Asus Xonar U7 DAC/AMP Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by pcharouz, Jun 21, 2013.
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  1. raoultrifan
    Actually this is not a matter of taste or an overestimation, it's a pure fact that AKG K701/702/712 etc. are not so easy to drive. I own U7 and K701 so I know they don't pair so well, especially for high-dynamic music. My thoughts here: https://www.head-fi.org/threads/asus-xonar-u7-dac-amp-impressions-thread.669127/page-8#post-10114012.

    However, feel free to read Tyll's notes here: https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AKGK701.pdf (90dB: 0.32V RMS=1.57mW; 100dB: 3.2V RMS=157mW) and ASUS notes here: https://www.asus.com/ro/Sound-Cards/Xonar_U7/specifications/ (1.3V RMS = 26.4mW). Usually people listens to an average RMS of 85dB which means having the loudest sounds from the songs at around 95-100dB; also, you always need a power reserve of 5dB or even10dB for songs having a better dynamic or recorded before loudness war.

    Cheers!
     
    caspadan likes this.
  2. caspadan
    @raoultrifan, When you say U7, do you mean U7 MKII?
    I don't seem to find much on the mark 2 as I do on the first U7. I have read other people with the 1st U7 say that it does drive their K702s just fine. So it seems that what is fine to some, is not fine to others.

    I currently connect my K702 straight to my M/B, and while the sound I'm getting is actually fine for me, there are some occasions where I just need a bit more, but for the most part what I get is fine. I'm using an "old" M/B, the Gigabyte Z87x-UD3H, which is for 4th gen Intel. Also, I'm not planning on getting other headphones anytime soon. If these K702s break, I'll probably just replace them for another pair of K702s. But, I've been spending way too much on headphones/IEMs..
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
  3. Kitmellow
    Thanks for the reply Raoultrifan!

    There's obviously truth to that, and seeing as how you already own both these products, I suppose we have different expectations when it comes to loudness. :p

    For me, I dont like to listen at high volumes, and I also live in a quiet environment away from any streets with a relatively low noise floor with my PC physically cabled to another room and the door closed. Now, I wouldn't call what I have a "studio" environment, but in my case, I dont need much volume if at all to compensate for or override the ambient noise around me.

    I thought I'd share this as well but about 6 years ago, I managed to permanently damage my hearing in my left ear from listening to loud music and I still experience intermittent tinnitus in that ear (it was me as a teenager using my left earbud in mono almost everyday and not really caring about how loud it was), so forgive me for being naturally cautious about loudness levels now.

    There is also scientific evidence that suggests that exposure to just 80 dB SPL over time can cause and dramatically accelerate hearing loss too, so I personally try to keep my average listing volumes limited to that or slightly below without ruining my enjoyment for music.

    While I do realize that not having enough power to drive those cans could limit the full potential of emphasizing certain peaks in high dynamic music, I am okay with that unless it clips or distorts, which is still very rare in my experience. And also, high dynamic content does not apply to YouTube or gaming as the OP would want it to be used for.

    In your situation Caspadan, if you found your motherboard's volume levels to be adequate, then the Xonar U7 will do you just fine, while being a bit louder too. Your motherboard uses a Realtek ALC898 codec which from the datasheet says the full scale voltage output to be 1.2 vrms. The Xonar U7, will give you a boost to a fsvo of 1.3 vrms.

    Last thing is the Xonar U7 is the same as the Mkii version with the exception of a new Digital Signal Processor (C-Media 6632AX instead of the old 6632A). This means everything else including hardware should be the same except for using different drivers, having native Windows 10 support, and possibly more refined DSP effects within the software.

    By the way, aside from the driver issues and the weaker but mostly adequate amp on the U7, the U7 also has an output impedance of somewhere around 17-23ohms (varies by source) which isn't really ideal to be paired with headphones or earphones under 140ohms. But other than that, the U7 is amazing for the price. And you could, if you wanted, pair a quality external amp with the U7, solving the output impedance and weaker amplifier issues altogether.

    Some other options like the Schiit Modi + Magni or the ODAC + O2 amp are infamous for raw performance for your money though. And if you don't need all the features of a sound card like the U7, it is definitely worth considering those options.

    Anyway, sorry for the long post. I am quite passionate about this stuff and always learning. Hope I helped at the very least :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
    HAWX and caspadan like this.
  4. caspadan
    Thanks guys

    I think I'll just stick to my onboard and get a cheap amp. I don't need the U7, but if it drove headphones better I'd have got it. Otherwise I'd be using it for my sound - which my onboard is currently doing anyways (I know I'm ignoring the quality factor here :rolling_eyes: ), so no real benefit for me then.

    Maybe I'll get the FiiO A3 or perhaps the Q1 (so that I could maybe use it as a DAC on the PC if I wanted). I'm sure either of these will be ok for my needs.
    It should be fine if I just leave it plugged in permanently right (not worrying about noise/hiss right now)?

    And it's ok to just connect the amp (3.5mm input) to the the speaker out (the green 3.5mm) on the M/B? My front headphone jack on my chassis is broken so I just use the back port.

    EDIT: You won't believe it, but I plugged in my tiny FiiO E6 amp and it's noticeably louder. Now it may not be a very good idea, but for the meantime it'll do I guess.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
  5. Xtreme512
    Hey, just a quick heads up here.

    After using 2 years, it just started happening yesterday that my device wouldn't turn on and other people as well had this issue, I found a solid fix.
    You can try plugging it in other USB ports and it will be recognized as a new device (2- Xonar U7 or 3- 4- depend how many times you changed the port) which does not matter and starts working right away.
    Or, here is the kick, while the LED is blinking, push the volume button once or twice until there is no LED is showing, and wait for 2-4 minutes, your device will turn on like nothing ever happened.

    Note: I think this happens due to the colder temp. in room as the device needs some heat to not damage itself. It is more like a precaution, but IDK really.
     
    HAWX likes this.
  6. kalston
    To my surprise Microsoft now has generic Win 10 drivers for the original (non MKII) Xonar U7. I found out because I wanted to try different drivers, but after uninstalling and rebooting I had sounds working just fine. I checked the driver source and sure enough it is Microsoft. Maybe it's the same drivers they're using for the MKII lol (which would make the new card a rip-off). And yep, you do get full 7.1 sound (up to 192/24).

    I don't have ASIO now of course but I only ever used ASIO to circumvent issues I was having with Directsound or WASAPI anyway (such as audio glitches for no reason whatsoever, things that never happened in Windows 7) so this is OK and I will give it a chance.

    Feels good having a plug & play USB card with surround sound!

    Those drivers are pretty recent too: 27/07/17.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2017
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  7. Xtreme512
    I don't know if I also wrote it here but yes Microsoft recently have usbaudio2 driver developed by Thesycon for Microsoft. Check this link: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/drivers/audio/usb-2-0-audio-drivers
    They are the real deal generic drivers for all USB 2.0 based audio devices. So no more need to install proprietary drivers that ****s on us with bloatware and misconfigured settings etc.

    I just love it! DSP effects are gone means that I don't have to worry about disabling them and you get the quality of whatever your DAC is, it's really that plain and simple.

    Note: Also update your WASAPI plug-in for foobar2k if you have it. For movies, I use MPC-BE's audio renderer within MPC-HC and it's fully working with WASAPI-exclusive. You don't need ASIO unless you are an audio composer and really really need it, but then again you won't be using Xonar U7 anyways.
     
    kalston likes this.
  8. Thums
    I have Xonar U7 MKII and Sonic Studio is driving me crazy. When I'm trying to play PUBG, game (especially mouse) stutters because of Studio being active.. had to spent 3 hours to figure that out.

    But why is Sonic Studio behaving like that? I tried PUBG on another computer and it was working just fine there with Sonic Studio open. I really need to use Studio, because I am deaf from one ear and I want to use Sonic Radar in game.

    I have W10 64bit version 1709 (updated just now from 1603'ish), on other computer I had version 1703.
    Disabled on-board card from BIOS.
    Also disabled all unnecessary drivers from Device Manager and shut down programs etc etc..

    I am out of options now..
     
  9. Xtreme512
    ASUS software QA engineers are all a joke, as well as their drivers and software suites, so first you must know that. Now, do you really need that ****ty software called Sonic Radar for your games which "allegedly" helps you find enemies nearby (hard to not laugh, sorry). If your answer is;

    1) Yes. Then, uninstall those drivers and install, try Windows 8.1 WHQL drivers of U7 Echelon that also has Sonic Radar.
    2) No, the hell with all those junk DSP effects. Then, uninstall those drivers and let Windows 10 1709 use its own native usbaudio2 drivers instead for pure audio.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  10. Thums
    I already realise that ASUS support is worst I've ever seen.

    Seems like Asus doesn't even support drivers for U7 Echelon, I really can't find them anywhere..

    Little off-topic now:
    For PUBG, radar is really helpful for these situations, where you are running and hear shots away. Or someone is driving somewhere.. It's really hard to pinpoint sound direction, if I don't have my "surround" hearing. For footsteps isn't radar very helpful, also it sucks on CS:GO.

    EDIT: Ok, I found some drivers on Softpedia.. version (of UI?) 1.0.20 and on install it says "PCEE must be installed." 1.0.18 (8.0.11.19) and 1.0.19 setup didn't recognize my card.

    EDIT2: Got past PCEE driver now and driver seems succesfully installed, BUT... I can't do anything on Studio like it doesn't recognize my device. (For example Output and Input Device box is blank) How to trick program to make to believe that my device is Echelon?
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2018
  11. raoultrifan
    Hi,

    I have the first ver. of U7 and it works fine in Win10 without getting additional drivers. So, you don't really need dedicated drivers for U7 unless you really want to.
     
    HAWX likes this.
  12. EXTREME_
    Hi, could you please tell us what windows 10 version you are using and if you are using it on usb2.0 or 3.0? Thanks
     
  13. raoultrifan
    Win10 Pro, USB 2.0, but I believe all drivers are the same for all Win10 versions.
    I just installed a fresh copy of Win10 recently, U7 was connected all the time in the USB 2.0 port. Everything went flawless, I just found the U7 in Device Mgr., then I pressed PLAY on my foobar and "voila".
     
  14. Thums
    Still need help with that, haven't found the solution.
     
  15. Xtreme512
    Guys there is a permanent fix for blinking led problem, replace your quartz. Temporary solution is to wait for like 1-2 hours, or touch the quartz with bare finger (opening the case). Guess this is a chronic problem for Xonar U7 and this is most likely why ASUS keeps refurbishing the same hardware and releasing it with new software and cosmetics (hardware is the same but I think they use newer capacitors etc.).



    edit: eventually your Xonar U7 will die on you if not today, unless you are using the latest U7 version and thinking that it uses a new quality quartz...
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
    HAWX and raoultrifan like this.
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