Well, it's almost May so 😄
Now, the xonar phoebus was released in 2012, that makes it 4 years old, which should give us a mature product with perfectly ironed out drivers, right? Wrong! Since day one Asus didn't give a rat's a$$ about this product, they've barely managed to fix the punkbuster problem in BF3 and then went silent for months.
Day one bugs are still present, like speaker mismatch with surround configuration and they've finally fixed (i think) netflix DRM problem with the last driver from two days ago, BUT, they've removed about all the dsp effects in the process. For a card that is marketed to gamers it's kind of strange.
A little driver/features history so far (feel free to complete):
- Release date, so far so good, praiseworthy reviews BUT you get kiced out from BF3 because punkbuster thinks you're a cheater.
- Two months later, BF3 is fixed, netflix is broken (or never worked in the first place), speaker mismatch is identified.
- Total silence for about 6 months, because they felt like it or something, small fixes, day one bugs still there.
- Nine months later, new version of the driver without a changelog, then about a month later another driver which supposedly fixed netfilx issues (it didn't), day one bugs still there.
- A few drivers here and there that don't fix anything, asus removed those for whatever reason, i don't know.
- Last drivers before win 10 is released (end of 2014 if i remember correctly) introducing new UI. Xear surround removed, flex bass not there, dts removed, noise cancellation with the control box removed or not working (same thing). I'm still using those btw, because the new ones are even worse.
- Win 10 is released, no new drivers, asus' support tells us to use a "hack" to install old win 8.1 drivers, took them what, 4 months to release a working(ish) win 10 driver? Dolby home theater doesn't work anymore.
- DDL live is broken, not asus' fault (this time), new windows 10 driver, "sound effects bug".
- New driver, no fixes, DDL removed.
- Another driver, old UI, why? No one knows at this point.
- DDL fixed with win 10 1511 update, but asus still doesn't know this.
- Back to sonic studio UI
- April 2016, netflix is fixed apparently (taking your word for it), BUT every dsp effect removed, remember those were marketed as the "ultimate gaming experience", back to the old UI, again.
- Sometimes in the future. Every sound effect removed, no ui, the card will make beeps when it detecs a sound being played, asus will tell us to buy a strix card.
My personnal griefs are that the supposedly better than dolby headphones, dolby home theater never worked as a surround simulation for me. It did expand stereo with the added "benefit" of a tinny cave like sound, but never actually helped to pinpoint sound cues. Xear surround was fine in this aspect, as it managed to fool windows into thinking you had a surround system (thus games defaulted to surround configuration instead of stereo) but the sound quality was awful.
Sonic studio introduced "virtual surround" which impressively induces absolutely no sound quality loss whatsoever. It manages an accurate representation of the soundstage and it's really easy to tell where the sound comes from, in the test... As it is now it's just a stero expand function, not unlike dolby home theater (but better) because windows still thinks you're using a stereo setup and pretty much every game out there checks the control pane for its audio configuration and outputs in stereo.