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ASUS Xonar U7 7.1 USB Sound Card Review

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Right Mark Audio (RMAA) Testing

Test System Used

Processor: Core i5 2500
Motherboard: Asus P8P67 Deluxe
Memory: 8GB Corsair Vengeance “Blue” DDR3 1600

Graphics card: Asus 5550 passive

While RightMark Audio Analyzer is an extremely good audio test suite, the sheer amount of data and numbers it can produce can be a little on the overwhelming side. To help simplify and make it more easily digestible we have taken what we consider to be the key tests and their results and condensed them into a more easy to understand format.

Harmonic Distortion

This chart is actually made up of two equally important parts “Total Harmonic Distortion” (THD) and “Inter-modulation distortion + Noise Distortion” (IMD + Noise). Too much THD and IMD means your music will be “warm” or “fun” sounding but highly, highly inaccurate. Low THD and a lot of IMD will mean your music is cold sounding AND inaccurate. Low THD and low IMD is what we are looking for as we want as accurate a reproduction as possible and simply choose to either add some “flavor” to the music via the equalizer or simply use different headphones from different companies that colour the music differently.

THD is distortion being added to a given piece of sound. It can take the form of unwanted harmonics, multiples of the original sound, additional unwanted overtones of the original sound or numerous other things being added to the original. While an argument can be made over THD not always being a bad thing (as it can give your music a warmer sound), for serious gaming and audio boards the closer to zero the better.

Noise Level

“Noise Level” is basically the Signal to Noise Ratio a given audio card can produce. The higher or further away from zero a given cards Noise Level is the better. The closer you get to zero the worse the reproduction becomes and the lower the audio fidelity becomes.

To be blunt we were not expecting these results to be as good as they were. Marketing literature that can make even the most mediocre of product seem like it can walk on water, so when reading about the U7 we were taking all the information with a huge grain of salt. Thankfully, there seems to be plenty of truth in ASUS’ advertising.

The Xonar U7 may not be up the same standards as the rest of the Xonar line, but it is truly remarkable nonetheless. It really doesn’t get any better than this for a USB-based sound card. We doubt many consumers will have the necessary audiophile grade hardware to truly find the limits of this card and that too is rather impressive.

Dynamic Range

Dynamic range is the difference between the quietest and loudest sound a card can produce without distorting them. The greater the Dynamic Range the better.

Once again the synthetic test results are everything we could have ever hoped to see from a consumer grade USB DAC. To say that we are impressed is an understatement as not that long ago this level of performance would have been considered audiophile grade. Of course, those days are long past but we certainly have high hopes for the real world testing stage.

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