must SCREAM or nothing be recorder... how i can boost up mic?

    Reply

  5. vicky04 Oct 2019 @ 12:02

    Uni Xonar drive can be used for Xonar SE sound card ???? pllzzz let know as soon as possible..thnku

    Reply

    • CarvedInside04 Oct 2019 @ 22:35

      It won't work. Xonar SE is and will not be supported as I have stated here.
      FYI you've commented on the wrong page, the right page would have been the page with the drivers. Please make more of an effort next time.

      Reply

  6. Doanster13 Jan 2020 @ 03:30

    I'm considering getting my hands on some used Xonar cards for the purpose of EAX support via GX in Windows 10, but it looks like this is a bad idea since this isn't going to work properly based on what I see above. Has anyone had experience with using GX in Windows 10 and can comment? Suggestions?

    Reply

  7. Aviate14 Jan 2020 @ 04:17

    I'm having issues with some games having echoed voices whenever i turn on SVN mode (smart volume) on my Xonar DSX. Everything sounds great with SVN turned on so i hate to turn it off but the echo drives me crazy. I have GX turned off as well. Any help on removing the echo while SVN would be great, currently been testing this with Witcher 3 and Overwatch voice lines.

    Reply

  8. Ckone02 Feb 2020 @ 23:13

    I have a question dear admin,

    i have a stereo headset, should i use 2 channels with dolby or 8 channels with dolby and 7.1.

    somehow, 8 channels with dolby and 7.1 on plays music for example in stereo, however, if i switch to 2 channel with dolby and 7.1 on, it uses every "speaker" but it gets very loud and overtuned.

    as far as i understood here, if you have only 2 channels, setting it to 8 channels wont improve anything.

    im using xonar dgx audio center.

    Reply

    • CarvedInside07 Feb 2020 @ 06:11

      The 8 channels with Dolby Headphones settings are not for music because that has only 2.0 audio tracks, they are for content like games and movies that have 7.1 audio tracks.
      For music I would use 2 channels and without Dolby Headphones.

      Reply

  9. Ibadez10 Feb 2020 @ 22:16

    Hello,

    Sorry about my English.

    I have an Essence STX and I downloaded the C-Media Audio Panel driver. (Thank you for your work by the way)

    I wanted to know why you weren't talking about the Dolby Pro logic IIx settings.

    I'm having trouble understanding what it does, when I'm in the game and want to test some settings I have to go back to the office desktop which cuts off my listening and prevents me from being able to tell the difference.

    What do you recommend for games?

    8 chan
    Dobly Headphone + 7.1 virtual shifter

    ok

    But does it make sense to add Dolby Pro logic IIx? What does it bring concretely compared to the 7.1 virtual shifter?

    Thank you in advance for your answer.

    Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

    Reply

    • CarvedInside10 Feb 2020 @ 23:31

      Dolby Pro Logic IIx is for upmixing stereo sounds(2.0) to 5.1 or 7.1 speakers. To further explain that, you would use that if when listening to music you would want the sound to come out from all the speakers instead of only from the front speakers. Such a feature is not useful or good for sound positioning in games.

      I think games these days have good positioning when using stereo speakers/headphones (and 2 channels output). But depending on the game you could see an improvement with 8 channels with Dolby Headphones and 7.1 Virtual Speaker. In case you want to test between 2 channels configuration and 8 channels with Dolby Headphones and 7.1 Virtual Speaker configuration, you need to exit the game each time you want to test new settings.

      To test between various settings you might want to use XonarSwitch, make different profiles with various settings and assign each profile a hotkey for easily switching between them while in-game. But again, this is won't work properly if you are switching between 2 profiles with different number of channels if you don't exit the game.

      If you really appreciate my work and my time, you should consider sending me a donation if you haven't done that yet.

      Reply

  10. Confused16 Feb 2020 @ 02:17

    Hello,

    ASUS Z77 mobo , Windows 7 64 Bit, Xonar DGX sound card pcie, 8.1a installed - Low DPC latency
    Dell AX510 Soundbar with Sennheiser 598 headphones plugged in directly to the soundbar.

    Using C-Media panel, I have the following settings, but sound is still a bit too low:

    System Input: 2 CH
    DSP Mode: 7.1 Virtual speaker shifter

    Output mode:
    Analog Output: 2 speakers
    Digital Audio 44.1 KHz
    S/PDIF Output - not selected

    On every other tab, default settings.

    On Windows 7 settings: 24 bit/44100 Hz
    Checked both allow applications to take control and give exclusive mode applications priority.

    Any recommendations on how to make the sound louder?

    Reply

    • CarvedInside18 Feb 2020 @ 04:24

      I've spend a lot of time writing all these materials and software. I can no longer also spend time offering dedicated support for free. If you wish my help with this you'll have to make a donation of $5 or more. If you wish to do so, mention in the donation message your nickname or about the problem so I know it is from you.

      Of course, if someone else wants to provide you with a solution, they are free to do so.

      Reply

  11. Doanster18 Feb 2020 @ 08:34

    @CarvedInside You've been the best thing to happen to Asus sound cards! I would like to make a donation and just want to confirm that donating to MaxedTech is the same as donating to you? Thanks!

    Reply

  12. Doanster16 Mar 2020 @ 00:58

    What is the best bitrate and sampling frequency settings when using DTS Interactive output on the Xonar? The original DTS bitstream supports up to 24-bit 96kHz, but I've read that DTS Interactive (via the TOSLINK output on my Xonar DSX) is limited to 24-bit 48kHz. How is the encoding actually implemented? Is it possible that the internal processing is actually even limited to only 16-bit? Some insight as to how the driver and hardware implements this feature would be helpful 🙂

    Reply

    • CarvedInside16 Mar 2020 @ 02:47

      Yes, for DTS Interactive for 5.1 you are limited to 24-bit and 48kHz. I'm not sure, but I think if you where to use 2.0 channels you can set a higher sample rate.
      Now, setting the bit depth to 24 bit is for certain better than 16 bit. On the sample rate I would say 44.1kHz, see the explanation I've written in this comment.
      I don't know how things are implemented. I assume when you set 24 bit it outputs at 24 bit, unless there is a certain bug or issue when using S/DPIF DTS output. I tested with RMAA on the analog output, comparing between 16 bit and 24 bit output bit depth with 16 bit audio files and the results where better if the output bit rate was set to 24 bit.

      By using the soundcard's S/PDIF output you are bypassing the soundcard's DAC and op-amps and use those in the receiver/speakers/headphones instead. Depending on the quality of the DAC and op-amps in those devices, the sound might be better or worse than from your sound card. If you want to use the audio card for the sound processing you will need to use the analog jack connections.
      Tell me what Xonar card and what receiver, speakers or headphones do you have. Might be able to recommend is you should use S/PDIF or analog outputs.

      Reply

      • Doanster16 Mar 2020 @ 07:38

        Thanks! Very good to know that RMAA testing actually proved that the 24 bit setting is indeed better and not just subjective hearing tests.

        My configuration is a Windows 10 machine with a Xonar DSX hooked up to a Harman/Kardon AVR130 receiver via TOSLINK. It has 4 speakers connected (front L/R and rear L/R) plus a powered subwoofer. At first, I had the 4 channels connected via analogue into the receiver's 5.1 channel direct input, but then I couldn't use the receiver's bass management to redirect the bass to the subwoofer. So now I use DTS Interactive instead, possibly at the expense of lower sound quality, to take advantage of the receiver's processing (routing bass to the subwoofer and routing centre channel audio to the front L/R speakers). I wish that 4.1 channel output is an option so that I can actually connect everything properly via analogue.

        On a relevant note, which sound card(s) would you suggest that works with your drivers for good sound via analogue 4 channel output? I believe that the Xonar DX or D2X is a logical upgrade, followed by the Essence STX II 7.1 (if one can be found for a good price).

        Reply

        • CarvedInside17 Mar 2020 @ 08:09

          You're welcome.
          Regarding subwofer working on analog output I will reply later.

          About your receiver's DAC(Digital to Analog Converter), it seems it is a AK4358. According to the its datasheet, it's SNR(Signal-to-Noise Ratio, higher is better) is 112 dB. The Xonar DSX has a DAC with SNR of 108 dB for the front speakers/channels, for the other speakers it's 103 dB. From the looks of it, in the current situation using the S/PDIF of the audio card is the better option. DAC SNR specification is not the full story in regards to sound quality, there is also DAC's THD+N specification that you have to consider and also card/received opamps.

          About upgrading your card. As you've probably have seen, some Xonar cards have issues on Ryzen platforms. The STX II and D2X are particularly affected. So for this reason alone I don't recommend the buying a highly priced STX II that you might not be able to use currently or in the future. Instead of the STX II, you would be better with a STX, but you would also need to buy a H6 daughterboard for 5.1/7.1 analog output.
          The Xonar DX does not have DTS Interactive, instead has Dolby Digital Live S/PDIF encoding so check if that is supported by your receiver. But should not matter much because you would be buying a better card to use it's analog output. For example, the Xonar DX SNR for front speakers is 120dB, and 114dB for the other speakers.
          The D2X would be a slightly better option if you get at a good price.

          Only other higher end options that are better than the Xonar STX are Creative AE-7 and Creative AE-9.

          For ASUS Xonar cards you can find the detailed SNR specification of the other Xonar models DACs in their manuals, the DAC SNR is listed under "D-A converter of Digital Sources" entry in the Specifications summary, the cards output SNR is listed under "Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A Weighted)".

          Reply

          • Doanster17 Mar 2020 @ 18:32

            Good to know. I agree that the receiver has a better DAC than the Xonar DSX. On the other hand, the DTS output is also a compressed bitstream, which likely degrades audio quality somewhat. I guess only RMAA testing will tell.

            Playing around with the settings further, it looks like when SPDIF Out: DTS Interactive is selected in Xonar Audio Center, the Sample Rate setting is greyed out, which tells me that there is probably more going on under the hood.

            Reply

            • CarvedInside21 Mar 2020 @ 05:50

              The digital data bits are compressed for transmission, just like with an archive, the data is the same on decompression. I don't think there is anything else done, so the quality should be the same as with analog output.

              At which setting the sample rate is greyed out? If you change it before enabling DST Interactive does it remain as you've previously changed it?
              If you can't change it, it's not such a big problem for sound quality. Just make sure you have it set at 44.1kHz in Windows Sound (as described in the article above), as this one will severly affect Total Harmonic Distortion and Intermodulation Distortion + Noise. If you want to see those results, I can make them available to you.

              Reply

              • Doanster22 Mar 2020 @ 07:55

                The original DTS codec that DTS Interactive uses is actually a lossy compression algorithm, so there would be some data loss. Whether this is actually perceptible is up to someone's ears has been a debate ever since the original Dolby Digital and DTS codecs came out in the 1990s. It sounds pretty good to me though and it's rare to own a sound card that supports DTS Interactive 🙂

                The sample rate setting is greyed out whenever the 'SPDIF Out' checkbox is checked and DTS Interactive is selected at the same time. It does not matter what Sample Rate I select. So for example, I can select 'PCM 192KHz' and enable SPDIF Out to PCM, but as soon as I change the SPDIF setting to DTS Interactive, the Sample Rate is greyed out at 'PCM 192kHz' (or whatever the last setting it was at before selecting DTS Interactive). This tells me that the sample rate setting is probably ignored when DTS Interactive is selected.

                Sure, I would love to see those THD and Intermodulation Distortion + Noise results one day - I'm sure a few others would too.

                One more note is that when DTS Interactive is selected, the Analog Out option also gets greyed out and the picture always defaults to a 5.1 setup.

                Reply

                • CarvedInside25 Mar 2020 @ 07:35

                  Now that you mention this, I vaguely remember reading about DDL or DTS lossy compression a couple of years ago. The lossy compression is not a good thing, but if it has a perceivable impact in this case remains to be seen. I will investigate this further and will update you if I find something worth sharing.

                  I have sent you those sample rate and bit depth RMAA tests by e-mail.

                  Reply

        • CarvedInside21 Mar 2020 @ 04:46

          Regarding subwofer working on analog output. With your S/PDIF output with DTS Interactive, does the subwoofer work when using it for stereo sounds (music)?
          Because if that's the case, the subwoofer works with S/PDIF output with DTS Interactive encoding because the Xonar driver does the stereo upmixing from the front speakers channels to the subwoofer channel.
          On analog output, in order for upmixing to work you would have to enable 5.1 speakers and keep the 4 channels setting.
          There is another better upmixing configuration setup, but that requires a little more work to setup. Let me know if you want me to write that guide for you.

          Reply

          • Doanster22 Mar 2020 @ 08:46

            No, there is no subwoofer/bass info in the DTS LFE (0.1) signal. It is only 2.0 (with stereo sources) or 4.0 (with games). Any bass directed to the subwoofer is done externally by the receiver's processor.

            Ah! I never thought about setting Audio Channel to 4 Channels and Analog Out to 5.1 Speakers. Now with this setting, things work perfectly when FlexBass is enabled with both analogue out and DTS. I turned off my receiver's bass management and, sure enough, FlexBass does redirect Bass to the LFE channel.

            I only wish there is a way to set Audio Channel to 8 4 Channels and output to 4.1 Speakers through analog output (i.e. 5.1 analog out without a center speaker - in my opinion the center speaker is too close to you in a PC setup when you're sitting 40cm from the monitor).

            Yes, I am open to the better upmixing configuration setup. And if you require a further donation for your work, I would happy to contribute - just let me know.

            Reply

            • CarvedInside25 Mar 2020 @ 11:44

              I'm glad to hear that setting analog to 4 channels worked. I've tested this setup now nad I've noticed that with 4 channels the stereo upmix does not work properly as oppose to if you where to set the number of channels to 2. You may want to try that just to see how that sounds, try it also with FlexBass disabled.

              About the center speaker or a 4.1 configuration. Try controlling Center speaker volume or mute it in the Xonar control panel-> Mixer. If that does not work you can control it from the receiver. In 2/4 channels with 5.1 speakers configuration it does not matter that center output is enabled if you can mute it as it is just an upmix from front and rear channels.

              Reply

            • CarvedInside25 Mar 2020 @ 15:29

              About that better method of upmixing for the bass channel. The following guide will enable stereo upmix to bass output only with 2.0 audio sources, as 5.1 movies and 5.1 games have their own bass channel output, I also added a redirect from the Center channel like you said you are doing with DTS encoding output.

              Follow the steps in the FAQ Q&A 4 B including using 5.1 speakers and 6 channels setting, but at step 5 replace the text with this instead:
              Stage: pre-mix
              If: inputChannelCount == 2
              # copy to subwoofer a mix of front left and right
              Copy: SUB=0.5*L+0.5*R
              EndIf:
              Stage: post-mix
              # redirect center channel to front left and right and mute center
              Copy: L=L+0.5*C R=R+0.5*C C=0.0

              If you want the upmix to work for Chromium based browsers (Chorme, Opera, Vivaldi, Edge etc.) you will need to edit their shortcuts (Right-click->Proprieties) and add without quotes "--try-supported-channel-layouts" to the Target path.

              See how this goes for you. Let me know of the result and if you need a different setup.

              With Equalizer APO you can do various alterations to sound. It might be easier to use HeSuVi for some of those.

              Sorry that sometimes it takes a while for me to reply. Some things require more intensive thinking.
              If the information I provided was helpful to you and want to make another donation, I would appreciate it very much.

              Reply

  13. neo_bpm22 Mar 2020 @ 11:33

    I have an ASUS Xonar D2X and I have a question from the post author.

    I have the Xonar connected with my Sennheiser HD598 by 3.5mm jack and I have connected my Edifier S330D with a coaxial 24k cable, when I listen to music or playing with my headphones I don't have any problem, but when I do the same with my speakers I have a lot of problems because of the sound explode a lot of times and have a lot of interferences.

    What I can do to fix it?

    Reply

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