Discrete audio might not be as sexy or even necessary as it once was, but for those who demand higher end sound, Asus continues to answer the call. It's newest product, the Xonar U7 MKII (opens in new tab), is a compact USB sound card with a built-in headphone amplifier.
The Xonar U7 MKII is mostly intended for laptops, though it can be used with desktops as well. Either way, it brings with it 7.1-channel, 192kHz/24-bit HD audio powered by a Cirrus Logic CS4398 digital-to-analog converter (DAC).
Asus is billing this as an upgraded version of the original Xonar U7, though it doesn't mention what exactly is different. Both products feature the same compact design and near identical spec sheets, save for the use of a C-Media 6632AX sound processor in the new model versus a C-Media 6632A in the old. It's the same chipset found in Asus's Strix Soar sound card, though it's listed as being capable of 384KHz/24-bit on that product and 192KHz/24-bit on the Xonar U7 MKII.
In any event, there's a clickable master volume control knob that doubles as an output selector. That allows gamers to keep their headphones and speakers connected, switching between the two as desired.
The sound card comes with Sonic Studio, an audio utility that allows for EQ adjustments and 7.1-channel audio balancing.
"Sonic Studio also includes controls for Sonic Radar Pro, a unique feature that precisely maps in-game sounds—such as footsteps and gunshots—and displays them on an on-screen overlay, so gamers can pinpoint their enemies for a competitive advantage in FPS games. Sonic Studio is fully compatible with Windows 10," (opens in new tab).
Here is a look at the full list of specs:
- Output signal-to-noise ratio (A-weighted): Up to 114dB
- Input signal-to-noise ratio (A-weighted): 110dB
- Output total harmonic distortion + noise at 1khz (A-weighted): Up to 0.0006 percent (104dB)
- Input total harmonic distortion + noise at 1kHz (A-weighted): Up to 0.001 percent (-100dB)
- Frequency response (-3dB, 24-bit/96kHz input ): <10Hz to 46kHz
- Output/input full-scale voltage:
- Rear output (Speaker) 1Vrms (2.828 Vp-p)
- Headphone 1.3Vrms (3.677 Vp-p)
- Line-in 1Vrms (3.677Vp-p)
- Bus Compatibility: USB audio class, USB audio class 2.0 for all functions, USB audio class 1.0 for playback
- Main Chipset (Audio processor): CMedia CMI6632AX High-performance sound processor (Max. 192KHz/24-bit)
- D-A converter (digital sources): 1 x Cirrus CS4398 (120dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24-bit), 1 x Cirrus CS4362 (114dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24-bit)
- A-D converter (analog input): 1x Cirrus CS5361 (114dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24-bit)
- Analog playback sample rate and resolution: 44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/172.4K/192KHz @ 16/24-bit
- Analog recording sample rate and resolution: 44.1K/48K/88.2K/96KHz/172.4K/192K @ 16/24-bit
- S/PDIF digital output: 44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/172.4K/192KHz @ 16/24-bit
- ASIO 2.0 driver support: 44.1K/48K/88.2K/96K/172.4K/192KHz @ 16/24-bit
- Operating system support: Windows 10/8.1/7(32/64-bit)
Asus did not say when the Xonar U7 MKII will be available or how much it will cost. As a point of reference, the original Xonar U7 sells on Amazon for around $86 (opens in new tab).