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RME Hammerfall Sound Cards


BobH
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I was going to post this, (in response to an exchange between Chris & Eloise), on the Naim Dac thread, but thought it would be better off as a new topic. So, with a nod to the original conversation.......

 

I've been looking at the RME HDSP 9632 and the RME HDSPe AIO cards, with a view to providing digital pass through for a music server, :

 

http://www.rme-audio.de/en_products_hdsp_9632.php

http://www.rme-audio.de/en_products_hdspe_aio.php

 

Both of these boards will do 24/192 if the optional digital breakout lead is purchased.

 

Does anyone have any experience/views on the suitability of these boards?

 

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Hi Bob!

 

I use a HDSP 9632 in my main (windooze-) machine at the moment, and have used other cards in the past in my homerecording rig(s).

The cards are of a good quality (analoge and digital parts), and the drivers are really solid and "fast".

 

BUT, unfortunately they do not work very well with Foobar2K (under ASIO). because of the switching of their ADAT ports (and therefore the available ports/channels change with the samplerate - this causes the Foobar ASIO plugin to crash).

 

I´m on XP, and could therefore not give any thoughts on how they will work under Vista (or7).

 

I also own a eSI [email protected] card, which works flawless under/with Foobar 2k and ASIO, and does support up to 192k too.

 

If you have some specific questions, dont mind to ask. I will try to get it sortet out ;-)

 

Cheers

Harald

 

Esoterc SA-60 / Foobar2000 -> Mytek Stereo 192 DSD / Audio-GD NFB 28.38 -> MEG RL922K / AKG K500 / AKG K1000  / Audioquest Nighthawk / OPPO PM-2 / Sennheiser HD800 / Sennheiser Surrounder / Sony MA900 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II

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@Harald,

 

I've been a bit put off by the ESI because of web reports saying negative things about the connections. Things like the AES leads not locking properly and working loose, that sort of thing. I'm particularly interested in AES because that's the way I wish to go to feed my Tact. Any comments?

 

Did you find a noticeable difference in output quality between the two?

 

@Chris,

 

I've been starting to come down in favour of the PCIe card, to slot into your mCubed server arrangement - will you be heading in that direction or are you looking more toward your Mac Pro rig?

 

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Hi Bob!

 

If you want to use the AeS/eBU (speek symmetric) input of your TACT Pre (Amp) I would strongly recommend NOT to use the ESI [email protected], becuase the card doesn´t support AES/EBU (AFAIK).

And you are right avout the "problems" which could accure due to the flaky connection (for the digital signals) thru that Mini-DIN socket plus cable-loom. I have used it for digital output with a dedicated (self made) SPDIF coax cable, and haven´t had problems, butthis connection is indeed a little bit on the weak side.

 

The RME card comes also with a cable-adapter, but this connects to a 9-pin socket which could be locked by screws and is much more stable then the Mini-DIN one on the [email protected] But I have also made a "single-cable" solution for my needs (digital recording in that case).

 

I could not compare (and comment on) the sound quality of the two cards (not yet), because I have used them in different applications and systems. But I had never had any kind of problem with lockups or connection-losses or the like with either card. The [email protected] is much simpler in use as the RME, which will give you some additional features, which might come handy in the future.

 

I still would like to test the RME card with some other players (MediaMonkey and JRiver as examples), but haven`t had the time up to now. And for my taste, Foobar is hard to beat if it comes down to "personalisation", so this would not really be a good option to me.

 

So, if you would use another software besides Foobar 2K, the RME card(s) would be of a good quality, with excellent user service, and a lot of features - including a quite good metering software (DigiCheck).

 

Cheers

Harald

 

Esoterc SA-60 / Foobar2000 -> Mytek Stereo 192 DSD / Audio-GD NFB 28.38 -> MEG RL922K / AKG K500 / AKG K1000  / Audioquest Nighthawk / OPPO PM-2 / Sennheiser HD800 / Sennheiser Surrounder / Sony MA900 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II

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I have to say I also liked the look of the DigiCheck software, as an added 'bonus'! If all goes according to plan, the card will be used with Wavelab 5 doing the playback duties so hopefully if there are any 'quirks' the relevant forums will show them up! My short-list just got smaller :)

 

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Hi Bob!

 

yes, DigiCheck is - to me - a very helpful "add-on".

The implemented Peak and RMS meters are very accurate (including an "oversampling" mode which will show intersample overs).

 

If you use Wavelab as playback "engine", you should be getting absolutely no probs at all with the RME cards. Works totally flawless over here on an "ancient" Athlon 4000 single core PC.

 

You would also might to check out the realtime FFT window in Wavelab, this could bring some "insight" in whats really going on ... ;)

 

And one thing to the needed digital adapter-/breakout cable:

It is quite easy to build/solder your own one. The pinout is included in the manual!

 

Greetings

Harald

 

Esoterc SA-60 / Foobar2000 -> Mytek Stereo 192 DSD / Audio-GD NFB 28.38 -> MEG RL922K / AKG K500 / AKG K1000  / Audioquest Nighthawk / OPPO PM-2 / Sennheiser HD800 / Sennheiser Surrounder / Sony MA900 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II

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I am also using the rme 9632 soundcard. I chose it because it has both, aes and spdif output. It runs flawlessly with mediamonkey and jriver - I tried both. Its stable as hell. No dropouts, latency of less than 1.5 ms with both, asio and kernel drivers, cpu load is almost zero. I use digital out to my dac. Its a dcs elgar plus that i bought couple of weeks ago. It sounds awesome. The computer transport is much better than using a linn unidisk as transport. I have to admit that I never tried 24/192 because the elgar needs dual aes for that but up to 24/96 it works without flaws.

 

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Hi!

 

"Its a dcs elgar plus that i bought couple of weeks ago"

 

The one from Ebay for about 2700 Euros?

Congratulations!

 

I have had an eye on that one too, but - unfurtunately- wasn´t at home to the end of the auction ... grrrrmmblprrmmpft

 

Greets

Harald

 

Esoterc SA-60 / Foobar2000 -> Mytek Stereo 192 DSD / Audio-GD NFB 28.38 -> MEG RL922K / AKG K500 / AKG K1000  / Audioquest Nighthawk / OPPO PM-2 / Sennheiser HD800 / Sennheiser Surrounder / Sony MA900 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II

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jup. that was the one. i am glad you did not have the time to push the price ;-)) this way it was really more than acceptable and the dac was a major improvement for my system. wouldn´t have thought so but its true. i didn´t even need an a/b comparison...

 

harald, one stupid question from a non-electronic-engineer. the 9-pin sub-d connector of the rme soundcard has a pin layout with a grd (ground, right?), an spdif out - and spdif out +. do i connect the ground of the spdif cable with the grd pin or with the spdif - pin?? you said its "easy" to solder a breakoutcable for the rme, so i am tempted to try... the hifi dealers i talked to didn´t want to make me one. *schnief*

 

 

 

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:-))))

 

To the cabling-problem:

First, do you need a SPdiF (RCA) or an AES/EBU (XLR, symmetrical) adapter?

 

The "grd" pins (ground) will NOT be connected as signal wires, because the output (RCA and XLR) are transformer-coupled, and therefor aren`t connected to the ground plane of the card/computer.

 

So, if you need a RCA cable you have to use the "SPDIF Out +" and "SPDIF Out -" pins.

 

If you need a XLR cable, you need to connect the "AES Out +" and "AES Out -" pins as needed to pins 2 and 3 of the XLR connector and "grd" to pin 1 of the XLR connector (i hope that the dCS unit uses this standard pinout too!).

 

I would not recommend using the AES/XLR connection, because it might spread some noise into the DAC. The RCA should do just fine, especially if you could make a "real" 75ohm cable with BNC plug.

 

If no "HiFi-dealer" will do the soldering job for you, just go to the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg, I think they should be able to help ... ;) ... (Just Music)

 

Greetings

Harald

 

Esoterc SA-60 / Foobar2000 -> Mytek Stereo 192 DSD / Audio-GD NFB 28.38 -> MEG RL922K / AKG K500 / AKG K1000  / Audioquest Nighthawk / OPPO PM-2 / Sennheiser HD800 / Sennheiser Surrounder / Sony MA900 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II

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hey cool! Thank you for the help! I was also thinking about getting a bnc connector to get a "real" 75 ohm cable!

 

I didn´t even know that store, although I am at Kulturbrauerei every second day!

 

Are you in Berlin frequently?

 

 

 

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Grins

 

"Are you in Berlin frequently?"

 

No, not currently.

But I know a great bunch of people working and living there, so that it might happen very fast to show up and give it a go.

A visit to the Philharmonie is on prior position on my wish list, too.

 

Let us know more about youre findings and conclusions about the dCS, thou. One of the very disireable units, even it seems to be a bit outdated.

 

Greetz

Harald

 

Esoterc SA-60 / Foobar2000 -> Mytek Stereo 192 DSD / Audio-GD NFB 28.38 -> MEG RL922K / AKG K500 / AKG K1000  / Audioquest Nighthawk / OPPO PM-2 / Sennheiser HD800 / Sennheiser Surrounder / Sony MA900 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II

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you should definitely go and visit the Philharmonie. It doesn´t look great from the outside but I never heard any location with such a great sound. Its really incredible! If you come to Berlin drop me a note. its always great to chat with music enthusiasts.

 

A couple of words to the elgar plus. You are right, the dac is not the newest innovation but has everything I need for listening to music. It has all possible connections: wordclock in and out, rca, aes, bnc and optical digital input, rca and aes analog output and even an rca digital output. The newer elgar plus dacs have firewire connection but I will not use a dcs transport so i really don´t need it. It can do up to 24/192 but only with dual aes, which I do not use at the moment. Everyone needs room for improvement! The weiss firewire interface afi1 would probably be a good match...

 

I connected the dcs via rca digital out from a rme 9632 soundcard. From there I go directly unbalanced to my power amplifier (I use the pre-amp function of the elgar) and finally to a pair of Dynaudio C2s. I also have some elder fadel art cabels (loudspeaker cables and analog cables) which work very well for me. The dcs has 2 different setting for locking the incoming digital signal: narrow and wide. The manual says some (even expensive) transports have jittery digital signals that cannot be locked in the narrow setting. The digital signal from the rme is good enough for the narrow setting at any sampling rate up to 24/96.

 

I am pretty enthusiastic about this setup so please take off a couple of slices of the sound description ;-)

 

The setup has a warm and very accurate presentation. My former setup included a linn unidisk as transport and later dac. The difference between the unidisk and dcs is huge - almost as large as between different loudspeakers. I would have never anticipated this. The unidisk is musical but harsh. The upper tones aren´t open enough. An "s" or "c" sounds hard and unpleasant. The lower frequencies not present and accurate enough.

 

In comparison the dcs is tonally much better balanced. An "s" sounds open and sweet. The bass is much more pronounced but controlled at the same time. You can hear the vibration of the bass string, the reverberation of the drum. It all sound very realistic and transparent. The speakers totally disappear and you are left with a soundstage full of musicians. The stage is huge and much better defined than with the Linn. Every time I listen to music it makes me want to open a bottle of wine... ;-) I never heard my C2s sing this nicely. The dcs also has different filter settings but non of them come close to the original sound.

 

My next project is the optimization of my room with a bit of equalization. In 2-3 weeks I will know more and write down my experience. Last I will probably upgrade my power amp to arrive in hifi heaven... ;-)

 

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Hi!

 

Sounds good! Thanks for sharing your findings.

 

If you would like to use 176,4 and 192 khz samplingrates with the Elgar plus, the RME HDSP AES-32 could be a good starting point. It supports dual wire modes and also has a wordclock input.

 

This (the wordclock out of the Elgar) was my main point on targeting one. Ithink that it would just do what I want it to, sounds quite good (at least ... ;) ), and is suitable to be used without additional Preamp (level-matching is provided by the Elgar and on my active monitors too).

 

Greetings

Harald

 

Esoterc SA-60 / Foobar2000 -> Mytek Stereo 192 DSD / Audio-GD NFB 28.38 -> MEG RL922K / AKG K500 / AKG K1000  / Audioquest Nighthawk / OPPO PM-2 / Sennheiser HD800 / Sennheiser Surrounder / Sony MA900 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II

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One thing that would be worth looking into if at all possible is using the balanced output of the dCS. I'm not 100% positie about the older Elgar, but know that with the current Scarlatti that the balanced is vastly superior (balanced output is discrete components, unbalanced opamps). Just a thought for your future upgrades.

 

Eloise

 

Eloise

---

...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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Ahhh, ...

 

OK. ;-)

But maybe it could be updated with a WordClock out?

 

Esoterc SA-60 / Foobar2000 -> Mytek Stereo 192 DSD / Audio-GD NFB 28.38 -> MEG RL922K / AKG K500 / AKG K1000  / Audioquest Nighthawk / OPPO PM-2 / Sennheiser HD800 / Sennheiser Surrounder / Sony MA900 / STAX SR-303+SRM-323II

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sure, an update is possible. the newer elgar versions have both, worldclock in and out. but i guess it is not inexpensive. we are talking about dcs here. and they are selling a digital rack for over 40k $. for that you can almost buy an apartment (at least in berlin... ;-)))

 

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Hi there

my friend has a full dCS stack with Transport (Verdi), Upsampler (Purcell) and Dac (Elgar). It is the best digital playback I have heard. The Upsampler makes a substantial difference feeding the Elgar. The Transport also.

I am interested in your findings as I am most likely going to track down an Elgar Plus in due course. The ideal computer solution would be to team it with a U Clock.

Thanks for your posts.

Regards

Andrew

 

Best Wishes

Andrew

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andrew, you are right, the u-clock is possibly the best way to link a computer to the elgar or the new scarlatti dac. the scarlatti is supposed to be even better than the elgar!

 

the u-clock is not cheap. in some forums people are writing that they are using the weiss afi1 firewire converter instead, with very good results. haralds suggestion to use the rme aes soundcard should also be very good. its an excellent soundcard and the rme drivers are super stable. too bad its not easy to access to the different options to be able to compare. and i am not a big fan of the "buy and send back" option.

 

regarding upsampling: i bet its better but from my point of view i am hesitant to spend another coupe of thousand euros on a upsampling device when i can buy my music in high resolution format. and thats even better than any upsampling. today i have 100s of cds on my music server in 16/44 format and just a handful in 24/96 but i think (hope) this ratio is going to change rapidly.

 

if you have any questions, please ask.

 

sunny greetings from berlin

 

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Thank you for your reply.

Yes the U Clcock, like all dCS, is hideously expensive until it gets a few years old. I'm certain I don't need better than the Elgar. It is phenomenal. I have yet to hear any converter that matches it - at least for my taste in Classical.

 

I agree native hi rez is better than any upsampling. In the case of the Elgar I can confidently state the Purcell makes a significant difference to red book.The difference is not subtle. The Purcell is the first implementation of upsampling that I have found successful. I think as has been pointed out elsewhere here all upsampling is not created equal and the math varies considerably. Whatever dCS have done they did it correctly.

 

I have had a RME 9632 in my linux server and regret the day I ever sold it. For both digital transfer duties and even analogue conversion it was excellent. Super stable. The only pain was having to change the sample outputs if I ever used Foobar in Vista. reminds me - time to find another. I also had an ESI [email protected] and while adequate it was not a patch on the RME.

 

Best Wishes from Sydney.

Andrew

 

Best Wishes

Andrew

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