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Old 28th November 2011, 01:29 PM   #911
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Internal sound cards are a dying breed. They were once upon a time required before the USB audio specification was released about a decade ago. Today there are far more high quality external DACs with USB than high quality internal sound card choices. The same is true for pro-audio interfaces. USB solves the "internal noise" problem and has other advantages as well--like working with laptops, all-in-one PCs, touch PCs, HTPCs, small form factor PCs, home server PCs, "green" low power PCs, etc. Internal slots, especially for anything but video boards, are slowly going away.
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Old 28th November 2011, 01:35 PM   #912
Turbon is offline Turbon  Sweden
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I agree on this. To get the parts out of the PC have other benefits as easy access to the ports, easy HW change of input, volume attenuator and so forth. An example might be the new Xonar One. I haven't hear it in person but the specs seems to be promissing.

But still, internal cards can sound amazingly good given their working environment.

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Old 28th November 2011, 01:54 PM   #913
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Default Transformers

I have noticed that the new GB offered by Jokener includes the option for a custom-made transformer. This seems a bit expensive at 25 Euro, given that one of the main aims of the project is a low build cost - I wonder what other solutions are possible. For example, I am using a ready-made AA-151AD that I got from Ebay, used, for 5.99, which is rated at 1A, 15V AC - as this includes the mains plug, enclosure and power connector it seems like good value, and it certainly does the job. This is the PSU for a Netgear router, so it should be durable. I also saw that RadioSpares have a 230v to 15v PCB-mounted transformer part no 732-0433 that looks suitable for anyone who wants to make their own enclosure - price is 5.50 plus VAT, and I was going to buy one until the Ebay bargain came along.
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Old 28th November 2011, 01:55 PM   #914
Jokener is offline Jokener  Germany
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Internal soundcards were quite necessary until the USB 3.0 specification came along and no chips I have heard of support 3.0.
Because how else would you send uncompressed 8-channel audio out?
Of course you could try to run and sync two USB-connected soundcards, but you would REALLY rather not do that.
And even 6-channel audio is not uncommon at all anymore and there is no reason a card should NOT support it.
So for everything but headphone (mobile) operation or desktop 2.0 systems, I don't see viable external solutions.
Not even on the horizon. And that sadly includes your upcoming design.

Internal Slots are also not going away at all, quite to the contrary.
For the first time in a long time, almost all connections converge towards a single standard: PCIe.
Even future hard drives (two generations from now) will most likely communicate via PCIe and with ThunderBolt, Intel has taken PCIe external.
There is really no reason why soundcards need to be external (also no reason they need to be internal).
I don't see your claim becoming a reality in the immediate future. Internal sound does offer a valid value proposition.

USB also has the disadvantage that, unless uncommonly powered by an external PSU, it shoves quite an unstable and dirty power down your DACs throat, only moving the "noise issue" from EMI to power noise.
It therefore poses solvable and additionally, as far as I know, unsolvable problems.
I don't know the licensing terms, but I have yet to hear of Blu-Ray compatible USB-soundcards.
And I don't mean playback of the sound, I mean an unaltered bitstream going to the sound-chip like my Asus Xonar offers.
This of course refers to surround sound, for stereo sound there are plenty solutions. All that I have heard of miserable by concept and execution.

I'm really looking forward to your design.
But this time around, its mainly due to the immense educational value of your accompanying articles.
I don't see it solving any of my other challenges/problems and don't see a reason to go for "good enough" if the Xonar offers better performance at a decent price.
(That's of course based on the scarce information you have scattered. I'm fully prepared to turn 180 and claim the contrary if my statements are proven factually wrong.)
And it may represent a good value proposition for most customers, it's just not the same "benchmark" as the O2...
Well... I am genuinely looking forward to your design articles.

Happy hacking away on the rock that is the DAC design in front of you.




@greenalien: Yes, the transformer is on the more expensive side.
But I need to be able to offer it in any quantity that people might ask of me.
There was another possible solution that would be slightly cheaper (slightly under 20€), but it is untested with the O2 as of yet.
Of course nobody is forced to use the offered unit.
But personally, I would always prefer the units I can source to the other solutions that were presented so far.
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Last edited by Jokener; 28th November 2011 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 28th November 2011, 02:16 PM   #915
Turbon is offline Turbon  Sweden
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Quote:
USB also has the disadvantage that, unless uncommonly powered by an external PSU, it shoves quite an unstable and dirty power down your DACs throat, only moving the "noise issue" from EMI to power noise.
It therefore poses solvable and additionally, as far as I know, unsolvable problems.
I don't know the licensing terms, but I have yet to hear of Blu-Ray compatible USB-soundcards.
And I don't mean playback of the sound, I mean an unaltered bitstream going to the sound-chip like my Asus Xonar offers.
This of course refers to surround sound, for stereo sound there are plenty solutions. All that I have heard of miserable by concept and execution.
Jokener - For parts of the soundcard the PC power is quite ok or I might stress perfectly ok, for the analog bits no. But that is the fun part of DIY. Is there something called BR compatible soundcards? If you need multichannel with bells and whistles isn't there an DSP needed taking care of these things. Now, lets talk bits and frequencies instead - you mean you wan't something like 24/96 (at least) on 8 channels?

But then this discussion is quite OT regarding the O2...

Brgds

Last edited by Turbon; 28th November 2011 at 02:32 PM.
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Old 28th November 2011, 02:43 PM   #916
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RocketScientist View Post
Internal sound cards are a dying breed. They were once upon a time required before the USB audio specification was released about a decade ago. Today there are far more high quality external DACs with USB than high quality internal sound card choices. The same is true for pro-audio interfaces. USB solves the "internal noise" problem and has other advantages as well--like working with laptops, all-in-one PCs, touch PCs, HTPCs, small form factor PCs, home server PCs, "green" low power PCs, etc. Internal slots, especially for anything but video boards, are slowly going away.
sorry mate, but thats simply not true. most truly high bandwidth multichannel professional solutions are still using at the very least the PCIe bus to connect the external hardware because they need direct access to the bus for DSP. if talking prosumer sure where there are not so many channels or not as much bandwidth or low latency needed, but until thunderbolt becomes more mainstream (and even then its still a bottleneck as it doesnt have bandwidth for as many channels as internal PCIe) they arent going away

i have a USB UAC2 usb-i2s card capable of 8x32/192/4 x 32/384 and rigisystems cards will allow 16 x 32/96, 8 x 32/192, 4 x 32/384 and you can gang them together for more channels. you dont need USB3 for sheer transport until you go uber high bandwidth and many channels, or DSP

Last edited by qusp; 28th November 2011 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 28th November 2011, 02:48 PM   #917
Turbon is offline Turbon  Sweden
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As I see it you (i'll change that to we ;-) ) mix to many channels... This would be an companion to the O2 as I see it - plain stereo as good as it can get. For the internal and external cards everything is just fine until the PS decides that something else is of higher priority. As compressing your mailbox or something equally important.

Brgds

Last edited by Turbon; 28th November 2011 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 28th November 2011, 03:03 PM   #918
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
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oh yeah no problem, i'm not arguing that i think it should suit well, i'm arguing incorrect sweeping statements

just look at UAD this is pretty industry standard stuff

oh and i forgot one you may have heard of it

pro-tools HD

single most universal audio production solution available. sure they have usb solutions in the product line, but anything at the pointy of their lineup end still interfaces via PCI. these things will be the nervous system of major recording studios for years to come, its just too much money to replace when you can simply add another DSP board to add more channels to a current setup. the analogue is external in many cases agreed, but by no means all

no need for more OT, soz guys

Last edited by qusp; 28th November 2011 at 03:14 PM.
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Old 28th November 2011, 03:07 PM   #919
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I should have been more clear I'm talking about 2 channel stereo playback when I say "DACS". I'm not talking about multi-channel audio or recording. The context was talking about a CD player vs PC audio. This is the O2 thread. It's a two channel headphone amp for playback only.

As a percentage of all PCs sold, PCIe slots are indeed fading away. For several years now the trend has been away form ancient "tower" form factors and towards laptops, all-in-ones, HTPC models, home servers/appliances, and other small/slim form factors that do not have room for a soundcard inside.

Sure, gamers are still building massive tower systems with six noisy fans, high-end GPUs, multi channel gaming audio, etc. But such PCs are hardly a quiet and/or energy efficient way to play 2 channel audio.

There are now lots of pro audio interfaces that can do a very credible job with 24/96 multi channel recording over USB 2.0 like those from RME, Motu, Roland, etc. USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt will improve things even further.
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Old 28th November 2011, 03:10 PM   #920
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Maybe we should split the market into pro and consumer stuff, doing that the statements wouldn't become so sweeping. So, the semipro's will probably allways follow what the pro's uses. The consumers uses what fills their needs and wallets...
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