What is the sound card with the best input that you know of? - diyAudio
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Old 24th January 2011, 12:31 PM   #1
wwenze is offline wwenze  Singapore
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Default What is the sound card with the best input that you know of?

The Xonar Essence STX has caught my attention for a while now - it has a very low THD of 0.0005% or less, and a SNR of 117dB and higher.

Evidence:
Asus Xonar Essence STX Review Page 6 - Testing: RightMark (RMAA) - Overclockers Club
RightMark Audio Analyzer test : [DirectSound] (ASUS Xonar Essence STX Audio Device)

I'm asking if anybody knows a card better than this. If no, this would THE card to have for measurements and recording. And it's not expensive compared to pro-audio cards.
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Old 29th January 2011, 05:31 PM   #2
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I've been wondering much the same thing. I'm looking for to set-up a sound card based audio spectrum analyzer to measure the performance of my various DIY DAC projects/experiments, and have been trying to determine if there is a clearly superior choice in a reasonably priced card, particularly regarding lowest THD+N on the A/D input.

I don't consider the nearly $700 Lynx L22 card reasonably priced. The best of come across so far seems to be the Asus Xonar Essence XT/XTS.
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Old 29th January 2011, 05:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Newton View Post

I don't consider the nearly $700 Lynx L22 card reasonably priced. The best of come across so far seems to be the Asus Xonar Essence XT/XTS.
WEll, then you're probably not going to like my recommendation, which is a soundcard from RME (Germany).
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Old 29th January 2011, 10:57 PM   #4
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Out of curiosity, which specific RME card would you recommend for 2-channel audio spectrum analyzer applications and how much does it retail?
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Old 30th January 2011, 03:03 AM   #5
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I think E-MU 1212M with AK5394A as ADC (120dB) is a safer bet.
Creative X-Fi Titanium HD claims 118dB on Aux In.

Last edited by SoNic_real_one; 30th January 2011 at 03:09 AM.
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Old 30th January 2011, 03:40 AM   #6
a.wayne is offline a.wayne  United States
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Stereophile test .

ASUS Xonar Essence ST/STX soundcards Measurements | Stereophile.com

AV100 - PCI Express - 24 bit - Internal
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Old 30th January 2011, 04:12 AM   #7
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Aren't DAQ cards suitable for this? Or maybe just cost more for its features but don't give any advantage for low THD?
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Old 4th February 2011, 03:36 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Newton View Post
Out of curiosity, which specific RME card would you recommend for 2-channel audio spectrum analyzer applications and how much does it retail?
I bought my Digi 9624 about 5 years ago ... cost me $700. That would be a great card if you could find it used (it's PCI only), perhaps at a price you could swallow (a quick Google shows one sale offer at 70 GBPounds), but broadly speaking any of the 24-bit 96Khz capable cards would work fine for your purposes; there's no need that I can see to go to a higher sampling rate for testing, at least. I've used mine for live recording and it also works very well for RTA with FuzzMeasure (OSX). RME has excellent support for Windows OS.

There's a review here of a similar card of the same generation:
RME Digi96/8 PAD computer soundcard | Stereophile.com

There are plenty of other reviews of the RME cards although they tend to be musician-centric and perhaps not as useful for your purposes as the Stereophile review and test data.

I'm not familiar with the current offerings ... I don't need anything better ;-) ... but a bit of research should get you a handle on which other models would work. I don't think you need to buy a new one unless the price is right for your wallet, performance hasn't been an issue for the generation I own or newer. The models that precede mine are 48 KHz units.

The thing I found when researching my purchase is that if you go by the published specifications, especially as you move toward "consumer" grade cards, whether intended for geeks or musicians, you will be in for some surprises as there are few that can actually meet them in real-world testing. Think of the spec sheet as a bill of materials, not a tested performance standard.
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Last edited by Johnny2Bad; 4th February 2011 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 4th February 2011, 10:02 PM   #9
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I would just use an SPDIF optical output to a modern DAC from china, as sold on ebay.
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