Summary: Originally I would rate this 2 stars because I bought it to use the toslink connection and like everyone else all I could get it to do was play 2 channels. Finally after spending about 2 hours messing around with it, I tried installing the bundled software + driver, then uninstalled the audio control panel. I then went into Windows audio to configure the optical audio out and was able to get 5.1 surround working!! It sounds great too.
EXCELLENT Budget sound card, better sound than cards costing a LOT more.
3 May 2014
Summary: I mostly got this for the OPTICAL output. I have used 5.1 and 7.1 with very high-end amps and found no diff. So, seriously, unless you have a REALLY big living room, those 2 extra channels are not going to add anything. IMHO, Xonar beats Creative Labs (Sound Blaster) for sound quality. If you can't afford a high end discrete DAC, the Xonar line is a good option. I had the Xonar Essence and then moved up to a discrete DAC.
Summary: This card does all of what you would expect, but with a few other key features often reserved for much more expensive cards. The headphone amp is great. It can easily drive a pair of studio monitors (MDR-V6) without any distortion, even when turned to 100%. It also has the option to boost the signal depending on the impedance of the headphones (or speakers) you're using. It has three settings: <32 ohms, 32-64 ohms, and 64 ohms.
Summary: I paired this card with my Creative Fatal1ty gaming headset and it is awesome! My friends can hear me very clearly with this. It also makes it so easy to switch between my headset and speakers. Just in case you were wondering, it does have the plug to allow you to plug the front panel audio jacks to the card (internal). This means you don't have to plug your headset to the bank of the card. Price is perfect, I mean... what else can I ask for?
Summary: This card was supposed to be an easy replacement for my onboard sound, which was causing some issues with my microphone. Upon putting it in my rig and installing the drivers, nothing worked. I decided to go ahead and reinstall windows 7 since I was long overdue for a format, and the drivers still would not work.
Pros: Headphone and microphone jacks work., Great price
Cons: The drivers included didn't install properly on a fresh windows 7 install., Asus' drivers website is hell to get through. It gave me drivers for different cards in the series several times which *surprise* didn't work. (This was slightly improved very recently), My front panel audio doesn't work properly with the card, but it does with others.
Excerpt: 105dB SNR for $ (plus an Asus rebate of $)A few hiccups when installing the drivers on XP, but everything eventually installed nicely after reseating the card and uninstalling and reinstalling the drivers once or twice.
Summary: Follow up: This card does not work with windows 8 apps that use DRM, for example Netflix. "To play the protected content, the underlying audio driver must be a trusted driver; that is, the driver must be logo-certified for DRM." Unfortunately there is no certified driver for this chipset.