Asus sounds off with its Xonar U7 MkII external sound card

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.

Comments closed
    • Voldenuit
    • 3 years ago

    What’s the CPU overhead (if any) of running a USB soundcard vs a PCIE solution?

      • ch┬Áck
      • 3 years ago

      Negligible nowadays…

      • wingless
      • 3 years ago

      CPU overhead is negligible. The concern would be latency, but that is also negligible nowadays.

        • morphine
        • 3 years ago

        What he said. If you’re recording, you may be concerned about latency, but at that point you’re also going to get a USB audio interface that has solid ASIO drivers with low latency.

    • MOSFET
    • 3 years ago

    Once you go USB, you may as well go external DAC all the way, like Schiit Audio? (top of the head example) {That is indeed a poorly phrased but real question to the masses.)

      • wingless
      • 3 years ago

      Schitt is great for 2-channel listening. For PC gamers, it’s useful to have surround sound via 5.1 or 7.1 as well as virtual surround for gaming. Those features are, of course, not ideal for audiophile music listening. The use cases are a bit different. I have an SMSL M2 for my nice headphones as it’s a very clean DAC/AMP with no artificial coloring of the sound. For movies and gaming I use an ASUS Xonar DSX. It picks up a bit of sound from the motherboard which is annoying, so this U7 Mk2 is now on my radar.

        • Laykun
        • 3 years ago

        Certainly having virtual surround in DSP can be useful, but it’s my experience that most games these days do this kind of audio processing already when you set the audio mode to “headphones”. Not all of them do, but most big titles do. But even so, the cheapest Schiit DAC is $99, and this ASUS comes in at $86 (estimate based on MkI) with many more input/output options. I don’t even know if the difference between DAC chips is worth that price difference as the on paper specs for the ASUS DAC look to be pretty standard. It may turn it to be far more expensive though, in which case I’d personally (and have done) go for the schiit.

          • Airmantharp
          • 3 years ago

          Apparently there’s software that can do the virtualization too- something called Waves NX (Google it) that can do the virtualization and throws in head tracking.

          They have a free trial, but I couldn’t tell the difference between it being on and off in BF1 and Witchter 3 using my HD600’s and O2/ODAC.

            • brucethemoose
            • 3 years ago

            Razer Surround does it too, and it’s suprisingly decent.

            • Airmantharp
            • 3 years ago

            Seems to work; recommend any games to try it on?

      • Ari Atari
      • 3 years ago

      Price or brand recognition. Also, taking a look at Schiit, they seem to really sell 2 channel amps rather than the 8 channel seen here. Finally, computer audio seems to want to live in its own world from home theater audio, so it could just be that someone would want something in the “computer audio” space.

      • superjawes
      • 3 years ago

      Because you would still need something to provide virtual surround. (I am assuming that most PC gamers want to use headphones or 2.1 channel speakers.) Schiit can only offer the DAC and Amp parts of the chain. Asus is offering DSP (where the surround comes from) + DAC + AMP + audio switch with this package.

      • Chrispy_
      • 3 years ago

      I’m now solely reliant on external DACs in my apartment. The expensive audiophile stuff is running through a cheap Texas Instruments USB DAC with nothing other than USB in and 2ch analogue output. The HTPC is just using the even cheaper DAC in my TV (don’t worry, I don’t use the TV’s terrible speakers!)

      I am not enough of an audiophile to get all fussy about DAC quality, even the super cheap ones are 24-bit, 96KHz with >100dB SNRs. Spend your money on better speakers or headphones and adjust the DAC’s tone/character/colour/sound quality using a software EQ, of which there are so many but a powerful free one I’m using is APO (goes really well with Room EQ Wizard).

      I’ve used some fancy soundcards in the past because they were necessary to get MIDI support and good recording quality off my digital pianos and keyboards. Cheap DAC is just as good – perhaps better if you consider the terrible reputation that Xonar and Creative soundcards drivers get.

        • MOSFET
        • 3 years ago

        Thanks everybody. I only ever listen to music, so I completely forgot that there are more than 2 channels. (Seriously, not j/k) I have several ways to input audio to my Pioneer SX-5580 (West German black face model) receiver, with the Schiit Uber2 providing 3 ways, and I have the pair of speakers I want. Not once did computer game audio or more than 2 channels cross my mind, and I just SO don’t care about movies. i doubt anyone cares, but having worked on the crew of several Hollywood productions in the past, I just cannot take a movie seriously anymore. I can now only watch documentaries! Movie magic ruined me!

          • Chrispy_
          • 3 years ago

          I only have two ears.

          Most positional HRTF stuff is handled better by the game engine’s audio processing (on your CPU) than some virual HRTF on an external USB box via shonky drivers anyway,

          I do miss true surround on my HTPC, since I give that up for the convenience of 1 remote for everything (HDMI-CEC) so my receiver takes a stereo source and upmixes to 5.1. Most of the stuff on Netflix and [i<]Yarr-be-ohh[/i<] is stereo anyway.

      • meerkt
      • 3 years ago

      You’re better off going with Kraap.

      (They really thought Schiit is a good name?)

        • Laykun
        • 3 years ago

        Hey, they’ve sold a lot of Schiit, so it must be working.

          • UberGerbil
          • 3 years ago

          [url<]https://youtu.be/Ht7Jmp4tZsk[/url<] (Wish I could find the actual video outside of the SNL app, but the audio still delivers)

        • superjawes
        • 3 years ago

        Their co-founder has been [url=http://www.head-fi.org/t/701900/schiit-happened-the-story-of-the-worlds-most-improbable-start-up<]writing about the company[/url<] for a few years now. In short, yes, they've been quite successful, and part of that success comes from their name.

          • meerkt
          • 3 years ago

          [url=https://meh.com/<]Meh.[/url<]

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