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High-end audio capture cards
#1
Exclamation 
Many think that their default audio card is good enough… but, are you sure about it?

I was sure too, that my own sound card, a SigmaTel with the CXD9872RD was pretty good… the true is, that my ears and my TV speakers are not good enough to spot the difference between what could be considered a mediocre sound card (like mine) and what IS an excellent card.
It’s time to upgrade it… so, the feautures that I’m looking for an excellent sound card, to use as analog audio capture device along with its video counterpart are:
  • variable bitrate (16/24bit)
  • variable sample frequency (44,1KHz and 48KHz mandatory)
  • high quality connection, gold-plated
  • RCA analog input/output are very welcome
  • S/PDIF digital input or output are highly appreciated
  • NO external interface box – at least only connection cables
After some days of hard web search, I found A LOT of high end cards… I picked up few of them, that could be interesting:

M-Audio Audiophile 2496
16/24bit, 96KHz, gold plated RCA in/out, digital in/out, ADC S/N >100dB

Asus Xonar Essence ST
16/24bit, 44.1 to 192KHz, digital in/out, ADC S/N >118dB, lacks RCA in

ESI Audio Juli@
16/24bit, 44.1 to 192KHz, gold plated RCA in/out, digital in/out, ADC S/N >114dB

Lynx Studio Technology L22
8/16/24/32bit, 8 to 200KHz, ADC S/N >117dB, XLR&BNC in/out, optional digital boards

The Lynx L22 could be defined the Rolls Royce of sound card; excellent high quality, lot of features, but really high price.
M-Audio is very good, but quite old; the price is reasonable.
Asus seems to be the newest card, with excellent S/N ratio, but unfortunately lacks RCA in/out.
At the end, ESI Juli@ could be definided the best sound card, considering the balance between audio quality, features and price.

But it’s difficult to tell how much an high end sound card could be better than my old, default, simple sound card – that, by the way, is capable of capture digital sound bit-to-bit perfect, and that’s a very good thing!

Then, I discovered a free tool that could tell me the quality of any sound card, using test signal sent and received. I used the earphone out, connected to the microphone in, to test my sound card – better connections could be used, of course, with better result, but I wanted to test the worst case scenario.

The tool is RightMark Audio Analyzer (or RMAA); I tested my sound card with RMAA 5.5, but there is also a newer version; I strongly encourage all of you interested in audio capture for their restoration projects (but not only) to download it, install it, take some minutes to learn how to use it, get results and finally make a comparison between your actual card and some of the best ones.

[Image: rightmark.png]
(original image: https://s10.postimg.cc/fpcpwhp4p/rightmark.png)
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog
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#2
I guess if there is a PCI (not PCI-e) card with at least 4 channel inputs - preferably RCA - without an external box...
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog
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#3
Can anyone recommend what USB capture card is best?
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#4
Hey,

Will I get bit-perfect capture if I use some kind of Coaxial to Toslink converter? I cannot find sound card that would fill my needs and is PCI-e (ESI Juli@ XTE is not manufactured anymore and sick prices everywhere).
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#5
IIRC, you can test whether it's bit-perfect by capturing a DTS or AC3 track (doesn't have to be from LD, DVD or BD should be fine) to wav, then using BeSplit to convert the wav to AC3 or DTS. If it produces a working AC3 or DTS track, then it should be bit-perfect.
LMK if you need help, I've successfully captured a bunch of LD AC3 tracks using the M-Audio 2496 and BeSplit.
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#6
Now with the new PC, I can't use PCI-X anymore, so I need a PCI-Express card...

Apart ESI Juli@, that exists also as PCI-E, discovered two new cards with RCA inputs:

Creative Sound Blaster X-FI Titanium HD: http://www.guru3d.com/articles-pages/sou...eview.html
Creative Sound Blaster ZXR: http://www.guru3d.com/articles-pages/sou...iew,1.html

Opinions?
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog
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#7
Which card did you end up going with?
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#8
None... as I have now a new PC (with PCI-e), I left the old one behind... but I'd go with the ESI Juli@ - best P/Q ratio IMHO.
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog
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#9
Nice thanks, that card looks amazing. Added to my ever growing wishlist...
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#10
Resurrecting this old thread to know if there is cards around with the following features:

- PCIe interface
- RCA stereo input and output (I know I could always use 3.5mm/RCA adapters, but I'd prefer to avoid them)
- Toslink (optical) input and output

As far as I know, the only one is the Creative Soundblaster ZXR (thanks to the daughter card, though).
Any other models?!?
Sadly my projects are lost due to an HDD crash... Sad
Fundamental Collection | Vimeo channel | My blog
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