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ASUS Xonar U1  (Source: LaptopLogic)
ASUS Xonar U1 improves sound for notebooks and PCs

It’s almost a universal given with a notebook that the sound quality isn’t that great. Some gaming and high-end notebooks have decent sound quality, but for the most part bass is anemic and notebook speakers almost seem like an afterthought.

Earlier this year, ASUS debuted its external video card system for notebook computers and now it has a new external notebook audio processor called the Xonar U1. The Xonar U1 isn’t only for notebooks, however. If you have a desktop PC and don’t want to open the machine up to install a sound card or are running dual graphics cards and just don’t have the room inside your chassis for a sound card, the Xonar U1 is a viable option.

Laptop Logic claims the Xonar U1 uses high-quality digital to analog convertors for crisp and clear music, games and movies. Gamers will like the fact that it supports EAX and DirectSound HW acceleration for gaming in Windows Vista and XP.

A headphone amplifier is built-in and other system specs include 96dB SNR and a frequency response of 20~20KHz at 32 ohms. ASUS claims the device can convert stereo audio to 5.1 virtual surround sound to give gamers positional audio cues. This sort of thing has been claimed before, but is rarely pulled off well.

An array microphone is bundled with the Xonar U1 and those wanting real surround sound will appreciate the SPDIF output with Dolby Digital Encoding. ASUS declined to comment on pricing or availability details. DailyTech has covered internal PCI Express x1 versions of the Xonar sound card before. At Computex ASUS also revealed the internal Xonar version would have a custom sound processor.

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By h0kiez on 10/9/2007 4:11:08 PM , Rating: 3
I'm guessing if you bought one of their external video cards, and then you buy this external audio processor, you probably shoud've just bought a damn desktop.

RE: .
By Parhel on 10/9/2007 4:55:38 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe if these are successful, they will introduce something containing both video and audio in a single package.

That would be a neat, but expensive, product.

RE: .
By Polynikes on 10/9/2007 6:09:44 PM , Rating: 3
I concur. Trying to get a laptop up to desktop performance standards means a lot more stuff must be connected to it; an external audio processor, video card, docking station... And you still have a small screen. Rather pointless, IMO.

Don't like the sound quality of your laptop speakers? Get a decent pair of headphones.

RE: .
By Omega215D on 10/10/2007 2:06:47 AM , Rating: 3
Then again you could have those external hookups for home and then when you take your notebook out, say for work, then you probably don't need to worry about battery life and such.

RE: .
By Wolfpup on 10/10/2007 10:56:36 AM , Rating: 2
First, many people need a laptop for various reasons rather than a desktop, but still want good gaming performance.

Second, you don't need an external video card to get good gaming performance, and to date, no one actually makes an external video card. Asus' product is still vaperware AFAIK. (And I'm not really clear on why it would be THAT expensive, given that it's basically just an adapter to convert an Expresscard slot (PCIe 1x I think) to a regular x16 slot plus a power supply and case. Seems like $200-300 ought to cover that (if not less).

Third, a pair of headphones may do nothing to fix audio quality on some notebooks if the analog portion of the audio system is junk (as it is on the Dell notebooks I've heard). This product, and Creative's Express Card X-Fi both solve that by REPLACING the whole audio system, including the analog stuff.

I'd assume Creative's product would be the better buy just because it's connected through basically a PCIe connection rather than USB, but it's really great products like this are available. Makes you not have to worry about junky notebook audio (I wouldn't want to listen to a DVD on the Dell system's I've heard, so it's not just a game issue).

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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