The Arcam rPac is a no-compromise USB DAC for discerning music lovers, that performs beautifully.
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The Recon3D PCIe is a complete break from the past - with a new processor, branding and software suite to drive it all.
As if the price hadn't given it away, Asus' Republic of Gamers Xonar Phoebus is a very high end soundcard.
Asus has established itself as a player in the high rollers' hi-fi lounge with Xonar soundcards like the Xense, D2 and mighty Essence ST. Although still relatively new to the audio game, it can look old timers like Creative and Auzentech in the face without shame.
It's not often a new company comes along to compete in the component business, and one that enters the increasingly niche world of sound cards is even rarer. But that's exactly what Formosa21 is doing with its aim Audio SC8000.
As the best-known manufacturer of gaming sound cards, Creative dominated PC audio for a few years in the middle of the decade. It had the most to lose as gamers adopted a more laissez faire attitude to aural effects.