Then you are reviewing wrong.
At risk of feeding the troll, I will respond to this.
Sorry, there is no way you can defend this statement. I am the reviewer, ergo, I get to decide what goes in the review. You are welcome to tell me whether or not you find it useful, but I suggest you do so in less inflammatory language. You have a very twisted idea of what we do at SPCR if you think the review was intended "to entice HTPC users". My review gives my opinion of the product, no more, no less. If you want a review that gives you reasons to buy a particular product, go find a review site that rewrites PR shill and considers "feature verification" more important than an analysis of whether the product might actually be useful or well designed.
I don't know where you got the idea that I think *only* specifications matter ... verifying specs was a very small part of my review. In fact, the only attention I paid to them was in the context of evaluating fidelity.
I will admit quite openly that neither I nor anyone else at SPCR has ever reviewed a sound card, but if you think that means we lack knowledge of audio you are sorely mistaken. I make my living as a sound recordist in the film industry, and Mike built and tested speakers long before SPCR ever started.
On the subject of decoding Dolby Digital / DTS, you are simply dead wrong. Both of these formats are codecs, and there is only one correct way of decoding them. This is true whether the underlying logic is implemented in software or hardware. With respect to audio fidelity all DD / DTS decoders are 100% equal no matter how they are implemented.
To the best of my knowledge *all* PC-based decoding of these formats is in software, since a hardware approach would require a standardized API that, as far as I know, does not exist (not to mention the added cost of adding such hardware). I suppose there could be a few specific hardware / software combos that use a proprietary API, but I see no reason for such a combo to exist.
Your suggestion that we test the card with headphones is somewhere between laughable and confused, as is your preference for Grado cans without specifying any particular model. Headphones are not an accurate way of evaluating audio quality, especially when the card isn't even designed to support them. No audio engineer would ever mix audio on headphones because they don't give an accurate idea of how the audio sounds *in a room* (not to mention the complete lack of stereo imaging). A good engineer might listen to the audio on headphones after mixing if the target system is expected to involve headphones, but he would never mix on them. The same goes for testing.
Your suggestion of using studio monitors does have merit because they tend to have well known performance characteristics, and if we had access to a studio, we probably would have gone that route. And, if we had experience with any other high end cards, we would have used them as a reference. However, I can assure you that Mike's custom-built speakers are of good enough quality to distinguish fine differences in the signal chain. They have the added advantage of being part of a system that I am intimately familiar with. Our A/B test comparing the card's digital output to the analogue output did a good job of comparing the Xonar with a sound system that is of very good quality. This is true regardless of the fact that you've never heard it and can't compare it to products you are familiar with.
Leave the audio field unless you are serious about it.
I don't think you have to worry about any more sound card reviews from me. I'm too busy with my career as a location recordist to contribute regularly to SPCR.