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Spur07
13-03-2009, 20:49
alright lads,

I'm well aware this may not be very high on many people's of list of priorities, but I was just wondering if anyone on here has any experience of, or opinions on, using pro sound cards, i.e, RME, Lynx, M-Audio?

I've been toying with the idea of replacing my Apple G5 dual core sound card with one of the above in an attempt to improve the front end. Nothing too fancy - maybe 100's worth. I'm thinking maybe it might slay a few jitter demons, or will my standac negate the point?

Audible upgrade - or waste of money? :mental:


spur

Alex Nikitin
13-03-2009, 21:38
I am using a modified (by me ;) ) RME Digi96/8 PAD for over 7 years, recently bought another one for 130 to use on a second computer. It is a very good card both for digital I/O and analogue I/O. Modifications are as follows - I've changed opamps (input for (eventually) LM4562, output - for THS4062), removed the muting chip on the output, changed 4 capacitors on the DAC. In high-res modes this card is certainly capable of a much better quality than any CD, plus the drivers are very good, stable and convenient to use. It is also not bad in driving headphones directly from the output.

Alex

Krisbee
13-03-2009, 22:12
Which B-DAC do you have? I'd guess not a TC-7520 , or you'd be happy to listen via USB.

So if you're connecting via toslink, what's there to improve? Surely it's a case of proving to yourself that your soundcard is bit-prefect over spdif?

For what it's worth I use a cheap Chaintech AV-710 s/card. You can route sound via it's "alt-rear" jack for good quality 2 channel analogue out by virtue of its wolfson DAC (WM8728 ). Or you can use it's optical out to a DAC.

My old ears cannot tell a difference listening to the TC-7520 via an optical connection and USB on my HD595 headphones.

How about selling your current DAC and buying a TC-7520 and just the cheapest Apple compatible s/card that does pit-perfect digital out if you still feel you need a new s/card, otherwise use USB audio?

sastusbulbas
13-03-2009, 22:43
With 100 you will not bust any jittery issues, computer audio has quite high jitter and poor clock accuracy.

Though is this something you are hearing or noticing?

The real benefit of a new soundcard will be the ability to utilise 24/192 and high quality downloads in my opinion.

The honest truth is that the best sollutions cost money and are not implemented nor aimed at two channel users. If Lynx was to take the AES16 PCI audio card, remove the uneeded features and create a two channel audiophile card it wouldbe cheaper and worth investigating, though I am yet to see or hear of any DBT type listening tests or reviews of such cards.

I would recommend the M-Audio 24/192 or 24/96 as starters, and see how you get on with them?

Spur07
13-03-2009, 22:53
Thanks for the replies guys

Krisbee,

you're right, i'm using a 7510.

"So if you're connecting via toslink, what's there to improve? Surely it's a case of proving to yourself that your soundcard is bit-prefect over spdif?"

This is also my train of thought, by and large. How many variables can there be. I'm currently using toslink direct, although before that via a USB converter, and tbh I can't tell the difference between the two - even when streaming 24 bit from the mac. So here's an avenue to explore - over on the 'computer audio' site there's been suggestions that the G5's can't actually stream 24 bit. Despite several inquiries Apple have been unable to prove it can, hence the preoccupation with pro soundcards. I think there's also a suggestion that these sound cards greatly reduce jitter.

It's a difficult one. Would these pro cards represent an upgrade to a dac-based system are they intended as a alternative.

Spur07
13-03-2009, 22:58
sastusbulbas,

"The honest truth is that the best sollutions cost money and are not implemented nor aimed at two channel users. If Lynx was to take the AES16 PCI audio card, remove the uneeded features and create a two channel audiophile card it wouldbe cheaper and worth investigating, though I am yet to see or hear of any DBT type listening tests or reviews of such cards."

just as i suspected. thanks for the M-Audio tip though - I'll defo take a look at that. I'm afraid i'm not widely hi-fi literate - how exactly does jitter and poor clocking reveal itself within music?

spur

NRG
13-03-2009, 23:22
If you can afford it:

http://www.digitalaudio.com/

Highly recommended.

Krisbee
13-03-2009, 23:36
To my mind it's easy to get the jitters about jitter. From a technical point of view computer audio may be compromised, but my point of reference is my ears not an oscilloscope. After all, it's you who will doing the listening not someone else.

Of course, poorly designed or low-grade equipment isn't going to sound good. But I can only compare my PC/DAC/headphones combo to my CDP/DAC/headphones (PC or RCD965BX/TC-7520/HD595) and there's little if anything in it.

May be spending oodles on a pro s/card might be an upgrade, but by what factor?

Both the Chaintech AV-710 I use, and the M-audio 2496 are based on Envy24 chipsets. Although the SQ of the M-audio is supposed to be a little better, the Chaintech s/card was half the price. I decided I wouldn't be able to hear the difference between them.

If you are still interested in s/cards as an alternative to a external DAC , then this site has number of indepth reviews dating back to 2002 - http://ixbtlabs.com/sound.html#subsec108

The long in the tooth m-audio 2496 is reviewed, along with more recent cards like the ASUS Xonar D2.

foxysounds
13-03-2009, 23:38
I've been using an M-Audio Delta 1010 in my studio for ages and it's been rock solid.

Of course, in a studio, ultimate sound quality takes second place to reliability. There's no point in having perfect audio quality if it crashes during your perfect take.

I have had several incarnations of my DAW which have all used the Delta 1010 (first with Windows 2000 and now Windows XP 32 bit) and it has never faltered once.

The Delta 66 and Delta 44 are basically cut-down Delta 1010s (with the same drivers) and the Audiophile 24/96 is the bottom of the range and I believe still uses the same drivers. The problem with the 24/96 is that the DAC sits inside the electronically noisy atmosphere of the PC whereas on the Delta 44, Delta 66 and Delta 1010 it's in a breakout box. The Delta 1010 also gives you balanced I/O (but at a premium).

The Audiophile 24/96 is probably a very good card and a significant improvement over a soundblaster but in theory at least, if you can stretch to a Delta 44 you'll get better audio outs. If you're interested in using the digital out only then the 24/96 is probably just as good.

Simon.

GrantsV
14-03-2009, 17:56
If you want SPDIF only to use with external dac then no problem, otherwise DO NOT consider the Audiophile 24/96, Echo Mia or anything else with AK4528 chips for analog in and out.

While those cards are a step up from an integrated motherboard soundcard, imagine the bass shaved off and a blanket over your speakers killing any percussion and making the sounds indistinct.

If your working to a strict budget, for just a few pounds more you can get the E-MU 0404 PCI. The Audiophile 192 is also a noticable step up in quality over the 2496. But I read one of the ESI cards uses the same components and is 20-30 cheaper. Might have been the Julia?

All the best,
GrantsV