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Vista sound options and ASUS Xonar D2 - help?


Standard Member
Hey guys I want to ask you about the Vista sound options and something I have noticed.

I have Windows Vista Ultimate 32bit
Asus Xonar D2 with newest drivers
CPU and RAM are good
Decent headphones

First question is what should I do with exclusive mode? Checked or unchecked? I searched about it but haven't found a good explanation for what it does with sound cards.
I listen to music in Windows Media Player but I also have WinAmp and Windows Media Center and out of those 3 WMC has noticably the best sound quality. I don't know why it is different because I thought that all the sound processing is done by the sound card and should be the same everywhere.

Second thing, is it normal that if I put system volume on 0 that I still have sound? Shouldn't System Volume on 0 be like "mute"? Basically the whole sound is too loud, I have to put it on 50 in system volume and half or less in every programm to listen with "normal" loudness.

Third question is what should I do with the channel and mixing options? I don't use Dolby Headphone mode and always have it set to 6 channels, headphone output and and sampling to PCM 96 KHz. I changed the equalizer a little to what I prefer but the bass is still rather weak.

I know that's a lot of stuff but I hope you guys can help me somehow.

EDIT: I've read a little bit in the forums and saw that ASUS has a new sound card, the Xonar Essence STX.
Since I'm using Sennheiser HD 650, would it be better to upgrade to the new one because it seems that they work better with Headphones than the old one. It lacks DTS and the better EAX versions (why? and how is the difference between 2 and 5 Advanced HD?) but in reviews they say they are better for my headphones.
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