Top positive review
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Cheapest sound card ever. Does not include software.
on 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.