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A simple review of Onkyo SE200 Soundcard

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by escaflo, Jan 18, 2007.
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  1. escaflo
    For those who are in the loop, Onkyo recently released their new soundcard, the
    SE200 [product link]. I've recently gotten this soundcard and I guess I might as well just popped in a small review.

    I must say, I am not a real audiophile per se, and my testing environment consist of a pair of Dynaudio Audience 52, Acurus A200 power amp, Rotel RC-1070 pre-amplifier. My playback materials consist of materials ripped using EAC secure mode, into APE lossless format playing back using ASIO4ALL with wave volume set to maximum. Some of the songs tested are:

    Jheena Lodwick - All my loving... (ripped from XRCD)
    Susan Wong - Close to you
    The Blue Bar (Compilation)(Lounge Music)

    And, prior to this, I've got the SE90 and also, I've use the Zhaolu DAC 2.5C with the SE90 through bit-perfect (or rather, I assume it is bit-perfect as I can't test the DTS stream as I don't have a DTS decoder).

    As I say, it will be a short review and all I can say is "Wow". The Wolfson DAC on the SE200 really make a huge difference to the sound quality. I've got a cheap Denon cd player (can't remember the model) and I've tested the same song using both the Denon and the soundcard and all I can say is that I am very much willing to sell off my cd player and just use my computer purely as the source. Comparing it to the SE90, there's also a dramatic improvement in terms of the warmth of the music. Vocal seems much more realistic and instruments just sound so real. Even SE90 with Zhaolu just seem so lifeless comparing to the SE200. I am already planning to sell my Zhaolu. Of course, my Zhaolu is still pretty much stock except for a few opamp changes, but I seriously love the sound so much off the SE200 that I figure that I might as well just sell off the Zhaolu.

    I've got a Cambridge 540C and I dare say that there's not really a lot of difference between them. Of course that might be also be because I am not really a audiophile per se.

    Well it is just my 2 cents but I think if you are seriously using your computer as your source, it is a good idea to take a look at the Onkyo SE200 as I think it is one of the best buy I ever did.

    Prior to the SE200, I've used the following soundcards:
    SE90 (Both analog out and bit-perfect to zhaolu)
    M-Audio Revolution 7.1 (analog out)
    Chaintech AV710 (Bit-perfect to zhaolu)
    and personally, I think SE200 really shines above all of those soundcards.
  2. salmon
    Nice review escaflo, i have some questions. Both cards use cheap NE5532 op-amps, are the amps good enough, i have had these opamps in Zhaolu DAC and sound wasn´t too good. SE-200 has additional outputs, is simple stereo on SE-90 worse than on SE-200? I can have SE-90 for 100USD and SE-200 for 200USD, is the price difference worth quality, i just need stereo, i don´t need surround, what should i buy SE90 or SE200? Sorry for my english.
  3. nicoch46
    Hi ,I have a se90 +amp11(41hz) +wharfedale(mod xover) ,sound sweet, for upgrade zhaolu o se200??
    The ne5532 is old glory but sound good,I thinks that the onkyo vlc ie passive filter made a good sound!

  4. nicoch46
    WoW!!"Comparing it to the SE90, there's also a dramatic improvementthe"

    The dac in not the same, the 200 have a top dac ,the caps on board is double, the opa 6(single?) only 3 on 90 , a have grab the 90 from my frend...but the 200 is the way to go! ihmo
    Escaflo we need more detail zhaolu vs se200 vs se90

    opa is opa the very difference for zhaolu is discrete! ori or zapfilter but $$[​IMG]
  5. aerowing
    Nice review. Just wondering, have you had any chance to compare SE200 to sound card in similar price range or claimed quanlity like ESI Juli@ or M-audio audiophile 192, E-mu 1212m etc.? How do you think these can hold up to SE200.
  6. hillhzg

    Originally Posted by aerowing /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Nice review. Just wondering, have you had any chance to compare SE200 to sound card in similar price range or claimed quanlity like ESI Juli@ or M-audio audiophile 192, E-mu 1212m etc.? How do you think these can hold up to SE200.

    I wonder it,too
    and a question
    competetion with SE-90PCI,SE-200PCI is worth for that price?[​IMG]
  7. nicoch46
    HI aerowing

    If se200 can compete with Cambridge 540C (a very decente cd! same dac) no story for similar sound card...himo, m-audio use ak dac ,fast and detailed... m-audio usb dac sound on worse vs se90 in my config ,
    I have tested the new prodigy 7.1 hifi(100€) vs harman kardon cd hd970(300€) with digital input , there's not a lot of difference ,sound same[​IMG]

    for my little experence 100€ sound card can compete in mid hifi
  8. yrh0413
    is there by any chance you can review the 1212m as well?
  9. nicoch46
    Hi Salmon, rolling opa is a good practical but you dnot have tested the ne5532 but the sinergy in zhaolu circuit! bias ,feedback and so......
  10. escaflo
    Like I am say, I am pretty noob in this field and as such, I am not too sure what opamp I've used for my Zhaolu.

    One thing for sure, I've tested it against the stock opamp that comes with the Zhaolu D2.5 with the CS4398 and also the opamps that the distributor was kindly provide me to test. I've to say that Zhaolu sounded very thin (not full bodied). The details are there, but just can't feel the music in some sense. I am pretty sure that if Zhaolu modded correctly will sound fantastic but considering that I am not good with solder, I decided to just let it go.

    I don't have chance to test the Onkyo against M-Audio Audiophile or 1212M or Juli@ as I don't have any friends who uses those cards.

    As for SE 90 - SE 200, I really think the price is worth it but I guess it is up to individual. There's just more warmth to the music and it just sound much more full bodied. SE 90 on its on is warm, but I can feel the clarity seems to be a bit missing. Something like hearing a tape kinda (not as bad but something along that line). With SE 200, it just make me enjoy my music a lot more.

    I've got a friend who is "sorta" audiophile (well we are all just learning) who says that the Onkyo SE 200 sounds better than a lot and he is pretty impressed with it. He was the one who even suggested that I sell of the Zhaolu and the Denon cd player. Just for people who are interested, he is using a Beard Valve Amp, Shanling CD Player, and Tannoy TD-10. So I am pretty sure he would be able to tell good from bad but that's his taste I guess.

    Anyway, I am not saying that SE 200 might fit your taste but that's just my opinion of it. Take it with a grain of salt. I know it is hard to find that soundcard so I think people might be interested in how it roughly sound like.

  11. Nenso
    This card isn't plug and play with 1/8 or 1/4 plugs right
    ? If not.. is it possible to make it like that?
  12. andrewrocks
  13. escaflo
    1/8 or 1/4? Is it those 3.5mm headphone jack you mean?

    It got a breakout cable with 7.1 channels that's suitable for those. But that's only for the SE 200. As for SE 90, I think it is only RCA output. But I am not too sure if the Onkyo SE 200 break out cable sounds as good as it RCA as I am only using stereo all the while.

    As for comparison to Auzentech, I've no idea. I might buy the Auzentech to test and also Juli@ (darn hard to find Juli@ over here) to test as well. But that would probably be in a few months time. As for now, I am very happy with the SE 200. I am also interested in the Auzentech with X-Fi but not sure when it will be released.

    Yes, I am easily tempted by new soundcard!! My poor wallet....
  14. Patu
    I see two RCA connectors on SE200. Are those Digital coaxial outputs or is it a normal analog RCA output?
  15. escaflo
    It is just a normal RCA output. The only digital out it comes with is a optical out.
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