ASUS Xonar U7 7.1 USB Sound Card Review
Drivers and Software
The software which accompanies the Xonar U7 reminds us strongly of what’s included with ASUS’ Xonar Phoebus PCIe soundcard. Much like with the Phoebus, this software retains some similarity with the programs accompanying older Xonar models, but it has been streamlined and features an easy-to-navigate interface. Essentially ASUS has combined various applications into one all-encompassing program which is very intuitive to use since it lacks hidden menus. Virtually every setting is never more than a click away.
The main program consists of one home screen which is broken up into two large columns. The left column is where you can customize the input/output of attached devices with the majority of the information changing based upon the device category that’s been selected. The categories themselves are labeled in clear, easy to understand language, and have large icons which are also surprisingly descriptive.
Also just like the Xonar Phoebus you can’t adjust or customize anything unless the item in question is plugged into the Xonar U7 since the icons will be grayed out. If for example, you wish to adjust your 7.1 speaker output, you will need to first plug in the speakers before being able to access this module. Even the number of volume controls will vary depending on how many jacks are plugged it. The whole thing is really quite intuitive.
The upside to this layout is you quickly know what’s attached to the U7 and won’t waste time configuring settings which will have no impact on any attached devices. Unfortunately, by making this software self-aware and highly adaptable, advance tweaking is impossible.
Dolby Digitial features are controlled via their own small software stack aptly labeled Dolby Digital. Much like the main U7 control panel, this application is deceptive “simple” but includes every advanced feature consumers could possibly want. You can easily opt for up-converting stereo output into virtual 5.1 or 7.1, access the integrated ten band equalizer, modify the surround sound effects and even tweak things such as dialog quality.
Taken as a whole, the Dolby Digital program is obviously not meant for advanced users, but it is extremely easy to understand and will be more than sufficient for the vast majority of buyers. More importantly, you don’t have to be an experienced Xonar user to create a sound profile which is tailor-made for your listening profile.
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