Xonar DG sound card squeezed into USB thumb drive

We’re big fans of Asus’ Xonar sound cards. Numerous models have passed through our labs over the last few years, and most have won awards. The $30 Xonar DG was the latest to win Editor’s Choice distinction. At CES last week, we saw a USB version of the card that looks perfect for laptops and small-form-factor desktops devoid of free expansion slots.

Dubbed the Xonar U3, this USB dongle features the same audio chip and pre-programmed "pop" that our blind listeners liked so much in the DG. A headphone amplifier optimized for 32-150 Ω has been squeezed into the device, which is no larger than a thumb drive. You also get virtualization software to emulate EAX positional audio effects and to simulate surround-sound speakers with stereo headphones.

The Xonar DG’s most attractive attribute is undoubtedly its budget price tag. Asus tells us the U3 will be similarly affordable, making it a potentially cheap and easy way to bypass the traditionally mediocre analog audio output quality of most laptops. We’re going to try to get our hands on one of these to see just how good it sounds. Stay tuned.

Comments closed
    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    I just bought the Xonar DG card (thnx for the review TechReport)… while USB form factor could be kind of nice (so my gfx card wont breathe on it) it is also kind of annoying because it sticks out and takes up room on the case.

    Also… curious to see if its the same quality.

    • travbrad
    • 9 years ago

    I have an old P4 2.4ghz laptop and the audio jack is really jacked (har har) and only plays mono now (and it was crap even in stereo). Would be nice to get stereo on it again so I can use it for TV-OUT. Right now it’s just a massively over-sized ebook reader. 😉

    Hopefully this isn’t too expensive.

    • Norphy
    • 9 years ago

    I wonder if Mac drivers will be available for this?

      • derFunkenstein
      • 9 years ago

      USB audio devices shouldn’t require drivers unless you want to use more advanced features. For stereo output, this should be fine.

        • Da_Boss
        • 9 years ago

        That may not be correct. USB is just an interface that connects over a serial protocol, like PCI, PCIe, etc. It would indeed require drivers of some sort. Just like any USB, PCI, or PCIe device. Remember, even USB storage devices needed drivers installed when they initially debuted (Win98 days). Now, of course, they’re included in any OS.

        That in mind, I doubt there is any out-of -box support for this kind of hardware. Furthermore, I doubt ASUS sees any point in spending money and time bringing this to the Mac.

        I’ll have my fingers crossed, but Im not holding my breath.

    • SonicSilicon
    • 9 years ago

    I think I finally see an upgrade from my CM-108, though I’m curious what the price is.

    The name is a poor choice, though; U3 is mostly known as software that automatically installs off of numerous thumb drives. Does this Xonar use said software? If not, why pick a name many tech-savvy people have grown to loathe?

      • cygnus1
      • 9 years ago

      loathe about sums up my feeling on the craptastic U3 software too

    • Dashak
    • 9 years ago

    [i<]waits for AbRASiON[/i<]

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Combine this with an SSD and he’ll explode.

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