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New Soundcard required.

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by Pulsar, Aug 18, 2003.

  1. Pulsar

    Pulsar
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    Hello Guys,

    I am in the throws of purchasing a new sound card for my HTPC, and I am not sure which one to go for. I have asked many questions, on many forums, and I have narrowed my choice down to 2 cards. Either a M-audio Revo 7.1 or a RME DIGI96/8 PAD. I currently only use my PC for DVD playing, so the optical digital output on my Nforce motherboard has been fine, but I am in the throws of setting my PC up as a music server. The PC will be connected directly to a power amplifier, so I need/want a quality soundcard to carry out the A/D conversion.

    My current setup is not worthy of a RME DIGI96/8 PAD, as I have heard Branxx compare its analogue audio output to that of a Lexicon!! But I am of the opinion that it is always best to future proof wherever possible, and I do aspire to own a very high quality HiFi system. I believe that the RME can be purchased for a little over £200, but can someone show me where please? I could also do with confirmation on the connections available on this card, does it have separate left and right phono jacks, and a coaxial digital jack?

    On the other hand, I could take the cheaper route, and go for a M-audio Revo 7.1 soundcard. This card is very well regarded in the HTPC world, but I know that it does have some quirks, such as pops from speakers on boot and sutdown of the PC. I have seen this card sold for £68 on the internet, and are very tempted. One thing that does put me off slightly is that I would have to use a headphone jack to 2 phono cable to connect this card to my amp, and I have never seen a high quality one of these cables for sale. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

    So I am looking for some HTPC guru's to give me some advice please.

    Many thanks

    Rob
     
  2. JohnS

    JohnS
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  3. robocook

    robocook
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  4. MuFu

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    I use a J2P between my Revo and the amp - just one though because three don't fit!!! Just be wary of that before ordering.

    MuFu.
     
  5. Branxx

    Branxx
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    The cheapest I saw RME is at www.musicians-gear.com, £203+postage.

    RME DIGI96/8 PAD has two jack connectors at the back: (unbalanced) stereo input and output. You can use a dedicated 1/4" jack to stereo RCA cable to connect to your amp or use 1/4" to RCA adapter.[​IMG] and then use standard RCA stereo leads.

    In one my systems I have M-Audio Delta410 that is very similar to
    Revo 7.1. This is very dangerous card to be connected to power amp directly during the power up/down. If Revo is similar than you need to think hard if you can always properly manage power down sequence. RME is much better but there are still pops on power on/off.

    I am convinced that the audio quality of RME is better than Revo but it also cost more and if you want to use in a multi-channel configuration you'll need to buy audio extension board. There is no bass management of individual volume controls on RME. On the other hands Revo driver suffers from kmixer and you’ll need to use ASIO plug-ins to get the best results.

    Something to think about.
     
  6. sapgem

    sapgem
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    BTW Pulsar, I would not connect your audio card directly to the power amplifier (unless you enjoy 8 bit music that is). You need a preamp, despite what you might read elsewhere. Changing output voltage (i.e. volume) WITHOUT losing resolution is not a trivial matter.

    The digital attenuation needed for the Revo or RME to act as a preamp will kill the resolution of the music you play (effectively digital attenuation, as i understand it, sticks zeros in the most significant bit of a sample and shifts all the other bits to the right). You need 3 extra zeros to lose 18db.

    Currently i am waiting for my preamp (a passive creek 0bh-12) but have my power (Quad 909). The quad 909 needs -32db to be listenable directly from my Revo and in this configuration sounds inferior to my old integrated (a cheapo Sony TAFE-570). yes, dynamics are better but the sound is muffled. Indeed i did some quick ABXs with 16bit wavs versus the same wavs cut to 8 bit. When the Revo is connected to the 909 directly i cannot reliably tell 8 bit from 16 bit audio (something that is easy with the Sony).
     
  7. Pulsar

    Pulsar
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    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for all of the indepth info given. I have been giving this matter some serious thought, and I think I am going to go for the Revo. By spending less money on a soundcard, and should be able to upgrade my amplifier. Also, I don't think that any equipment I can afford in the near future would do justice to the RME card.

    I will get over the power up/down noise of the card by either leaving my PC all of the time (will need watercooling) or switch my amp off before shutting down etc. I don't think that I made it clear in the first post what type of amp I have. At the moment I have a Rotel integrated amp, but I am/was thinking of switching to a power amp. After the info given, I will make my upgrade choice carefully. I plan on keeping the PC volume at 100%, and using the volume control on the integrated amp.

    Branxx, I am using Media Center 9 for my music playing with the audio encoded in Monkeys audio loss-less compression. You say that I will to use ASIO plugins to bypass kmixer, what does this involve, and can I do it?

    Finaly, what solution would be best to connect the PC to the amp? I already have a converter like the one Branxx has pictured, but it looks like a very LoFi bit on kit. Has anyone tried the richer sounds or the QED cables?

    Thanks again.

    Rob
     
  8. Branxx

    Branxx
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    REVO would be my choice as well. It is good card with lot of features that matter for HT use.

    I think ASIO playback is one of the options within MC9. Look for a cable around £10 for up to 5m.

    Switch of you amp when not using. Sudden loss of power in the middle of the night will be quite a shock. Happened to me a few times.
     
  9. Branxx

    Branxx
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    REVO would be my choice as well. It is good card with lot of features that matter for HT use.

    I think ASIO playback is one of the options within MC9. Look for a cable around £10 for up to 5m.

    Switch of you amp when not using. Sudden loss of power in the middle of the night will be quite a shock. Happened to me a few times.
     

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