EVGA currently sells a range of products: motherboards, graphics cards, power supplies, cases, and laptops. EVGA has been expanding to other markets for a number of years now, and at CES 2016 we saw the beginnings of a USB audio device due to a collaboration with a professional company called Audio Note. We were impressed at the time, but since then we've not heard much about the project, and had kind of assumed it had been abandoned. But at CES 2019 EVGA introduced the results of the collaboration: its first audio card. This card uses a PCIe to USB controller, making it an internal USB audio product.

EVGA’s Nu Audio card was designed by Audio Note, a UK-based company that develops custom audio solutions. The PCIe 2.0 x1 card implements a PCIe to USB controller to the hardware, and is based on the XMOS xCORE-200 DSP accompanied by Asahi Kasei Microdevices’ (AKM) AK4493 DAC, the AKM AK5572 ADC, and the Cirrus Logic CS5346 ADC. The board uses a silver and gold-plated multilayer PCB with isolated dual ground planes for analogue and digital circuits. Being aimed at users who want a cleaner sound but also better sound support out of their audio outputs, the Nu Audio card uses audio-grade capacitors and resistors that carry Audio Note, Nichicon, WIMA, and Panasonic brands. Besides, it features switchable OP amps as well as a dedicated Maxim amp for headphone volume control.

The Nu Audio card is equipped with two RCA line outs for left and right speakers that can output 384 KHz at 32-bit audio, one output for headphones featuring impedance between 16 and 600 Ohms, an S/PDIF out, a line in supporting 384 KHz at 32-bit audio, and a mic in supporting 192 KHz at 24-bit audio. In addition to traditional analogue and digital outputs, the card supports USB audio class 2.0 enabled by the ASMedia ASM1042 PCIe-to-USB bridge. Meanwhile, to ensure that the board gets enough power, it has a SATA power connector coupled with a multi-stage VRM.

Since EVGA usually targets enthusiasts, its audio card is not only outfitted with a cooling system for heating components, but it is covered by a shroud featuring 10-mode RGB lighting as well as four Audio Reactive Lighting options that match the board’s lighting and audio. The bundled software allows for full EQ tuning, as well as a dynamic response implementation. With the right software, the audio card can support full audiophile formats, such as DSD, and switch between them as required.

EVGA is now currently selling the card, at a price of $249. This is the first in a line of cards, we were told - depending on the feedback of the hardware, the collaboration with Audio Note might extend into a gaming focused design or a more professional audio input/output design.

 

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Source: EVGA

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  • Qasar - Thursday, January 24, 2019 - link

    Mode_13h if the source is already multichannel... then yes... no need to encode.. but if it isnt, aka Mp3s, Cd audio Games.. then to get multichannel ( DD or DTS ) then you need to encode it 1st.. as HDMI would just output the source as it is.. correct ? Reply
  • mode_13h - Friday, January 25, 2019 - link

    Well, how do you want your stereo source to become multichannel? If it's just reverb and simulated acoustics, AV receivers tend to have modes and settings that will simulate that for you, which (depends on the model) are probably independent of the channel-count or encoding of the source.

    If your game supports multichannel audio, then you should be able to to use HDMI to send the raw PCM encoding of each channel directly to the AV receiver.

    One thing to consider is that encoding DTS and Dolby Digital adds some amount of latency, due to the fact that you're sending a packet of data. That means the encoder needs to wait until it has enough samples to fill a packet. So, even if the computation involved in doing the encoding were instantaneous, there would always be some latency. I don't know if they have low-latency modes or support extra-small packets for realtime applications.

    I think your best bet is probably to research the issue elsewhere. I do believe there's nothing you can do with optical that you *can't* do with HDMI - it's a strict superset.
    Reply
  • Qasar - Friday, January 25, 2019 - link

    " how do you want your stereo source to become multichannel "
    simple.. encoded to DD/DTS... like i have been listening to since Nvidia released Soundstorm back in the K7 days :-)

    " AV receivers tend to have modes and settings "
    they do.. and DD/DTS sound better to me then the various sound fields that they have..

    "If your game supports multichannel audio"
    some do some dont.. and i have switched between their built in stereo/multichannel output and letting my sound cards do the stereo to DD/DTS, for me at least, provides a better surround sound.

    if encoding to DD/DTS adds some latency.. it must be very minimal, or i dont notice cause everything sounds in sync to me. maybe cause the sound cards i have used, soundstorm, Auzentech's cards, and now the SB Z series cards all do the encoding in hardware ?

    " I do believe there's nothing you can do with optical that you *can't* do with HDMI "
    except encode a stereo source to DD/DTS :-) at least that i know of... far as i know.. HDMI only outputs the audio as it is from the source. my current audio setup is only 5.1 so its fine.. maybe if i have time i will try connecting my comp to my 7.1 Home Theater in the other room and see how it sounds on that, both with optical, and hdmi :-)
    Reply
  • mode_13h - Saturday, January 26, 2019 - link

    FYI, DD and DTS are compressed formats. They imply a compression scheme and EQ, actually. Perhaps what you like is their EQ curves? Otherwise, there shouldn't be any difference between them and uncompressed, multichannel.

    What I meant by my question, however, was how you expected a 2-channel source to become > 2 channels. Normally, that's by adding some EQ and reverb. Unless your 2-channel source is matrixed (a la Dolby Pro-Logic), there's no obvious or standard way to extract additional surround information from it.
    Reply
  • mode_13h - Saturday, January 26, 2019 - link

    > Normally, that's by adding some EQ and reverb.

    I was referring to the surround modes supported by many A/V receivers, here.
    Reply
  • Qasar - Saturday, January 26, 2019 - link

    Mode.. when i mention DD/DTS.. i am referring to all of it.. from 5.1, to 7.1 Atmos/DTS:X. Atmos/DTS:X are uncompressed, arent they ? if not.. what multichannel audio are your referring to that goes over HDMI ??

    by EQ, are you referring to the bass/treble aspect, or something else ?? also.. just asking.. are your familiar with DD live and DTS connect ?? and what it does ? cause they both take 2 channel stereo audio, and encode it to 5.1. from what i have read.. doesnt use any reverb or EQ when it in codes to multichannel... ages ago.. i also tried playing a movie on my setup, a dvd on my comp, set to the 2 channel track, with DD live enabled.. and the same movie in my blue ray player, set to DD, and got them synced and switched between the 2, and they both sounded pretty much the same....

    as i typed the above, i noticed that you also expanded on the eq and reverb.. and if that means surround modes such as Yamaha's cinema DSP, then no.. thats not what i am referring to.. as i typed above.. im referring to DD Live and DTS:Connect
    Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, March 5, 2019 - link

    FWIW, Schiit actually used to sell DACs sans USB and positioned it as an add-on, and their designer still views it as an interior option to AES or even SPIDF even if some of the PR they put out around the latest USB implemention claim they solved most potential issues... I think they're still working on a further refined implementation beyond gen 5, tho that seems to work just as well as coax SPIDF for me. Reply
  • mode_13h - Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - link

    Since I could get bit-perfect optical out, I've gone with outboard DACs.

    I use separates, but here's one I always thought was cute:

    http://www.parasound.com/zdac-v2.php
    Reply
  • Sttm - Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - link

    I have an external one, and I love it. SoundBlaster G6. It has a quality headphone amp, decent sound settings, and most important of all has optical input with Dolby decoding, which works at the same time as my PC audio, so I can play a game on my PC or console while watching something on my TV or monitor and have both audio pumped into my headphones. Reply
  • CaedenV - Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - link

    Agreed. I am sure this is some nice hardware, but after moving my audio processing to an external device, it is really hard to imagine going backwards. Do all the processing you want inside the box, but get it out via light pipe, and let your amp do what amps do best to your speakers or headphones. Not a lot of demand for internal cards any more... you would think they would know that? Reply

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