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ESI [email protected] and Sandy Bridge


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i'm planning my next PC build and have settled on the Sandy Bridge platform for the offered power efficiencies... what's giving me pause are the numerous reports I've recently found regarding my chosen digital interface - ESI [email protected] - not being compatible with the Sandy Bridge chipset due to the lack of native PCI support on the boards. PCI, when offered, is via a PCIe-PCI bridge, and many feel there are latency issues causing the [email protected] cards not to function properly.

 

i emailed ESI tech support and was told only, "We are not aware of any issues with the latest Sandybridge systems. And the [email protected] will work."

 

this is incongruent with many, many threads i've found online.

 

i know the [email protected] card is popular amoungst this community - just wondering if any of you have had experience with it and a Sandy Bridge motherboard - H67, P67, Z68.

 

Any inputs would be appreciated!

Scott

 

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Hi Scott,

I recently completed a build using an ASUS P8Z68-V LX motherboard & Core i3 cpu with a [email protected] soundcard.I'm using the coax out to a Wyred4Sound DAC 1 and running JRiver 17 on Windows 7 64bit. The [email protected] works in ASIO but not in Kernal or Wasapi. When I try those it's the BSOD. On JRiver you need to set the Channel Offset to 2 for my system. I've also tried it out with iTunes & JPlay. It worked fine with iTunes but not at all with JPlay. I have not used the analog outs so I can't comment on those. I did compare the [email protected] to the SPDIF motherboard out and the [email protected] sounds much better.

 

Unfortunately ESI has not updated the drivers for [email protected] since 2009 and from what I've been able to find from various forums the problems folks have with [email protected] is most likely due to the drivers needing to be updated. I didn't know this when I decided to use the [email protected] Based on what's been posted on the ESI forum it would appear unlikely that ESI plans to update the drivers anytime soon. My suggestion would be to use a different card, the ASUS Xonar Essence ST or STX seems to get pretty good reviews and is not too much more money than the [email protected]

 

Regards,

Ed

 

 

 

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I have a 2500k with Asus P8Z68V PRO and ESI [email protected], JRiver 15 and Win7x64. Also use in ASIO channel offset 2 to use with my DAC.

WASAPI also crashes for me.

[email protected] drivers are horrible, I get imediate BSOD when 2 programs try to use ASIO. And unfortunately I do so on accident from time to time...

 

1. ITX PC - Mola Mola Makua - Apollon NC800SL - Thiel CS3.7

2. LG 77C1 - Marantz SR7005 - Apollon NCMP6200 - Monitor Audio PL100+PLC150+C265 - SVS SB-3000

3. PC - RME ADI-2 DAC FS - Audeze LCDi3 - Neumann KH 80 DSP

4. Phone - TempoTec Sonata E44 - Moondrop Aria

5. PC - Meizu HiFi DAC - Moondrop Chu

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Not sure what driver problems people report, but I just completed my music server based on Windows 7 64-bit and this sound card. The drivers on their site support Win 7 and I was able to set the Juli up in 15 minutes. However I am not using JRiver, but Foobar + wasapi. Again, everything works fine and had no issues whatsoever. Maybe I am lucky.

 

FYI, I am using Juli for SPDIF out only and completely detached the analogue section.

 

In fact I heard a lot of complains about the Asus cards. Never used it before, so cannot share my direct experience.

 

Finally, I am not sure why Sandy Bridge cannot be compatible with [email protected] Not being computer professional, I do not believe the architecture has much to do with ability of an expansion card to work. Especially since the ESI support confirmed it.

 

Main system: Music Server (Win 7/64+Foobar+JPlay) -> Furutech GT2 USB Cable -> Audiolab M-DAC -> Plinius 9200 (Chord Anthem interconnects) -> ATC SCM 40 w/Kimber Kable 8TC speaker cables

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What the OP probably means is that SB motherboards being newer by class are more likely to have no PCI slots but only PCI-Express slots. There's probably no architecture reason why the manufacturer can't tack a pci bus chipset on there but fewer will because it does has a cost and they're judging that someone buying a brand new sandy bridge is not likely to have pci cards.

 

Mark, Laurel, Maryland USA

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I am using Intel D525MW board, which is mini ITX with the Atom D525 2-core processor. This somewhat resembles the Jetway installed into the C.A.P.S. 2 server, but less sophisticated and with fewer features. When choosing the board I intentionally did not want to go for anything more powerful as it would require cpu fan installation, and I wanted to keep my server silent. I frankly do not believe that any of the Sandy Bridge processors will add substantially to the quality of digital output, unless one is building a full-featured HTPC with full HD video processing and so forth. I hope my decision was right, but correct me if I was wrong.

 

Main system: Music Server (Win 7/64+Foobar+JPlay) -> Furutech GT2 USB Cable -> Audiolab M-DAC -> Plinius 9200 (Chord Anthem interconnects) -> ATC SCM 40 w/Kimber Kable 8TC speaker cables

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The issue I’ve been reading about is specific only to Sandy Bridge architecture – H67, P67, Z68 - moterboards. In this latest design, Intel has dropped native PCI support on the board.

 

@ Moschlegel - The boards that do have PCI slots manage this via the PCIe bus through a PCIe – PCI bridge chip. There are technical reasons (latency chief amoung them) why this would result in issues with PCI sound cards.

 

@ OBT_Man - The Intel D525MW board utilizes the NM10 chipset (Tiger Point) and not Sandy Bridge, so I am not surprised you are not having issues with your [email protected] card. Your hardware selection is perfectly appropriate for your application. It is possible to build a completely silent PC based on the core i chips, but that level computing is not really necessary for serving up music files. A 35W or 65W I3 or I5 can be cooled with any number of silent CPU coolers – Noctua are my favorite – resulting in a system that is silent in use.

 

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Hi Scott,

Glad to be of help. If you don't mind I'd appreciate it if you could let me know what soundcard you end up deciding to use. I'm going to be doing another build sometime after the Ivy Bridge chip is released in April and haven't decided on a soundcard yet so I'm looking for ideas. This one will be more of an audio workstation than a music server. I'll be using an external I/O interface I have for recording but I'd like to have an internal soundcard as well.

Regards,

Ed

 

 

 

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for me they're pretty much crap - at best average.

About 3 Month ago I too buildt a music PC loosely based on the caps 2.0.

The board I choose was an Intel Media Series DH67BLB3 Socket 1155 Desktop Mainboard (Micro ATX, Intel H67, 4x DDR3 Slots, 2x USB 3.0)

Memory: 4x2 GB Kingston PC3-10600

CPU: Pentium G620T (Core-i3 based, but with less cache and no hyperthreading)

Powersupply: Sea Sonic X-Series Fanless X-400FL 400W ATX 2.3

Case: Fractal Design Define R3 sound damped

And since I didn't want to jump yet on the USB->Spdif converter train, I choose the Esi [email protected] for digital output.

Software: Win7 professional 64bit, Foobar, Jplay

I run the [email protected] in Asio mode and Jplay with "direct" buffer setting (1 sample) in Wasapi mode. Kernel mode doesn't work, but I think that's a matter of Jplay and not of the [email protected]

This combination works fine with flac or wav files up to 192khz files (192khz tested with an different dac than mine). And best of all I reached my goal to beat my trusted Teac P500 Cd Transport hands down in terms of soundquality.

Btw, I've an IT backgound for around 20 years. And that mostly on the Hardware and OS side. So without bragging, I pretty much know what I'm doing.

greetings,

Tom

 

 

 

my system: Intel based music pc running Win7 64bit -> Foobar2000 -> Jplay -> USB out to MF Vlink 192 -> Metrum Acoustics Octave DAC -> Lyngdorf SDAI-2175 Amp -> Intertechnik DIY Speakers EX4 HE (with Seas Excel Drivers, Audyn and Mundorf caps and coils), Cables by Nordost

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> [email protected] drivers are horrible,

 

They work fine for many people including me (although my MusicPC is still on XP.) I'm aware of two specific problems that have been present on Win XP 32 bit , Vista and Win 7:

 

1. multi-client use is not supported

 

> I get imediate BSOD when 2 programs try to use ASIO.

> And unfortunately I do so on accident from time to time...

 

The [email protected] ASIO driver does not support multi-client use. It should return an error code rather than causing a crash.

 

(Support for multi-client use is far from universal among pro audio cards.)

 

Tony Lauck has talked about this problem on the AA Computer Audio forum and so have I.

 

2. Sleep - the ASIO connection doesn't work after the PC wakes from sleep mode

 

If you have an audio app using the [email protected] card through the ASIO interface, you may get a crash after a sleep / wake cycle. I have not seen it happen when an app is using DirectSound with a [email protected] card.

 

The workaround is to disable sleep on that PC.

 

It is better to know these things before you go with the [email protected] card.

 

There are PCIe cards with a bridge chip on the card. I'd look for reports of specific problems with the [email protected] card and Sandy Bridge based motherboards with adequate details.

 

Bill

 

 

 

 

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I own a [email protected] and I work with software development. In my opinion, not allowing the user to open 2 ASIO applications at the same time and requesting to disable features such as sleep mode so that the driver does not crash and the PC goes BSOD, that is not acceptable. That is why I called the drivers horrible.

 

Good drivers instead should consider those circunstances and create workarounds. If not possible at all, at least give a gracefull error message, but under no circumstances a BSOD and reboot for known issues...

 

1. ITX PC - Mola Mola Makua - Apollon NC800SL - Thiel CS3.7

2. LG 77C1 - Marantz SR7005 - Apollon NCMP6200 - Monitor Audio PL100+PLC150+C265 - SVS SB-3000

3. PC - RME ADI-2 DAC FS - Audeze LCDi3 - Neumann KH 80 DSP

4. Phone - TempoTec Sonata E44 - Moondrop Aria

5. PC - Meizu HiFi DAC - Moondrop Chu

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Tom, we share similar biases and preferences for hardware. i generally try to use Intel main boards. when not possible, i've had good luck with Gigabyte. i generally pass on the rest.

 

if you wouldn't mind, i have a few questions about your build:

 

1. do you find the seasonic fanless psu to be a significant heat generator?

 

2. what materials did you use to dampen the fractal designs case?

 

3. are you able to use the [email protected] card in Foobar? if so, which modes work - ASIO, WASAPI, Kernel??

 

thanks for the inputs.

-Scott

 

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Ed, i, too, am holding out until Ivy Bridge is released in early April. there will be some nice improvements to Sandy Bridge, however, there will still be no native PCI support, so i'm not sure our [email protected] cards will fare any better.

 

Here's a nice summary Intel's chipsets - note, the lack of PCI support does not mean you can not find main boards that can accept PCI cards, it simply means there is no native support:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_chipsets#5.2F6.2F7_Series_chipsets

 

if i can't come up with a reasonable solution to use the [email protected] card, i will likely try one of the USB - SPDIF interfaces. Wyred 4 Sound should have theirs out shortly, or the Audiophilleo looks like a nice unit, too.

 

 

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I'm on vacation right now...

Ad 1) no, not with the hardware I used. I forgot to mention, my pc has a samsung 64gb ssd as drive as bootdrive and a wd 2tb as source drive.

 

Ad 2) the case comes already damped. See here: http://www.fractal-design.com/?view=product&category=2&prod=68

There are also 2 140mm fans included with Fan controller (max 3fans).

As long as they are running at lowest speed, which is sufficient for my hardware, they are not audible within 50 cm. The Cpu has an Arctic Cooler freezer 7 pro, which isn't audible too as it runs al the time at lowest speed. Even with Prime95 the Cpu doesn't get hotter than 40C.

 

Ad3) yes. With foobar alone for mp3 or shoutcast radio, as well as with the jplay plugin for flac files. As kernel mode doesn't work I use Asio and Wasapi in jplay.

Regards,

Tom

 

 

my system: Intel based music pc running Win7 64bit -> Foobar2000 -> Jplay -> USB out to MF Vlink 192 -> Metrum Acoustics Octave DAC -> Lyngdorf SDAI-2175 Amp -> Intertechnik DIY Speakers EX4 HE (with Seas Excel Drivers, Audyn and Mundorf caps and coils), Cables by Nordost

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> That is why I called the drivers horrible.

 

Mathias, you simply pronounced the [email protected] driver horrible without specifics. I provided details so that the OP could make his own decision.

 

> Good drivers instead should consider those circunstances and create workarounds.

 

In the real world, choices may be limited. I think it makes sense to understand the pros and cons of the available choices and then make a pragmatic decision.

 

There aren't that many good choices for PCI/PCIe soundcards with stable drivers and good analog and digital output performance. I'd certainly prefer the [email protected] driver problems to those of EMU or ASUS cards.

 

PCI/PCIe soundcards are a mature product type. Early problems may have been addressed. On the other hand, there isn't going to be much further development on drivers for most of these products.

 

> I own a [email protected] and I work with software development.

 

I've wrote real time s/w, driver drivers and other kernel level s/w for several decades. I would not consider a project finished with the sleep or multi-client problems left unaddressed. However, as a consumer, I take a pragmatic approach.

 

The [email protected] card and the AudioTrak Prodigy HD2 cards from ESI have been reliable and good performers for me.

 

Bill

 

 

 

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