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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
so ive been researching what soundcard will give me the best sound output for some hi-fi gear that i am in the process of purchasing... can i connect the analog outputs of the RME DIGI96/8 PAD directly into a power-amp?, or do i still need a pre-amp to do so??
 

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You can connect it for sure. Here are a few considerations.


Potential for lethal clicks when you reboot your machine. I am not quite sure whether this is an issue with the PAD but ideally you have a relay that softly engages after everything is powered up an ready.


Your volume control will be happening in the digital domain which has the potential to lead to lower resolution with lower volumes


You need to use UI to change your volume. This can be tedious and you might want to look into a remote control solution


With the DACs inside the PC case you might get more noise compared to an outboard DAC. If I recall correctly the RME digi96 has a dynamic range of around103db~16bits. Outboards DACs go to about 119db~19bits but this is not necessarily an issue.


Good luck and let us know how you like it.


Cheers


Thomas
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by NatGun
can i connect the analog outputs of the RME DIGI96/8 PAD directly into a power-amp?
For two channel playback, this is probably quite reasonable. But for AC3, DTS or any other multi-channel audio, there are many, MANY issues...
 

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I might be wrong on the 103db but seem to remember seeing this in the comparison of some sound cards. The Lynx Studio 2 was ahead of the pack. May it was Rightmark Audio Analyzer.


In any case this might or might not be an issue. When they did the sound card shootout in London they liked the RME better than the Lynx.



Cheers



Thomas
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by ElvisIncognito
For two channel playback, this is probably quite reasonable. But for AC3, DTS or any other multi-channel audio, there are many, MANY issues...


such as??
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by NatGun
such as??
Jeez, where to begin.....


For starters, there is no software currently available that will allow you to adjust individual channel volume, delay, crossover, and LFE parameters - all crucial to multi-channel audio.


Then there's the fact that SW DVD players are all focused on good quality video - not audio. Not one of them that's currently available allows you to bypass the kmixer bug by using ASIO or kernel streaming.


And if you're seriously thinking about buying such a nice, expensive, high performance sound card that will allow your PC to serve the duties of a preamp/processor, then you should also know that there's nothing currently available that will accept an external AC3 or DTS digital audio stream and decode for output via the sound card.
 

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You could also try the newer RME Hammerfall DSP 9632 . I think it also addresses the "turn on thump issue" better. With the new multimedia P4 motherboards coming out in February - you just might be in HTPC heaven (fingers x-ed, but not turning red). ;)
 

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Here's RMAA marks for a RME HDSP-9632, looped back with moderate monster cable (an extra pair that I had lying around.) Tested at 24bits and 44.1khz.


Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: \t+0.02, -0.04\tExcellent

Noise level, dB (A): \t-105.5\tExcellent

Dynamic range, dB (A): \t104.6\tExcellent

THD, %: \t0.0022\tExcellent

IMD, %: \t0.0029\tExcellent

Stereo crosstalk, dB: \t-107.1\tExcellent

 

rmaa.zip 48.931640625k . file
 

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greenkiwi - NICE, REAL NICE! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by greenkiwi
Here's RMAA marks for a RME HDSP-9632, looped back with moderate monster cable (an extra pair that I had lying around.) Tested at 24bits and 44.1khz.


Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.02, -0.04 Excellent

Noise level, dB (A): -105.5 Excellent

Dynamic range, dB (A): 104.6 Excellent

THD, %: 0.0022 Excellent

IMD, %: 0.0029 Excellent

Stereo crosstalk, dB: -107.1 Excellent


not quite sure what all that stuff means, forgive my noobishness..


is the hammerfall better than the DIGI96/8 PAD??


are these numbers good enough for use with hi-fi gear, or am i still better off going with a separate DAC and preamp...
 

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Well, its measured performance is greater than what you can provide with a CD. One option is to try it out and see. (Try to find a place that sells the cards with a 30 day money back option.) The HDSP-9632 that I've used is a friend's, so I haven't done extensive listening to it... however, on a Denon system, w/ older KEF floor standing speakers in the 4k range (what was around the office), its analog output sounded no different than its digital output. This leads me to think that the Denon may be the rate limiting factor here. I also listened to it on a system with some Maggie 3.6s, but not for long enough to really make a judgement, other than I could not fault the sound.


As for Digi96/8 v. HDSP-9632. The latter is newer and is supposed to have a better analog output stage. That said, you can probably pick the Digi96/8 up for a chuck less than the 9632.


The other issue with using it (or any sound card) connected directly up to an amplifier is that the volume control is performed in the digital domain... as opposed to analog with a preamp. If you aren't changing your volume levels much, it's probably not a big deal, but if you do, then you'll probably want a better volume control.


kiwi
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
well id be using a PC remote for volume... and im gonna be using an integrated amp for reasons i dont want to get into now.. do you think ill run into any significant problems going this route??
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by greenkiwi
The other issue with using it (or any sound card) connected directly up to an amplifier is that the volume control is performed in the digital domain... as opposed to analog with a preamp. If you aren't changing your volume levels much, it's probably not a big deal, but if you do, then you'll probably want a better volume control.
Actually, the problem with controlling volume in the digital domain is the loss of resolution (information) at lower volume levels. There *is* a solution to this, and IIRC, the Hammerfall has it. There was a thread on this topic some time ago. Try searching on volume AND "digital domain" AND resolution.
 

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For 2 channel only you get a bit lower noise floor in an external DACs, you can find models with an analog volume control, and you are safe from clicks.


Whether this is important to you really depends on your preferences.


Have a look at the Benchmark Media DAC1 or the Apogee Digital mini-DAC just to round out your evaluation.


I seem to remember ElvisCognito had a DAC1 at some point.


Cheers


Thomas
 

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Re: Digital Volume on HDSP-9632: (From their news group)

Quote:
The HDSP9632 provides analog volume control in three steps for inputs

and outputs: -10 dBV, +4 dBu and Lo/HiGain. Anything else is digital.


Regards

Matthias Carstens

RME
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by ElvisIncognito
Actually, the problem with controlling volume in the digital domain is the loss of resolution (information) at lower volume levels. There *is* a solution to this, and IIRC, the Hammerfall has it. There was a thread on this topic some time ago. Try searching on volume AND "digital domain" AND resolution.
Right! We were talking about this last year in "digital attenuation" or "digital volume control". ;) With 24-bit, it will challenge (or beat) even the most passive preamp. I found this: Audible effects of digital attenuation - in fact you had started the thread - very entertaining! ;)
 

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Quote:
Then there's the fact that SW DVD players are all focused on good quality video - not audio. Not one of them that's currently available allows you to bypass the kmixer bug by using ASIO or kernel streaming.
the hdsp 9632 drivers bypass the kmixer in directsound so they do not suffer from the kmixer bug
 
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