EVGA

NU Audio sounds great!

Author
jll544
New Member
  • Total Posts : 67
  • Reward points : 0
  • Joined: 2006/07/29 13:25:09
  • Status: offline
  • Ribbons : 3
2019/02/23 21:15:58 (permalink)
When EVGA announced the NU Audio, I was excited to see a new option for my PC audio needs. I recently built a new PC and found the onboard audio to be quite dull compared to my previous motherboard. I do wish that the NU Audio was announced a bit earlier, however, because I had just purchased a sound card, the ASUS STX II 7.1. Regardless, once the NU Audio came out, I couldn't resist giving it a try to how it would compare with the ASUS.

Testing environment:
For critical listening: Sennheiser HD580 headphones (300 Ohm, open-back design). For casual listening and gaming: Altec Lansing ADA885 surround speaker system (120W, THX-certified). Relevant PC info: Windows 10 v1809, ASUS Maximus XI Formula motherboard, EVGA 1200 P2 PSU, ASUS STX II 7.1 sound card.

Unboxing and installing the NU Audio:
First impression upon opening the box... The NU Audio card is packed in nice foam rubber padding, but the foam has a strong chemical odor that I wasn't prepared for. It didn't help that the e-tailer had wrapped the box in plastic, helping to concentrate the smell in the box.
Installation was mostly uneventful, although the NU Audio software popped up several runtime error messages immediately after the firmware update. The card seems to work, so I don't know what the errors were about. (suggestion for EVGA: please make error messages more descriptive/helpful)

NU Audio software:
It gets the job done, but there are a couple areas that could be improved. The EQ page is unintuitive and a bit confusing. After playing around with creating various presets and sets of presets, I think I've mostly figured it out now (took a while to figure out how to rename the preset sets), but I still have no idea what the save/load buttons at the bottom do.
The NU Audio UI is quite lacking in keyboard support. Currently, you can click a control and then press up/down keys to make adjustments, but pressing the tab key at the main screen doesn't move focus in any logical way, and there's no visual highlight to show which control has focus (slightly better on the EQ screen, where tab moves focus across the various EQ bands and a few tiny dots hint at focus). Improved keyboard support would help make the software more usable for keyboard-centric users as well as more accessible to anyone who might have difficulty using a mouse.

Listening to NU Audio:
The NU Audio is fantastic for headphone listeners. Its headphone amp easily drives my HD580 headphones, with plenty of power to spare. Independent headphone volume control is an unexpected but very welcome gift because it gives much finer control over headphone volume than any other sound card I've owned. I did not experience any issues with noise or interference from the NU Audio outputs.
NU Audio sound is very clean and detailed without being fatiguing. Compared to my STX II, the NU Audio seems to reveal a little more detail but with slightly less warmth (mid-bass?) than the STX. With my headphones, the NU Audio can sound somewhat lean and analytical, whereas the warmth of the STX makes it more fun to listen to. It's the kind of subtle difference that possibly could be tweaked by EQ or rolling op-amps. I might try swapping one of the MUSES op-amps from the STX to the NU Audio to see how that changes things.

Surround (or lack thereof):
Unfortunately, surround sound is basically a non-option with the NU Audio. While the card is supposed to support SPDIF passthrough for 5.1 compressed formats (Dolby Digital, DTS), it's not working with the current drivers. EVGA is aware and working on it, but even that would help only for playing pre-encoded content. For gaming, an encoder (Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect) would need to be added, but AFAIK EVGA so far hasn't said that will happen. Surround support is what's currently keeping the STX II in my PC, alongside the NU Audio.

Overall:
I'm very impressed by the sound produced by the NU Audio. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much of a improvement over my STX II, but sure enough the NU Audio sounds cleaner and more detailed. That said, lack of any surround support is a big gap for the NU Audio. Competing cards from Creative and ASUS already include surround encoding support and working SPDIF passthrough. Hopefully EVGA will fix passthrough soon, and maybe they can consider adding an encoder, too. Software support is a big reason the NU Audio is appealing to me, as other sound card makers tend to abandon their products (last update for my STX was years ago). So far, EVGA seems to be releasing updates quickly, and I hope they keep it up.
post edited by jll544 - 2019/09/07 02:07:18
#1

4 Replies Related Threads

    MSim
    Omnipotent Enthusiast
    • Total Posts : 14564
    • Reward points : 0
    • Joined: 2005/05/22 23:13:30
    • Location: Earth
    • Status: offline
    • Ribbons : 38
    Re: Smells bad, sounds great! 2019/02/24 01:32:47 (permalink)
    "Software support is a big reason the NU Audio is appealing to me"
    The ASUS STX is over 4 years old. I think that's why we don't see any software updates for it. ASUS need to do a refresh of that card.
     
    It would help if EVGA would release a roadmap on which software features they plan on adding to the NU Audio card. That would allow people to see if it's the right card for them or not. I hear they have a surround sound card in the works. Hopefully that one will come with more software features out of the box.
     

    Affiliate Code: G8N4K5CUFY

    1.1.1.1
    #2
    jll544
    New Member
    • Total Posts : 67
    • Reward points : 0
    • Joined: 2006/07/29 13:25:09
    • Status: offline
    • Ribbons : 3
    Re: Smells bad, sounds great! 2019/02/24 21:51:04 (permalink)
    MSim
    The ASUS STX is over 4 years old. I think that's why we don't see any software updates for it. ASUS need to do a refresh of that card.
     
    It would help if EVGA would release a roadmap on which software features they plan on adding to the NU Audio card. That would allow people to see if it's the right card for them or not.


    Yes, and in the 4 years that the STX II has been around, ASUS posted all of two software releases (initial version included). So, it wouldn't take much to offer better support than that.
     
    A feature roadmap from EVGA would be very helpful indeed. Although I do like the NU Audio sound quality, I remain on the fence whether it's enough of an upgrade to justify the high price. Knowing what features may or may not be coming could put the mind at ease.
    #3
    EVGATech_LeeM
    EVGA Forum Moderator
    • Total Posts : 2257
    • Reward points : 0
    • Joined: 2016/11/04 14:43:35
    • Location: Brea, CA
    • Status: offline
    • Ribbons : 14
    Re: Smells bad, sounds great! 2019/02/25 03:09:43 (permalink)
    There are a couple items that we're waiting on roadmaps to make the roadmaps for a few of these items, lol.  That doesn't necessarily mean that it will take a long time to implement certain features, but there are a couple items that we're waiting on information from third-parties before we can implement a couple things, as sometimes happens with drivers.
     
    One of those things is a solid virtual surround implementation for headphones, which will be expected "probably" in April.  Other items include preset EQ settings, various UI improvements, and a few other things that should be done by next month.
     
    I'd like to publish a roadmap for features as well, but I'm also happy that the team is also working on various issues that the Community is reporting and getting them solved.
     
     
    #4
    MSim
    Omnipotent Enthusiast
    • Total Posts : 14564
    • Reward points : 0
    • Joined: 2005/05/22 23:13:30
    • Location: Earth
    • Status: offline
    • Ribbons : 38
    Re: Smells bad, sounds great! 2019/02/25 12:08:23 (permalink)
    jll544
    MSim
    The ASUS STX is over 4 years old. I think that's why we don't see any software updates for it. ASUS need to do a refresh of that card.
     
    It would help if EVGA would release a roadmap on which software features they plan on adding to the NU Audio card. That would allow people to see if it's the right card for them or not.


    Yes, and in the 4 years that the STX II has been around, ASUS posted all of two software releases (initial version included). So, it wouldn't take much to offer better support than that.
     
    A feature roadmap from EVGA would be very helpful indeed. Although I do like the NU Audio sound quality, I remain on the fence whether it's enough of an upgrade to justify the high price. Knowing what features may or may not be coming could put the mind at ease.




    Only 2 software updates, that is bad. ASUS has to know that will probably cost them future sound card customers by doing that. Creative has released 8 or so software updates for my AE-5 sound card. I haven't notice any bugs/glitches with the software, that would require a software update/patch for it.
     
     
     
     
     

    Affiliate Code: G8N4K5CUFY

    1.1.1.1
    #5
    Jump to:
  • Back to Mobile