Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2019 - 05:30 PM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: sound card, radeon viii, podcast, Nu Audio, hyperx, evga, encrypted storage, DLSS, battlefield V, audiophile
PC Perspective Podcast #532 - 2/13/2019
This week we take a look at a high-end audio card from EVGA, a USB flash drive with built-in hardware encryption, and new gaming mouse from HyperX, the latest NVIDIA and AMD driver updates, and GTX 1660 Ti rumors.
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Check out previous podcast episodes: http://pcper.com/podcast
00:07:14 - Review: EVGA NU Audio Card
00:26:26 - Review: iStorage datAshur Pro Encrypted USB Drive
00:32:41 - Review: HyperX Pulsefire Core Gaming Mouse
00:36:40 - News: AMD Radeon Adrenalin 19.2.2 Driver Update
00:42:04 - News: AMD Pro Driver Support for Radeon VII
00:47:18 - News: NVIDIA DLSS Driver & Battlefield V
00:59:07 - News: Microsoft Wants You to Dump Internet Explorer
01:03:12 - News: GTX 1660 Ti Spec Rumors
01:15:53 - Picks of the Week
Dedicated 2-Channel Sound
In the audio realm something pretty special happens when you have the right mix of source material, digital-to-analog conversion, amplification, and transducers (headphones or loudspeakers). And I am just talking about stereo, as 2-channel audio has the potential to immerse as deeply, and even more so, than 3D positional audio can; but it does take more care in overall setup. Enter EVGA, a company famous for its video cards, power supplies, motherboards, etc., and no stranger to diversification in the enthusiast PC community. And while EVGA in recent years has expanded their offering to include cases, coolers, and even laptops, they have never attempted a dedicated sound solution - until now.
Coming as a surprise as the featured product in their suite at CES 2019, EVGA’s introduction of the Nu Audio card was exciting for me as an audio enthusiast, and this is really an enthusiast-level card based on the pricing of $249 ($199 for EVGA ELITE members). The Nu Audio is an all-new, designed from the ground up sound card with a true hi-fi pedigree and a stated goal of high-quality stereo sound reproduction. Just hearing the words “two channel” in relation to the computer audio was music to my ears (literally), and to say I was intrigued would be an understatement. I will try to temper my enthusiasm and just report the facts here; and yes, I understand that this is expensive for this market and a product like this is not for everyone.
The Nu Audio was created in partnership with Audio Note, a UK-based hi-fi component maker with a solid reputation and a philosophy that emphasizes component selection and material quality. In breaking down the components selected for the Nu Audio card it is evident that a high level of care went into the product, and it is the first time that I am aware of a computer sound card having this much in common with dedicated audiophile components.
Of course component choices are irrelevant if the Nu Audio doesn’t sound any better than what users already have, and proving the value of a quality 2-channel experience can be tricky as it generally requires the user to provide both source material and headphones (or amplifier/speakers) of sufficient quality to hear a difference.
Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2015 - 01:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: monster, idiots, audiophile
Believe it or not there is a review out on the interwebs claiming that "'bit-identical' computer audio may well be just as inexplicably inconsistent as analogue." In other words some hard drives and SSDs will produce better quality audio than others using the exact same audio file. Two different QNAP NAS devices apparently produced differing audio signals which the writer claims to be able to discern. Not only that but apparently different HDDs or SSDs inside the NAS also has an effect on the audio flavinoids and topology. If that is not enough for you then keep reading the link from The Register as they also propose the theory that different types of RAID will change the cromulence of the audio signal as well and while they stop short of describing the audio cables which were used they did stoop so low as to use Belkin CAT6 instead of a product from Monster. If you believe this and own a mains conditioner for your audio you should definitely let The Register know you are interested in their proposed AudioNAS kickstarter.
"Is it April already? I really cannot tell from this post, which poses the question: "Is it really possible that the sound quality of bit-identical audio ﬁles is influenced by their storage medium before being delivered to the hi-ﬁ system's DAC?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- CES 2015 Event Coverage: Mushkin @ Techware Labs
- Text Editor Created In Minecraft @ Slashdot
- Measuring the Planck Constant With Lego @ Hack a Day
- Watch out Seagate: Here comes WD with a hybrid flash/disk drive launch @ The Register
- Study: 15 Per Cent of Business Cloud Users Have Been Hacked @ Slashdot
- Quad-core AMD SoC squeezes into pocketable mini PC @ The Tech Report
- ARM SoC fuels remote monitoring in Cooler Master concept PSU @ The Tech Report
- Intel unveils button-sized Curie module for wearables @ The Tech Report
- The Samsung Galaxy A5 & Galaxy A3 Smartphone Launch Event @ TechARP
- It's 2015 and ATMs don't know when a daughterboard is breaking them @ The Register
- Atari Emulator Uses Raspberry Pi To Play 800 Games (and More) @ MAKE:Blog
- Microsoft kills off Patch Tuesday Advance Notifications with no advance notification @ The Inquirer
- Sphere 3D: Our pop-out 2TB disk product? Of COURSE it's rugged @ The Register
- Is Kitkat Killing Lollipop Uptake? @ Slashdot
- MSI GT80 Titan Laptop -internal shots from pre-retail sample @ Kitguru
- CES 2015: Asus top announcements @ The Inquirer
- BlackBerry: Internet of Things! Smartwatches! Anything but the sound of a flushing toilet! @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2015 - 06:51 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: mobile, headphone amplifier, DAP, DAC, ces 2015, CES, audiophile, audio
For the audio enthusiasts at CES this year Calyx Audio (Korean maker of audiophile-grade audio components) has a new prototype to show along with last year's Calyx M music player, and for an audiophile product the pricing is very aggressive.
Render of the Calyx PaT (dimensions in mm)
The PaT is a similar product in some ways as Calyx Audio's existing $199 USB DAC called the "Coffee", but this unit will be much smaller and will cost half as much at $99. And the reduction in price and size is only half of the story as the PaT also works with mobile devices as an outboard DAC/headphone amp. Apple iPhones and iPads will be supported, and Android devices with USB audio-out support as well (probably via USB OTG).
The PaT supports up to 16-bit, 48kHz files (AIF, M4A, PCM, OGG, and MP3) and will also control track playback and volume via hardware control buttons on the unit. The PaT requires no external power or battery, taking what little juice it needs directly from the connection to your mobile device. As for amplification, in typical Calyx fashion even this miniature board is using a discrete class A/B headphone amplifier. Since the PaT relies only on the power passed through the USB connection it is only capable of outputting 0.8 V, which by comparison is slightly lower than an iPhone 5 which outputs about 0.9 - 1.0 V.
The tiny prototype PaT in action
The PaT may be just a working board at this point, but the company has scheduled the release for February 2015, when the devices will be available in various colors of thin aluminum enclosures.
In the world of computer audio much more attention has been focused lately on advancements in sound, with special shielding and isolation on motherboards, special gold-plated USB ports for DACs, and customizable op-amps a trend. While the market for dedicated sound cards isn't what it once was, high-end PCI-E and USB cards from Creative (Sound Blaster) and ASUS (Xonar) are still widely available. Most of these products are for desktop users, but there is a growing number of portable devices that allow mobile users to experience great sound, too. For myself, great sound means faithful reproduction of 2-channel music, and it's nice to see attention paid to that area without the added effects of digital signal processing (DSP). Calyx seems interested only in engineering products that play back music as close to the source as possible, and I can't argue with that!
The Calyx PaT is scheduled to launch in February for $99, but like most high-end audio components it will take a little research to track it down. The USA distributor of the Calyx brand has a website with product and contact information here.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2013 - 07:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: audio, audiophile, v-moda, CrossFade M-100, noise cancellation
V-MODA's CrossFade M-100 is more than just a stereo noise isolating headphones, these are for the serious audiophile that owns a headphone amp and knows what OP-AMPs are. They will should just fine on your mobile device or plugged into a PC but to really hear the dual-diaphragm 50mm drivers at their best you need a powerful source. Even the cabling is impressive with a built in mic and the ability to share your audio by splitting the signal into another set of headphones. If you are looking for high end audio and are willing to pay the price you should check out the article at Benchmark Reviews.
"To get the most out of the CrossFade M-100 Headphones you will be wise to also invest in a headphone amplifier. The sound output from today’s smartphones might be enough to crap out your average best buy $10 headphones, but it just isn’t enough to get a truly satisfactory experience on a higher quality set of headphones let alone the CrossFade M100's. A lot of attention has quite rightly been given to sound quality and performance with equal attention also given to build quality and style. Don’t get me wrong, the experience is not disappointing by any means, I just need to point out that the dual-diaphragm 50mm drivers inside the CrossFade M-100 Headphones are so much more capable than you may think."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Astro A40 and Mixamp @ Kitguru
- SteelSeries 5Hv3 Gaming Headset Review @ Legit Reviews
- TteSports Level 10M PC Gaming Headset @ eTeknix
- Tt eSPORTS Cronos Gaming Headset @ LanOC Reviews
- CM Storm Pulse-R Aluminum Gaming Headset @ Benchmark Reviews
- ASUS Essence STU USB DAC and Headphone Amp Review @HiTech Legion
- V-MODA BoomPro Microphone C-BP-BLACK @ Benchmark Reviews
- Asus Xonar Phoebus Solo Review - 7.1 Gaming Soundcard Review @ HCW
- a.m.p SP1 @ techPowerUp
- Bitmore e-Storm LabyrinthX Bluetooth Wireless Speaker @ Benchmark Reviews
- LUXA2 Groovy Wireless Stereo Speaker @ Kitguru
- Microlab MD312 Bluetooth Wireless Portable Speaker @ Benchmark Reviews
Don't assume the price dictates the audio quality; try real studio quality headsets from Audio-Technica
Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2012 - 03:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: audiophile, headset, audio, audio-technica, ATH-A900
At an MSRP of $250, the Audio-Techinca ATH-A900 headphones are not intended for the casual gamer and as you can tell by the 1/4" connector they are designed for someone who owns a high end microphone amp. On the other hand if you need studio quality audio and will be wearing the headsets for hours at a time then the high end features built into these headphones are worth the investment. The 53mm drivers are in an enclosed earcup which helps bring the bass up close and personal and are designed with much sturdier materials than other popular headsets. To contrast the difference [H]ard|OCP tried Beats by Dre Studio headphones which cost more than the ATH-A900s and in every case they felt the ATH-A900s were vastly superior. As far as [H] is concerned the two headsets aren't even in the same class.
"Audio-Technica's open headphones are known to gamers for the wearing comfort and huge soundstage that these provide, but the open back models simply lack bass and isolation. Today, we will see if a pricey pair of the company's closed back audiophile headphones can offer the compromise many of you are looking for in PC audio."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Monster Gratitude In-Ear Headphones @ Techware Labs
- Jabra Drive Bluetooth Speakerphone Review @ Tech-Reviews
- RHA SA-850 Headphones and MA-350 Earphones Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Phonak Aud PFE232 +mic In-ear Headset @ techPowerUp
- ROCCAT Kave 5.1 Headset Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Antec Soundscience Rockus 3D 2.1 Review @ HardwareLOOK
- ARCTIC Audio Relay - DLNA Audio Renderer Review @MissingRemote
- ASUS Essence One @ Guru of 3D
- ASUS Xonar U3 USB Sound Card @ Pro-Clockers
Subject: General Tech | July 26, 2011 - 06:21 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: audio, studio quality, audiophile
There are speakers and then there are studio monitors, with the difference being quality. For most gamers and movie watchers there is no point in picking up a pair of studio quality monitors, not only because of the lack of a discerning ear but also because the audio source is unable to provide the quality these monitors need to perform. Much as Scotches or wines taste similar to the untrained palate, studio quality speakers are for professionals with professional level needs. If you are one, or simply want the best possible sound reproduction and are willing to spend $300+ for a pair of monitors then you should check out the M-Audio Studiophile CX5 Active Studio Reference Monitor review at ModSynergy. With a proper audio card and file as a source these monitors will equal a $1000 pair of monitors and are a great deal for those with the ears to enjoy them.
"Today I will be providing a long-term review on a different beast. Today you will be reading the review of one of M-Audio’s latest offerings on the market within their Studiophile lineup, the CX5 High-Resolution Active Studio Reference Monitor. Read on to see how this 90-watt near-field studio monitor performs and holds up. Will this be your next investment?"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- SteelSeries Siberia Neckband Headset @ XSReviews
- JBL On Air Wireless AirPlay Dock Review @ t-break
- Head-Direct HiFiMAN HE-300 Headphones @ techPowerUp
- CM Storm Sirus 5.1 Stereo Headset @ Pro-Clockers
- Cooler Master Storm Sirus 5.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset Review @ OCIA
- Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Speaker System Review @ Real World Labs