PROS / It has a good frequency response to cover the whole range of sounds that humans can hear.
CONS / The Forte is a little low with the input signal-to-noise ratio.
VERDICT / The Forte sound card is ideal if you simply want to upgrade from onboard audio and don't need all the extras.
Auzentech has been in business for a much shorter period then most sound card manufactures. However, the company's lack of experience does not show through in the quality of work found in cards like its Auzentech Auzen X-Fi Forte. While this card may not have all the bells and whistles found in other cards, it does offer a number of features that make it much better than your onboard audio. The Auzentech Auzen X-Fi Forte is an excellent choice if you're looking to only use DTS or want to run coaxial cables. This card specializes in these areas and will not let you down.
The Forte has a very good output single-to-noise ratio, which sits at 112 dB, which in our research is the minimum most professionals require. Unfortunately, the 112 dB is for output only; the input SNR is quite a bit lower and sits at 98 dB, which is the lowest of any card we reviewed. The card is capable of handling up to 3 Vrms, which gives you a little leeway in case you experience any voltage peaks during recording or anything else. If you are an experienced sound card user, you may appreciate the fact that the op-amps are swappable. The frequency response range is standard since it ranges from 10 Hz to 42 kHz at 96 kHz. The max sample rate is 24-bit, while the resolution is 192 kHz for stereo sound. However, the sample rate for multi-channel playback is only at 96 kHz, which is a little disappointing.
Sample Rate and Resolution
One of the major drawbacks to this sound card would have to be the THD or total harmonic distortion. Most high-end sound cards on the market have a THD as low as 0.0001 percent, while the Auzentech Auzen X-Fi Forte sits at 0.006 percent. This may not seem like much, but it could possibly be a game changer for some audio enthusiasts.
This Auzentech card comes with a decent set of I/O ports. It has four 3.5mm ports for plugging in your PC surround sound speakers. It has a separate headphone port unlike many of the other sound cards so you can leave you speakers plugged in and don't have to deal with swapping cables. It also has a microphone port for any online chat or voice recordings you want to do. The 10-pin audio allows you to connect the front audio to the card as well, which makes microphone and headphone usage even easier. The last port on the card interface is a combination output S/PDIF that you can connect to other audio equipment like an A/V receiver via an optical or coaxial cable.
As far as extra features go, the X-Fi Forte is pretty lacking. The one extra it does have, though, is WDM, which stands for wavelength-division multiplexing. WDM multiplies the capacity of communication signals through an optical cable. Anyone planning to output audio from the card to another device should find this feature to their liking. It is a PCIe (PCI Express) card, which is becoming the standard for most sound cards on the market. The Creative X-Fi CA20K isn't the most impressive processor on the market, but should have no trouble running your new sound card.
API Compliant Standards
Although that feature list is rather short, Auzentech makes up for it with its broad range of API support. As far as sound library and 3D audio positioning are concerned, this card supports both OpenAL and DirectSound. It supports EAX v5.0 HD for enhanced sound effects in gaming. The intermediary API support uses ASIO for software and recording, as well as both DTS Interactive and Dolby Digital Live for hardware. Along with DTS Interactive, there is also DTS Neo:PC that is used to imitate surround sound through stereo speakers.
The Auzentech Auzen X-Fi Forte is a middle-of-the-road product. The card will be a huge upgrade from standard onboard audio, but it won't blow your socks off like some of the other cards we reviewed. That doesn't mean it's a bad card at all. In fact, if you're looking for something basic and don't need all the other bells and whistles, this sound card is a good choice. It's far more powerful than the onboard sound that your motherboard comes with, so for basic users especially, it works well.