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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18 Replies to “Connect Speakers to Any mini PCs with a $1 USB Sound Card”

  1. I got one of these cheap sound cards for an Android stick I have connected to a DVI monitor. Unfortunately for me, the sound card draws so much power that it crashes my stick within a minute. Sometimes, you get what you pay for.

  2. I highly advise against getting one of these. They don’t last long and the sound quality is just horrible, you hear something but it’s like the 90’s or something.
    You get decent sound quality from a $12 USB sound card based on a TI chip.
    I got one of these :

    It still a bit under the sound quality of a modern motherboard Realtek DAC but sound quality is decent, it looks nice and the build quality seems very good.
    There might be cheaper PCM2704 solutions.

  3. For people interested in converting from S/PDIF to multi-channel line level outputs, there is a very interesting (but older) write up here

    It discusses some of the shortcomings of these decoders. I came across it when researching whether one could assemble a 5.1 amplifier from simpler, smaller components.

  4. Actually I have one of these right here. If you have headphones with Mic in them, then this device with those headphones would be useless.

  5. Got one of these last week for Raspberry Pi. Not great, but ok. But is a temporary solution (although I paid a few dollars more, because I bought it from a localAustralian supplier through Ebay as I needed it quickly). For the price its great, for Audiophiles (which I’m not), I doubt it would be satisfactory.

  6. I have the one on the first photo connecting to a MK802 stick running Debian. It works without a glitch and is almost too good to be true for $1+free shipping I paid for it. Never got any problem with it. I ordered another 2 pieces and stacked them up just in case I need them in another DIY project.

  7. I have one of the “box” versions with SPDIF, the sound quality was surprisingly good, much better than on the cheap $1-3 ones.

  8. Hi,
    My internal sound card on my PC (Acer mini Tower) is gone.
    Can I use external usb sound card to listen to and also record sound to my hard drive?

    Thank you,


  9. Most mini PCs have an HDMI out about connecting a male to female HDMI connector with a built-in audio out?
    Granted they might be a tad more expensive but sound quality should be a lot better and not to mention saving of a USB port usage.

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