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Ron_Jeremy

New onkyo Soundcard

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I've been really enjoying the fantastic sound of my M-Audio Audiophile 2496. It's clearly much cleaner than my Audigy. Anyway, I think I've caught the audio bug, again, & have been surfing the web for new stuff. I stumbled across this translated review of a new card from Onkyo.

Aren't they gorgeous?

news114896.jpg

news114896_002.jpg

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It uses the excellent Envy24 chip from three years ago. Aopen made a motherboard with this chip and a vacuum-tube based preamp back in the day: http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/ax4b533tube/default.asp

Personally, if I was just looking for two-channel audio, I would use the spdif out on any cheap onboard solution and run it through the good DACs in my receiver. Even the cheapest AC '97 solution with digital out can produce excellent CD-quality sound if you don't use the onboard DACs. Better even than the Audigy's digital out because everything there is internally resampled to 48khz.

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Hi

I have to agree with BFG9000 - the best way to get clean audio out of a PC is to take it out digitally and perform digital to analog conversion offboard. I don't use my PC for listening to music so it is not connected to my hi-fi at all, but I have a set of Cambridge Soundworks DTT3500 speakers that connect to my audigy with a single digital cable carrying all 5 channels. You could presumably do something with this digital output to take 5.1 output from a PC to a surround reciever with appropriate digital inputs.

I would guess that all but the cheapest and nastiest offboard DAC is going to kick the ass of anything living inside a PC. I laughed so much when I saw that Aopen board with the vaccum tubes inside - 100% gimmick IMHO.

Dave

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The SE-90 is supposed to be pretty good sounding. (Which, btw, has less to do with the Envy24MT on it but rather with the decent-quality DAC, good analog stage and good-qualty parts.) I would, however, prefer an M-Audio Audiophile 192 for the time being, since the Onkyo card still is pretty expensive (Audiocubes has 'em for $150, the 'phile 192 is like 120...130 and has inputs as well).

As for "sound card" vs. external DAC (or CD player), I wouldn't be so sure. AFAIK the E-MU 1212M ($200 PC based solution) is about in the same league as a Meridian 508 ($2000 CDP), and a Lynx L22 ($700 PC based) will beat the (stock) 1212M hands down so that should be in another league entirely. (Both of these use top-flight DACs btw. There isn't anything better than a CS4398 as far as I know.) Even my humble Aureon 5.1 Sky beats the old Onkyo DX-6920 CDP (same as DX-703) that I have, not too surprisingly given the age difference of like 10 or 11 years and the advances in DACs made in that time. (It shouldn't surprise you that the CDP doesn't see a whole lot of use here.)

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Bfg9000, if I connect the RCA outputs of my M-Audio 2496 to RCA inputs of a receiver/amplifier, would this be the same as your suggestion with spdif (i.e., quality wise)?

Also, anyone know of a good quality 2 channel amp I can use? The catch is it must be small because it's gonna sit on my desk. I've been trying to find a used Musical Fidelity X-Series Integrated Amp, but haven't had much success scouring eBay the last few weeks. And now Bfg9000 has got me thinking spdif, which are normally found on receivers, not 2-ch integrated amps, so maybe I should look for a different product?

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RCA outs are analog, and you would be using the card's DACs. Unless of course the RCA you refer to is a Coax digital out. BTW no difference quality-wise between optical or coax digital outputs because optical is a coax with a LED wired to it. I'd imagine even the same DACs would sound better outside the computer case where it is not continuously bathed in RF.

And davidedney123, nobody makes 5.1 digital out because it would be the perfect way to bypass SACD and DVD-Audio copy protection. The only 5.1 out you can get over digital is passthrough like AC-3 to a surround receiver, and no games are encoded that way. What we need is a renegade manufacturer to either provide unprotected 6-ch digital out or hardware encode to Dolby Digital.

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There's been some good buzz about this card over on head-fi.org, but it doesn't seem to be the last word. I have a 1212m and can confirm that the sound quality is simply phenomenal. The biggest issue is the DSP patch panel software - using the 1212m as a "day to day" sound card can be painful.

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Hi

  I have to agree with BFG9000 - the best way to get clean audio out of a PC is to take it out digitally and perform digital to analog conversion offboard.  I don't use my PC for listening to music so it is not connected to my hi-fi at all, but I have a set of Cambridge Soundworks DTT3500 speakers that connect to my audigy with a single digital cable carrying all 5 channels.  You could presumably do something with this digital output to take 5.1 output from a PC to a surround reciever with appropriate digital inputs.

203608[/snapback]

To expand on bfg9000's comment, you use a single cable, but it has 4 conductors. One of these is a ground and the other 3 are spdif channels. Any one of these could be fed into a reciever, but you'd only get two audio channels.

HDMI is supposed to support multiple audio channels, but who knows when(or if) we'll have PC hardware supporting it...

-JoeTD

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