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on January 8, 2010
We bought this to evaluate its suitability as a headset adapter for use with Skype on Macintosh. We found that it is inferior in all respects to a similar product by the same manufacturer, the Syba SD-CM-UAUD USB Stereo Audio Adapter, C-Media Chipset, RoHS. Avoid this 7.1 version and get the simpler one for the same price that lacks the chintzy buttons, has correct color coding, a smaller and shorter housing, better build quality, and is better identified in OS X.

As other commenters have noted, the exterior buttons are very flimsy and do feel like they could break with a strong push. Their only function is to send a signal to the computer to change the software volume level, which can also be easily done using the volume control in the operating system or via the keyboard if it has multimedia buttons. On many computers the USB ports are inaccessible anyway, so why bother adding these cheap buttons that weaken the whole case, when many people can't even reach them?

The jacks are color coded in yellow and black, not the standard pink and green that headset jacks use. For what possible reason? Yellow plastic was cheaper? They are also labeled with tiny icons that are very hard to tell apart, and the labels are not next to the jacks but on the top face with all the buttons.

The USB plug on our unit is angled off-center, again suggesting shoddy construction.

On the plus side - it does work as advertised. Although the device is identified as "Unknown USB Audio Device" by OS X, it does input and output sound fine, and loudly. The chipset is advertised on the box as the C-Media CM119, and it's a USB 2.0 device. The "virtual 7.1" gimmick appears to be "3d surround sound" software by Xear, which comes on a mini-CD and is Windows only. I think it's safe to say this is basically a non-feature.

It would be a marginally acceptable solution to using a headset with a Mac or other computer that lacks a headphone jack, but again the similar yet entirely superior Syba SD-CM-UAUD USB Stereo Audio Adapter is a far better choice. See my review of that device on its product page for more info.
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on August 20, 2012
I've read many of the reviews on this one, and I'm not disagreeing with them, but for what I'm using this for it works pretty well with a few caveats.

First of all, I'm using this on a PowerMac G4 Cube with an Apple Studio Display, and have only used the buttons on this a few times, so I haven't experienced the button failures that others have.

I'll try to outline the unit with my experience.

RECEIPT and UNBOXING:

Pretty standard packaging, nothing fancy here. The unit was well packaged and was received without damage. It was delivered pretty quickly and no shipping issues to note.

HARDWARE:

It feels pretty solid to me, the casing is a solid plastic. It uses a standard, full-size male USB connector to plug into the computer, or laptop. There are three buttons on the case, volume up, volume down, and mute. The buttons feel pretty solid to me, you don't have to apply a lot of pressure to actuate the buttons and I suspect some of the failures might be due to using too much pressure, but again I haven't used the buttons that much so I don't know how long they might work if used regularly.

There are two lights on the top of the unit, the green light indicates that sound is being transmitted, the red light seems to be an indicator for the microphone input which I have not used yet.

There are two 3.5mm inputs on the end of the unit, one is green for the audio output and the other is yellow for the microphone. Kind of odd to me since most mic inputs are colored red, but not really an issue.

This is advertised to transmit 7.1 channel surround sound, I don't know as I have it hooked up to a clock radio with stereo sound only, but it sounds plenty good in my experience. I have doubts about any connector being able to send out 7.1 discreet channels of sound over one of these 3.5mm connectors though, and if you are an audiophile you might not be happy with the sound quality on a bigger setup. I'm not an expert on these things, so check with online resources if the 7.1 is an important feature for you.

CONNECTION:

It's plug and play, no software needed. I found that for the G4 Cube it is too long to plug into the bottom of the Cube itself, with the 3.5mm cord plugged in it was about about 1/2" too long and I was using a L shaped plug. If you tried one of the standard straight 3.5mm plugs it would be about an inch too long. Anyway, I plug it into the USB port on the back of the Studio Monitor, and while not nessesarily pretty, it's very functional.

I use this to play music from my G4 Cube to the clock radio and simply use the OS X controls to adjust the volume. When I have used the adaptors volume buttons I found that it also adjusts the volume in iTunes (the slider). Neat that it works that way.

SOUND:

It works as advertised, that is at least in my experience with stereo (2 channel) sound. Good volume, sounds as good as any of my smaller speakers sound.

PROS:

Easy to use, no special software needed. Many people might not realize that USB ports are capable of outputting audio these days, all USB ports 1.1a and above can do this. Most ports today are 2.0 or if you have a newer computer they might be v 3.0 ports, and they will all output audio.

Volume adjusters onboard for quick adjustment of audio, especially if the computer is in screensaver mode or the display is asleep, you can use the volume buttons for adjustment.

Standard 3.5mm jacks on the unit, for speakers, headphones, microphones, etc...

Indicator lights for activity monitoring.

CONS:

Ok, this thing sticks out about two inches from the USB port once connected. I suspect that if you use it on a laptop or something like and hit it often with your legs/etc... that it will eventually wear out or break. There are smaller, similar adaptors to this one that might be better for that kind of use.

PRICE:

This is probably one of the main factors for purchase, it's fairly inexpensive and is one of the main reasons I bought it. It might not last forever, but it also is less expensive than many of the other ones I could find. For what I'm using it for, and the price I paid, I feel the price is pretty reasonable.

OVERALL:

This is a pretty good adaptor, and for what I'm using it for it works great. The price and durability seem to be about in line in my opinion, it doesn't feel "rock solid" but it doesn't just fall apart either, it seems like I'll probably get a lot of use out of this, and it's an inexpensive solution for my problem which was getting sound out of a G4 Cube (there is no 3.5mm jack on the G4 Cube, the only way to get sound out is via USB).

Overall I recommend this item, but check to see if it fits your needs prior to purchase. There are many options available for an adaptor like this, and most are fairly inexpensive.
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on October 14, 2009
This is currently shipping **withöut** the sofware CD indicated in the Product Description, which states:

"Package Includes:
1 x 7.1 Channel External USB Audio Sound Card Adapter --
1 x Software Disc for Xear 3D"

Nor does the software seem to be available for download on the Internet.
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on October 17, 2009
The adapter is as easy as it gets to use right out of the box and worked well as a substitute to my faulty laptop headphone jack, but the quality of the device itself is very poor. I have had mine for a month or so and it has fallen apart completely. Upon receipt, I noticed that the outer case was already separating, and within a couple of weeks the headphone contacts began to disconnect so I had to continually find the "sweet spot" to get any audio to come out of the headphones. As cheap as it was, it served as a good experiment but it is not something that I will waste my time or money on again.
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on January 27, 2010
I had this item for a few minutes and noticed that the sound was coming out of only one of the speakers. It started falling a part after that. Horrible Product. You get what you pay for.
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on February 7, 2011
While this device is very simple to use and functions (at least initially) as described the build quality is completely inadequate (even for the cheap price...) The device lasted all of 2 minutes before the audio jack separated from the internal circuit board rendering the device useless. This happened while I was sitting in a chair with the laptop on a table. There were no forces applied to the device or cables in any way. DO NOT BUY this product, it will not last, or the odds of you getting a poorly constructed device are very high.
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on September 12, 2011
Bought two of these (and a 5.1 channel USB sound card that works perfectly). Both of them died the first time I used them. Got sound for about 30 seconds then it died and all that comes out now is a clicking sound. This was on two different computers. Don't buy this, you are just wasting your money.
I have bought several of the 5.1 usb devices in the past and they have all worked perfectly (and still do) but these 7.1 usb devices are pure junk!

Also, the device did not come with the Xear 3d software and, in fact, cannot use it since it does not have a CMedia chip inside. It is a cheap Chinese knockoff with and unidentifiable chip. DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS!
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on March 7, 2016
The HDE sound card adapter was seen immediately by my Windows 10 computer. The sound, volume and stereo separation is very good. You can adjust the sound levels from your desk top. The only sign of warmth is from the led. I leave the unit plugged into a front panel USB port all the time. No problems.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 17, 2014
works like a champ. I have a headset that is used for gaming. I use it for rosetta stone language software, and it requires that you plug them into the microphone and headphone jack. Unfortunately, my new expensive laptop, (UNBELIEVABLY) does not have a mic jack. SO---what to do? I got this and I'm glad I did. It converts my headset into USB and everything works as advertised. I can use it on any computer now, and not worry about finding the various jacks. Great product!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 24, 2014
NOTE: I found the claimed sound software by Googling "XEAR 3D". It is downloadable along with manual under "C-Media Electronics, Inc".

In reading these reviews I believe this device has either gone through transformations over time or may be manufactured by different companies. I do not doubt claims that some are shoddily made or fall apart. I especially believe this is the case as I've seen several of these in this specific layout and design... but with different colored cases from different manufacturers. Designs are often replicated in China due to lack of copyright and patent laws there; it is obvious some of these are made more sturdy than others.

Mine however is excellent. It is sturdy, the buttons stable, the USB port solid. It installs easily via plug-n-play and does what it claims to do.

Since this device does have buttons on it, it is likely it will most often be used via USB extension cord. I doubt it would stand up to much use plugged directly into the computer. That is perhaps the area where many people find it falling apart: trying to press the buttons while it is hard-plugged directly into the computer. It's unlikely it would withstand much of such use. But if one plugs this at the end of an extension cord it not only should stand up to button-pressing, but allow the controls to be closer to the user. This is handy if one uses a TV for computer monitor and may be as far as 5 feet or more from their screen.

The ad states it has an advantage of bringing sound and mike ports to the front of the computer, and that is true. However that is likely to be a feature only valuable if the case itself doesn't already have such features-- and most do.

The volume is similar; most keyboards these days have volume controls built in. Because of this I don't see this device having much value over a strait-plug device without buttons. However, it's inexpensive enough to be worth the purchase even as such.

It does provide one feature not found on most computers or keyboards: the ability to remotely and instantly mute the mike. That's a handy function. In addition one can plug in one of the tiny direct-plug mikes to this and have a small, remote mike system that doesn't take up a lot of desktop space, with instant mute access.

By far though its most valuable feature is that it is a complete sound card in a small USB plug-in. If someone's motherboard sound port has ceased to function or their internal sound card blown, there isn't much less inexpensive method to replace it. Value for dollar in that aspect alone, it rocks.

As many point out the proclaimed "7.1 surround sound" software is not included with the system as advertised. That no one has changed this ad to reflect that indicates this ad is out of date. I have contacted Amazon in this regard; no product should be wrongfully presented. That's not Amazon's doing; that is the original seller for not updating the ad. I have no doubt Amazon will correct the matter as soon as they're notified.

EDIT: I found the software online (see top of this review). It is available for all versions of Windows, including Windows 8. It's surprising the manufacturer doesn't include this simple bit of info with the product, as all such would take is a small slip of paper as notice.

Overall this is a low-cost, well-made device that does exactly what it says. The claim of surround sound however, is bogus. If one purchases this without such expectation, the cost is very reasonable for what it does. A complete sound card with buttons for $2 is about as inexpensive as it gets.
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