Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe PC soundcard Letters part 2
Editor: Kudos, Stereophile, for having the guts and foresight to print a soundcard review. Audiophile hard-liners might object to reviews on "computer" hardware, but I am all for it.
Astute audiophiles will have soundcards playing (pun intended) a large part in future system configurations for the improvements in sound quality they can provide. Soundcards can render obsolete the bandwidth and capacity limitations of the cheaply mass producible medium of the time because they exploit the ever increasing power of computers. Gone will be such nonsense as having only two channels of 24/192 resolution, which is DVD-A's ultra-high resolution limit, because that is all the spec's bandwidth allows. Once there are multi-track audio file formats that support many ultra-high resolution channels, 24/192 can be available in every channel in a 5.1, 7.1, 10.2, or whatever-fanatical-number-of-speakers setup anyone desires.
Having six 24/192 channels, as in a 5.1 setup, would require three times the bandwidth of DVD-A's limit (27Mb/s vs 9Mb/s), yet reading 27Mb/s is trivial for today's hard drives, and 120 minutes of music requires fewer than 24 gigabytes of capacity, which is also well within the limits of today's largest (and tomorrow's smallest) hard drives. Just plug in enough clock-linked sound cards, and you are all set!
(To the stereo reactionaries out there who would use only one soundcard: a large hard drive for audio storage, ie, a really big Red Book jukebox of WAV files, is a significant convenience; just ask Linn.
There is still the problem of getting that much digital data into a hard drive, but that is another story. My quick answers: nuke digital copy protection, distribute music tracks as individual files on computer data media (DVD/SACD-ROM instead of DVD-A/SACD), implement broadband for all, and distribute MLP encoders/decoders as freeware. No, I have never smoked a thing in my life.
Now, about the review itself, why was so little said about the sound quality of CardDeluxe's digital output? I would like to know how it compares to the best transports out there, eg, Levinson, Wadia. Musings on the "envelopingly trippy" Win98 opening noise just does not cut it. While there may be no raw 88.2 or 96kHz discs to which to compare JA's WAV files, certainly a Red Book comparison could have been done.
By the way, will Stereophile review the performance of multiple sound cards slaved to the same master clock in outputting 5.1 sound? Let us see if these computer gizmos can give the Meridian 800 series a run for the money!—Alexander Hawson, New York, NY, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor: Thanks for grreat review of Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe. I am planning a major PC upgrade and it was most timely! JA mentioned classical music and I wish to store about 200 CDs on two large hard drives. Please can you tell me how to copy them speedily—I use Audiograbber or Jukebox and it takes for ever to record at playing speed?
Finally, when I make a copy I have to click separately for each movement (no way to group a symphony?) and the movements store alphabetically—adagio before scherzo—instead of in the order of the symphony! Any way round this would really be appreciated.—Andrew Butler, email@example.com