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Amazing sound for $4.00 USD?

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

I was in my university computer store when I spotted a cardboard box behind the counter labeled "sound card". It was next to the USB flash drives so naturally I inquired about it.

 

The clerk had never sold one before and had no idea what it was. The label stated, "Virtual 5.1 Surround USB 2.0 External   Price: $4.00"

 

For that cost I could not resist. What does $4 get me?

 

 

 

Spec

  • The DAC is a complete mystery because the chip is completely covered in goop.
  • Input and output via 3.5mm stereo plug.
  • Windows output format: 16-bit, 48000 Hz (locked)
  • Windows input format: 1 channel, 16-bit, 24000 Hz (locked)

 

DMESG states:

Quote:
uaudio0 at uhub1 port 2 configuration 1 interface 0 "Ten X Technology, Inc. USB  AUDIO" rev 1.10/5.10 addr 2
uaudio0: audio rev 1.00, 4 mixer controls
audio1 at uaudio0
uhidev0 at uhub1 port 2 configuration 1 interface 3 "Ten X Technology, Inc. USB  AUDIO" rev 1.10/5.10 addr 2
uhidev0: iclass 3/1
uhid0 at uhidev0: input=8, output=8, feature=0
uhidev1 at uhub1 port 2 configuration 1 interface 4 "Ten X Technology, Inc. USB  AUDIO" rev 1.10/5.10 addr 2
uhidev1: iclass 3/1, 3 report ids
uhid1 at uhidev1 reportid 3: input=1, output=0, feature=0

 

Build Quality

 

For the price, my expectations were very low. 

 

The early millennium era transparent blue iMac colored housing came apart with no resistance, I needed only pull it in opposite directions.

 

Note the goop covering the single controller on this board. Also note the yellow LED to indicate the device has power.

 

This must be how the factory trains new employees to solder.

 

HX0608A might prove useful. Note the lack of solder on the left pin.

 

09/05/15 - It is from the future!!

 

 

Sound Quality

I didn't need to do much testing to reveal that this thing is awful.

 

Listening:

Output into my headphones is way over-driven. If I set Windows volume control below a value of "8" it cuts out completely. Anything above that produces pain in my eardrums. The SQ is over-modulated and makes my Sennheiser HD380pro headphones sound like complete garbage.

 

Recording:

The mic input presents a constant 4000hz whine at around 12 db, regardless of whether or not anything is plugged into it.

 

 

Verdict

I was hoping to come home with an unexpected gem. Sometimes bargain-bin hardware can surprise you, but not here. This reminds me of terrible AC97 codecs from the 90s.

 

It serves as a good reminder of how far we have come.


Edited by EarwaxDAC - 1/18/14 at 10:02pm
post #2 of 2

Hmm,

 

what a nice adventure you found yourself in.

 

These things still exist today. In 7.1 instead of 5.1 though ;-) $8.49 and $6.99 respectively.

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Sabrent-Virtual-External-Surround-USB-AUDD/dp/B00D69U1B0/ref=sr_1_39?ie=UTF8&qid=1390139087&sr=8-39&keywords=usb+dac

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Syba-SD-CM-UAUD-Adapter-C-Media-Chipset/dp/B001MSS6CS/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1390139050&sr=8-10&keywords=usb+dac

 

I am not going to try them though.

 

Cheers,

K

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