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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 josebl on 10/9/2007 5:56:22 PM , Rating: 2
The SNR of the X-Fi card I own...well, I don't know because it's sitting in the closet. It's the only component that continually BSOD'd Vista. Searched for a solution...well, misery loves company...except the company that can't/won't write drivers to support their hardware.

I mention this, because it's nice to see Asus and Auzentech making moves in the sound card market. A little shake up will hopefully increase manufacturer responsiveness overall.

Until then I'm stuck with the crab for PC audio processing :(

RE: DAC...ugh
By Blight AC on 10/10/2007 9:27:12 AM , Rating: 2
X-Fi BSOD's on you in Vista? I'm a bit surpised, Creative, IMO, has been doing a better then expected job of driver support for Vista (but consider expectations are pretty low). They had a pretty stable driver available in March, and somewhat recently released a better driver. Audio issues that I had in Vista are pretty much gone, that is to say, it's working at least as well as it did in WinXP.

The only audio issues I've had with X-Fi and Vista are crackles when playing iTunes or music (mainly when CPU usage was high and it seems fixed with the latest drivers) and complete, random system lockup when playing Tabula Rasa beta (again fixed with the latest drivers). That and EAX not working properly, but, that seems to be standard fare regardless of OS. However, with the ALchemy, at least EAX is supported and running at least as well as it did in XP.

Either way though.. I'd still like to see a good competitor to Creative. I was happy with the SoundStorm offered on nVidia's nForce 2 platform, I was really hoping that nVidia would develop that. They could do the same thing they do with video, design and support the chipset and let others sell the end product.

Course.. I think the main issue is EAX is well supported in games for 3D audio and audio effects. For a competitor to enter the market, they'd have to pay Creative for the rights to use EAX (which I think is a bad route) or design their own 3D audio and get the game developers to support it, which would be an uphill battle.

However, nVidia has the clout among game developers, I think they have as good a chance as any to get it done.

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