While Blu-ray playabck has been around for awhile, the audio portion of the equation has been slow to catch up. Solutions are slowly trickling out in the form of the GeForce 8200 chipset but the stand alone card market has been rather slow to respond. The good news is that ASUS is ready to make amends with their release of the Xonar HDAV1.3.
As the 1.3 in the name denotes, this is an HDMI 1.3a compatable card that supports bit-streaming of DTS-HD HR/MA and Dolby Digital Plus/TrueHD audio tracks to a compatible receiver found on Blu-ray disc titles. Along with the audio capabilities, the HDAV1.3 also comes equipped with ASUS’ proprietary SplendidHD video processor. As most video processors claim the SplendidHD adds color and edge enhancement to your picture. I am sure most of our readers will bypass this feature, but it is there for you to experiment with none the less.
For the audiophiles amongst us, this card also allows for solderless opamp upgrades. The deluxe version of this card will come with a daughter card that will allow for 8 channel analog output. No word on pricing as of yet :). Get your money saved up folks, I am sure this won’t be cheap!
Anandtech Update (includes hint at pricing and confirms Windows XP support too)