ASUS Xonar U7 USB Sound Card and Amp Review
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The Xonar U7 is a fantastic product hardly of fault. We cant guarantee the drivers will work the first time around, but once we were able to access all of the Xonar U7s capabilities, we were blown away at how good PC playback sounded. What made that possible was Dolby Home Theater V4s Intelligent Equalizer which adjusts certain frequencies in real-time for a more impactful listening experience. Without the new software options, the Xonar U7 would be at odds with ASUSs other older sound cards such as the Xonar DSX we previously reviewed.
Dolby Home Theater V4 does have virtual surround sound capabilities and while better than the more commonly used Dolby Headphone, still doesnt convincingly simulate surround sound. Then again, most sound enhancing codecs that weve had the chance to try out havent always havent always delivered appreciable results. The mentioned Dolby Headphone which is featured on older Xonar desktop sound cards and some USB headsets is largely ineffective at simulating surround sound while degrading audio quality. CMedia Xear, which is an alternative surround sound emulator on the Xonar U7 and the choice of virtual surround sound for the Corsair HS40, was the same story as Dolby Headphone. Razer Surround isnt quite expressive with its positional audio. The codec technology we havent yet tested are the various offerings from Creative and Creative-owned THX.
There are still other things to appreciate about the Xonar U7. This compact device is capable of a number of connections ranging from headphones to home theater systems. Windows volume controls for both speaker and microphone are placed for convenient access. Lastly the USB connectivity opens up this sound card as an option for laptop users. With an planned retail pricing of $89.99 plus shipping, the Xonar U7 is set for the midrange market competing against ASUSs other older desktop Xonar DX card and Creatives offerings such as the Sound Blaster X-Fi USB sound cards. Were awarding the Xonar U7 USB sound card our Editors Choice Award since we not only had a very enjoyable time listening to whatever was thrown at it, but for exceeding expectations for how much it is set to cost.
Legit Bottom Line: The ASUS Xonar U7 and Dolby Home Theater V4 were too much fun to stop using.