Sound cards come in various shapes, sizes and performance ranges, but there is one type that works with all PCs, and some devices beside them, simply because they aren't, technically, sound cards. The ASUS Xonar U7 Echelon Edition is the newest example.
Audio boards are made in such a way that they go inside a PCI Express or legacy PCI slot in desktops, Laptop cards are smaller, and sometimes they aren't cards at all, but single chips. They're a bit weaker then, though.
Basically, the things can vary in size a lot, which is why the only way was a sound card could possibly work for all types of systems is if they aren't meant to go inside them at all.
Thus, the Xonar U7 Echelon Edition is a USB-connected 7.1-channel sound card. One cable links it to the PC, while its various outputs ensure compatibility with all sorts of headphones and speaker systems.
For those who want technical details, the 7.1 channel newcomer has a 10Hz-46kHz frequency response, 114dB SNR (signal-to-noise ratio), 24-bit/192KHz sample rate, a headphone amplifier (optimized for 32-150ohm headphones), two RCA sockets, three 3.5 mm speaker sockets, one 3.5 mm headphone socket and a 3.5 mm microphone jack. An S/PDIF coaxial output is included as well.
Moreover, ASUS implemented the Sonic Radar Technology, which enhances in-game audio and displays a “radar” HUD (head-up display) overlay regardless of the game being played,
Said HUD pinpoints in-game actions relative to the player's own position. The result is called positional audio information. You can even boost specific sounds (like footsteps) and customize the on-screen position and appearance of the program.
Finally, ASUS has included the Sonic Studio Pro software suite, which lets the user choose between 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound, or activate preset audio profiles to suit different audio environments, etc. basically, it's a fancier version of the standard sound driver sound cards tend to ship with.
Perfect Voice input-noise-reduction technology is a final perk, using advanced algorithms to separate ambient noise from speech, rather than inverse-phase-based noise cancellation.
Sadly, ASUS has not yet disclosed the price of the Xonar U7 Echelon Edition. It's as camouflaged as the product itself.