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HCPC Sound Quality

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by sneaky, Jan 19, 2004.

  1. sneaky

    sneaky
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    Hi guys,

    Got most of my PC sorted out.

    ABIT NF7 - MB
    Western Digital 120GB Quiet Drive HDD
    XCard/Sweetspot
    AMD 2600XP CPU


    But one thing I don't see much of on the Forum is sound.

    I want a decent quality of sound but I don not one to pay through the nose.

    Please give me some options - budget and better.

    Thanks

    Chris
     
  2. alexs2

    alexs2
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    The person you need to chat to is Branxx...he's done a lot of work on reviewing PC sound cards,some of which do give very good sound quality....he'll give you some excellent advice.

    The M-Audio revolution is well rated,and the Audiotrak Prodigy192 I use is good used simply as a digital output from the HCPC to an external upsampler and processor.
    Whilst the Creative Labs Audigy2 offers DVD-A playback,it's sound quality is a bit lacking(IMHO).

    In the upper areas...the RME and the Lynx.
     
  3. sneaky

    sneaky
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    Thanks Alexs,

    Looking at the other quality gear you have, the Audiotrak must give decent sound. Did you buy the expansion board as well to give you spdif coaxial etc.

    If you didn't what uplink do you use to you upsampler.

    I was going to buy a Denon 2900 DVD Player - how close will the sound be to that.

    Chris
     
  4. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Ok...The sound of the board used on it's own is nothing to write home about...it's used solely as a digital output from the HCPC,and to avoid Windows Kmixer using ASIO.
    I use the SP/DIF out on the card for that purpose,feeding the digital signal via an XLO Signature 4.2 digital cable to a perpetual Technologies P1A upsampler/interpolator outputting CD at 24bit/96kHz into the Tag...it does sound good(to my ears anyway)and much better than raw CD,or the Tag on it's own,but not as good as using the P1A/P3A together...but certainly more convenient than taking all the wires down every time I want to have CD at it's best!

    The Denon is supposed to be very good indeed,but being honest,I'd be surprised if it's as good on CD as this is....but you'd be comparing a £700 DVD player with a system costing several times that amount.
     
  5. sneaky

    sneaky
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    Am I right in thinking you didn't bother with the extra mio board.

    Also did you use any special type of cable to connect the DVD Player to the sound card.

    Thanks

    Chris
     
  6. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Yes....I didnt get the extra I/O board,as it wasn't required,and as for connecting the DVD player...it's via the standard cabling,with all the high quality stuff being outside the HCPC,where all the digital processing is done.
     
  7. Branxx

    Branxx
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    There is not much choice amount the sound cards at the moment.

    If you want something cheapish but still audiophile look at M-Audio Revolution 7.1. I think they are around £70.

    Next step is RME HDSP 9632. They will set up back about £300.

    Check the forum's classified section, Loot and Sound-on-Sound. The later two frequently have pro sound cards on offer and there are many bargains.
     
  8. sneaky

    sneaky
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    Thanks Branxx,

    I heard you had done quite a bit of work on sound cards. What can I expect from the Revolution.


    Alex thanks for all your time, you have been a great help and very patient. Where did you get the XLO cable from.

    Thanks Chris
     
  9. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I got them from my then local hifi shop,Rayleigh HiFi,who no longer stock them unfortunately.
    I've now switched most of the other cabling to Kimber(from www.russandrews.com) which sounds superb.

    As far as I can remember,Signals (www.signals.demon.co.uk) stock XLO cables.
     
  10. Branxx

    Branxx
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    Sneaky,

    You don’t specify what is the rest of your audio system, but I think if your components are in £500-£1000 range, you’ll find Revo 7.1 very pleasant surprise (especially considering the low price). The card also comes with the driver that can perform bass management and CSII surround processing (something like Dolby Pro Logic, but better). I use M-Audio Delta 410 in one of my systems (it is the predecessor to Revo 7.1) and always get pleasantly surprised how good it sounds. My card is directly connected to a set of 6 active speakers and 3 subs.

    If you are planning to use digital link to your processor Revo 7.1 can do that as well. For bet audio quality you’ll need music player software that supports ASIO or kernel streaming modes.

    Considering the low cost and surprising high audio quality this is an ideal card for start with.
     
  11. sneaky

    sneaky
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    Thanks Branxx,

    I will be linking the M Audio to my Yamaha Receiver, soon to be replaced by a Denon 3803. I will be linking them via the Coaxial Digital output - unless you are going to tell me there is a better way. I presume I will use the souncard as a pass thru as much as anything.

    You mentioned a music player that supports ASIO (Whatever that is), I mainly want to USE the setup for movies - is there anything else that I should be thinking about.

    I have just opened and installed a Sigma XCard and noticed that it has a coaxial digital output - is it still better to get the MAudio or route the sound through the XCard.


    Chris
     
  12. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Chris...not to tread on Branxx's area,but I use an X-Card in my system....the digital out from that is fed to the HCPC separately from the sound card.

    That allows me to use the X-card for DVD playback,and the soundcard solely for CD,without problems arising from trying to use the X-card's player for CDs,which my version doesnt handle.

    For DVD playback though,the X-card is excellent.
     
  13. sneaky

    sneaky
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    Thanks Alex,

    Does that mean I can feed the sound from the DVD to the XCard and the link my receiver to the Coaxial output on the XCard and away I go.

    Im not really interested in music.

    If I add the M-Audio will that give me better movie sound or is it a link I just dont need. Hope that makes sense. Sorry to sound so thick, but I am learning by the second.

    Chris
     
  14. Branxx

    Branxx
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    Sneaky,

    I am quite positive that the analogue sound quality out of Revo 7.1 is of higher quality than Yamaha (at least it was against my old Yamaha DSP A1).

    As you are mainly focused on DVD audio and have no plans to decode Dolby Digital or DTS within the PC than maybe you should postpone getting a sound card and go the x-Card route.

    I just checked Sound-on-Sound reader ads there are number of potentially good purchases: Echo Gina 24 for £200, M-audio Delta 1010 £250, M-Audio Audiophile £80, RME DIGI96/8 PST £190.

    Another potential soundcard choice that is also reasonably prices is STAudio DSP24V for £80. You’ll also need the add-on SPDIF board that I think is around £20.

    ASIO and kernel streaming are methonds that sound card uses to pass-thru the audio signal from an application onto the outside world without it being altered by Windows component called kmixer (that re-samples the original stream thus noticeably altering its quality).

    The kmixer problem does not affect Dolby Digital or DTS compressed audio as within the Windows they are regarded as non-audio streams (i.e. data streams). So DVD watching will be ok (unless the audio is uncompressed multi-channel which is very rare).

    If you choose RME, Echo, STAudio or Lynx cards you don’t need to worry about the kmixer as soundcard’s driver bypasses it by default.
     
  15. alexs2

    alexs2
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    In essence,yes.....pretty much what is done with mine,with the addition of the soundcard for digital pass-through for the CD end of things.

    Also worth remembering that the X-card doesnt support CD audio.
     
  16. sneaky

    sneaky
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    Top post Branxx. Thank you very much. Nice and concise and I actually understand it.

    Ill give the XCard a go tonight. Am I right in thinking I do not need to worry about KMixer/ASIO etc as it doesn't affect Dolby Digital etc. Do I need to change any settings on the xcard to tell it to be in pass thru mode.


    Chris
     
  17. Branxx

    Branxx
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    Am I right in thinking I do not need to worry about KMixer/ASIO etc as it doesn't affect Dolby Digital etc.

    That is correct.
     
  18. Mr THX

    Mr THX
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    Interesting thread guys have been reading wih interest...........

    Branxx
    You could help me out on a matter - I've been looking around for a decent soundcard for my HCPC, wanting more quality from music. Playback is ripped CD's as .APE files, using Foobar2000 outputting SP/DIF to my Tag AV32R bp192 - I was inclined to go for the M-Audio Revo but don't seam to be able to source from many places at all, the one I do know off (OverClockersUK) are out of stock. So I've had a look around the classifieds as you suggested, came across a 'M Audio Delta 66' and wondered if this would be a good choice ??? Is it better than the Revo for SP/DIF output ??
     
  19. dek1965

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    trust 514dx optical expert - has digital optical & coax in and out and is 0nly £30, works a treat
     
  20. Rob.Screene

    Rob.Screene
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    I've no experience of it, but there's more info about the Delta 66 on the m-audio site:

    6 x 6 24-bit/96kHz full-duplex audio interface
    4 x 4 analog I/O
    S/PDIF digital I/O with 2-channel PCM
    frequency response: 22Hz-22kHz, -0.3, -0.2dB
    dynamic range:
    103dB (A-weighted) (D/A)
    THD: < 0.002% (D/A)

    Looks to have a nigh identical spec to the Audiophile2496, but with loads more channels and an external breakout box:
    frequency response: 22Hz-22kHz, -0.4, -0.4dB
    dynamic range:
    104dB (A-weighted) (D/A)
    THD: < 0.002%

    ref: http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=products.list&ID=pciinterfaces

    regards,
    Rob.
     
  21. Branxx

    Branxx
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    Mr THX try reader's adrs at www/sospubs.co.uk. There is M-Audio Audiophile card for £80. This is better choice for SPDIF only operation than Delta 66 (newer design and it is known to work well in HTPC applications).

    For truly high quality SPDIF out (very low jitter) you may consider RME DIGI 96/8 PST from the same site.
     
  22. dannyc

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    Branxx, nice to REM have gone into competition with RME:hiya:

    Dan
     
  23. Adrenochrome

    Adrenochrome
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    Also reading this but unfortunately not understanding most of it:confused:

    I am looking for a soundcard to put in my shuttle to connect via optical to my yamaha receiver for watching dvds and listening to mp3s.

    Would i be correct in saying that the revo 7.1 would be the way to go?

    Adrenochrome.
     
  24. Branxx

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    Revo is and should the the preferred entry point (and for many applications will remain the optimal component).

    I don;t know who is selling it in the UK. You may try M-Audio (UK).
     
  25. Adrenochrome

    Adrenochrome
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    Thank you :smashin:

    Adrenochrome.
     
  26. Branxx

    Branxx
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    Just found Revo available here.
     
  27. Adrenochrome

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    Cheers branxx

    That'll be another hundred pounds gone then:laugh:

    Adrenochrome.
     
  28. Mr THX

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    Branxx / Rob

    Thanks for the information and the heads up. The SOS site is spot on. Will see if the M-Audio Audiophile card is still available tomorrow.

    PS. What's the main difference between the RME 'PST' and the 'PAD' card? (If any) Having read your RME 'PAD' review it sound an excellent card indeed.
     
  29. Jeff

    Jeff
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    The compatibility issues M-audio spdif implementation always worries me. They just don't seem to be able to get it right and when they do they usually break it again in later drivers.
     
  30. Mr THX

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    Jeff..........could you expand on that a little please guv, what exactlly are the problems ??

    Don't want to make the wrong choice here, if need be I' rather wait a bit then order a RME96/8 PAD card and have done.

    Many Thanks
     

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