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.
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.