Soundcards have fallen hard from their mighty perch, once they were an absolute necessity to a PC user.   For a while they were simply a better choice by far than onboard sound, both in quality of sound and the efficiency of processing.  Now most people don’t even look for a soundcard, modern motherboards happily provide 7.1 sound with almost no hit to the CPU for processing.  Overclockers Club investigates a new attempt by Diamond to draw people back to buying soundcards with their Diamond Xtreme External 7.1 USB Sound Card.  At $40, it turned out to have some interesting features to add to any type of system and was stellar on laptops.

The soundcards search for a new place in the world; external USB device? - General Tech  2
 

"The main excelling point for the Diamond card is the analog music playback, which was due to its ability to up-mix 2 channel stereo, up to 8 channels, which, was 6 in my case. It did a great job at making the room offer a fuller music experience, while the onboard sound without 3rd party software can only play in 2 channels. Everything else was very similar in quality and it was difficult to tell a difference between the two options since movies and gaming are easily configured for 5.1 or 7.1 through the onboard sound."