Having a good sound card is the key to optimizing the quality of audio on a computer. Usually sound cards are built into the motherboard and are fine for some users, but to get the best detailed sound, a discrete sound card is needed. Computers like the one used in the PMP’s Studio require a high quality sound card to reproduce the high quality recordings that are made. We wanted to know whether a more expensive sound card was truly better than its cheaper counterpart and whether dual digital outputs could be used simultaneously.
The sound cards that were tested were the Auzentech Meridian 2G, Auzentech X-Raider, Asus Xonar Essence ST, and the HT Omega Claro Plus+.
|Hard drive||Western Digital Green 1.5TB|
|Power supply||BFG 450W|
- The sound cards were inserted into the available PCI slots.
- The components were hooked up and the Z-5500 was connected to the analog output of the sound card.
- The computer was turned on and the onboard sound was disabled in the bios.
- Windows was booted up and the drivers were installed for both sound cards.
- The audio and the Meridian 2G was tested first.
- YouTube was opened and a song was played.
- The audio quality was observed by four people and then switched to output the same song through the X-Raider.
- A movie file was tested and the quality was observed through both the sound cards by 4 people.
- The Z-5500 was connected through the digital output and steps 5-7 were repeated
10. Another Z-5500 was used to see if simultaneous audio through digital could be achieved.
11. One Z-5500 was connected from the Meridian 2G and the other through the X-Raider.
12. Windows media player was set to output through the X-Raider and YouTube output through the Meridian 2G.
13. The X-Raider was removed and the Asus Xonar Essence ST was plugged in.
14. The same tests were performed using a Glee .mkv file using the Z-5500 as the speakers and the quality was observed.
15. The headphone quality was tested and observed using a Glee song.
Results and Conclusion
Through the testing procedure, we were able to determine whether the more expensive sound card was better and if dual digital outputs could be used simultaneously. Both cards were able to output digital audio simultaneously. Although the dual digital output did not function as we wanted, we tested the HT Omega Claro+ and it did dual digital output simultaneously providing the same audio through both the optical and coaxial outputs to two different sound systems. The Meridian 2G was the best value for performance as it was priced lower than the Asus, while still sounding better to 3 of the 4 listeners.
Auzentech Meridian 2G vs. X-Raider
- The Meridian 2G provided better sound through analog connections
- Meridian 2G was able to play at 192 kHz/24bit vs. the X-Raiders lower resolution.
- Both had similar audio quality through digital connections
- This was expected since the decoder in the Z-5500 does the processing and not the sound card.
Auzentech Meridian 2G vs. Asus Xonar Essence ST
- The Meridian 2G provided better sound as judged by 3 out of the 4 test listeners.
- The headphone test resulted in 2 testers finding that the Meridian 2G offered deeper low frequencies while the Essence ST provided clearer audio.
Auzentech Meridian 2G vs. HT Omega Claro Plus+
- The Meridian 2G provided clearer audio as judged by 2 out of the 2 test listeners.
- The HT Omega Claro Plus+ provided deeper audio that faded the highs out.
Auzentech Meridian 2G