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RME HDSP9632 Sound Card: First Impressions

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by Branxx, Aug 17, 2003.

  1. Branxx

    Branxx
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    I completed putting together a 2nd HTPC with RME HDSP9232 in it. It was an older Asus TUSL2-C motherboard with P3 1133MHz processor and 512MB PC133 memory. The other HTPC with RME DIGI 96/8 PAD is Intel D850 based with P4 2GHz and 512MB PC200 memory.

    Audio files were all losslessly compressed in Sonic Foundry Perfect Clarity Audio and stored on the network drive.

    I listened to 2-channel analogue out routed via Lexicon MC-12B and via SPDIF from both cards, using 2-channel mode in which case Lexicon does bass management. Speakers are M&K MPS-2510P + MPS-5310 (subwoofer, consumer MX-350 equivalent).

    Preliminary, I would say difference if exists is hard to spot. To start with, DIGI96/8 is extremely competent card and very hard to beat, and HDSP9632 matches its performance with ease. Without being absolutely certain I would give slight edge to HDSP9632 in better stereo separation and imaging, giving some extra clarity to vocals and piano music. This result maybe partially obscured by Lexicon interference as in this mode Lexicon would perform ADC in order to do the bass management and then DAC before outputting signal. So what is being heard is 'over-processed'. From my previous comparisons, I do think pure RME DIGI96/8 analogue to be of higher quality than Lexicon's.

    I was not able to detect any difference when using SPDIF. PowerDVD works well with both cards (HDSP9632 need driver version 2.62 for SPDIF to work) in both SPDIF Out and 6-channel mode. I also tried Windows Media Player with the new T2 Extreme release, and WMP9 does not recognise multi-channel capability of the either RME card.

    HDSP9632 driver is more comprehensive and give more control over the features. This can be useful on occasion, although for HTPC use many of those features would remain unused.

    So, if anyone is rushing to sell DIGI96/8 and replace it with HDSP9632 for 2-channel use, I’ll suggest don’t rush as yet. The story will be different in multi-channel use as HDSP’s new audio expansion board AE4S-192 is supposed to be of much better quality than the older AEB-4O. Additionally, it looks as individual volume controls will be available with the new board.

    The price of DIGI96/8 PAD is not £203, while HDSP9632 is around £370. The audio expansion board is not yet available. Anyone needing balanced connection from HDSP would need to purchase a different breakout cable (cost not yet know).
     
  2. Jeff

    Jeff
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    Thanks Branxx, I think I'll stick with my PST for a little while. I've been feeding mine into the analogue multi channel inputs on a lowly Rotel 1066 pre/pro and I'm dead impressed.
     
  3. Branxx

    Branxx
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    Jeff,

    Are you using Audio Expanssion Board to get additional channels out of PST?
     
  4. Jeff

    Jeff
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    I have it, but I havn't installed it yet. I need to move to a larger case to fit it, plus Theatertek doesn't support multi channel output yet.
     
  5. Branxx

    Branxx
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    I think madders have tried the same and found that the volume control applies to channel 1/2 only. Other channel are always on full volume.

    Do you have a solution for this problem?
     
  6. Jeff

    Jeff
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    The multi channel input on the Rotel 1066 has an analogue crossover at 100Hz and allows volume control of the channels. It seems to work great with 2 channel stuff so I'm hopefull I'll be fine for multichannel stuff.
     

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