The folks at the Asus labs had a sound idea. The company revised its Xonar U7 7.1 USB sound card and labeled it the Xonar U7 MkII, in true audiophile fashion. The box delivers playback at a 192kHz sampling rate with 24-bit resolution, and this time around it's powered by a C-Media 6632AX chip. A built-in headphone amplifier helps the unit drive high-end cans without breaking a sweat.
Asus claims the U7 MkII's PCB design has an emphasis on avoiding cross-talk. Coupled with a Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC, the circuit should allow the U7 MkII to deliver a signal-to-noise ratio of 114dB. The U7 MkII has a dedicated volume control knob that does doubles duty as an output switch; a simple tap toggles output between headphones and attached speakers. Dedicated controls for the microphone input should allow for simple, instant adjustments whether in a game or a conference call.
The sound card also includes Asus' Sonic Studio and Sonic Radar Pro software packages. Sonic Studio allows the user to control equalization settings, speaker balancing, and manage audio profile presets. Meanwhile, Sonic Radar Pro converts 3D positional sound data into an onscreen heads-up display for an advantage in games. Asus did not provide pricing or availability information, but the original Xonar U7 is going for $86 on Amazon.
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