Articles

Auzentech X-Meridian 7.1 2G Sound Card Review

Author:Earl Keim

Editor:Kyle Bennett

Date: Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Auzentech promises to deliver the second generation high performance PCI audio card that will let you know the difference between audio that sounds great and audio that sounds perfect. We put Auzentech's new card to the test.

Introduction

Auzentech is a global manufacturer of studio monitor speakers, condenser microphones, and PC sound cards. The company gained its notoriety in the PC sound world because it has never manufactured its sound cards according to generic reference designs. Auzentech uses the same sound chipsets as its competitors, Creative Labs, HTOmega, and ASUS, do in its cards, and it always customizes its board designs to expand hardware features and performance for PC audio enthusiasts.

Near the end of 2006, Auzentech released the X-Meridian 7.1 PCI sound card. The card was promoted as the world's first custom designed PCI sound card using the C-Media CMI-8788 chipset. PC audio enthusiasts praised the card for its quality components, upgradeabilty, and excellent sound playback. Although The X-Meridian was soon in demand, its core audio chipset was in short supply.

Rather than wait for more C-Media chipsets, Auzentech turned to Creative Labs. Auzentech became the first third party company to license and produce sound cards based on Creative's praised X-Fi chipset. Auzentech's X-Fi Forte was the first X-Fi based card to feature a low-profile design and a dedicated headphone amplifier. Creative has never incorporated these features in its consumer sound cards; it merely has a "headphone out" on its newest flagship sound card, the Titanium HD.

Four years later, Auzentech has returned to C-Media for sound chipsets, and the company has released its long-awaited X-Meridian 7.1 2G. "2G" obviously stands for second generation and we are going to see what the successor to the original X-Meridian has in store for both PC gamers and audio enthusiasts.

Product Pricing and Packaging

The X-Meridian 2G sound card was released in December, but we have not found many third party suppliers of the card online. Searches for the new product on Amazon.com only show the original X-Meridian, while Newegg shows nothing at all. The card is currently available from Auzentech's website for $159.99 and the cheapest shipping available is FedEx Home Delivery for 17.97 within the United States. The X-Meridian 2G carries a one year warranty.

The X-Meridian's packaging is very compact. The bright orange box containing the soundcard is covered with an outer sleeve that lists the product's many features and specifications and a small picture of the card itself. The back of the sleeve has a grading system provided by Auzentech that gives the card four stars for music and movie performance but only two for gaming. If you are an avid gamer, you may find the rating system honest and refreshing, but would you still consider buying the card? We will tell you if our testing results agree with Auzentech's own ratings.

The X-Meridian 2G is packaged in an anti-static bag and comes with a driver CD, an optical cable, two TOSLINK adapters, and a quick start installation guide written in six languages. A basic version of MediaMonkey for music playback and the sound card's full PDF manual are bundled with the product drivers on the included CD. The back of the inner box carries an amusing label: "Careful, the sound you are about to hear is extremely real."