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Summary of c't review: 10 high-end soundcards
CiTay
post May 21 2002, 20:40
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This summary is based on a review in c't magazine, issue 11/2002, p. 156-165. It compares 10 different upper-class soundcards. c't doesn't make a "ranking" or gives out awards, like other magazines. It just shows you all the results and lets you be the judge. Because c't is not available everywhere, and is written in german, i decided to make this summary. However, this is no substitute for reading the test, if you really want to know all the details. This should only provide a first overview. Please buy c't magazine to support them. Their homepage is http://www.heise.de/ct/ .

Valuation is as follows, from best to worst: Very good > good > okay > poor > very poor.

Here is a glossary with pictures of the connectors (Phone, RCA...), because they have different names in some countries: http://www.bus.ucf.edu/cwhite/theater/Conn...torGlossary.htm

Without further due, here are the summarized test results.


Audiotrak Maya 44:
CODE
Recording:    18 bit / 48 KHz
Playback:    20 bit / 48 KHz
Analog INs:  4 (Phone, unbalanced)
Analog OUTs:    4 (Phone, unbalanced)
Digital INs:    -
Digital OUTs:    SPDIF optical/coax
MIDI Interface:    optional

DVD output analog/digital:    Stereo / AC3
Game output analog/digital:    Stereo / Stereo

CODE
Audio quality:      good
Installation:      poor
Equipment/Extras:    poor
Documentation:  good
Operation/Usability:    good

Latency in ms (minimum/realistic): 2/6
(Measured with Cubase VST/32 5.1r1, Win XP)

Notes: Excellent frequency response. Can provide 12V Phantom-voltage for high-end Microphones.

ca. 179 Euro




Audiotrak Inca 88:
CODE
Recording:    18 bit / 48 KHz
Playback:    20 bit / 48 KHz
Analog INs:  8 Line (Phone, unbalanced)
 2 can be switched to Mic
Analog OUTs:    8 Line (Phone, unbalanced)
 2 can be switched to Headphones
Digital INs:    -
Digital OUTs:    SPDIF optical/coax
MIDI Interface:    optional

DVD output analog/digital:    5.1 / Stereo
Game output analog/digital:    5.1 / Stereo

CODE
Audio quality:      okay
Installation:      poor
Equipment/Extras:    good
Documentation:  good
Operation/Usability:    good

Latency in ms (minimum/realistic): 2/6

Notes: Comes with Breakout-Box, but the box isn't shielded good enough. Can provide 12V Phantom-voltage for high-end Microphones.

ca. 399 Euro




Creative Soundblaster Audigy Platinum EX:
CODE
Recording:    16 bit / 48 KHz
Playback:    24 bit / 48 KHz
Analog INs:  2 (Phone/RCA)
 can be switched to Mic/Line
Analog OUTs:    2 Line (RCA),
 Headphones, 5.1 (Mini-Phone)
Digital INs:    SPDIF optical/coax
Digital OUTs:    SPDIF optical/coax
MIDI Interface:    1 IN, 1 OUT

DVD output analog/digital:    5.1 / AC3
Game output analog/digital:    5.1 / 5.1
   EAX

CODE
Audio quality:      okay
Installation:      poor
Equipment/Extras:    good
Documentation:  poor
Operation/Usability:    very poor

Latency in ms (minimum/realistic): 2/10

Notes: 5.1 digital output only with Creative speakers. Comes with external box and remote control. Recording with 24 bits not possible (at least with ASIO). Mic-IN has horrible quality.

ca. 283 Euro




ESI Waveterminal 192L:
CODE
Recording:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Playback:    24 bit / 192 KHz
Analog INs:  2 (Phone, unbalanced),
 Mic (stereo), Line (Stereo)
Analog OUTs:    6 Line (Phone, unbalanced)
 Stereo, one pair can be switched to Headphones)
Digital INs:    -
Digital OUTs:    SPDIF optical
MIDI Interface:    optional

DVD output analog/digital:    5.1 / AC3
Game output analog/digital:    Stereo / Stereo

CODE
Audio quality:      okay
Installation:      poor
Equipment/Extras:    okay
Documentation:  good
Operation/Usability:    good

Latency in ms (minimum/realistic): 2/6

Notes: Bad frequency response linearity for Line-IN and Mic-IN. Can provide 12V Phantom-voltage for high-end Microphones.

ca. 229 Euro




M-Audio Delta 66:
CODE
Recording:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Playback:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Analog INs:  4 Line (Phone, unbalanced)
 balanced signals can be connected
Analog OUTs:    4 Line (Phone, unbalanced)
 balanced signals can be connected
Digital INs:    SPDIF coax
Digital OUTs:    SPDIF coax
MIDI Interface:    -

DVD output analog/digital:    Stereo / AC3
Game output analog/digital:    Stereo / Stereo

CODE
Audio quality:      good
Installation:      good
Equipment/Extras:    good
Documentation:  good
Operation/Usability:    okay

Latency in ms (minimum/realistic): 1/3

Notes: Comes with Breakout-Box that is well shielded. Omni-I/O Box optional. Low ASIO latency possible.

ca. 439 Euro




M-Audio Delta 410:
CODE
Recording:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Playback:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Analog INs:  2 Line (RCA)
Analog OUTs:    8 Line (RCA)
Digital INs:    SPDIF coax
Digital OUTs:    SPDIF coax
MIDI Interface:    -

DVD output analog/digital:    5.1 / AC3
Game output analog/digital:    Stereo / Stereo

CODE
Audio quality:      very good
Installation:      good
Equipment/Extras:    okay
Documentation:  good
Operation/Usability:    okay

Latency in ms (minimum/realistic): 1/3

Notes: Low ASIO latency possible.

ca. 359 Euro




M-Audio Delta 1010LT:
CODE
Recording:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Playback:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Analog INs:  8 Line (6 RCA,
 2 XLR balanced, can be switched to Mic)
Analog OUTs:    8 Line (RCA)
Digital INs:    SPDIF coax
Digital OUTs:    SPDIF coax
MIDI Interface:    1 IN, 1 OUT

DVD output analog/digital:    5.1 / AC3
Game output analog/digital:    Stereo / Stereo

CODE
Audio quality:      very good
Installation:      good
Equipment/Extras:    very good
Documentation:  good
Operation/Usability:    okay

Latency in ms (minimum/realistic): 1/3

Notes: Low ASIO latency possible.

ca. 499 Euro




ST Audio DSP 2000:
CODE
Recording:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Playback:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Analog INs:  8 Line (Phone, unbalanced,
 2 can be switched to XLR balanced/Mic)
Analog OUTs:    8 Line (Phone, unbalanced),
 Headphones
Digital INs:    SPDIF optical/coax, AES/EBU
Digital OUTs:    SPDIF optical/coax, AES/EBU
MIDI Interface:    1 IN, 2 OUT

DVD output analog/digital:    5.1 / AC3
Game output analog/digital:    Stereo / Stereo

CODE
Audio quality:      very good
Installation:      good
Equipment/Extras:    very good
Documentation:  poor
Operation/Usability:    okay

Latency in ms (minimum/realistic): 3/7

Notes: Comes with 19" external box. Can provide 48V Phantom-voltage for high-end Microphones. A/D-D/A chips are in external box. Excellent audio quality.

ca. 511 Euro




Terratec DMX 6Fire 24/96:
CODE
Recording:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Playback:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Analog INs:  2 Line (RCA),
 2 Phono (RCA), 2 Line (Mini-Phone)
Analog OUTs:    2 Line (RCA),
 Headphones, 5.1 (Mini-Phone)
Digital INs:    SPDIF optical/coax
Digital OUTs:    SPDIF optical/coax
MIDI Interface:    1 IN, 1 OUT

DVD output analog/digital:    5.1 / AC3
Game output analog/digital:    5.1 / Stereo
   EAX, A3D

CODE
Audio quality:      very good
Installation:      okay
Equipment/Extras:    good
Documentation:  good
Operation/Usability:    good

Latency in ms (minimum/realistic): 4/4

Notes: Comes with Breakout-Box. Excellent Mic-IN. Phono can be directly connected.

ca. 255 Euro




Terratec DMX 6FireLT 24/96:
CODE
Recording:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Playback:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Analog INs:  1 Line (Mini-Phone),
 1 Mic (Mini-Phone)
Analog OUTs:    5.1
Digital INs:    SPDIF optical
Digital OUTs:    SPDIF optical
MIDI Interface:    -

DVD output analog/digital:    5.1 / AC3
Game output analog/digital:    Stereo / Stereo
   EAX, A3D

CODE
Audio quality:      very good
Installation:      okay
Equipment/Extras:    good
Documentation:  good
Operation/Usability:    good

Latency in ms (minimum/realistic): 4/4

Notes: Lite-Version: no Breakout-Box.

ca. 149 Euro




Terratec EWS 88MT:
CODE
Recording:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Playback:    24 bit / 96 KHz
Analog INs:  8 Line (RCA)
Analog OUTs:    8 Line (RCA),
 Monitor (Mini-Phone)
Digital INs:    SPDIF coax
Digital OUTs:    SPDIF coax
MIDI Interface:    1 IN, 1 OUT

DVD output analog/digital:    5.1 / AC3
Game output analog/digital:    5.1 / Stereo

CODE
Audio quality:      very good
Installation:      poor
Equipment/Extras:    good
Documentation:  good
Operation/Usability:    good


Latency in ms (minimum/realistic): 4/4

Notes: Comes with Breakout-Box that can also be used as an external box. Excellent audio quality.

ca. 408 Euro

__________________________________________________


I hope this was valuable information. I put quite some time into writing this, so please link to this thread instead of copy&paste to other forums. If there are any questions left about the article, just reply, i'll do my best to answer them.
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ProtectYaNeck36
post May 22 2002, 19:31
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could you add the information regarding performance on dvd material, please?
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