Audiophile Grade Soundcard
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  1. #1
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    Audiophile Grade Soundcard

    Hi everyone,

    Looking around for some sort of hi-fi grade soundcard.

    I m currently using an Edirol FA-66 audio interface but I've had enough with the box on the desktop.

    I've got my eye on the Audiotrak Prodigy HD2 Advance DE http://audiotrack.net/en/pci/525

    It's 2 channel which is all I m after and sitting around 100AUD mark which is within budget but I m also thinking about just going back to onboard sound. I haven't used onboard sound for about 2 or 3 builds now so wouldn't even know how they compare.

    Has anyone here got any experience with hi-fi soundcards or any other recommendations?

    Thanks!
    I dont know... I just dont.

  2. #2
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    Doc

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  3. #3
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    IMO if you want real audiophile-grade, your best bet would be to get an USB DAC or external soundcard, so the digital-to-analog conversion is done outside the interference of other PC components.
    However, it's usually a "box" on the desktop

    Otherwise, heard good things about the Asus Xonar and HT Omega series. Some models also have dedicated headphone amplifiers if you do more listening with cans

    Still, depending on the motherboard you have or intend to buy, you might want to give a try to the onboard sound first just to see how it sounds.
    Some motherboards have surprisingly decent analog audio (though not hi-fi grade).

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    Thanks for the suggestion SpywareDr, unfortunately it's just abit out of my price range.

    equinoxe, you're right. Maybe I will give my onboard sound (Realtek ALC892) a go first and see how I go. Chances are I may not even notice a difference... I don't have a huge issue with the 'box' on the desktop but it was just getting abit excessive. All these functions I don't need/use.

    Hopefully my passive volume controller will come through tomorrow so I can test out this onboard sound properly.

    Cheers!
    I dont know... I just dont.

  5. #5
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    Yeah, it depends mostly on what you have it connected to. In my case I only have an entry-level stereo receiver with stereo bookshelf speakers (still blows away most computer speaker sets), and the onboard ALC889 on my motherboard sounds great with it, with no noise or interference. My older computer has an old soundcard (Hercules Digifire) and the onboard 889 on both of my newer computers actually sounds better overall.

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    Yea, I think alot of the time we forget that the speakers are just as important if not more?

    I am running a pair of ESI nEAR05 monitors. Much better than most computer speakers as well.

    I'll run with this idea for now, possibly save myself a few bucks.

    I had the idea of running an old receiver with some bookshelves. How does it sound? Since I know most hi fi speakers aren't made to be nearfield...
    I dont know... I just dont.

  7. #7
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    The bookshelves I have are just a $100 set that I bought after getting out of college, they are decently built but cheap mostly because they are made locally.
    Still, I lucked out because they almost sound better in near-field than at 6ft. The only thing that suffers a little is imaging width, but I got used to it.

    However most "mainstream" stereo receivers are really disappointing in both sound and build quality.
    I found out the hard way that if you can't afford hi-fi, keep saving or go with an older receiver (anything before '00) or it will end in tears...

    It it was to do again I'd probably just save the hassle and just go with monitors (sadly they were not well known outside of pro audio when I bought my stuff in 2004, now even my PC hardware store carries Audioengine monitors).

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  8. #8
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    decently built but cheap mostly because they are made locally
    If those are any of the Canadian-made Energy, Paradigm, PSB, etc. families, they'll be good. All those benefited from the testing lab set up at the NRC by Floyd Toole. He was hired away by Harmon Int. (JBL et al) in California to do the same thing there.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanceMan View Post
    If those are any of the Canadian-made Energy, Paradigm, PSB, etc. families, they'll be good. All those benefited from the testing lab set up at the NRC by Floyd Toole. He was hired away by Harmon Int. (JBL et al) in California to do the same thing there.
    Nope, it's a waaay smaller company in Quebec called Quest, they used to sell speakers mostly at Future Shop so it's decent but really entry-level gear It's nowhere near hi-fi grade.

    That said, I bought a NAD integrated amp on a sale last autumn and was surprised to see they were now Canadian-owned (bought by Lenbrook, which also owns PSB as well. I think NAD now does amplification in PSB's active subs)

    Funny that you talk about NRC, that made me remember that article I found when I was looking at PSB speakers to match with the NAD.

    My cousin lent me his Paradigm Studio 20s to try with the NAD but it doesn't work at all with my "computer room" size and the way I'm positioned (that's where I learned what near-field meant ) so they will both go in the living room instead.

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  10. #10
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    True that. I m massively into hi fi as well but I don't have any new equipment. It's all old stuff from around 80's and 90's. It's good enough for me.

    I got my passive volume control today to put between my onboard sound and my monitors. It works a treat but my monitors are getting some kind of interference which is really annoying. Sounds like it is affect by mouse movement and I m really not in the mood to do any troubleshooting at the moment. Thinking about just ditching the whole thing and trying out connecting an old Technics amp with some old JBL bookshelves I have.
    I dont know... I just dont.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by TaNG View Post
    True that. I m massively into hi fi as well but I don't have any new equipment. It's all old stuff from around 80's and 90's. It's good enough for me.

    I got my passive volume control today to put between my onboard sound and my monitors. It works a treat but my monitors are getting some kind of interference which is really annoying. Sounds like it is affect by mouse movement and I m really not in the mood to do any troubleshooting at the moment. Thinking about just ditching the whole thing and trying out connecting an old Technics amp with some old JBL bookshelves I have.
    Have you tried muting all unused inputs in the Windows mixer (mic, line-in, etc.) ? I always do that, even with a soundcard to reduce the chance of picking unwanted noise.
    Also, the front panel connectors on some cases can pick up interference so muting the mic input if you don't use it is always a good idea.

    That said, I would not blame the monitors yet, mouse movement noise is usually due to a lower quality onboard sound system. Even with the same Realtek chip, the sound can vary quite a lot depending on the caps quality and how the motherboard manufacturer routes the traces for audio on the PCB. For example the onboard 889 on my 785G MSI montherboard sounds decent, but the same 889 on my ASUS Maximus (renamed Supreme X-Fi) sounds noticeably better because ASUS specifically gave a bit more attention to the stuff surrounding the audio chip.

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  12. #12
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    Ahh..

    I m not sure. I blame the monitors directly because I actually had this problem with my old audio interface (Edirol FA-66). I turned the volume on the back of the monitors down which helped quite abit but when I plugged them directly into the onboard sound the interference came back louder.

    I will try muting everything that I m not using - Just did but no luck. It's really weird, it seems like the position of the cursor on screen will affect it. If I cross from a window with a white background onto my desktop which is a black background. It will make a sound when the cursor moves from colour to colour...
    I dont know... I just dont.

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