Diamond Xtreme External 7.1 USB Sound Card Reviewairman -
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We all know that testing sound quality can be very subjective, and unfortunately I don't really have any other testing methods at my disposal for testing this card other than comparative listening. I will compare analog and digital playback and recording of the Diamond Xtreme External 7.1 USB sound card to the typical onboard sound card on a desktop. I will also perform a blind test with two other individuals, to eliminate the possibility of the "sugar pill" effect. For audio equipment, I will be using a set of Logitech Z-530 5.1 speakers for analog testing, and a high-end Yamaha RX-A700 7.1 channel receiver equipped with all eight speakers. Each criteria will be evaluated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being superb, and 1 being terrible.
- Processor: Intel Core I7 920 200x18 3.6GHz
- Cooling: Noctua NH-D14 1366
- Motherboard: MSI X58 Platinum SLI
- Memory: Mushkin Ridgeback PC3 12800 6-8-6-24 1600MHz
- Video Card: XFX HD6970 2GB
- Power Supply: Mushkin 1000 watt Joule Modular power supply
- Hard Drive: 1 x Seagate 1TB SATA
- Optical Drive: Lite-on DVD-RW
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- Case: Cooler Master HAF 932
Comparison sound card:
- Integrated Realtek ALC888
I didn't expect to find such close results, but it seems that we did. The main excelling point for the Diamond card is the analog music playback, which was due to its ability to up-mix 2 channel stereo, up to 8 channels, which, was 6 in my case. It did a great job at making the room offer a fuller music experience, while the onboard sound without 3rd party software can only play in 2 channels. Everything else was very similar in quality and it was difficult to tell a difference between the two options since movies and gaming are easily configured for 5.1 or 7.1 through the onboard sound. Without putting too much else here, I'll save the rest of my thoughts for the conclusion on the next page.