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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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macdaddy
post May 23 2002, 03:24
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Thanks CiTaY...

QUOTE
I'm surprised though, that they didn't have M-Audio's Audiophile 2496 model in there, since it's so popular.
To the best of my knowledge, the hardware on the ap 24/96 is the same as on the two mentioned in the article CiTaY cites. The only difference being the number and type of possible inputs and outputs. Thus it would be safe to say that the ap 24/96 rates the same as the midiman cards listed above, in terms of "Audio Quality." Somebody, please correct me if I am wrong...
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