5.1 USB Sound cards

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Dylan Berichon

701 Club - QQ All-Star
May 15, 2005
Portland, OR USA
Any recommendations? I just bought a laptop, and am interested in being able to use it for playing back 5.1 material.

I know Zalman makes a 5.1 USB sound card for about $50, but it lacks inputs.

My desktop also has onboard 8 channel audio, and it is decent, but a bit noisy at times.

I wouldn't mind spending a bit of money on this. Ideally it would have multi channel inputs as well, but the outputs are far more important in this case.

I'd love to hear about your setup with your computer.


Well-known Member
Oct 10, 2005
Providence, RI
I have a 5.1 Sound Blaster Live! 24-bit external USB card and it basically has 3 stereo headphone plugs on the back of it (front left/right, rear left/right and center/sub). I only use this on my computer with a set of Zalman 5.1 headphones for listening to my DVD-As at work. To play the DVDs, I use WinDVD 7 since it can decode both Dolby Digital and DTS, plus it can play DTS CDs. If you're happy with listening to Dolby Digital and/or DTS on the DVD-Video side of your DVD-A discs, then something basic like this should work fine.

If you want to play high-res 24/96 DVD-Audio on your computer, your only choice is the SoundBlaster Audigy 2 card becuase it's currently the only card on the market that can process 24-bit 96 kHz 5.1 audio. To boot, that card actually comes with software to play DVD-Audio. WinDVD 7 can also play DVD-Audio, but again, only if you have an SB Audigy 2.

Hope that helps!
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