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ASUS Xonar D2X 7.1 Channel PCI Express Sound Card
Author: Jason Kohrs
Manufacturer: ASUS
Source: ASUS
Purchase: PriceGrabber
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Page: 7 of 8 [ 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 ]
ASUS Xonar D2X 7.1 Channel PCI Express Sound Card
March 13, 2008

Software (continued):

The other piece of software worth checking out is PMP (Portbale Music Processor), which is the user interface for ALT (Analog Loopback Transformation). This is what would enable you to convert iTunes, Napster, or other restricted use, DRM audio files into files available for use on any device.

While the idea sounds great, I am not only suspicious of the true legality of the whole thing, but also of the quality. Effectively, the original digital tracks are played back, sent through an analog circuit, and recorded again into your choice of MP3 or WMA files. There is no support for recording to any other format, and as mentioned earlier in the review, even MP3 support requires that you download a third party plugin.

The below left image shows the main screen of the PMP software with a few MP3s queued up. By default, the program looks to the "My Music" folder in "My Documents", the iTunes directory, and to one other folder of your choice. At the bottom you select the format and bit rate, whether you want to add effects (smart volume normalization, Dolby headphone, or Dolby virtual speaker), and the output folder for all converted files.

Click Image For Larger View Click Image For Larger View

The above right image shows the warning that pops up before the conversion process begins to make sure you are using the software for legitimate reasons and not in the name of evil. This seems to open the door to piracy, and I am not sure a pop up that you can dismiss permanently upon first use will be much of a deterrent.

The software is functional, and it does what ASUS claims that it will quite nicely. That said, it is a bit rough around the edges and has other limitations that seem relatively easy to resolve. The software is slow to respond some times, and it hung several times during conversions, forcing a CTRL-ALT-DLT to get out.

Other limitations include just three bit rate options (128, 192, or 320 Kbps), and no output file naming or organizing control. For example, say you have a directory structure something like this - C:\Artist\Album\Song_Title.mp3. Maybe you have several albums from the same artist, and perhaps some of these song titles are the same (like when a greatest hits album and a studio album are present). Your file structure will be lost, and your single level output folder will now contain files like - C:\Output\Song_Title_192K.MP3. The bit rate value gets appended to all files, the extension is capitalized, and if there are multiple files with the same title initially in different folders, only one will be available after conversion.

On an annoying but slightly humorous note, the conversion requires that the files are actually played back at 2x speed. So every single song you want to convert can be heard through your speakers as if Alvin and the Chipmunks were performing it. For your amusement, here is a brief sample of a Korn track being converted.

While it sounds funny for a few seconds, it gets old quickly; and if you have X hours of music to convert consider that it is going to take X/2 hours to do it! Your best bet is to let it run over night... or maybe a few nights if you have a big collection of music to 'back up'.

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