Desktop computers once came equipped with miserable sound capabilities — that’s why so much effort was put into making sound cards that could go inside and replace what was already there. Since then the sound capabilities of desktop and laptop computers has gotten better, but not so much as to avoid the need for improvement. Having an external sound card that doesn’t require a separate power supply sounds good — especially for those with laptops. That’s part, but not all, of the reason for the Sound Blaster Omni Surround 5.1 USB Sound Card. And don’t be put off by the name because it’s self-contained and ready when you are.
The Omni Surround is small enough to fit in a backpack or satchel bag because it gets its power (not to mention connections) through a USB connection. Put it by a computer/laptop and plug it in and it’s ready. There’s no discrimination between Mac or PC users either, and that includes software for configuring/customizing the audio capabilities. Which are pretty intense and starts with being able to output discrete 5.1 surround sound through an optical output (Windows only) or stereo via a pair of gold-plated RCA jacks. And yes the Omni Surround’s sound output is really good. So that takes care of translating what’s on the computer/laptop out to speakers, but on the other side is the pair of microphones designed to take what’s said without you having to put your mouth right up to it (negating the need for a headset mic). These mics focus on what is being said, with all the extraneous noise in the surrounding pushed away.
Now if that was the extent of what the NAME could do, it would be impressive enough. But don’t stop there, because there’s also a 600 ohm headphone amplifier built-in. What that does is enable a pair of studio-grade headphones (not cheap earbuds) to be plugged in and used — headphones that require a lot of “oomph” to drive the quality speakers held against the ear. That’s any audiophile’s dream regardless of whether what is being listened to is classical music or pop or whatever.
Plus there’s something for all those gamers to who first-person shooting means eliminating anything that gets within range. The addition of a special “Scout Mode” alters the acoustic signature to allow hearing enemies from further away. So you can be waiting to “greet” them.