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jmke 10th March 2009 09:14

Xonar HDAV1.3 Deluxe: Asus HTPC sound card does Everything
The movie industry is dumb. This is the conclusion I've reached after spending two weeks with Asus' Xonar HDAV1.3 Deluxe, a product that, from a strictly engineering standpoint, has no reason to exist. And that brings me to the movie industry, which has colluded with certain technology giants to create audio (and video) standards that require special hardware to use, even though all of the actual decoding and processing is simple and easy to implement in software. Yes, I'm talking about the fiasco that is HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection) and PAP (Protected Audio Path). And, yes, PAP is just as unpleasant as it sounds.

More on that later. As the top model in Asus' line of audio cards, you do in fact get much more for your money than just the ability to decode a few industry-supported proprietary formats. Let's face it, if you're going to buy an external sound card, you want it to do something more than your existing onboard sound can provide, and the HDAV1.3 doesn't disappoint: It does everything. And so do most of its competitors. What makes the HDAV1.3 unique is its support for HDCP and PAP, which allows it to output streams blocked by these technologies using HDMI, including the high resolution lossless formats supported by Blu-Ray discs like DTS-HD Master Audio (DTS-MA) and Dolby Digital TrueHD (DD TrueHD).

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