ASUS Xonar U5 USB SoundCard Review
A month back we tested the excellent ASUS Xonar U7 7.1 USB sound card. At Rs.5.6K price range U7 is a great product giving excellent sound quality and superb headphone experience. But for many users, especially in Indian market, this price seemed too much for a sound card.
Keeping Indian market in mind ASUS has introduced the ASUS Xonar U5 sound card, offering very similar features, sound quality and performance as U7, but of course something more affordable solution.
Now let's see what more or less ASUS Xonar U5 sound card have for us against Xonar U7 and Xonar DX
A compact audio solution for incredible sound
Xonar U5 is a compact 5.1-channel USB sound card designed to provide PC gamers with high quality audio for games, music and movies. It follows in the footsteps of the award-winning Xonar U7 â€“ providing you with strong and clear sound via headphones, and producing more impactful and detailed audio than onboard hardware. The Xonar U5 has no standalone power supply and connects to your PC via USB, allowing you to instantly plug-in without having to open the PC case.
Take complete control of your audio with Sonic Studio
Xonar U5 features the latest Sonic Studio software suite, so you have full control over every audio setting ranging from equalization (EQ) to 5.1-speaker level-balancing. Sonic Studio has a single navigation page that puts everything in front of you, with an intuitive point-and-click interface that allows you to pre-set audio profiles to suit different audio requirements.
Incredible input-noise reduction from Perfect Voice
Unlike noise-reduction technologies that rely on inverse phase noise cancellation, Xonar U5's Perfect Voice technology uses advanced algorithms to separate ambient noise from speech. The result is crystal clear in-game voice communication, so you can be heard even in noisy gaming environments like LAN parties.
Enjoy powerful audio quality from a compact and portable device
The compact and lightweight Xonar U5 features 192KHz/24-bit audio quality, a 104dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and true 5.1-channel surround sound for true high-definition output and consistent quality across all surround channels. Go big on audio with a sound card this small!
Pumps up every sound detail with the integrated headphone amplifier!
Xonar U5 includes a headphone amplifier that supports headphones all the way up to 150ohm impedance â€” so you can plug in some seriously powerful gaming headsets to hear every in-game detail!
Dedicated microphone and master volume controls
Dedicated controls let you tweak audio settings without interrupting your game â€“ you can quickly adjust master and microphone volumes without pausing or entering menus.The master volume controls even doubles as an instant switch for selecting between headphone output and speakers with just a simple click.
Xonar U5 comes in a very attractive looking black and red cardboard box.The front of the box has all the stuff you want to know, headphone amp, 24-bit/192KHz sampling rate, and Sonic Studio software. The back has all the features in detail with some graphs showing audio performance details.
Inside the box
The accessories which accompany the Xonar U7 are rather simple. You get a Quick Start Guide, driver CD, USB 2.0 cable, and an S/PDIF - TOSLINK adapter.
The Xonar U5 hardware device is a smart, compact black box looking same as U7 but the gold accent of U7 giving it a premium look is missing in U5.
On top the device there is a stylish volume controller and three LEDs which indicate whether the audio output is set to the speakers, dedicated headphone output, or the SPDIF port. You can select these modes by pressing down the volume controller.
Xonar U5 supports USB 1.0 and 2.0 with a selection switch at the bottom of the device. Full functionality is enabled in USB 2.0 mode and USB 1.0 mode limits the sound card to playback only.
On the front panel you will find and the microphone volume up & down buttons.
On the rear panel starting from the five jacks on the left are for speakers. The two from left side are a dedicated headphone 3.5mm jack, the microphone / line-in jack, remaining three are for front channel in 5.1 setups. To the right of the Speaker outputs and left of the USB connector is an SPDIF output.
Detail of all components used inside the device
1. At the heart of the Xonar U5 is a C-Media 6631A Chip. Cmedia CM6631A is a USB2.0 true high-speed audio processor that can support the latest USB Audio Class 2.0 and high-definition audio processing capability up to 192KHz/32bit. CM6631A provides the industrial standard I2S and HDA audio interface and also integrates 192KHz/24bit S/PDIF transmitter/receiver and MIDI I/O device. Furthermore, CM6631A has an embedded 8051 microprocessor that can enhance the best flexibility and functionality with external upgradeable F/W codes. CM6631A would be the most high-fidelity and powerful audio core for high-value USB Audio Class 2.0 products.
2. Cmedia CM9882A is 8Ch HDA Codec to provide high-fidelity 106dB SNR (48KHz@24bit) and