The death of discrete sound cards may have been greatly exaggerated. Yes, it's true, today's onboard sound is far more capable than it was some 10 years ago, and with multi-core processors now the norm, there's really no need to invest in a discrete card for improved frame rates when gaming. However, discrete sound cards still push cleaner, crisper sound than onboard solutions, and that's exactly what Asus promises with its new ROG Xonar Phoebus Solo solution.
It's a 7.1 channel PCI Express sound card marketed towards gamers, though anyone with a decent set of speakers and a love for audio should be able to benefit. The Xonar Phoebus Solo offers a 118dB signal-to-noise ratio, 600ohm headphone amplifier, Dolby Home Theater v4, and DTS UltraPC II surround sound.
The card also boasts an EMA shield and special "Hyper Grounding" technology that Asus claims will significantly reduce detrimental effects of electromagnetic interference.
"Hyper Grounding technology brings the considerable motherboard expertise of Asus to audio products, with a multi-layer PCB and high-quality power supply that help eliminate electrical noise from nearby components, resulting in cleaner, less distorted audio," Asus says. "Together with the high-fidelity PCM1796 digital-to-analog converter, the ROG Xonar Phoebus Solo delivers clear and crisp sound with a 118dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), which means gamers will hear and experience every audio detail."
As for gamers specifically, the Xonar Phoebus Solo features four different genre-optimized audio profiles for first person shooters, real time strategy, role playing, and racing simulation games.
Asus hasn't yet announced how much the card will cost or when it will be available to purchase.