Christopher Posted June 23, 2004 Report Share Posted June 23, 2004 If you live in the US or can find a retailer that will ship internationally [if necessary], do yourself a favor and get one of the best valued soundcards on the internet today! I'm just about to order one, myself.It's called the Chaintech AV-710.For a mere ~$30ish, you get: * PCI 2.2 I/F with bus mastering and burst modes * 24-bit resolution audio format support * Sampling rates up to 192KHz * Supports Mic In / Line In / 4 Line outs & Digital Optical output * 2 separate CD audio stereo inputs * ACPI and PCI PMI support * Windows WDM drivers * Dimension:120mm x 106mm..and more! This little gem is buzzing around the audio communities and I thought I'd share.You can find e-tailers and prices here: http://froogle.google.com/froogle?q=av-710...ab=if&scoring=pHere's a mini-review I leeched off Head-Fi [click here for the original review]:In response to Tuberoller's demand, er, plea for reviews, and plus the fact that the AV-710 is becoming quite popular, yet no reviews, I decided to write one. I'm quite pleased with mine, anyway. I blame all errors on the fact that I'm simultaneously studying the OSI Layers while writing this. With that said, let the fun begin...Brief HistoryFor the longest time, computer audio seemed to be doomed. Creative was pretty much the only available card without spending hundreds. Turtle Beach and Hercules were players, but small ones, and they didn't have the greatest game support. Then, along came the M-Audio Revolution. Great, people thought, now we can have 24/192 support for under $100. Sure, it didn't have the greatest game support compared to Creative's offerings, but for the audiophile on a budget, this was as as close to heaven as you could get. And then, the Chaintech AV-710 came out. Envy24HT based chip, the same as the Revo, 24/192 support, 7.1 card, and all for $25. The Revo uses a Asahi-Kasei AK4381 DAC, whereas the AV-710 uses a Wolfson WM8728. (Note these both only apply to 2-channel mode. The surrounds use lesser DACs) The AK4381 has a 108dB SNR, opposed to the WM8728's 106dB SNR. I highly doubt you'll notice any difference between these two, but still, for the anal amongst us, (GUILTY!) the difference is there. They are both 24/192 capable chips, however. In any case, this card was an answer to prayer. Finally, high quality PC audio was available to the masses, and with a price tag like that, no one could ignore it.SpecificationsEnvy24HT-S ControllerWolfson WM8728 24/192 DAC for 2-channel modeVia VT1616 18/VSR (Variable Sample Rate) DAC for Surround7.1 CapableMic In/Line In/Surround Outs/Optical OutBundled with optical cable, drivers, WinDVD, and WinRipOS CompatibilityThis is a big issue for many people here, and I think many times reviewers forget that not everyone uses Windows exclusively. No offense, of course, but hey, we are here That being said, this card can be used in Linux, from what I've read, using ALSA. This page has some good info on anything related to audio and Linux, but is quite long. Should answer any questions you have, though. Macintosh users, sorry, you're on your own. Googling didn't turn up anything.Sound QualityAh, the one you've all been waiting for. Before I begin, I want you to know that is is all strictly subjective, IMO, YMMV. Equipment used was the AV-710 (duh) with JP3/4 jumpered to 1-2 (more on that later), running through the Rear Out with Hi-Rez mode enabled, through a fairly crappy/normal 1/8" mini-mini to an AD832AN-powered CMoy running off of 12v AC, to HD 280 Pros, well burned in (~800 hours as of May 2004), with the Blue Tack Mod applied. 280 bashers may now shut upBassCombined with the CMoy amp, this thing will shake your head apart. I realize the 280s aren't known for their qualities, but I doubt anyone will argue that they go LOW. 20Hz is no problem for these. After Blue Tack, they'll pump out low and mid bass as pretty as you please. The German EBM band Eisbrecher has some pretty serious bass on their tracks, and it's reproduced beautifully.MidrangeDream Theater is a well-known progressive rock/metal band, and for good reason. Their music flat out rocks. James LaBrie has rather interesting and powerful vocals, with tons of midrange. It's reproduced beautifully clear here, with no signs of clipping, harshness, or sibilance.TrebleThis is my (and others) only beef with the card; with certain CDs, notably newer ones (2000s mostly), there is harshness occasionally on cymbals, guitar solos, and some vocalists. It doesn't happen often, but it is there. The fact that it happens mostly with newer CDs leads me to believe it's mostly due to the hyper-compression applied to modern CDs. Other than that, though, it rocks. Marshall stack sound comes through loud and clear, bells ring loud and clear, applause is sharp and crisp.OverallThe sound is tight, fast, and ready for any musical genre. I've thrown everything under the sun at this; Dream Theater, Eisbrecher, Elton John, Metallica, Michael W. Smith (his _Freedom_ symphony album) Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Tool... the list goes on. It handles them all with grace and adapts to the musical style. It can be slow and soothing one second and suddenly jump into an all out barrage on your senses. I was in awe just tonight while listening to Dream Theater's track 'Disappear' off their CD, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. I could hear individual guitar strings being plucked as he strummed chords. The vocals were crisp and well defined. It was one of those moments where you just stop whatever you're doing and sit back and marvel.TweaksAs with all things, there are things that can be tweaked. The very first thing you should do is make sure you've installed VIA's drivers, not Chaintech's, on the CD with the card. The 1.43d drivers seem to be the best as of now (May 2004), but be on the lookout for better ones. After you've convinced Windows that you want these installed (not an easy task sometimes), go into the Envy Audio Deck, click on the Digital Out tab, and make sure the Enable Digital Output box is checked. Then go down and check Enable High Sample Rate box.I mentioned changing jumpers around earlier; this is a good start for actual mods. Look on the very upper left hand of the card, to the right of the screw, where you'll see 'JP3/JP3', and settings. Notice one says Line-Out, and the other Speaker-Out. Now, we don't want things getting amplified twice, do we? So, find JP3/4. Go over to the right about an inch, to the jumper bank labelled Front Audio. Now go down, and you'll see a chip marked U14. Directly below this are the jumpers in question. Move both of them over one notch, so they short pins one and two. Congratulations, you just modded the card! Doesn't that feel good? Now, these results have not been verified, but I thought there was increased bass, for one, and an overall tightening of the sound with this tweak. YMMV.Also, you're going to want to get ASIO support enabled on this card double-quick. Kernel Streaming is another option, but I like having a known standard. So, how to accomplish this? ASIO4All. Download the .zip (~80K), drop the .dll into your %systemroot% folder, open your favorite audio application, and choose ASIO as the output method. (you'll have to have an ASIO plugin installed for your audio player of choice already) Also of note, it's important to make sure Wuschel's ASIO4All is the method selected. Then, open up the ASIO4All control panel (should be a shortcut on the desktop and in Start Menu) and start playing. You'll first want to try the Direct DMA Buffer I/O method, but if that fails, disable it, and start playing with buffer sizes. Also of note, reduce the buffer size in your audio player to 0, and let ASIO4All deal with that. The buffer size needed is likely going to vary widely depending on your system configuration. I'm running 1024/2, but that's just because I got tired of occasional pops while launching an application. I can have it down to around 500 if all I'm doing is listening to music or browsing the internet, but launching anything causes pops and crackles. For output options, you're going to want to disable any resamplers you have running, as this is going to output a bit-perfect 44.1KHz stream that completely bypasses KMixer. Rejoice! Output bitdepth is up to you, but might as well bring it up to 24 bit. Padding to 32 bit seems to work best with ASIO4All.Finally, there have been a few threads about more in-depth modding. Everything from replacing op-amps and capacitors to cutting traces. I'm considering switching out some caps at some point, but you're completely on your own with this. Good luck.ConclusionPeople who've heard both the M-Audio Revolution and the Chaintech AV-710 say the differences, if any, are so slight that most people aren't going to notice them. For $25 as opposed to the Revo's $100 price tag, you can't ignore this card. If you're hesitant about PC audio, pick up this card. Hook up a nice amp, sit back, and go through a few of your favorite CDs. Then, of course, you'll upgrade to an Emu or RME, and then you'll modit...Highly recommended. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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