- Specifications and Product Pictures
- Connectivity and Initial Impressions
- Sound Quality
Disclosure: The Xonar U7 USB DAC is provided by Asus
About the Xonar lineups!
Asus had launched a few USB sound cards some time back like the U1 and U3. However, those were basic solutions for laptop owners to upgrade from crappy onboard solutions.
What’s with the Xonar U7?
However, the U7 is a very different breed of USB sound cards. First, it’s much larger than the aforementioned U1 and U3 but has a more premium build quality. Secondly, it has tons of connectivity options that is very rare for a USB powered sound card which will appeal to a desktop user who doesn’t want to use up a free PCI-E port or likes to keep shifting between speakers and headphones and so would want the sound card within his reach.
Another feature that sets apart the Asus U7 from other USB powered sound cards is that it has a very capable headphone amplifier. Now every USB sound card that comes with a 3.5mm jack has a built in amplifier and most headphones work perfectly with these sound cards so some people will wonder what the fuss is about.
However, some headphones require a lot of power to drive and using them with the cheaper USB sound cards results in a not so satisfying situation. Either the volume never gets high enough or the sound starts getting distorted when playing at high volumes or the headphone simply doesn’t sound its best as it doesn’t receive enough juice from the amplifier.
So ASUS ticks a lot of plus points – tons of connectivity options – 2 channel speakers, headphones, 5.1/7.1 speakers, SPDIF and coaxial (Basically all the connectivity options anyone would ever need) and it comes with a built in headphone amp. In all this ASUS also managed to make the U7 powered solely by the USB port which is frankly quite a feat!
In the world of audio, however, specifications don’t always tell the whole story and so I was most eager to put the U7 through its paces and see if it was any good.