When you’ve got a computer without sound support or perhaps it is broken, what do you do? If its a desktop computer, you could pop its lid and install a sound card in one of its slots. But if its a laptop/notebook computer, there are no expansion slots to put in a sound card. There is also the tech factor, sometimes opening something electronic up and messing with its guts is not the thing for everyone. Enter the USB Audio Controller from USB Brando.
At 2 inches in length, this see through plastic cased audio device is small and compact. According to the features listed for the device, it can support sound output to 2 channel speakers and stereo headphones. There is a digital class-B power amplifier on board which gets power from the USB port, eliminating the need for a external power adaptor. On the opposite end of the USB connector, there is two 3.5 mm jacks, one for speakers or headphones and the other for a microphone.
The USB Audio Controller is totally plug and play for use with Windows 2000 and XP, so there is no messy driver installs. There are no interrupt (IRQ) issues to deal with also. The moment you plug it in, the device is detected and Windows 2000 or XP loads a standard human device sound driver automatically and sets the device as a Generic USB audio device.
The USB Audio Controller worked on all the computers I tested it on, with the exception of a DELL Inspiron 1000 laptop. On the laptop it detected just as on the other computers, but when it came to playing sounds it didn’t work as should. The sound playback was all loud and in bursts. On the other computers the sound and music playback was as good as a standard sound card that goes inside of one of the expansion slots.
The only problem I encountered with the USB Audio Controller, is that the generic driver built into Windows XP does not provide microphone volume controls. While the lack of the volume controls for the microphone did not prevent the use of the microphone, it worked good for MSN Messenger, and Windows Sound Recorder. The only one application I was unable to get to work with the USB Audio Controller was the voice recognition software of Windows XP Tablet Edition. The training portion of the voice recognition was unable to detect volume control for the microphone and thus prevented configuration and use.
One cool thing about the USB Audio Controller, is that you can use it as a quick temporary headset plug-in (that is if you have a USB hub or USB ports up on front of your PC) for sending voice clips in MSN Messenger or doing voice calls.
The Brando USB Audio Controller is available directly from the manufacturer.
What I Like: Inexpensive and compact little device.
What Needs Improvement: Needs volume control for the microphone.