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Date: March 6, 2003
Article by: Burt Carver (Hardware Reviewer & Newsposter)
Product was donated by: M-Audio
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PRODUCT OVERVIEW (cont'd)


Now, after that quick dip in the wacky world of audio, lets move to safer ground. Here is a picture of the card in question:



The features of the card:

  • Supports DTS output and Dolby Digital 5.1 / EX (6.1) decoding
  • High definition audio output up to 24 bit / 192 kHz
  • Professional 24-bit / 96 Khz recording
  • SRS Circle Surround II
  • SRS TruSurround XT
  • Supports Sensaura, EAX, DirectSound and A3D


The performance of the card:

  • Dynamic Range: 106 dB (typical, -60dBFs input, A-weighted)
  • SNR: 107 dB (typical, A-weighted)
  • THD+N: 0.003% (typical)


How does this compare to other products?

 
PC Cards
Standards
Receivers
Revolution 7.1
SoundBlaster Audigy 2 (THX)
Nvidia SoundStorm

Harman Kardon: AVR 325

SNR (dB) (higher = better):
107
106
85
95
THD (%) (lower = better):
0.003
0.004
n/a
0.07
# of channels:
8 (7 + 1 LFE)
7 (6 + 1 LFE)
6 (5 + 1 LFE)
8 (7 + 1 LFE)
     
MSRP:
$119
$129
n/a
$899


As you can see, the two PC cards come in very close on all specifications. The figures are so close that it would be impossible for the human ear to notice. The Revo card pulls away in # of channels however. Is this important? Well, currently there are no movies to my knowledge that support a 7.1 standard, but the revo card allows you to 'generate' a signal by combining signals from adjacent channels.


For fun I threw in a decent receiver for comparison. It is not really a fair comparison, because the signal measured at the outputs of the receiver have been amped up. Any time you handle sound in analog, some noise will be introduced. If you were to run the outputs of the cards to a receiver, ignoring line loss between the card and the receiver, you would get more realistic numbers.


There are some interesting points to note in this table. Not picking on NVidia, but their requirements (which only three products currently meet) for the SoundStorm designation are fully 4x worse (remember! dB is logarithmic!) than the solutions offered by both Soundblaster and M-Audio. What does that mean in real world terms? If you were to output that to a receiver, and include all the line noise / signal degradation, you would hear all the wonderful hissing, buzzing and stuff at a much lower volume level.


Another thing to notice is that the Audigy is THX certified. If the claims made by M-Audio are true, this card is 'playing with the big boys'.

 

 


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