or Connect
Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Computer Audio › Sound Cards › Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 HiFi

Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 HiFi

Posted

Pros: very good sound due to Wolfson DAC and good circuit around, neutral/slightly warm sound signature, replacable OPAMPS, 7.1ch is handy

Cons: bad quality of Win7,8 drivers, low voltage on analog outputs, not able to drive power hungry headphones (such as AKG K701)

I'm using this sound card for 5 years. It replaced that time my previous card M-Audio Audiophile 2496. As far as I know at present (2014/2015) it is not possible to buy this card as new in Europe. Today ESI Audio is offering Prodigy X-Fi NRG in similar price range which is completely different card (AKM DACs, Creative DSP chip etc.). On actual Audiotrak webpage I found AudioTrak Prodigy 7.1 LTM which would be currently available for 70$. It is based on same VIA Envy24 chip and equipped with similar Wolfson 8770 8channel DAC as old Prodigy HiFi. LTM uses SMD Opamps so easy tweaking is not possible...

 

Stock Audiotrak (formerly ESI Audio) Prodigy 7.1 Hi-Fi had very good sound signature for price around 100$. Wolfson 8776 DAC is producing detailed sound with slightly warm signature which is typical I think for all Wolfson's DACs. I had no chance to compare this card head-to-head with my previous M-Audio Audiophile but as far as I remember Prodigy offered at least the same level of sound quality on analog outputs. Ability of driving headphones on Prodigy was significantly better than on M-Audio Audiophile in terms of details and overall volume as well. Please note that Audiophile has no headphone output so I connected headphones to the analog outs. I had no problems to feed my good old 32-ohm Sennheiser HD 212 Pro with Prodigy. But when I switched to AKG K701 the lack of power and resultion on bass was noticable. So I decided to try different OPAMPS...

 

After several setups (OPA2111,OPA2227,LME49720...) I ended with 2xLME49710  with Browndog adapters on both headphone and analog outputs. Sound was less warm, more crisp and even more detailed. Same time there was less bass attack present with K701 but significantly better bass resolution and instrument separation. Also soundstage was improved to my ears.

 

It would be nice if drivers were in the same league as sound. Unfortunatelly they were not. Under Windows XP it was fine, when I moved to Win 7 some bluescreens occured during playback in Foobar and there was no sound at all when I woke up PC from sleeping mode. Also when I moved with Windows volume slider the sound stopped and restart of PC was necessary to bring sound back...

Currently I'm using Win 8.1, I tried latest driver's version but it was horrible at first - no sound at all and lot of bluescreens. I switched back to old 1.08 version and it worked but annoying cracking to sound sometimes appeared. I tried to configure card, change buffer size, reinstalling but without success. Then I reinstall Win8.1, disabled on-board Realtek codec sound and installed back latest drivers for Win8 - no bluescreens, everything was fine same way as with 1.08 drivers but annoying crackling remained. Then I tried something different and found solution...

 

I have Prodigy installed in PC with i3 4330 and ASUS mainboard. In ASUS PCSuite software there was Auto performance mode set up which kept CPU strongly underclocked (approx. 700MHz). Prodigy is using really old VIA chipset which is very CPU power hungry during playback. When I realized this I set High performance profile in ASUS Suite and cracking was gone! In case that you have similar sound crackling experience with relatively old sound card try this! 

 

All in all crackling was not a driver issue but my idiocy was a problem. But as I wrote before life with ESI drivers was such a fight on Win7,8 anyway...  

 

Prodigy 7.1 is also suitable for gaming. You can not expect SoundBlaster's boom-boom effects but I was satisfied with sound in games and movies too.

 

In summary this card was very nice purchase that time. If you are able to find this card new or used, you need 7.1, your budget is low and you are using Win XP  - this is very good buy! Using with Win7-8 is not without problems...If you are not tweaker maybe you can try very similar Prodigy 7.1 LTM which is currently available for 70 bucks...

Posted

Pros: HQ audio, Spdif in and out,swapable opamps.

Cons: No dedicated headphone jack

Detailed, neutral, CRYSTAL clear sound. No extra noise, hiss or hum from PC, superb source for 96/24 sound.

 

The "VGA" on the left side goes for breakout cable that breaks it into 5 3,5 jack connectors where You can plug headphones.

Some people claim that included opamps can drive most headphones, some even said it can drive AKG K701, I tested it and i can confirm most headphones do well without additional amping but AKG's need more, way more power then stock opamps can generate.

 

Build quality is extremly solid, just check the picture :)

Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 HiFi
Description:

The Prodigy 7.1 HiFi is based on the powerful VIA Envy24HT (ICE 1724) audio controller and the Wolfson WM8776 / 8766 codecs, providing 2, 4, 6 (5.1) and 8 (7.1) channel support as well as optical digital I/O with 24-bit/196kHz support. To provide stable high level output signals, Prodigy 7.1 HiFi uses a fine selection of high quality capacitors from Sanyo (SP series) and from Nichicon (up to 2200uF RU series / Nichicon ES series) to optimize the power supply of the analog and digital components on the card and to optimize the audio output quality. The special design of Prodigy 7.1 HiFi with its 4 layer PCB cuts off electromagnetic waves from the internals of the PC – there won't be problems with an unstable power supply caused by the systems CPU or the HDD. A separation between the analog and the digital part using an aluminium cover that shields the sound against electromagnetic waves is a major part of the Prodigy 7.1 HiFi design. Even better, the OpAmps on the card are installed on sockets, providing the possibility to change them to the users preference.

Details:
DetailValue
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Computer Audio › Sound Cards › Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 HiFi