Connect Speakers to Any mini PCs with a $1 USB Sound Card

Last year, I made a poll to find out what kind of audio output people used with mini PCs, and one person commented “USB audio to av receiver”, but at the time I did not investigate. Recently somebody asked me for mini PCs with audio output for stereo speakers, and I recommended something like MINIX NEO X6 with a dedicated 3.5mm audio jack, but I’ve just discovered USB sound cards with stereo output and microphone input are incredibly cheap, even less than $1 shipped on Aliexpress, and just above $1 on Ebay.

USB_Sound_CardThe features for the model above are listed as follows:

  • Real USB Plug & Play
  • Drive 2-channelsspeakers directly
  • Support 3D positional sound and virtual 5.1 channels sound track
  • Powered via USB port
  • Digital Class-B power Amplifier inside
  • Speaker Shifter –  5.1x earphone,  2 speaker virtual theater
  • Software Value-added for Music:  27x Environmont Effects,  3x Environment sizes, 10-Band/Pre-set Equalizer
  • Software Value-added for Game:  EAX 2.0 or A3D 1.0, Microsoft Dlrectsound 3D, Earphone Plus, Speaker Shifter

I’m not sure everything listed above makes sense, but the take away is that you can connect this via USB without external power supply, and connect your microphone and speakers, or headset and get done with it. There are also more advanced models with supports for more speakers and S/PDIF out / in.

USB_Sound_Card_4_Speakers_SPDIFThe real question is: does it work with all operating systems? Since there’s a USB audio device class, I’m assuming this should work as well as USB mass storage devices. However some sellers mentions the sound card is “Compliant with USB Audio Device Class: v1.0 , v2.0”, and add the same time provided limitations with regards to OS supports: “Compatible with Win98SE, ME, 2000, XP, Vista (32 bit version only) , Mac OS9.1 (Mac version has 2 channel playback only)”. Having said that I’ve also read user’s reviews mentioning support for Linux and Android 4.1, so it looks good for Linux / Android mini PCs without audio and AV jack too.

I’m assuming at least of few of you must have tried this type of device with Linux or Android, and it would be great to get some feedback here too.

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