Choosing a 7.1 Soundcard for Active Crossovers

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Ahh, the journey continues.

For a while now, I've been using computers to do active XO/EQ duty, as well as music server, measurements, etc. I've gone through a bit of equipment as my needs change, and I'm still at it. In particular, I'm looking for a better soundcard, again. I've got a 3 way speaker, and planning on adding subs, so I need at least 8 channels of output.

I started out with a Delta 1010LT, as I was doing multichannel recording. It is a stable, easy to use card, but its S/N isn't all that. I got a Phonic firefly 302, which was garbage. I'm still using my EMU 0404 USB, although my power amp damaged its inputs..:sad: A year ago, I found out about the 'gamer' market of soundcards - lots of cheap, 5.1 or 7.1 type cards for gamers. I got the Asus Xonar D2 card, which has excellent specs. Unfortunately, it is not made with the DIY enthusiast in mind..

In particular, the D2 has various amounts of delay attached to each of its outputs, and no way to turn it off. It also has lots of garbage effects programed into the driver's software, difficulty working with other software, and buggy drivers. Also, although the D2 measures great, it has worse than average ground loop problems - aka, the computers ground noise is showing up at the amp - no good! The big one though is the different delays attached to each channel. I'm over it!

So here is what I'm looking for: 8 channel out (aka 7.1), no interfering garbage software effects, a line in, and decent measured specs (at least 90dB s/n or distortion.) Additionally, USB has a significant advantage, because you can buy a device that galvanically isolates the soundcard from the computer - a big plus!

There are a few possibilities - I'll be ordering this one today:
CompUSA.com | USB-SND8 | Sabrent USB-SND8 8-Channel Sound Box There are a couple more of these, from different makers, but they look to be exactly the same.

I'm interested in this one:
CompUSA.com | AZT-RAIDER | Auzentech X-Raider 7.1 Sound Card
and this one:
CompUSA.com | TBS-3304 | Turtle Beach Montego 7.1 PCI Sound Card Whtie Box
They are PCI (not usb), but are probably decently made.

Does anyone have any experience with any 7.1 cards used for active XO/EQ?

The other part of this journey, almost more frustrating, is the software end - I bought Allocator a while ago, but it was buggy and frustrating. I've since been using Reaper, which I love. I've just started using SoundEasy's 'Ultimate Equalizer', but I can't get it to play with the Xonar D2:mad: Hence this thread. Honestly, I would go with an analog active XO/EQ if I could, but I've gotten into phase corrections, and can't go back...

Anyway, I'll post back when I get my new soundcard - hopefully its a good one!
 
audiotrak prodigy 7.1 hifi - great card only works well with xp though
 

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I had an Audiotrak prodigy 7.1hifi until I finally managed to wiggle it around once too often while it was active. I considered it very good but hard to install on XP and impossible with Windows 7.

Now I have ASUS D1 which is much better and still using XP to avoid trouble with Win7.
I know ASUS has some game settings but you can disable them by setting on hifi and it really is quality. If you are having trouble it may be necessary to go back to XP. If you do not want the D2 send it to me!
Ted
 
How about an Asus?

I have the Asus Xonar Essence STX for headphone use. Its sound is very good. I was wondering if you considered one of their 7.1 cards. I prefer to offload the crossover from the computer using miniDSPs. Before I discovered them I was thinking I might use one of the Asus cards for crossover duty too.
 
Did you read the previous part of the thread? I'm using an Asus, and it has problems.

I've gotten the Sabrent device, and it measures well. I has a few quirks, but worst of all, it won't respond to Reaper or SoundEasy's Ultimate Equalizer. It will respond to several less 'sophisticated' pieces of audio software, like signal generators and Winamp. Back it goes!

I guess I should have been more specific - my needs are really software specific. I use Reaper and SoundEasy's Ultimate Equalizer for fairly complicated DSP, particularly including phase delay correction.

I may have decided that 4-way XO/EQ/DSP in the computer just isn't worth it. I've been messing around with this for about two years, and it is so problematic. For me, the bottom line seems to be that if the hardware and software aren't fully integrated by the designer, it is almost hopeless that they will work together. Because of this, I may have decided to drop my need for phase correction and go with miniDSP's hardware/software solution. It seems to work well.

One issue with phase correction is that it always introduces a time delay - in particular, usually a noticable 200mS or so. This is an issue if you do audio/video, or, like me, if you do audio mixing. So I think I will use miniDSP as the core of my regular system, and when I want linear phase response, drop the computer in before it, and use SoundEasy to unwrap the phase. It can do this without splitting the channels into low/mid/high etc, so all I need is stereo in and stereo out. This is relatively quite simple.
 
One issue with phase correction is that it always introduces a time delay - in particular, usually a noticable 200mS or so. This is an issue if you do audio/video, or, like me, if you do audio mixing.

I am afraid that quality DSP always introduces some latency as the filters must be relatively long. Perhaps for latency-critical cases (music production being the typical example) the DSP is not so important and can be bypassed, whereas enabled for critical listening cases (listening to pre-recorded music, or watching video with video stream delayed by a fixed time).
 
+ 1 for real hardware crossover...

I've gone thru this research some time ago, and ended-up with following solution (tho haven't yet finished the solution itself):
- Generic souncard based on VIA ENVY 24 chipset, which is able to produce classic i2s outputs for 8 channels. Audiotrak Prodigy, Terratec Aureon Space 7.1... Delta 1010 should be ok, yet cost more for the same performance.
- WM8804 transceivers to get the SPDIF out for all 4 stereo i2s outputs
- 3-4 chinese DAC's for your liking. I've choose the PCM1798 gigawork's, as i found them sounding pretty good for their price.

I needed some prototyping rig with nice sound quality, so i could simulate the crossover in digital domain, and then "compile" it in hardware analog circuit (active crossover) based on parameters from simulation.
All these soundcards in the market have different filters/dacs/opamps on the same board - they use a better sounding circuit for front channel, and mediocre dacs/filters for other channels. That's totally wrong for multiway systems.
There are no souncards around, which i'm aware of, that can give 3-4 spdif outputs, for reasonable price.
 
Yes, i've seen this. 48kHz was no-go for me.

Actually, there is someone at driversheaven who managed to replace existing 48k osc with 44.1, modify the Kx driver and get native 44100 support.
I've found that a week after purchase and modification of the Audiotrak Prodigy, so i haven't investigated it thoroughly...
 
I now have a working setup based on an ESI Prodigy 7.1 Hifi (formerly Audiotrak).

Crossover = Allocator.

Player = Foobar.

Allocator uses the Prodigy ASIO drivers.

Foobar uses ASIO4ALL or KS/WASAPI.

Internal Routing on the Prodigy card is used to send the sound coming in from Foobar (WDM) out to the Prodigy ASIO drivers where Allocator intercepts it. All sounds from the PC will go through the crossover.

I should be able to record impulse files (based on sine sweeps) using Rec_Imp as that uses ASIO4ALL and that is treated the same was as KS/WASAPI, coming in on the WDM line in the Prodigy routing.

In the routing the WDM OUT is turned OFF and wired to the ASIO IN. This means all sounds go through the crossver, unless set to use the Prodigy ASIO drivers, so only Allocator will use those drivers - quite simple really.
I wish my Xonar had internal routing.

Pros:

- It just works...when it works. Which is does once you have it all setup and don't fiddle.

- No need for external routing software such as console/VAC/Reaper.


Cons:

- 96khz doesn't work. 44.1khz and 48khz work, at up to 32 bit (24bit padded).
At 96khz the audio is all scratchy, I think the Prodigy ASIO drivers are faulty, they don't seem to buffer enough samples. This is not an Allocator issue, it happens when playing directly from Foobar or JRMC to the Prodigy ASIO drivers at 96khz.

- The Prodigy Hifi drivers are wickedly unstable. I must have gone through 50 BSODs in the last two days. Once you have it working it's fine, but changing sample rates, or bit depths usually results in a BSOD.



I can't comment on the sound quality yet, so far I am testing with 3 pairs of PC speakers. I'm ready to transfer over to proper speakers now (focal driver MTM with 4 x 15" Tempest IB sub).

It does work, and it was actually pretty easy...apart from the BSODs.

I've bitched to the ESI support e-mail about the ASIO 96khz issue and the severe instability of the drivers....I'm not holding my breath for a response..
 

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