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high end v low end sound cards, are they worth it


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can anyone advise if the lynx AES card (£700.00) is significantly better than the more modest maudio card (£150.00).


both will output 24/192.


i have been advised by the main uk dealers for Bryston that their is no difference in sound quality yet the one and only founder of this great site recommends the lynx.


has anyone compared the sound quality of the these cards.


thanks in advance


Simon C.


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Just one man's opinion, but I think that the question is loaded. ;-)


I think the Consultant's Standard Answer #1 applies here: "It depends."


IMO, what the question turns on is, what makes it worth it to you? An audible improvement? Or does that improvement have to be more than simply audible, that is, it has to be significant. Let's set this aside for moment to look at your selections.


The Audiophile 192 is a nice card, no doubt about it. It's about $130 here, as listed on Amazon. It outputs S/PDIF via RCA and comes with the breakout cable.


The Lynx AES16e is, at least right now, the top of the heap in PC audio cards. It runs about $700 and still needs a $60 XLR-based breakout cable. In terms of quality, the Lynx has a very nice clock built onto it, whereas the M-Audio does not. Does that mean that the M-Audio is lousy? No. But the Lynx performs measurably better.


So, getting back to the $64k question: "is it worth it" has now become "how much better?" to be immediately followed by "is that performance increase worth a six-fold increase in price?" I'll tell you flat out that the performance isn't six times better, but I'm guessing you already knew that. The relationship between cost-benefit tends to not be linear in these matters.


That said, the relative cost of the card is now something to consider. If your system (which is unknown to me) costs $500 including speakers, well, then, no, the Lynx is overkill. If your overall system costs $50k then why futz around with such a trivial incremental cost -- go for the Lynx. If you're like most of us, and your system costs somewhere in the middle, then you have decide where on that scale your relative comfort lies. If you're closer to one end of that scale than another, well, there's your decision.


All I have to suggest is that either will be better than using default digital outs on your average computer (assuming it has any).


HTH, and best of luck to you!


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I have used the Lynx card and it earns the plaudits received on this site.


Lynx equipment is a much higher order of quality and is not built to a cost point, the the maudio card is.


I agree with the previous posts here, it does depend on the value of the rest of your system, but at a guess if you are looking at Bryston Kit, which is not cheap, you should be considering the Lynx and the main UK Dealer of Bryston really should know that.


Once you have the Lynx it won't need replacing, job done!




Trying to make sense of all the bits...MacMini/Amarra -> WavIO USB to I2S -> DDDAC 1794 NOS DAC -> Active XO ->Bass Amp Avondale NCC200s, Mid/Treble Amp Sugden Masterclass -> My Own Speakers

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thanks for the reply.


i know the law of diminishing returns kicks in after a certain level and i am happy to hear that someone can vouch that the Lynx card performs better.


with hifi kit, and i mean by that speakers, amps etc, i would not have a problem with paying an extra £600.00 if the expense was 'worth it' to me.


i do have a problem with p.c. kit however due entirely to the rapid developments that inevitably make your investment depreciate in a short space of time. in other words, id rather pay less now and buy a better card next year for half the price.


having said that, i have noticed that sound cards seem to hold their price pretty well and their does'nt appear to be a lot of new releases out there.


my hifi would certainly justify the extra expense so, perhaps i should stop whinging and buy the card.


psst........ anyone wanna sell a cheap Lynx :)


thanks again


simon C.




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I have both the Lynx AES16 and AP. The first doesn't really sound that good , used with a variety of systems including dCS972/955. The issues are the cable, you have to have ones made (in my case Zaolla), the HD26 plug and the convoluted output tracks on the board, and the slightly out XO (freq on 1 of them) used. Single wire v two wire also sounds slightly different. The word clock in function also has issues because of either slow lock or no proper lock. dCS users particularly have this problem. Check out the forums before buying.


The sound is ok but lacks transparency and sound staging that should be provided in a £700 device.


In contrast, the RME 9632 works better, the output plug can be easilly modified to take bnc 75R, and to me is a more transparent unit.


The comments refer to sonics with output relocked with Big Ben which reduces jitter. Lynx claims lower jitter than Big Ben but there is in fact parasitic oscillations on the aes signal which they say don't matter which I think do. Both cards sound better with relocking (Big Ben or dCS 972).


Don't even think of the AP. It has problematic drivers and resamples ! It is the most useless £150 card I have.





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thanks everyone for your answers.


the RME looks very interesting and is less than half the price of the lynx in the uk.


i have pursuaded a couple of suppliers to send the cards on a sale or return basis so i will be investigating this in the new year.


i must confess, as a newbie, i wasnt aware of external clocking devices such as big ben, i will look into this product further, the dcs would be instant divorce for me i regret.


as an aside, the new naim dac looks interesting and with an input buffer, they claim to have cracked the jitter problem.


have a great xmas.


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Go to ebay.de; you may find cheaper prices or even used ones.

Also Thomann.de, they haev a site in English.

Don't buy the breakout box. Once received you see a white label saying that you can only use it for 96k or under.


Do solder a 75 R BNC mounted on a spare slot position nect to the card. Use Kernel Streaming on a smallest buffer giving stable sound which to me sounds better.




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Don't know. I have the PCI HDSP9632. The new PCIe card seems to have the HD+ sockets for a whole bunch of cables. Not a good thing if you just want 2 channels.

Read the manual carefully; you are bound to be able to find some place on the pcb for a 75R socket to connect to. On the PCI carsd it is very short, just 2 cm.



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I was just about to write a new thread, to ask this exact question... I guess i dont need to... But with that said, i did come across another professional audio company that makes a pci card that is in the same range as the LYNX... the reviews i read sound great... this is also the same pci card that is found in the Sooloos. Here is a link


the maker is RME a german company, and the card is the Hummerfall DSP 9632 PCI. sadly its not an express card... cost $730USD




Hmm i also came across this other card, that is an express card from what i can tell its the Hammerfall but in a PCI Express version... its called the HDSPe AIO it seems to have more flexibility with the added an AES I/O which the Hammerfall does not have... it goes for $799USD.. looks like a better choice than the Hammerfall DSP and maybe even the Lynx card


Here is the link








Another card that someone might consider is the Apogee Symphony 32 PCIe card... Heard and read great things about it today...





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