All the laptops I have owned have had some degree of noise on the audio out. Not annoying for regular listening, but when doing presentations the noise can be quite disturbing. It is due to the fact that the conversion from digital to analog audio is done inside the computer. Together with all kinds of electronics that produce noise. After posting an article about a very cheap external volume control and audio switch I had some comments about replacing that one with an external USB based audio card.
The theory is that when doing the conversion from digital to analog outside of the laptop itself you would get rid of some of the noise. So a while ago I received my Creative Xmod. Now I’ve had the possibility to test it at some venues. And it works very well. In some cases I went from horrible noises when connecting the internal audio to no noise and crisp audio when switching to the Creative Xmod.
The Xmod has lots of stupid so called enhancement effects as well. The X-fi crystalizer is supposed to clean up some compression artifacts in MP3 audio and might actually clean up the sound a bit, but the fake 3D effect that you also can add is not my favorite.
Regardless of the effects, my conclusion so far is that this gadget now is nicely placed in my box of essential presentation equipment.