Chaintech AV710 card, is it worth it?
Just realized I have this PCI card in the garage, it has Wofson DAC built in and several years back lot of talk about how good it was for the price. I have 3GHz P4 PC and wondering if I should try this running linux or whether a $50 Dac (HiFimeDIY Sabre USB DAC. 96khz/24bit - ES9023+TE7022 + USB to optical converter) will be better for playing flac files.
pci is superior to usb.
Which sounds better? Try it out.
ALSA was configured for bit-perfect playback, with main stereo output redirected to the rear channels (black connector) which utilised the Wolfson DAC.
This is optimal configuration ... but in a side-by-side comparison with some high end CD players, my AV710 sound output was extremely ordinary - nothing special at all.
Then we connected the AV710's Toslink output to an external DAC (respectable unit, maybe Beresford?) and this sounded significantly better than the AV710's analogue outputs.
Clearly, the AV710 is only "good" by consumer computer monitor standards of several years ago. Compared to decent hifi gear, it's a major disappointment, frankly.
If nothing else, USB DAC's get their audio circuitry away from the noisy electronic environment of the computer, itself.
And as I understand it, USB DAC's also reprocess and reclock the data. If implemented well, this can achieve great results.
I'm aiming for a high end Amanero/ES9018 combination, myself, but at the value end of the scale the HiFimeDIY unit has had positive reports.
gychang, there's a very similar unit which deserves mention - Objective DAC (ODAC)
board only -
fully boxed -
If you really want to go PCI, audiophiles seem to recommend the ESI Juli@ - approx $200.
Or for PCI-e interfaces, there's now the Juli@ XTE, or possibly ASUS Xonar Essence STX.
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