Asus Xonar U7 DAC/AMP Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by pcharouz, Jun 21, 2013.
  1. pcharouz
    I think i am one of the first people here to get it, so i though i would post some initial thoughts
     
    Build:
    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...
     
    Testing:
    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... Edit:frowning2: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.
     
    Sound:
    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.
     
    If u have any questions feel free to ask
     
    photo1.jpg
     
    photo2.jpg dolby.jpg
     
    gain.jpg
     
    sample.jpg
     
    surround.jpg
     
  2. Chronark
    Have you tried playing any games with them? I am interested in the quality of the surround sound when it comes to direction, e.g. footsteps or gunfire. 
     
  3. pcharouz
    not yet, but from what i have read, the positional audio should be exactly the same as the other cards in the xonar series (DX/phebeus) both using dolby's virtuall surround..
     
    i have tried to to just test the different rear chanells in the app, and it was quite convincing
     
  4. lemm
    Good review. The only user review I've found on the web so you must be one of the first. I have a few questions if you have the time. I was looking to get a cheaper sound card but for pc gaming I've since found out that unlike consoles that auto process and output surround sound over the optical cable, on a pc I need a sound card that can encode Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect.
     
    So if you can help with the following questions:
     
    1. Does the Asus Xonar U7 have DDL and DTSC? I primarily need DDL but is DTSC better quality and good to have too?
    2. I think the analog outputs provide better audio quality, so would there be any benefit in having DTSC as I have analog? (I will still need DDL)
    3. My current analog input gives noise/hiss whereas the optical does not which I find strange as analog is supposed to be better. Does the Asus Xonar U7 have analog noise?
    4. Does this card have Asio? I read that this is good for lag so what is the lag like on DDL outputs from this card.
     
    5. I was considering the Creative's Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro or the newer Sound Blaster Z, both of which are 5.1 so do you think this a 7.1 card is a better option for games/bluray and how do you think the surround sound quality would be on the Asus Xonar U7 compared to the other two? ie the X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro is up to 24/96kHz over 5.1 and stereo; and the Sound Blaster Z is up to 96kHz on 5.1 and 192kHz for stereo with 116db SNR. Is the Xonar U7 24bit 192kHz on all the 7.1 channels over analog and optical?
     
    It's the most expensive of the cards I have considered but if it ticks all the boxes it may be worth it. Thanks.
     
  5. pcharouz
    1. DDL, through optical and coax (u can set it in windows audio settings)
    2/3, There is absolutely no noise/hiss coming form this card at any volume, my shure e500/530s are very good at picking this up, and they are dead silent
    4. Yes, u can set 16/24bit, and 4-20ms ish latecy (i have no idea how to use this though)
    5, Imo the x-fi might have a bit better software, but the xonar will have a lot better sound quality (less hiss, more music, more frequency response) xonar u7 can do 7.1 over analog and digital yes
     
    It also seems like it might work on a mac with usb 1.1 setting, but dont quote me on that!
     
  6. lemm
    Thanks for the great feedback mate. Seems like this card has everything I need. Just to clarify, is the full sample rate of 192kHz and max resolution of 24bits available on the full analog 7.1 and optical/coax, as this sample rate and bit depth was restricted only on the stereo playback on the other cards. Unfortunately it's just gone out of stock on Amazon and everywhere else I've checked so I may need to wait a while unless you know of a reputable retailer at a decent price. And thanks for the OS tip. I'm still on Vista at the moment and noticed you're thoughts were based on a Win 8 experience, but I assume it will be compatible regardless of which windows version. Again, thanks for the quick and comprehensive reply.
     
  7. pcharouz
    there is no analog 7.1 through spdif, only dolby digital live, and that is 16/48khz i think
     
  8. lemm
    I think I phrased my query a bit ambiguously but your reply was still clear and helpful. Clearly spdif output needs dolby digital live encoding for surround, but thanks for mentioning the spdif playback quality with ddl. Don't often find all the info direct from the manufacturer, so thanks for taking the time. Much appreciated.
     
  9. Ikos
    I'm going to buy a new headphone and I was looking to buy the Xonar U7 as sound card/amp but I already have a 2.1 speakers that I would like to alternate with my headphone, can the Xonar U7 do this? Switch between headphone and speaker?
     
    The speaker is a Creative (L3800) and has a 3.5mm jack as input that I'd plug in the U7.
     
  10. pcharouz
    yes, all u do is press the silver button and it switches(headphone/spdif(if available)/speakers), i use it this way, and its great! :) all u need is a rca to 3.5mm cable
     
    btw, i just borrowed sennheiser HD800, and it drives them, but loses quite a bit of the depth of frequency that they can produce, they sound much fuller, and unique on my pioneer elite reciever (still doesnt do the phones justice imo)
    i also tried the HD700 and those sound great at 70-80% volume, so 150ohms is the limit of this card imo
     
    Ikos likes this.
  11. deanorthk
    thanks for that review, really
     
    Do you know if there's a way, when you activate Xear surround headphone, to send that signal to the analog output, so an headphone amp can be use, and take that signal to headphone?
    In my setup, I would like to get such a card, so I can output to my burson HA160 and my senn HD650... don't know if that could work, as it work in the U3 card..
     
     
  12. alienden
    Just finished installing it. Using mine with Senn's gaming 363d headphones. Switched from AstraMix 2013 and wow, music and movies have improved dramatically! Surround is a bit of a mixed bag, I have a subjective feeling that DDH is slightly better then DHT v4. But then again the jump in overall quality is so big I hardly care anymore :)
     
  13. alienden
    Also the box is really cute and much smaller then I imagined. Takes me back to the time I had audigy 2 usb!
     
  14. foreign
    I have the asus sonar stx and pc360 also hd650. It sounds pretty good coming straight out if the soundcard but I have also purchased w6 woo audio tube amp primarily for the hd650. The hd650 has nice balance mids are upfront and centre. Big soundstage very neutral. The dac and amp is pretty good on the soundcard for $165 however the tube amp does pair better with the hd650.
     
  15. pcharouz
    Quote:
    how does that relate to this thread exactly? just curious...
     

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