A USB-C Headset Powered by an ESS Quad-DAC

The ROG Delta is a gaming headset from the Republic of Gamers division of ASUS that offers a Hi-Res audio certification thanks to its ASUS Essence 50 mm drivers with a 20-40,000 Hz frequency response and implementation of a high-end ESS Quad-DAC, and offers custom lighting effects via the circular RGB lighting on each ear cup. A wired headset exclusively, it connects via USB-C or standard USB 2.0 for use with PCs as well as compatible consoles and smartphones.

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“ROG Delta is the world's first gaming headset with the industry-leading, hi-fi-grade ESS 9218 quad DAC, which delivers impeccably clear and detailed sound to give serious gamers the edge they need to win. ROG Delta features a USB-C connector and comes with a USB-C to USB 2.0 adapter to let you game on your PC, console and mobile device without changing headsets. A one-of-a-kind, circular rainbow RGB lighting effect provides a stylish look to set you apart on the battlefield.”

Features from ASUS ROG:

  • Industry-leading hi-res ESS quad-DAC for impeccably detailed and true-to-life audio
  • USB-C connector for true multiplatform support, including PCs, Mac, mobile phones and PS4
  • Customizable, multi-color circular RGB lighting lets you shine in style
  • Exclusive ASUS Essence drivers, airtight chamber and audio signal diversion technology for immersive audio experiences
  • Upgraded comfort with ergonomic D-shape and ROG Hybrid ear cushions

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Why a quad-DAC design? When ESS released the ES9218 they pointed to these “internally connected parallel quad DACs” as the key to delivering its rated 124dB DNR and -112dB THD+N, in addition to signal-to-noise of up to 130 dB, with ASUS stating that their implementation with the ROG Delta makes the headset “capable of achieving an unprecedented signal-to-noise ratio of 127 dB, a level untouchable by single-DAC gaming headsets.”

Another aspect of the ultra-low noise of the ROG Delta is a design feature that ASUS calls “Hyper-Grounding”, which is an ROG-exclusive technology with an intelligent multi-layer PCB design that prevents interference and shields the audio signals from any RGB lighting-related PWM switching noise.

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So how does this very impressively-specified hi-fi gaming headset sound? I’ll offer my impressions after we check out the design and talk about fit and comfort.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS ROG Delta gaming headset

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: EVGA

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.

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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.

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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.

Continue reading our review of the EVGA Nu Audio PCIe sound card!

EVGA Introduces Nu Audio for Life Like Sound from your PC

Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2019 - 12:50 PM |
Tagged: sound card, pcie, evga, DAC, ces 2019, CES, Audio Note, audio, amp, AK4493

EVGA has announced a brand new product offering for enthusiasts, but this PCI Express device is not a graphics card - it's a premium sound card. And yes, I know that many people have written off audio boards in the era of ubiquitous motherboard audio, but if you are at all interested in quality audio and have ever looked into external DACs and headphone amps the Nu Audio card is shaping up to be a fantastic alternative to external component solutions.

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The product is a result of a partnership with UK-based Audio Note, a high-end audio equipment manufacturer that emphasizes technology and internal component quality in their designs, and the design of the Nu Audio card was made to those standards. EVGA says that is the pursuit of life-like sound that inspired this card, and their efforts have resulted in something that would be completely at home in an audiophile setting, RGB effects notwithstanding (yes, it has RGB!).

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Ok, so what is this exactly, and why is it any different from other PCIe sound cards? This is not your typical DSP-driven surround audio solution, and truly the emphasis is on 2-channel stereo audio reproduction. Reading over the specs this begins to look more like an audiophile product, with native DSD support and PCM audio up to 24-bit 384 kHz - and dual clock generators for native 44.1 and 48 kHz-based sample rates. Component choices were made to improve audio quality through the signal chain and to the output, with some impressive specs:

Premium Components:

  • DAC: AKM AK4493
  • ADC: AKM AK5572
  • OP-AMP (Headphone): ADI OP275
  • OP-AMP (Line Out): ADI AD8056
  • Capacitors: WIMA, Audio Note(UK), Nichicon
  • Power Regulators: Texas Instruments TPS7A47/TPS7A33 ultralow-noise power solution

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The demo in the EVGA suite featured a nice setup featuring some of the entry-level Audio Note components, showcasing hi-fi music playback from lossless files on a PC. It was quite impressive considering the sound card was fed directly into the integrated amp, and on display were also such features as separate analog control of the volume output (the internal amp can be controlled independently of the sound level in Windows), and the integrated RGB lighting that dynamically respond to music playback.

The Nu Audio sound card will retail for $249 when it launches, specifics on release date to follow.

Source: EVGA

That's no Zune, it's a FiiO M7

Subject: General Tech | December 10, 2018 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: audio, FiiO, m7, Exynos 7270, Sabre 9018Q2C, DAC

There are those for whom the idea of listening to audio via a phone is painful to contemplate, as the lack of a dedicated high fidelity DAC will ruin the experience.  They will quite happily drop $200 on something like the FiiO M7 and consider it a bargain.  The device is also interesting technically, with a DAC and Exynos processor running it, which is why the device is somewhat interesting to non-audiophiles as well.   Check out Nikktech for a look at the interface, hardware and audio quality if you are curious.

It also has an FM receiver!

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"It may not be the flagship music player in the entire High-Resolution lineup by FiiO but thanks to its Exynos 7270 Processor and the Sabre 9018Q2C DAC/Amp the M7 should have no problem satisfying even the most demanding audiophiles."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: Nikktech

SteelSeries exclusive audio bundle, the Arctis Pro and GameDAC

Subject: General Tech | March 22, 2018 - 04:47 PM |
Tagged: steelseries, Arctis Pro, GameDAC, 9018Q2C, DAC, audio, headset

At first glance $250 seems a bit on the pricey side for a SteelSeries gaming headset, however it also ships with a seperate DAC which explains the pricing.  The build of the Arctis Pro will be familiar to anyone who has seen the wireless Arctis 7, inside are a pair of 40m neodymium drivers with a 20-40,000 Hz frequency response.  The DAC is an ESS Sabre 9018Q2C DAC and offers optical, USB and a 3.5mm line out, the second 3.5mm port labeled mobile is an input so you can play music on the run.  The one thing it does lack is a way to connect to other gaming headests, which may be a deal breaker for many.  TechPowerUp gave it very high marks for audio playback, calling it the best they've heard yet this year.

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"The $250 / €270 Arctis Pro + GameDAC is SteelSeries' new flagship gaming audio system. It consists of an amazing gaming headset based on an improved iteration of the Arctis 3, 5, and 7 and the GameDAC, a high-quality external USB sound card equipped with the ESS Sabre 9018Q2C DAC chip and a host of advanced features, fully usable and configurable without any drivers."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: TechPowerUp

Sennheiser's GSX 1000 7.1 USB DAC; audio the way it wants to play

Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2018 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: audio, sennheiser, GSX 1000, DAC, 7.1

Sennheiser's GSX 1000 is an external USB 24-bit/96 kHz DAC, using Sennheiser's own 7.1 Binaural Rendering Engine with a headphone amp and a line-out port to connect to active speakers. The only difference between the GSX 1000 and the 1200 is that you will not be able to daisy chain multiple DACs together, a feature not many of us need.  TechPowerUp were more than impressed with the sound, but the DAC fell short of perfection as you cannot modify the preset equalizer choices nor disable the noise cancellation on the mic jack; both of which should be possible on an audio device of this price.

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"The Sennheiser GSX 1000 Audio Amplifier is a beautiful external USB sound card equipped with the best 7.1 virtual surround sound system we've heard so far, and a host of other interesting features primarily aimed towards hardcore gaming."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

Source: TechPowerUp

Is iFi Audio the best choice for a name, let alone a tiny DAC?

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2017 - 02:19 PM |
Tagged: audio, DAC, iFi Audio, nano iDSD LE

As you can see from the comparative size of the RCA jacks, the iFi Audio nano iDSD LE is a very small DAC, especially as they have squeezed a 1000 mAh battery inside for portable usage.  Don't let the tiny package fool you, the device supports a wide variety of signals including PCM from 44.1 to 384 kHz/16-32 bit, DSD 2.8, 3.1, 5.6 and 6.2 MHz/1 bit, DXD 352.8, 384 kHz/24 bit.  TechPowerUp reviewed the DAC with both HiFiMAN Edition S headphones and Sennheiser IE-800s in ear headphones, take a look right here.

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"iFi Audio's nano iDSD LE is a little DAC/amp with big ambitions. It packs all the knowledge from the bigger DAC/amps in iFi's huge portofolio of products into a small package. Despite being small, it still features RCA line-outs, a very respectable headphone amplification circuit, and a 1000 mAh battery."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: TechPowerUp

ASUS Announces ROG Maximus VIII Extreme/Assembly Motherboard and Matrix GTX 980 Ti

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards | November 9, 2015 - 10:49 AM |
Tagged: ROG, Republic of Gamers, Maximus VIII Extreme/Assembly, Matrix GTX 980 Ti, Headphone Amp, E9018K2M, DAC, asus, 10GbE, 10 Gbps Ethernet

ASUS has announced two new products for their Republic of Gamers lineup today, and while we saw the Matrix GTX 980 Ti at IFA in September (and the Maximus VIII Extreme/Assembly was also on display), there are further details for both products in today's press release.

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ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Extreme/Assembly motherboard with Matrix 980 Ti

The motherboard in question is the Maximus VIII Extreme/Assembly, a Z170 board with an external headphone amp and 10Gb/s Ethernet add-in card included. This board could run into some money.

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The ROG 10G Express expansion card

While other Maximus VIII series motherboards have high-end audio support, the Extreme/Assembly further differentiates itself with an included 10Gb/s Ethernet card. ASUS has partnered with Tehuti Networks for the card, which in addition to 10Gbps also operates at conventional 100/1000 Ethernet speeds, as well as new 2.5/5Gbps over CAT5e.

“ROG 10G Express is the enterprise-speed Ethernet card, powered by Aquantia® and Tehuti Networks: these key partners are both members of the NBASE-T™ alliance, and are working closely to create the new 2.5Gbit/s and 5Gbit/s standards that will be compatible with the existing Category 5e (Cat 5e) cabling and ports. With PCI Express 2.0 x4 speed, it equips Maximus VIII Extreme/Assembly gamers for next-generation LAN speeds of up to 10Gbit/s — or up to ten times (10X) faster than today’s fastest onboard consumer Ethernet.”

This will certainly add to the cost of the motherboard considering a 10GbE card (without the 2.5/5Gbps feature) currently sells for $239.99 on Amazon.

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The ROG SupremeFX Hi-Fi amplifier

If you’re an audio enthusiast (like me) you’ll be impressed by the attention to audio, which begins with the audiophile-grade ESS E9018K2M DAC chip found on other members of the Maximus VIII family, and capable of not only native PCM 32-bit/384kHz playback, but up to dual-rate DSD (DSD128). The external headphone amplifier features the Texas Instruments TPA6120A2, and has a very high 6V output to drive the most challenging headphone loads.

What about the Matrix GTX 980 Ti? Full specifications were announced for the card, with boost GPU clock speeds of up to 1317 MHz.

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  • Graphics Engine: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti
  • Video memory: 6GB GDDR5
  • CUDA cores: 2816
  • GPU clock (boosted):
    • 1317MHz (OC mode)
    • 1291MHz (gaming mode)
  • GPU clock (base)
    • 1216MHz (OC mode)
    • 1190MHz (gaming mode)
  • Memory clock: 7200MHz
  • Memory interface: 384-bit
  • Display Output: 3x DisplayPort 1.2, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x Dual-link DVI
  • Dimensions: 11.62 x 5.44 x 2 inches

Availability and pricing information for these new ROG products was not released.

Source: ASUS ROG

Need a little high end audio? Check out HiFiMAN's EF100 DAC and Amp

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2015 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: audio, hifiman, EF100, DAC, tube

Just the look of the EF100 DAC from HiFiMAN gives you the notion that this is not an entry level peice of audio equipment, it is aimed at those who desire near studio quality audio but who lack the means to rent studio time or buy professional level equipment.  The $500 price tag is steep but you get what you pay for, a tube driven amplifier with C-Media CM102s inside with two analogue inputs, a mini-jack and RCA inputs. If this sounds like something you might need in your life check out TechPowerUp's review right here.

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"HiFiMAN has a reputation for producing great headphone amplifiers. Today, we take a look at their newest do-it-all headphone amplifier & DAC combo with an on-board T-amp. This all-encompassing device features a class A/B headphone amplifier with a tube input stage. Despite all its features, it sells for $499, which is quite impressive."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Audio Corner

 

Source: techPowerUp

Podcast #351 - More AMD Fiji Leaks, Rumors on GTX 980 Ti and a great $99 portable DAC!

Subject: Editorial | May 28, 2015 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: X99, video, sapphire, r9 285, podcast, nvidia, GTX 980 Ti, gigabyte, Fiji, DAC, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #351 - 05/28/2015

Join us this week as we discuss AMD Fiji Leaks, rumors on GTX 980 Ti, a great $99 portable DAC, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Sebastian Peak

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