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View Full Version : Phoebus - terrible support for S/PDIF.



GunSlingerAUS
07-06-2012, 09:37 AM
As well as all the constant BF3 crashes, I have another major issue with the Phoebus. I connect it to my home theater's amp via S/PDIF optical, but the Phoebus software has absolutely no ability to change speaker configuration, or test the speakers. Sometimes I get 5.1 sound in games, sometimes I get stereo, and sometimes channels are missing.

Speaker configuration when using S/PDIF is a basic feature that has been around forever. Why did ASUS remove this, and will these features ever return? In the meantime I'm back to using my ASUS Xonar D2X, an older, cheaper ASUS sound product that has all the features I'm talking about.

Myk SilentShadow
07-06-2012, 01:52 PM
Although I don't use S/PDIF, I just had a look in the Phoebus Environment and saw S/PDIF sitting there waiting to be used...so I wouldn't say it's missing at all. Oh and also, sometimes though it's a pain in the rear, you have to use the Windows Speaker config settings to get the basic stuff to work.

doctorsplendid
07-06-2012, 03:06 PM
I totally agree about the lack of SPDIF options. I have just received my card and already I'm a little disappointed. The trouble is there is no speaker configuration options available in the Windows sound control options either. With my last card I had control over which speaker set up I had be it 2.1 3.1 or 5.1 etc, front speakers full range options etc and all that has gone with this card. I have an old DX which I have put back in and I hate to say it sounds better than this new 180 card (only talking about SPDIF here, I am sure the card performs incredibly with analogue and headphones).

Chickenz
07-07-2012, 03:45 AM
It should detect it automatically. Although I don't understand why so many people are buying the Phoebus for Optical and Coax setups (it dosen't even support coax). It's aimed at analog...

GunSlingerAUS
07-07-2012, 05:35 AM
I reckon guys like me who game with $3000 sound systems are exactly the target audience this premium sound card is aimed at. And most high-end amps don't use analogue, as they don't support HDMI (video) + analogue (sound) at the same time.

Regardless, it's baffling they'd remove such standard features, especially when the audio processor is fully capable of supporting these basic features. After all the driver and software issues with the Phoebus, I think ASUS needs to have a good hard look at the software team behind this product. The hardware seems great, but it's let down by some of the worst software I've seen in years.

PALADiN
07-07-2012, 06:19 AM
Is that you Bennett Ring?

Raja@ASUS
07-07-2012, 10:32 AM
I reckon guys like me who game with $3000 sound systems are exactly the target audience this premium sound card is aimed at. And most high-end amps don't use analogue, as they don't support HDMI (video) + analogue (sound) at the same time.

Regardless, it's baffling they'd remove such standard features, especially when the audio processor is fully capable of supporting these basic features. After all the driver and software issues with the Phoebus, I think ASUS needs to have a good hard look at the software team behind this product. The hardware seems great, but it's let down by some of the worst software I've seen in years.


I think there is obvious room for software improvement but I do agree with the poster above - digital out was not high on the list of priorities with this card. The target market is headphones or multi channel phones for gaming use. I don't think one needs to spend a lot to get similar or acceptable levels of digital output from PCs. In fact, I would not spend a lot if that was my intended usage at all. In such cases it makes more sense to buy a decent downstream decoder with HDMI support and let that do the work post any jitter reduction (if one is inclined toward that level of audiphilia). Most GPUs will do what one needs I think. Other Xonar cards that are more geared towards HT use are a better bet if you need manipulation of the digital stream via optical out or S/PDIF to suit a downstream processor/receiver.

Raja@ASUS
07-07-2012, 10:37 AM
Is that you Bennett Ring?

The tech writer from AU? I think he echoed a similar view so I am not surprised you ask. We do get media joining here and quite often they won't reveal who they are unless asked by an astute member.

Gopher
07-07-2012, 11:01 AM
A thing about the software that annoys me besides the lack of Spdif features as mentioned in this thread:

It forces the default audio devices to the Phoebus. Even you change it manually in Windows to another audio device it automatically changes it back upon reboot and I have even experienced it could change back suddenly when in use. I have to use a USB mic, because the soundcard picks up a lot of capacitor noise from my graphics cards (most soundcards do this). It's really annoying as if they haven't considered people could use better external mic's and such.

Raja@ASUS
07-07-2012, 12:19 PM
Disable the mic for the Phoebus by right clicking on it and selecting disable in sound options. That will stop it being any kind of priority device.

GunSlingerAUS
07-08-2012, 01:45 AM
Yep, I'm Bennett, one of the tech journos down here in AU who gave the Phoebus a rather low review score. I'm not trying to hide my identity in the slightest - I use GunSlingerAUS whenever I post online, and my nick is well known among Aussie PR managers. It just makes it easier to remember my details across the 40 or so sites I post on :). And like you guys I'm desperate for this amazing piece of hardware to work the way it's intended.

I've posed the question here on the forums for a simple reason - I thought I'd have a better chance of a response. When I reviewed the card several months ago I was told ASUS would have new software within weeks of my review that would solve all the issues I had, namely constant BF3 crashes and restoring S/PDIF features. Fast forward to today and there's still no sign of said software, and despite asking my awesome ASUS AU PR rep on a weekly basis (no sarcasm at all, ASUS's PR team are great), I thought I'd voice my concerns here, as Raja seems to have a closer communication pipeline with the ROG team.

As for the suggestion that I should use my video card's HDMI output, I beg to differ. I've tested the HDMI audio on my GTX 670s and, while it's beautifully crisp and clear for movies, it lacks a certain punch or oomph when I'm gaming. There are various theories about why this might be. Regardless, the ASUS Xonar D2X sounds much better than my VGA HDMI, and I'm sure the Phoebus will too once the software is fixed.

Like I said, I think ASUS has some great hardware on its hands, they just need to get the software in order.

PALADiN
07-08-2012, 02:58 AM
No worries. I just recognised your username from the custom title you have on the Games On Net forums.

On topic, I think the driver team's priority at the moment is getting the issues surrounding BF3/PB fixed. That's not to say your issue isn't important to them. It's just lower on the priority list.

Raja@ASUS
07-08-2012, 05:00 AM
The BF3 fix will be out soon. The digital out was never a priority on this card, so that comes down to what you need. I stand by the fact that if you are only using digital output that you should not be jumping from card to card looking for "better" sound anyway. Get a good HDMI receiver and let that do the work or use a soundcard with the output functions you require and stick with it. If the post jitter reduction is good you should not hear much of an audible difference and therefore won't need to keep jumping from soundcard to soundcard looking for something better.

GunSlingerAUS
07-08-2012, 06:28 AM
The BF3 fix will be out soon. The digital out was never a priority on this card, so that comes down to what you need. I stand by the fact that if you are only using digital output that you should not be jumping from card to card looking for "better" sound anyway. Get a good HDMI receiver and let that do the work or use a soundcard with the output functions you require and stick with it. If the post jitter reduction is good you should not hear much of an audible difference and therefore won't need to keep jumping from soundcard to soundcard looking for something better.

Hi Raja

Thanks for your replies, but I have to question some of your suggestions:

a)"The digital out was never a priority on this card, so that comes down to what you need. "
If that's the case, why even bother putting S/PDIF on the card? Where does it say on the box that "this card has S/PDIF, but we never really intended for it to be used". If a card has S/PDIF out, I would think that it should support the basics of S/PDIF configuration? As far as I can see, the Phoebus is the only gaming sound card on the market with S/PDIF that doesn't have these basic speaker configuration features.

b) "use a soundcard with the output functions you require and stick with it."
The Phoebus had S/PDIF out, and I'm sure many S/PDIF users will buy it as a result. I can already see several posts on your forums from people who have, and are now having issues.

c)"I stand by the fact that if you are only using digital output that you should not be jumping from card to card looking for "better" sound anyway."
Here's the thing - when gaming, for me, the increase in sound quality from an ASUS Xonar Dx to the Phoebus was clearly noticeable. Ditto with going from VGA HDMI to Phoebus. This isn't the case in movies, but it definitely is in games. I've read a bit about why this might be - after all, digital over HDMI should be the purest form of audio. From what I can gather certain game sound effects are compressed in such a way that when they're decoded by a sound card, they sound better than if played in their pure digital format. Also, like any audio device, sound cards have a certain tone to them, and I found the Phoebus's tone preferable to the clinically precise but energy-lacking VGA HDMI. Note that I'm running a Pioneer VSX-LX51 amplifier connected to Cinema Paradigm 5.2 theatre speakers - this is indeed a "good HDMI receiver" that cost me $700 just a couple of years ago, and I can immediately hear the difference between VGA HDMI and the Phoebus. Though I admit I can barely hear any difference between DTS and Dolby Digital :)

I won't waste any more of your time, as I don't think we'll agree on the merits of sound card vs HDMI out for audio. It is after all a very debatable topic, which is why I conducted numerous listening tests before deciding on my existing sound solution. What I will say is that claiming a card was never really designed for S/PDIF, despite there being absolutely no mention of this on the card's packaging or marketing material, feels like very confusing messaging. Perhaps you could update your marketing materials to highlight that this card isn't usable for S/PDIF gaming, despite having the S/PDIF output?

Again, thanks for your time - this is why I posted here, as I know you're close to the ROG design team. I love their products, I just found the Phoebus to be strangely lacking compared to their other efforts.

Raja@ASUS
07-08-2012, 12:54 PM
I think we'll have to agree to disagree also. Maybe a lesson learned moving forwards - if going digital, stick with one solution that works for your setup.

orbert
09-09-2012, 08:25 AM
I have a reason to complain about this lack of s/pdif support.
I just build me a htpc in a old radio furniture as chassi. 50s. This one: http://www.radiomuseum.org/r/grundig_musikschrank_7025.html

I removed the things inside, and i put in a new turntable, a asus maximus gene v motherboard, gtx 690, ocz revodrive 3 x2, watercoolingsystem with radiators where the speakers used to be and a pump standing i a pool of sand for reducing vibration, tv-card, etc. I made use of the old interfaces knobs and buttons, and made additional inputs covered with veneer that match the original.
Into this machine i also buildt a onkyo 608 reciever, running a 5.1 speaker system. I was planning to connect the computer and the receiver by s/pdif, but to control the speaker levels through software and not through the receiver settings. When i buildt the receiver into the old radiofurniture i had to remove a lot of fuctions that i said to myself that the new composite machine would not lack, but that it would be a totality in itself. I just keep the possibility to turn the reciever in/out of stanby mode and raise or lower its volume, but actually i use the computer system volume for overall volume control. The reicever is set to just play as it is and dont add any effects (i dont understand why people think a record sounds better if they add their own pan or reverb to it).
I took away the possibilty to connect to the receiver in any other way than s/pdif. To change this back again i would have to take out all the installed junk and redesign the supportive structure of the furniture.

When i bought the soundcard i had been reading reviews for a long time before i made my choice. I didnt know this thing about that no soundcard is needed if you use s/pdif, but is this really true? I was hoping that the onboard audio would be sufficient and maximus v gene got good reviews, but when i tried it it sounded crap compared to my old auzentech soundcard. By a great margin (i believe many audiophiles to be part of a quasi-sect where their sublimation of the "perfect sound" makes their imagination take off and produce a sound unsupported by the material reality, im not one of them).

I bought the asus xonar phoebus for 3 reasons.

1 i got the idea that it would produce a great sound
2 i believed it would have professional software (or with basic functionality) that would that would let me configure the speaker levels on my 5.1 system
3 i liked the module for headphones that i took apart and installed into my 50s grundig machine, replacing the knob with an old 50s one, but keeping the shine from the leds.

I, as you can understand, got very dissapointed when i found out that i cant change my speaker levels att all.
But i also got very dissapointed when i found this discussion above.
The asus-representative tries to put the blame on us consumers for not having enough knowledge to understand how stupid it is to by their expensive s/pdif-card to use for s/pdif, when obviously its not intended for that.
It doesnt matter if the reviewer in this thread would live in a fantasyland when he thinks a soundcard makes difference over onboard audio with s/pdif, there are even more reasons to by their product then looking for the best analogue audio. The cool headphone module for example, that i also wanted next to good sound. And i guess rich kids can by this card to make a complete set with their other ROG-equipment. There are many reasons. But there is no reason to hear from an Asus-representative that we are ignorant when we want the basic functionlities that we expected.

Are you really saying that i should change my soundcard to a cheaper one?
Wich one lets me control speaker levels on a 5.1 system through software?

/orbert

Raja@ASUS
09-09-2012, 09:28 AM
Hi,

If you need that level of control, then what other option do you have? So yes, if you need that level of control, move to whatever device provides you with that control.


You may contact ASUS directly via the sticky thread link at the top of the forum, or contact ASUS Support in your region if you have issues.

-Raja

orbert
09-09-2012, 02:08 PM
Thank you for your quick reply.
If I understand you correct you know a bit about soundcards and especially Asus products, and you would like me to know that Asus have not produced any soundcard and software that lets the user set the speaker levels on systems with more than two speakers through software while connecting with s/pdif. So if I want that functionality I should look at the products from other manufacturers. Did I interpret you correctly?

orbert

Raja@ASUS
09-09-2012, 02:10 PM
You should look for whatever works for you in your system. That's impartial advice. Not sure what it is you are expecting me to say - whatever it is, the rep always looks like the bad guy.

Do your research, find a product that works for you and stick with it. It's the research part that's important, know your needs, then find what offers the features you need.

orbert
09-09-2012, 02:34 PM
I think i wanted several things by posting.

Showing that its not a strange thing to want to control speaker levels on s/pdif.
Showing that even a buyer is trying to research before a buying, a lot, it still is possible to be ignorant on some points, or get fooled on some other points.
Showing that i reacted on how the rep was responding to the opinions, because customer feedback could be taken as something valuable, showing what customers want, fail to comprehend, expect, etc. Information that could be seen in another perspective than that the customer is a noob and has themselves to blame if felling dissapointed or like they made a bad descision.

But i also want to know what i could do, and i friend recommended a asus usb soundcard with s/pdif, wich would be great for me because then i have pci-e room for my second revodrive, so if that would have the functionality a look for it could be an option.

Now i dont really know how to interpret your answer. If you actually know the asus products and are saying that none of them has what i look for, or if you are merely are trying to say that i am a noob that didnt researched enough before buying.

I think for asus it is, anyhow and objectevily, a good piece of information to know to what extent customers expect this functionality to be a "basic functionality".

Excuse my English. Its not my language.

Raja@ASUS
09-09-2012, 02:47 PM
It's becasue english is not your first language that I suggested you contact support in your region. There are no Swedish reps here, it's not a region I cover at all. This is really a case for them to handle and maybe this will encourage them to offer support on the forums, too.


As for the rest, you are reading between the lines too much. I am simply saying find a product that does what you want it to. I don't own all of the ASUS cards or have them in front of me, nor do I use any downstream digital receivers so cannot help make suggestions. The only thing I can suggest is contact ASUS in your region as they might be able to help you.


-Raja

failsafe5000
09-10-2012, 02:38 AM
Raja, I think the problem people are having is that S/PDIF is advertised as a use for this sound card. ASUS advertises not only the use of S/PDIF but they include a TOSLINK adapter in the box itself. As for the drivers, you guys even have a picture on the Phoebus page that shows options for S/PDIF that aren't even available in the actual drivers.

http://rog.asus.com/rog_language/global/products/audio/rog_xonar_phoebus/audioCenter.jpg

On top of that, ASUS is using a c-media chip on the Phoebus, which would require the use of some form of the c-media drivers. That being the case, past c-media drivers have included all of the options we are asking for, so they should not be that hard to implement for the Phoebus.

Lastly, Raja, on your statement about using a different sound card, at this time, it is not feasible. Reason being is that there are very few if any sound cards out there right now that are both new and still have driver support. Any of the cards from the Xonar line, except for the Phoebus, have drivers that were last updated in June of 2011, and with the coming release of Windows 8, these drivers will not work because the drivers you guys use, which are c-media based, are not Windows 8 compatible at all.

This lack of Windows 8 support on the older drivers is why I went for the Phoebus. So it would be nice to see some support for a recent card, and not just tell us to go else where.

thetruth1983
09-10-2012, 03:03 AM
I didn't bother to complain too much about the SPDIF output since that was not the main reason I purchased the card. I do have to admit that the options are lacking compared to cheaper cards such as the DX. I would guess that Asus would release drivers sometime in the future to rectify the issue since we all know that the hardware is more than capable.

Zaim22
12-27-2012, 07:10 PM
I was thinking of buying this card to replace my faulty D2X, would only cost me 20 more, but after reading the amount of problems people are having I'm put off now.

I'm currently using SPDIF out with DTS Interactive.

So, with the Pheobus can you not use the Dolby Home Theatre, eq, flex bass etc? can you set the speaker settings to 5.1 when in SPDIF mode ? basically do all the audio enhancements etc work in SPDIF mode?

WTC
12-28-2012, 01:14 AM
There is no DTS interactive with Phoebus. The similar thing is Dolby Digital Live. You may turn on DDL without other Dolby PCEEv4 effects.

Zaim22
12-28-2012, 01:30 AM
There is no DTS interactive with Phoebus. The similar thing is Dolby Digital Live. You may turn on DDL without other Dolby PCEEv4 effects.

Thanks, the last bit, "You may turn on DDL without other Dolby PCEEv4 effects" so i can use DDL and use the effects from Dolby home theater ? eq, upmixing etc? also is there dolby prologic 2 ?

InnervateD
12-28-2012, 08:47 PM
I think the main issue with the Pheobus is that it's suppose to be the premium gaming sound card that supports as many features as it can to satisfy the gaming crowd and still have enough features to satisfy some but not all music lovers and to be an all around entertainment sound card while providing decent methods of connectivity to get the sound out.

When this card was first announced almost a year ago, I wanted this card so badly. Almost bought the card as soon as it was available at one of my local computer shops, only to wait a month and read poor reviews with drivers issues with Battlefield 3 and punk buster and just software issues with the card.

I was actually going to buy this card hoping driver updates will fix it later down the road and that maybe I wouldn't be as unlucky as some who have posted here. But decided strongly against buying the Phoebus because there's no DTS support.

I dunno. I know the Phoebus is suppose to be a gaming first in mind card for analog 7.1 and headphone use which is fine. But going back to the OP, I do agree. If there is a port that allows for digital out via SPDIF there should be support for it. You can't give us a feature and say it wasn't intended to be used that way. It's like a take me backer move.

After waiting, and reading reviews and really looking at the very poor driver support for this card, I really can't blame a lot of people. This card had so much promise and it ended up as the biggest disappointment in the ROG product line up. It being the first ROG sound card you essentially label it as the king sound card the company has to offer to the gaming/high end-enthusiasts community. And to many of us after seeing how good the older cards such as the Essence ST/STX, the DG/DGX, D2X, etc... we all had high hopes that this would be another gem and it ends up being the black sheep.

Since the card's release, there's been only 2 driver updates, and both of which are Beta drivers, I believe there was like a 4 months spread between the 2 beta drivers.

The price tag on this card is about $200, that's a lot more than most other gaming sound cards and almost the same prices as other high end cards such as it's own Essence STX and the soon to be Creative Soundblaster ZxR which is a little more than the Phoebus in price.

How can you not expect there to be angry people when you charge them a lot for a subpar sound card? Don't get me wrong I'm sure the hardware on the card is top notch, but you need the software to properly make the card work, and if the card isn't working the way it's supposed to, you're gonna have a lot of angry people.

Now I've always loved ASUS products still do, but I gotta say the Phoebus is the one product in the ROG line up that puts the ROG brand name to shame it really does. I expect the ROG brand products to have the highest level of attention if you expect the consumer to pay a premium for your products. This is the only product in the ROG line that I can think of that is so disappointing that I can't believe that it was an ASUS product.

I know you don't really have control of what a product does once it's out and only feedback and stuff like this comes in so that you can improved on future products and or driver base for the product, but seriously this has been one of the biggest let downs in ROG history for such a product being the first ROG branded soundcard after having produced such great sound cards before.

I dunno if you guys at ASUS needs to make a revision card and a brand new ground up built drivers to fix this, but it would be a good move to fix this and provide the already owners of this card with either a driver base that works with their current cards, or to fix the issue if it is a hardware issue to provide everyone with this card a free replacement card to the revision card with working drivers.

To me, this doesn't hurt my love for ASUS products. I'm usually one of those people that do a lot of research before I drop a lot of money on stuff that will be used for a long period of time for my personal enjoyment, and I'll buy whatever I feel will do that for me. I've always enjoyed all of what ASUS has to offer, but I'm skipping on the Phoebus and I'm going with the Creative ZxR when it comes out. It seems to be a higher end/more updated version of the Essence STX with digital out supporting DTS, headphone amp, and the gaming features which is what I'm looking for in my sound card. I want that high fidelity sound card of the Essence STX while supporting at least 5.1 through digital out, with DD, DTS and the headphone amp. I want that all in one top of the line sound card for gaming, music, and movies for both high-end headphone use and high-end 5.1 speaker use. That's what I want if I'm going to drop $200+ on a sound card.