Lets face it, we’re playing more games, listening to more music and watching more movies on the go. Portability is a desirable feature in almost anything we buy these days. Yet, it is evident that the quality of experience offered to us on fixed setups is leaps ahead to what is being offered for mobile usage. Keeping that in mind, ASUS has introduced the Xonar U7 External USB sound card and headphone amplifier, with the key purpose being to offer high-quality sound processing on the go. In other words, an external, portable DAC (digital to analog convertor), with a headphone amp.
ASUS’s Xonar line has taken computer audio to audiophile grades, there is no denying that. I have the Xonar DX soundcard installed in my setup and it is one of the most worthy purchases I consider myself to have made. As of now, there is no alternative to the Xonar line, ASUS clearly has a winner with this series. Does the U7 manage to carry the weight of the Xonar series?
What is an external DAC/soundcard?
Most tablets, phones and laptops come with an integrated audio-chipset capable of providing decent quality output. While these integrated chipsets can get the job done in most cases, they still offer a very generic and average level of performance. The need for an external DAC/soundcard comes when there is a requirement of high-quality distortion-free sound with surround features, available out of the box. Also, if you want to the get most out of your audiophile grade headphone/IEM (in-ear monitors), you surely cannot bank on your integrated solution, you need a dedicated DAC to drive your audio-grade products. This is where the Xonar U7 comes into play.