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Asus Xonar U7 DAC/AMP Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by pcharouz, Jun 21, 2013.
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  1. HAWX
    I just wanted to give some impressions on U7 Echelon and compared it with some phones I have access to.

    Today, for a moment I could't find the empedence setting in my Xonar U7 Echelon with Windows 10 driver (Still beta btw). I thought to myself how is that possible while using this card 2 years actively and being in this forum? 

    First the speakers and spdif showed but headhpone didn't showed itself. Then I clicked the wheel on the U7 and then I saw the headhpone symbol showed up. I right clicked it but onyl the set the defaul option came in. I couldn't find any solution, then I decided to restart my computer, and it worked. After restarting my computer impedance setting showed up along with the set the default option, problem solved :)

    I compared the Xonar U7 Echelon (Windows 10 Beta Driver, max empedance), iPhone 4 and Samsung Galaxy S7 edge dual (exynos variant) 3.5mm Headphone jacks quality today, using Youtube App. I put the same songs on same quality and listened carefully. My headphones are cheapo Philips Noise Canceling Headphones. I don't like to use headphones If the speakers are available. Anyways, my findings are;

    Comparing S7 edge to the iPhone 4: iPhone 4 is definitely has more max volume. I would say about 15-20 % more volume. (Even though my S7 has about 10% more volume than iPhone 6S I compared). I heard more details with iPhone 4, on the mid-low area. iPhone 4 is quite better on the bass, mid bass and mid area. Natural instruments like trumpets are more real and enjoyable, and the starting of the note the first breath I would say is better on iPhone 4. I can hear the background noise while the music is not playing on the S7, like white noise but really really low volume. S7 on the other hand, is lacking in bass and midbass area but has more epmphasis on the upper mids and highs. I would heard more details on mids to upper mids with the S7, but it might be related to the fact that S7 shows less lower mids and bass. Hİghs are spikey in both devices, but it distracts me more on the S7 because it has more emphasis on mid and higher frequencies as I stated. ( Highs are less spikey and more natural on the U7, but still a bit spikey, so I think this is related to my headphones I'm using.
    But there is 1 thing that I realised more and more while switching between them. There is 1 thing that S7 did appearently better. In iPhone 4,sound is more thick and has more presence BUT while listening same thing, I feel the Song is more crowded with the iPhone 4. With the S7, background is more black I would say. Listening with iPhone like they added just a little tiny amount of reverb to everything, just a very tiny little bit so that I would prefer S7 with most modern pop, rock dubstep(although I don't like most dubsteps) etc. 

    I must say that I am impressed with the iphone and I would still prefer iPhone 4 overall! Especially for atmospheric, classical, film scores and etc iPhone is undoutably better than S7. I have seen many people in the forums who say iPhone 4 is the best iPhone to all the way to iPhone 7, and I'm very surprised that Apple team put serious components and achieved performance that still races with the 6 years never flagships, at that time. I think the iPhone 4 was the best device (considering the device at the time it launched) of the Apple, but that's another topic.
    Comparing S7 to the U7 Echelon: I'm gonna be honest, at first I could't find almost any diffrence except for the bass and midbass area. But after some time and careful listening and not doing other things,
    -U7 is a little more softer, (which some people say the same thing like: Asus cards are more forgiving compared with the Soundblasters, and I think It is sometimes good like you know when you want to relax it is definitely really really good but in energetic pop and rocks and techno etc it isn't. ) . Thus U7 is more natural and relaxing and suits more for the most audiophilie peoples music preferences like classics and jazz and etc.
    Because the U7 is more forgiving the highs are less harsh and it has less compared to S7. And after careful listening (which I normally don't) S7 sound unnatural and you know you started to look at the phone as a toy or joke compared to U7, which might be bad cause me personally listen thorugh from the S7 when I'm not at home. :D
    - Remeber the thing I explained "There is 1 thing that S7 appearently better than the iPhone 4" ? The U7 makes it even 2 times better than the S7 edge :D! Background is way less crowded.(I understood After detailed listening in very quiet environment for 1 minute listening)
    - Bass control
    When the bass hits or things like kick drum kicks in just at that moment the other things and instruments and vocals etc on the S7 makes a dip, but for a very little time. It's like phone says I can't give you instatnt powerfull bass and and other instruments at the same time. I realised that when I compared the phone with S7. But on the other hand U7 is like no problem take from all the frequencies as much as you want. When bass kicks in it doesn't affect the other things on the U7 echelon.
    Thank you.

    And anyone who can compare Xonar U7 or Galaxy S7 with the other DAPs especially with the Sony A15 or A35? I'm thinking to buy one of seperate DAPs but not sure about how they will perform compared to the ones I have. Thanks.

    Edited the major mistakes after I read it myself.
  2. Xtreme512
    Hey, you know first hand that the W10 drivers have bad quality on sound, right? Have you stopped using W8 WHQL driver?
    By bad quality, I mean, those drivers apart form WHQL one, have something messed up with the C-media chipset. They do not drive the chipset properly, resulting in digital bits from sound source are crippled before going into DAC unit. 
    Kitmellow had done the thorough analysis before, proving that. I wonder if he can does the same thing with newer drivers and show us if any improvement has been made at all. 
  3. HAWX
    Yeah mate. I did some test with my Windos 10 Beta driver for U7 Echelon and the results were quite similar to one on the Win 8 (8.1 I dont remeber exactly) WHQL drivers. I was having severe problems in Windows 7, but Windows 10 beta driver for the U7 Echelon seems good. Thx for the warning mate. I don't know about the original U7's drivers.
  4. Xtreme512
    then its fine, keep using them.
    no you know about the non-echelon (original) U7 drivers. in fact, these are the ones you suggested us to use some time ago. remember, non-echelon software had basic UI and WHQL driver for best possible sound quality. you can check few pages previously.
  5. HAWX
    I know, but at that time I was using Windows 7 and Windows 10 beta driver for U7 echelon was not available.
  6. xeizo
    I now have one sample of the new version Xonar U7 mkII in my posession, but it's night here and I'm tired, some first impressions may follow tomorrow :)
    HAWX likes this.
  7. Jaeger 77
    I'm eager to see what's your impressions on the new U7 revision! They said that DAC are changed,also headphone amp. I have now old version and headphone amplifier is ''meh'' at best... My HyperX Cloud sounded more deep on the STRIX RAID PRO wich i owned for a month[​IMG] 
    If MKII is better,i'll sell my U7 and get one of those.
  8. igytech

    Even if I think that changes are minor it is interesting to see someone who tried it. But don't think there is better sound quality more like changing chip supliers with similar specs.
  9. xeizo
    Well, it passed first test, installed fine on latest Windows 10 16179 on my laptop, ASIO works great 4ms latency. Ran a Cubase project which sounded without glitches. Windows found a driver automatically, but I never tested it as I want ASIO so I installed Asus own driver immediately. Sonic Studio is a handy systemwide sound control panel, nice and simple. The torture test is driving my K612 Pro cans, notoriously hard to drive, which it does very well. Much louder than Topping NX-1 and a full rich sound. Driving HD600 isn't as taxing but they are driven well. Compared to my M-Audio 2X2M it sounds about as good but is smaller enough to fit in my laptop case for casual sound everywhere, carrying the 2X2M  or my UR22 requires a extra case, I wanted the smallness as the built in Conexant sound in my laptop sucks big time(Cubase can't even find it despite using a generic ASIO-driver). It seems mission is accomplished  :)
    Here's a hasty unboxing:

  10. Xtreme512
    no new DAC or whatever. It is completely same as the old one except the DSP. Well if someone opens it up and compare with old one then there may differences in some chips. we shall see.
    Im more interested in the software part. It looks like its using the same new UI but what about the driver performance on sound quality? Is the same as WHQL ones with older devices?
  11. xeizo
    It looks like the biggest difference is better compatibility with Windows 10, which is no small thing going forward. I would guess it has something to do with the new DSP, "X"-version, X is 10 in roman numbering. Also according to the second user review on Amazon so is the sound in gaming(positioning) much improved from the original U7 which that user says he had before, The new Sonic Studio interface is nice, simple and uncluttered which is a pro.
    SQ in general is very good, I've had a very hard time removing me from Rumours Super DeLuxe-edition using the K612 Pros, they are cans which have a unique lifelike attack to sounds but most headphone outs struggles to give them juice,  the U7 mkII drives them with authority which is impressive from such a tiny plastic box..
    edit. btw there should be no reason to change DAC-chip, CS4398 is a great chip used in many high-end DAC:s and is more than enough for the task, there is a parallell thread here hailing a Marantz DAC using the exact same chip.
  12. xeizo
    Someone wondered about support for Windows USB 2.0 audio in Windows 10, I can confirm the U7 mkII fully supports it. When I first tested it I used Asus drivers as I wanted ASIO on that machine, but now I tested it with one of my desktops and it was fully plug and play. Within seconds Windows had installed Microsofts own driver and it works flawless as far as I can hear. The Microsoft driver supports all samplerates plus Windows Sonic and Dolby Atmos surround up to 7.1. Most people wouldn't need the Asus driver, except me who needs ASIO or a gamer who wants to use Asus Sonic Radar for positional audio. The Asus driver is handy though, as it features a systemwide EQ plus several surround alternatives and of course control of the headphone amps gain for various impedance cans.
  13. Xtreme512
    so you cant see headphone gain settings in control panel -> sound when you dont install ASUS drivers?
  14. xeizo
    No, of course not as that is a hardware feature of the card and the Microsoft driver is generic. I'm talking about the gain setting for various impedance heaphones and not volume gain which of course works as normal. But no panic, it defaults to high gain as far as I can tell which is the most usable setting anyway.
  15. raoultrifan
    Same does my 1st ver. of Xonar U7 in Android: it defaults to high gain. It is perfectly usable this way, indeed.
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