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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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The Xonar D2 was a bad idea...
By HaZaRd2K6 on 10/9/2007 11:20:25 PM , Rating: 3
And this isn't any better. It looks like a Roomba designer went mad and shrunk them all. If they can price it under $60CDN then it might work (SB Live! external kits will run you about the same and they have a much lengthier lineage and a better reputation). The Xonar D2 will run you almost $200CDN, which for that price will buy you an Auzentech X-Fi Prelude. And yeah, it's got some cool features (the LED-lit audio jacks could be helpful when trying to plug stuff in in the dark--although I don't usually plug in my speakers with my PC on) but I mean, an EMI shield really is quite useless.

I think ASUS has some good products, but they really need to think about where they're targeting them. Targeting a first- or second-generation audio card at the high end of the market is a bad idea from the get-go.

As an aside, we've had two Xonar D2s sitting on the shelf at work for about 6 weeks now and not one has budged. People pick it up, open the package, see the EMI shield and think it's a video card. The fact that it costs almost $195 can't help much either...

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