Sandberg – USB Sound Box 7.1 review

compact and versatile external sound card
Photo of Sandberg – USB Sound Box 7.1
£35.99

Danish company Sandberg specialises in producing computer accessories ranging from networking products to cables, headsets and audio, with the emphasis firmly on units that are simple to understand and use.

So it’s not surprising that the USB Sound Box 7.1 is exactly what it says on the label and requires little or no instructions to set up. It’s a basic matte black rectangular box about the dimensions of a cigarette packet (23 x 16 x 7cm) that weighs in at a feather-light 200g.

In the front are four 3.5mm jack sockets which will accommodate standard stereo speakers and 2.1 systems, together with 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound systems. Alongside these you’ll find a separate 3.5mm Aux input for MP3 and CD players or any other audio source, as well as a headphone jack. Moving around to the side, there are two microphone inputs for mono or stereo recording and, finally, neatly tucked round the back are two S/PDIF Toslink connectors for optical digital input and output, should you want to hook up with professional sound systems.

Because you use a simple USB 2.0 cable to connect to your PC, it means you don’t have the annoyance of an additional power cable to clutter up the back of your machine: all you have to do is install the driver on the supplied CD and you’re literally ready to rock. On the top of the box are general volume controls plus two mute controls for volume and microphone and a couple of control lights.

In practice, we found the Sound Box just as easy to use as described and were soon belting out MP3 rock tracks, playing 8-channel 3D game sounds and recording sad karaoke numbers with all sound sources plugged in simultaneously. The only area where we felt slightly restricted was the limited range of the volume controls on the box, but using Creative’s own amplifier system on its 5.1 surround system we had more than enough to shake the windows.

The software on the CD also provides you with a broad canvas of sound options, including separate mixers for mic and external sources, no fewer than 27 environment effects, 12 equalizer presets (with further customising possible), Karaoke filtering to reduce vocal levels on tracks and add echo, plus a fun Magic Voice capability which will make you sound as high pitched as Mickey Mouse or deep as Orson Welles. The Sound Box is compatible with Windows 7, Vista and XP but there’s no provision, alas, for Mac users.

Company: Sandberg

Contact: +45 70 26 85 00


Verdict
If you want an inexpensive external sound card that is compact, easy to set up and use with digital and analogue sound sources, as well as providing a mixture of varied, practical and fun sound effects, then this could be the box for you.