Art DI/O or Audiophile/Terratec Soundcard - which is better upgrade?
post-147641
Thread Starter
Post #1 of 9

sunshine

Head-Fier
Joined
May 8, 2002
Messages
61
Reaction score
0
Joined
May 8, 2002
Posts
61
Likes
0
I want to upgrade the sound I'm getting from my computer. I'm currently using the line output from the SB Audigy into either a Corda HA1 or MG Head OTL. Despite what everyone else is saying about the Audigy's sound quality, hissing noise and all, I don't really find its sound quality really bad. However as you would probably guess I'll always wonder if I can improve on the sound quality I'm getting from the Audigy if I didn't at least try something better.

So with my 2 choices in mind which would be a better option? They cost more or less the same. With the Art DIO I'm assuming I'll just use the digital out from the Audigy into the Art DIO then into the Amp. If I get the Audiophile 2496 or Terratec Card I would replace the Audigy with them. If I went with the Audiophile 2496 how would I hookup the CDROM to the soundcard? Not really sure about this but I believe there is no CDROM input on the Audiophile 2496.
 
     Share This Post       
post-147661
Post #2 of 9

Nezer

Antibacterial soap... kills bacteria... bad karma?
Joined
Dec 6, 2001
Messages
1,273
Reaction score
13
Joined
Dec 6, 2001
Posts
1,273
Likes
13
Get the sound card...

Don't worry about hooking the CDROM up to the soundcard... There's too much noise to be useful...

Search google for 'winamp plugin CDDA' (or something like that) and you'll find a plugin for winamp that effectifly 'rips' the audio off the CDROM in realtime. It also has a better chance and error correction and a quality CDROM should rip audio flawlessly.

This bypasses any analog stage until it gets out of the DAC on the soundcard. This takes a LOT of variables out of the mix (though it does introduce new ones which are easier to control, IMHO).

I think you would get, by far, the most benefit out of this setup than by adding a DI/O off the ****ty Audigy. Even though you'll be going from the digital output from the Audigy, by that point most of the damage is done already (upsampled to 48k). Despite what the box says the audigy IS NOT REALLY A 24/96 CARD!!! All it does to get 96k is take the ****ty resampled 48k and resample that to 96k. *EVERYTHING* in this card happens at 48k any sources OTHER than 48k are resampled.

Other cards to consider are pretty-much anything M-Audio makes. They have a true 24/96 card in about the $100 range. $250 buys a LOT of soundcard from these guys. These cards are primarly meant for recording so the quality is MUCH better than anythig Creative has ever and likly ever will put out.
 
     Share This Post       
post-147799
Post #3 of 9

markjia

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 2, 2001
Messages
217
Reaction score
0
Joined
Nov 2, 2001
Posts
217
Likes
0
I completely agree.

I have an Art DI/O, Audiophile 2496, Sound Blaster Live, and HD580s. So I can share my exprience. I have tried using most of these in combination with the HD580s (with the exception of the digital out of the Live to DI/O).

Here's how I would grade them in quality (from worst the best):

Live -> HD580
2496 -> HD580
Live -> HD580 + amp
Live -> Art DI/O -> HD580 + amp (expected)
2496 -> HD580 + amp
2496 -> Art DI/O -> HD580 + amp

From this, you could deduce that first thing to add is an amp (asuming you don't have one yet). I've only listened to my DIY Morgan Jones tube amp, so I can't really offer many suggestions here. Though, I have tried quite a few speaker amps, and I'd say that I generally prefer the smoother sound of tube amps. I find too many solid state amps to be harsh. This is of course a generalization, so take it with a grain of salt.

Next, upgrade the sound card. While the Live is not as good as the Audigy (at least according to the specs), it still is terrible. I guess is Creative's emphasis on the Audigy's supposed superior sound is to compete with cards like the Santa Cruz (which is still better). When I compared the Audiophile 2496 to the Live, I was astonished at the difference (almost unbelievable). I had no idea what I was missing. I heard details in music in ways I had never known existed. The sound stage was also much larger. Going back, I realized how muffled and tiny the sound out of the Live was.

I then purchased the Art DI/O to add to my computer setup. The difference here was nothing like that of the 2496 vs Live. It was a noticable improvement, and worthwhile (but not as much as the 2496). The frequency response was the biggest improvement in my setup. The sound was much crisper, but not overly bright. The soundstage also improved somewhat.

Now, there is one other option...the Santa Cruz + Art DI/O... I have never used the Santa Cruz, so I don't know about it's digital output, but my guess is that this setup will provide sound similar to (or possibly better) than the Audiophile 2496 alone. This is really just an idea, not a suggestion. I personally would not go this route since it is possible that you would get the 2496 at some later date (and might waste the Santa Cruz, assuming you don't have another comp to use it in later). Though, if someone else has tried this, I'd be interested in hearing their opinion.

In terms of deciding btw the Audiophile vs Art DI/O, go with the 2496. It'll give you more bang for your buck. The DI/O can of course also be added later to further improve the sound.
 
     Share This Post       
post-147801
Post #4 of 9

markjia

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 2, 2001
Messages
217
Reaction score
0
Joined
Nov 2, 2001
Posts
217
Likes
0
Oh ya, would using the DI/O with the the Audigy require a special digital cable? I don't have the Audigy, so I don't know if it come with some sort of adaptor, but it's my understanding that the Audigy does not have digtal coaxial output in an RCA jack directly on the card.
 
     Share This Post       
post-147822
Post #5 of 9

Nezer

Antibacterial soap... kills bacteria... bad karma?
Joined
Dec 6, 2001
Messages
1,273
Reaction score
13
Joined
Dec 6, 2001
Posts
1,273
Likes
13
Quote:

Originally posted by markjia
Oh ya, would using the DI/O with the the Audigy require a special digital cable? I don't have the Audigy, so I don't know if it come with some sort of adaptor, but it's my understanding that the Audigy does not have digtal coaxial output in an RCA jack directly on the card.


You need the daughterboard or you need to make a special cable so, yes.

But, if you don't already own a DI/O you woul be better off upgrading the sound card.
 
     Share This Post       
post-147842
Post #6 of 9

dparrish

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Nov 27, 2001
Messages
296
Reaction score
10
Joined
Nov 27, 2001
Posts
296
Likes
10
I'm going to have to disagree a bit with this one


I have the Audigy and tried the M-Audio 24/96. At least through the analog outputs of each, there is SOME difference but not enough to warrant the purchase of the 24/96 card.

Admitedly, I didn't compare the digital outs, but I need the analog outs only (for Dolby Headphone).

My advice would be to try the Art DI/O with the Audigy FIRST and then if this setup is not good enough, then add the 24/96.

Although you'll certainly get SOME improvement with the 24/96, I still heard LOTS of high frequency distortion/jitter. Unless you're able to afford a truly shielded card (Digital Audio Labs Card Deluxe, for example), I don't think you're going to really be able to approach audiophile quality. There's just too much noise/RFI coming from the the guts of the computer.

Of course, I haven't tried the DAL Card Deluxe yet, but JA from Stereophile has and thinks it's great
 
     Share This Post       
post-147932
Post #7 of 9

NotoriousBIG_PJ

Step 1: Plug power cable into wall. Step 2: Plug other end of power cable into....umm.... Step 0.5: Order something to power with power cable.
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Messages
3,487
Reaction score
17
Joined
Mar 12, 2002
Posts
3,487
Likes
17
Keep soundcard, get amp.


The audigy has better sound then the soundblaster live for sure..

Biggie.
 
     Share This Post       
post-147946
Post #8 of 9

Nezer

Antibacterial soap... kills bacteria... bad karma?
Joined
Dec 6, 2001
Messages
1,273
Reaction score
13
Joined
Dec 6, 2001
Posts
1,273
Likes
13
Sunshine...

Maybe you have a coin you can flip to help you decide?

My rankings would be like this:

Headamp
Soundcard
DAC

I don't like going abck and doing things again later so I would consider this setup considering price:

headamp: Tangent-built META42 w/ Cerafines power filters and either the OPA637s or AD8610s and external linear regulated power supply.

Soundcard: M-Audio DiO 410

DAC: Jury is out on this but I wouldn't even mess with the Art. I'm sure it's afine DAC for the price and you may very well end-up loving it to death but I'm sensitive to these things and am looking into the Bel Canto DAC2 or the Music Fidelity A3^24. These are a considerable amount more than the Art.

If you do NOT have a headamp I will agree and strongly suggest getting one of those first.
 
     Share This Post       
post-147971
Post #9 of 9

sunshine

Head-Fier
Joined
May 8, 2002
Messages
61
Reaction score
0
Joined
May 8, 2002
Posts
61
Likes
0
Thanks for everybodys suggestions. I actually already have an amp, a Corda HA-1 and the MG Head OTL.

Believe it or not I didn't know you could use the CDROM for audio without connecting the little internal audio cable. As soon as I read Nezer's posting I pulled the plug out and loh and behold the music kept playing!

I've decided to go ahead and order the Audiophile 2496 card first. If I don't see much improvement I will then decided whether to get the Art. I figured if I got the Art now I wouldn't have an easy way of hooking it up with the Audigy given that the Art has coxial digital output and the Audigy doesn't so I'll need somesort of adapter or a new sound card anyway.
 
     Share This Post       

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 1)

Top