I need a soundcard to use with my notebook, mainly for gaming. Is there any USB soundcard with Dolby Headphone which offers decent surround virtualization? is the Xonar U3 a good option?
There is this but I know nothing about it. Just found by doing a search.
No disrespect to the previous poster, but the Recon3D mentioned above seems to only use the Dolby Digital standard as the required input for 5.1 surround which it then processes and outputs to your headphones for virtual surround. This is good for sources that already output compressed Dolby Digital 5.1 over optical like consoles, but PC games output uncompressed PCM 5.1 so the Recon 3D would not be ideal.
I think your initial choice for the Xonar U3 would be better as this has both Dolby Digital Live encoding which would take PCM 5.1 and convert it to DD5.1 for output via an optical connection (if needed), but more crucially also has Dolby Headphone output which would process the native 5.1 game audio and output through the 2 headphone speakers. This simulated effect in taking the native 5.1 and outputting over the 2 headphone speakers is very convincing.
I'm currently in the process of finding a DDL soundcard myself here so have looked into this quite a bit recently and the Xonar U3 is a definite contender. However for your case on a laptop where you only need Dolby Headphone for gaming and not any other outputs I think the very portable Asus Xonar U3 is the ideal choice.
Hope this Helps.
I need to clarify a mistake I made in the above post so apologies to Schonen. The Recon3D does indeed work as a soundcard for PC audio from USB rather than only through the Dolby Digital optical input. However it doesn't use Dolby Headphone for virtual surround Like the Asus Xonar U3, but a THX alternative for virtual surround. I read the THX virtual surround does indeed work for optical input, but not confirmed whether it would work for PC in through the USB. Seems like it should but you may want to double check if you go ahead with the Recon3D.