Diamond Xtreme External 7.1 USB Sound Card Reviewairman -
» Discuss this article (1)
The Diamond Xtreme External USB 7.1 sound card is a glossy white plastic, housing an internal circuit board that handles all of the connections. On the top of the external sound card, are four buttons in a radial layout that control play and pause, volume up, volume down, and a record button. These features will most likely be made fully functional with the installation of the Diamond software, though I have a feeling that if anything, the volume controls will not need a "suite" to operate. Also on top, are two LEDs — one blue and one green. There are not any markings around these LEDs, so referring to the user's manual will enlighten my mind to their function and purpose.
On the front face, there are six 3.5mm jacks. Four of these jacks are for the 7.1 channel analog output, and the other two are for microphone as well as line-in input. These already most likely represent more than a common desktop has with analog outputs, and certainly dwarfs any common laptop outputs. Turning to the left side shows the headphone output jack along with a standard, full-size USB jack, which will interface with the computer through the supplied USB cable. On the opposite side of these ports, we find two S/PDIF optical connections. One is labeled input and the other one is labeled output. It may not be uncommon to see a fiber output for audio on desktops, but it is rare to see one for an input. Being able to capture 7.1 channels of sound instead of simply playing it back through this little box is a very neat feature.
To look at the magic on the inside of this box, the two halves are separated by removing the four foam feet to gain access to and removing the screw underneath each one. Removing these screws does not allow it to come apart easily, as there are still several sets of clips that stay snapped shut until coaxed with a small, flathead screwdriver. On the inside, I found a green circuit board that does a good job at filling up the interior space of the enclosure. The switches for the external controls are not wired to the enclosure, but are momentary buttons that are integrated to the board. I discovered that this sound card uses the CM6206 chip, which is an I.C. that is very well-rounded for an external 7.1 channel device. For familiarity, the CM6206 is manufactured by C-Media Electronics.
To conclude, this seems to be a very simple piece of hardware with very standard components, all combined into a portable-sized box that can this power taken anywhere a user wishes. Now that I've taken a look at the hardware, it's now time to take a look at the software. Without a useful software suite, even the most extreme hardware cannot function properly. Hopefully, we'll be able to do a lot with this device if the software is powerful enough!