Pros: Audio quality, build quality, software, versatility, price
Cons: not as powerfull as the xonar essense soundcards, more mainstream target
the worksmanship is great, feels much less plasticky than i would have thought.
I pluging it straight into the usb on my win 8 64bit desktop, the card lit up and started working within seconds, hovewer when i tried to manually install all the software/drivers, it said it did not recognize my asus xonar u7?!? after 15mins, i have discovered that the USB switch was set to 1.1. Set it to 2.0 and everything was fine! Installed, restarted and started listening...
Bear in mind that i never had a dedicaded headphone amp, i plugged in my v-moda m80, and started listening to some Infected Mushroom- Im The Supervisor, Kanye West -Yeezus, and some oldies; all in Flac. The first thing that i noticed was that that i could set the volume to max without getting unconfortable, Isnt the "Headphone Amp" supposed to make em louder? So i checked the setting and under headphone settings (u have to right click on the headphones, took me quite a while :D) the are 3 Gain settings
Low Gain (-12db for <32 ohms)
Medium Gain (-6db for 32-64ohms)
High Gain (0db for >64ohms)
Hovewer this was already set at max gain, i set it to medium for the v-modas, and for me 90% volume was ok (75% on low gain on my shure e500). This leads me to conclude that the headphone amp is not all that powerfull, since both these should be easily drivable... howerver it is much better with either mp3's or volume equilizer on in the dolby center, 50% volume now on low gain
from asus.com, "Headphone : 1.3 Vrms (3.677 Vp-p)" Does this number sound about right? (I have no idea)
A pleasant suprise was that there is ABSOLUTELLY no noise at any volume/gain on my shure e500.
Bear in mind that i am not an audiophile, i just enjoy listening to music, i have found that i can hear more of the low-low frequencies, and very high as well than from my onboard sound, I have no problem with the sound this card makes, but i would rather leave this on someone with more experience, and better equipment... I quite like the software, and the surround features, and inteligent equilizer(on-the-fly equalizing, leveling volume) work quite nice, without overly changing the music. For example there is a Eq present to open up soundstage/frequency response.