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What audiophile sound card?


debt_collector
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I would appreciate your advice to help me choose a sound card for my HTPC. I heard lot's of good things about the Lynx AES16e and would be interested in your views about this sound card. I would also be interested in suggestions re alternative sound cards that could offer excellent, low jitter digital output. I plan to connect the sound card to my Bryston BDA-1 DAC (it has AES/EBU and s/pdif digital inputs). Thanks

 

Custom built silent Media PC, Synology DS415+ NAS -> SoTM sms200Ultra/sps500  -> TAD DA1000 DAC/preamp and Bryston 4BSST2 power amp -> Harbeth SHL5 speakers and Velodyne DD10+ subwoofers. PowerQuest Carbon USB cable, Chord Company Chorus interconnects, Chord Company Signature speaker leads, Clearer Audio Silver-Line power leads

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As you say the Lynx is the first option most people come to but there are alternatives. RME make a range of AES only (like the Lynx) and AES / SPDIF all-in-one cards at similar cost.

 

Moving down in cost, the ESI [email protected] is often recommended at around £100-£150 range as is the M-Audio Audiophile card. The EMu cards have a good reputation but don't automatically change output sample rate.

 

Externally there are alternatives to the Lynx AES16 in the form of the Weiss AFI1 and forthcoming INT202.

 

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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Thanks for the info Eloise, Brad. I realise that I haven't specified that I want to use the sound card for 2 ch. audio playback as well as a 5.1/7.1 playback (pass through the LPCM signal from sound card output through my BDA-1 DAC to my AV receiver). Sorry about that omission )-: I guess that the ESi [email protected] and the INT202 can't support 5.1, is that right? Any other thoughts, suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

 

Custom built silent Media PC, Synology DS415+ NAS -> SoTM sms200Ultra/sps500  -> TAD DA1000 DAC/preamp and Bryston 4BSST2 power amp -> Harbeth SHL5 speakers and Velodyne DD10+ subwoofers. PowerQuest Carbon USB cable, Chord Company Chorus interconnects, Chord Company Signature speaker leads, Clearer Audio Silver-Line power leads

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are you talking about audio in 5.1/7.1 or dvd in 5.1/7.1 or bluray in 5.1/7.1? I did some tests with xp and vista and will be glad to share. Also, are we talking about pc or apple?

 

Jesus R

www.sonore.us

 

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Hi Jesus R. I am referring to DVD and bluray in 5.1/7.1. My HTPC is a PC and it runs on Windows 7 at the moment. Purhaps you can also express a view re the choice of OS?

 

Custom built silent Media PC, Synology DS415+ NAS -> SoTM sms200Ultra/sps500  -> TAD DA1000 DAC/preamp and Bryston 4BSST2 power amp -> Harbeth SHL5 speakers and Velodyne DD10+ subwoofers. PowerQuest Carbon USB cable, Chord Company Chorus interconnects, Chord Company Signature speaker leads, Clearer Audio Silver-Line power leads

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According the the ESI Website ... "[email protected]'s optical and digital outputs allow AC3/DTS pass through for Dolby digital and DTS surround sound playback."

 

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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The hard facts are that xp is no good. You will find a road block on audio and video every step of the way. You then solve one problem only to encounter another. I desided on a dual boot system xp for my music and vista for bluray. You don't have to and its was more about not wanting to experiment with my music drive. Not sure how 7 will play out except I think it should be ok "if" the HD drivers are in place for each component. By component I mean the chipset and audio drivers and any software update as they all matter! I guess that's a big "if"!

 

I have a bunch of info on the audio if you want. Some of the info is about cards and some is about hdmi out. Would pcm output via the hdmi be an option or do you prefer some kind of card option?

 

regards

Jesus R

www.sonore.us

 

PS this is a personal interest and has not yet become a business interest.

 

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Thanks very much Jesus R. As far as I can tell, stereo music or 5.1 bluray playback works a treat when I boot on Windows 7. I have drivers for my HD graphics card so that's not a problem.

I would be grateful for information re sound cards. I prefer to run my audio for both stereo playback and LPCM pass-through from a sound card. I use a single boot configuration at the moment so using HDMI LPCM audio when palying HD video will force me to change the audio device between HDMI for video and SPDIF for stereo audio. I can use the sound card for both music and bluray playback and that's less of a hassle.

 

Custom built silent Media PC, Synology DS415+ NAS -> SoTM sms200Ultra/sps500  -> TAD DA1000 DAC/preamp and Bryston 4BSST2 power amp -> Harbeth SHL5 speakers and Velodyne DD10+ subwoofers. PowerQuest Carbon USB cable, Chord Company Chorus interconnects, Chord Company Signature speaker leads, Clearer Audio Silver-Line power leads

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HI Eloise. Do you know who sells the ESi [email protected] in the UK?

 

Custom built silent Media PC, Synology DS415+ NAS -> SoTM sms200Ultra/sps500  -> TAD DA1000 DAC/preamp and Bryston 4BSST2 power amp -> Harbeth SHL5 speakers and Velodyne DD10+ subwoofers. PowerQuest Carbon USB cable, Chord Company Chorus interconnects, Chord Company Signature speaker leads, Clearer Audio Silver-Line power leads

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No personal recomendations but Google shows a few options.

 

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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debt_collector

I get excellent results in XP using Asus Xonar D2X and Creative Media Source Player via SPDIF into a heavily modified Musical Fidelity X-DAC V3. This card also has the Windows 7 compatibility tick. I hope to move to Windows 7 in the next month or so, but given that Windows 7 is reportedly considerably better with Audio than XP, I do intend to try Peter St.'s XXHE,

http://www.phasure.com/ ,which I have already had good reports about from a friend, who is a member of Peter's forum.

 

SandyK

 

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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the audio in dual use video and audio is complicated! First the asus card that sandyk speaks about is fine. However, it does not support 88.2 and 176.4 and as far I can see the analog out is only r/l channles. You need to deside if that matters.

 

Now keep this in mind when you use the "analog out" of these cards (any card) in "video mode" its not really clear to "me" if its dts-hd/dts-ma + dd-hd/dd-ma or just core dts and dd converted to 24/192 and they call that hd. Read that again and make sure you understand its not the same thing! The terminology is used back and forth in the specs of these cards and its very misleading. So if your a purest it may matter what your getting in blu-ray playback.

 

Let me ask Chris if i can expand and speak freely and give you additional information.

 

Jesus R

www.sonore.us

 

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given the context of this post so far and the questions posed to me and other will it be ok to share some additional information that will contain specific model mumbers of cards we sell?

 

Regards

Jesus R

www.sonore.us

 

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Thanks for your post SandyK. What's Peter St.'s XXHE?

 

Custom built silent Media PC, Synology DS415+ NAS -> SoTM sms200Ultra/sps500  -> TAD DA1000 DAC/preamp and Bryston 4BSST2 power amp -> Harbeth SHL5 speakers and Velodyne DD10+ subwoofers. PowerQuest Carbon USB cable, Chord Company Chorus interconnects, Chord Company Signature speaker leads, Clearer Audio Silver-Line power leads

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Ithink SandyK was referring to the XX High End music player written by regular poster Peter St.

 

One possible issue with the Asus card mentioned is that it is reported that you can't get bit-perfect output.

 

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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apologies for the thread hijacking...

 

but JR's question reminded me of a manufacturer's comment from Benchmark in a recent issue of TAS.

 

Alan Taffel, in an apparent effort to redeem his credibility, reported significant sound quality issues with the Benchmark DACs.

 

Benchmark, in their usual deflective/defensive manner, attributed the problems to heretofore undiscovered errors with CD playback (via transport). Something about CU errors, as I recall. Supposedly, their DAC is so resolving that it allows the listener to (finally?) notice such errors, IOW, their DAC is the only one with which one can hear such artifacts. :-0

 

 

Clay

 

 

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we spend a bunch of time on bit perfect and bit true and yet the equipment manufacturers and software developers can't agree on anything. Use this not that, set it this way not that way, this combo and not that one. Then in the other post use the funky asio developed by who knows who.....

 

It seems that with bit perfect you have more to worry about then if it were not and just sounded good. I can't tell if one is bit for bit, but I can tell what sounds good to me. However, if you don't do a/b tests then what do you really know.

 

Im sorry....its just fustrating and even more so in the video playback discussed above as that is a real mess! Unless of coarse you use hdmi and them all seems hunky dory.

 

Happy Halloween

JR

 

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As far as I know, all CD players (unless they do sample rate conversion prior to SPDIF output) are bit-perfect.

 

The problem with some sound cards is that during their internal processing the bits can become mangled, meaning that they are no longer as expected. As I've said before "bit-perfect" isn't the be all and end all, but IF a piece of hardware is unable to output the bits as intended then (IMO) you're fighting a battle which is already biased. If a user wishes to alter the bits then fine, so long as they are aware tht is what they are doing.

 

The example of the Asus card is that, if I recall Chris's comments correctly, it's very difficult to assertain what settings are giving bit perfect and which aren't. I'm really not trying to bias the argument / discussion towards or against any particular card, just trying to give information for others to make an educated choice.

 

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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eloise

Thanks for clearing that up, as due to time zone differences, I was unable to reply.

I seem to remember reading elsewhere, that Chris has posted about working closely with Asus on the bit perfect issue.

My apologies to Chris if I am in error.

I mentioned the Asus Sound card ,as I thought that the main interest in having something like that, on this occasion,was for stereo output via SPDIF into a normal high quality domestic system.

I don't doubt that many of the DACs and other audio products descibed by many of the industry experts who are members of CA, are leading edge products, but unfortunately, their gear is relatively unknown in countries like Australia, perhaps not even being available locally ? Another sad thing, is that specialist magazines like Australian HI FI, which has been around for 40 years, as stated by Chris in an invitation to Australian readers, to check out the article about PC Audio written by a highly respected USA (?) manufacturer, and most likely a CA member also,

are no longer even on the shelves of many newsagencies. I was unable to locate a copy readily.

SandyK

 

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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JususR, I am not planning to use the analogue out at all. I'd like to use the digital out for stereo out to my dac or LPCM pass-through for bluray to my av receiver via my dac. Using bluray audio via hdmi complicates things (it forces me to change the audio device to flip between video and stereo music)

 

Custom built silent Media PC, Synology DS415+ NAS -> SoTM sms200Ultra/sps500  -> TAD DA1000 DAC/preamp and Bryston 4BSST2 power amp -> Harbeth SHL5 speakers and Velodyne DD10+ subwoofers. PowerQuest Carbon USB cable, Chord Company Chorus interconnects, Chord Company Signature speaker leads, Clearer Audio Silver-Line power leads

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Clay

As I have posted elsewhere, a few friends were involved in a listening session with a Benchmark USB DAC. It certainly did not live up to the all the hype, although USB did sound virtually identical to SPDIF during the short listening session. Nevertheless, it is a far better than average DAC.

These remarks from my friend who owns the Benchmark USB DAC may be of interest. However, this is from the perspective of someone who is quite adept at obtaining marked SQ improvements from commercial products. Note that he also changed the opamps mentioned, the day after the listening session , to LM4562.

Despite voiding the warranty, and the risks associated with doing that with a new piece of equipment.

He is an Engineer in the Mobiles side of Telstra, with a good understanding of RF, and also possesses (and uses) a very good 100MHZ C.R.O.

I do not expect many members to agree with many of his component changes, but I am just putting forward an alternate explanation, as to why the Benchmark DAC may not be living up to all the hype.

SandyK

 

"Alex,

After an evening's listening at home...

The Benchmark is definitely superior to the stock Musical Fidelity XDAC V3, but I concur with other's comments on the net regarding a slightly tipped up treble. However, the signature is easy to pick - PSU rail caps. When I replace the 5532 op-amps I will also remove and replace the 0.1uF ceramics with MKT's and will replace the rail electro's with Elna cerafine or similar. BTW, in my system the soundstage is bigger and better defined than via the Marantz SA11,but not quite as good as the modded XDAC V3. The obvious answer is better PSU and perhaps replacement of the BR diodes. At least they use a standard linear supply and not a dirty switching type.

BTW, I am still able to hear a slight difference between transports via SPDIF but it's definitely smaller than previous.

So, no it doesn't sound like a 20K DAC just yet but I think it will sound very close with a few mods.

 

Dave"

 

 

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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I took a look at the Bryston dac manual and it says the bypass is the same signal as the input selected. So if you go AES in and it outputs AES then you need to make sure you receiver likes that AES signal. Ask Bryston to comment on this and verify if it at least changes the AES to consumer spdif as the voltage is different.

 

However, Im pretty sure you can use hdmi out with the video software and aes out with the audio software and you only have to set it once. Do you want me to do a test? This way if the receiver is hdmi 1.2 or 1.3 it will get the full master audio from the bluray.

 

Jesus R

www.sonore.us

 

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Jesus- As long as it doesn't cross advertising lines, I'd be curious to know whatever you've learned regarding 5.1/7.1 Blu-Ray playback from a PC.

I'm happy with my 2-channel system, use the speakers as mains in a 5.1 system in the same room that has never excited me like my 2-channel. That said, I've also put very little work into the multi-channel aspect, and I don't yet own a Blu-Ray player and my AV receiver lacks HDMI. How would you recommend getting Blu-Ray lossless 5.1 sound out of a PC in the best way, given the statements of what you do and don't know that you've already made? I'm contemplating finally making the jump from DVD to Blu-Ray and am happy with my PC-based 2Ch system w/ external DAC, hope to achieve the same level of happiness for multi-channel/HTPC.

 

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