Review: Asonic External USB 2.0 8 Channel Sound Card
Summary: Perfect for the price. Great cross-platform compatibility. Couldn’t ask for more.
Details: Asonic External USB 2.0 8 Channel Sound Card. I think it comes in various incarnations with the same chips inside, but I got mine from eBuyer where it was sold as the Ebuyer Extra Value Asonic External USB 2.0 8 Channel Sound Card.
A while back I wanted to buy a cheap USB soundcard to use with my laptop so that I could use my new (secondhand) 5.1 surround sound speaker system properly. I found this sound card on Ebuyer for under £10 and decided that I couldn’t really go wrong. I was right – it Just Works(tm).
So far I have used it on Mac OS X, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Linux and it has worked perfectly with all of them. I’m sure it doesn’t give as high quality output as ‘proper’ soundcards such as those by Creative, but it sounds perfectly acceptable to my ears. It comes with drivers for Windows, but is picked up automatically very well. It also works automatically in both OS X and Linux.
For those interested in using it with linux, the output of lsusb is below:
Bus 004 Device 003: ID 0d8c:0102 C-Media Electronics, Inc. CM106 Like Sound Device
It is picked up automatically, set up by dmesg, and will start giving output automatically. It plays nicely with alsa and pulseaudio, and I have got 6 channels working fine (I’m sure I could get all 8 to work, but I don’t have the speakers to test it).
I remember the time, a few years ago, when buying a cheap ‘generic’ device like this would be a terribly bad plan – it probably wouldn’t be good quality, it almost certainly wouldn’t work under OS X or Linux and in the end you’d regret it. That’s changed now – this device at this price is perfect.
Only one minor (very minor) niggle: there is a red LED on the device which flashes constantly when it is plugged in. However, a simple piece of blu-tac over the LED has stopped that annoying me.