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Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile

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EVGAfan001
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2019/02/11 08:21:29 (permalink)
I've been interested in gaming, hi-fi and computer audio for 15-20 years, here's my take on the EVGA Nu Audio sound card.
 
According to the suggested review bulletins:
  • What equipment did you use?
    • PC with Asus ROG Z370 Motherboard, i7-8700k cpu, 16GB G.Skill ram, EVGA G3 850W psu, latest Win10 build as of 2019-02-11. Latest EVGA Nu Audio drivers and firmware as of 2019-02-11. Sennheiser HD800 headphones with aftermarket copper cable.
  • How you did you test the card?
    • Combination of different games (Skyrim, Titanfall 2, Rise of The Tomb Raider), youtube music videos, youtube general videos as well as flac lossless audio files played using foobar2000. Music played included a combination of classical, rock, pop, and electronica.
  • What did you enjoy the most about the EVGA NU Audio Card?
    • I was very impressed by the sound quality. It has a smooth and powerful sound but not boring, it's dynamic and voices feel lifelike and not artificial or processed. Also dead quiet background as far as i can tell. Very impressive sound for this price point, your engineers and audio testers did well.
  • What improvements would you like to see?
    • Surround Sound emulation in software (similar to Creative ZxR). Good for gaming.
    • Some kind of function similar to the Crystalizer (Creative ZxR). Good for gaming and films, youtube etc.
    • Easier EQ Profile Setup (I found the saving and loading process confusing).
    • Quick select configured Audio Profiles by right clicking icon in task bar (makes it easy to switch from gaming profile to music profile etc).
    • Game Recognition Profiles (So that when a game is started an EQ profile is automatically loaded, should be doable).
    • Official Op amp upgrade kit with different flavors (maybe 'smooth and warm', 'bassy and energetic', 'detailed and neutral' etc).
  • What was your overall impressions?
    • Extremely favorable. As an owner of the Creative ZxR the EVGA Nu Audio is by far and away the best sounding sound card I've ever tried. In the future I'd like to see more gaming and audio processing features incorporated, and the ability to easily turn them on and off depending on if you're gaming or listening to music. But the base platform which this card provides is fantastic. Overall it feels, and looks, like a quality product and it has a nice heft to it when you hold it. I also appreciate that the card is primarily focused on good 2 channel audio, since I consider 5.1 and 7.1 headphones to be inferior to a pair of really good traditional headphones. Emulation of 5.1 and 7.1 for gaming is however another matter and this is something I'd like to see incorporated. I also like the design decision to draw power directly from the PSU, this should minimize the risk of interference from the motherboard.
 
General Observation: I wasn't really sure what to expect of the EVGA Nu Audio sound card but I nevertheless came away much more impressed than initially anticipated. As mentioned previously I'm an owner of the Sennheiser HD800 headphones and these headphones are extremely revealing, picky and critical of any upstream equipment. When using my previous internal sound card, the Creative ZxR, the audio quality was generally ok for gaming and youtube, but if you listened to high quality music using the ZxR it became apparent that the ZxR was not really up to the task. When using the ZxR with the HD800 it revealed a pretty flat, boring and processed sound, even with all the processing options switched off. However - the EVGA Nu Audio card, in contrast to the ZxR, was enjoyable with the HD800 headphones even when listening to high-quality flac music files using foobar2000. I cannot stress enough how impressive this is, a $250 sound card really shouldn't be able to carry a pair of HD800 headphones this well, it's an herculean effort. One has to remember that the EVGA Nu Audio sound card acts as both a DAC and an AMP, and for it to be able to drive the extremely picky and demanding HD800 headphones this well is therefore worthy of all the praise I can give. I also applaud the design team for resisting to go the "maximum resolution route", and maybe incorporate a sabre chip on the card. Sabre chips have impressive specifications, and typically look good in marketing materials, but it's however rare that they sound as good as one might think. So that EVGA choose to take this more measured approach, not using sabre or burr-brown but instead picking DAC chips and op amps which give a dynamic and musical sound, show that they really know what they're doing. To me, as an audio enthusiast, it's very apparent that the people who designed this card have done so with great audio in mind, and not merely great specifications.
 
Well done EVGA, well done indeed.
 
Going forward i hope that EVGA can incorporate some more gaming related sound processing features into the software, such as surround sound and loudness equivalents, since this is enjoyable for gaming and youtube etc. But as far as an audio card goes this is as good as it gets right now, I will definitely be recommending this card to computer audio enthusiasts going forward.
post edited by EVGAfan001 - 2019/02/11 10:37:56
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    MSim
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/11 09:52:46 (permalink)
    The software you want, i don't think will ever see from any sound card mfg. They would have to merge ASUS ROG Sonic Studio 3 audio software features with Creative sound card software features.
     
    ASUS ROG Sonic 3 audio software allows you to make a preset for each app, it auto detects when that app is launched and switches to that preset.  
     
    Creative Sound Blaster software has the gaming features (Scout mode, Blasterx acoustic engine, Crystal voice etc).
     
    I doubt will see the gaming features we like added to the very basic NU Audio software. EVGA keyboard and mice have been on the market for how long now, they still can't manage to merge the software for them. All the top gaming peripherals mfg software is combined. That is the industry standard. 
     
     
     

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    bcavnaugh
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/11 09:59:05 (permalink)
    Welcome to the Forum EVGAfan001
    Nice Review

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    #3
    Hoggle
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/11 10:27:03 (permalink)
    Nice review and I think that as time goes by people are giving a lot of good feedback.

    Use an Associates Code & SAVE 5% - 10% on your purchase. Just click on the associates banner to save, or enter the associates code at checkout on your next purchase. If you choose to use my code I want to personally say "Thank You" for using it. 
     
     
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    GGTV-Jon
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/11 22:02:34 (permalink)
    Very nice write up EVGAfanoo1


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    usa423
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/13 20:44:22 (permalink)
    Great review, I plan on reviewing mine but want a bit of time to pass so I can give as accurate a review as possible, especially on the recording abilities.
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    MSim
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/14 07:32:02 (permalink)
    usa423
    Great review, I plan on reviewing mine but want a bit of time to pass so I can give as accurate a review as possible, especially on the recording abilities.




    If you do some testing between onboard  and NU Audio or other Audio cards. Do you mind testing out with windows sample rate and bit depth set to at least 24-bit/96000Hz. It would be interesting to see. I don't see any other reviews mentioning testing like that being done.
     
     

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    bcavnaugh
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/14 09:55:27 (permalink)
    MSim
    If you do some testing between onboard  and NU Audio or other Audio cards. Do you mind testing out with windows sample rate and bit depth set to at least 24-bit/96000Hz. It would be interesting to see. I don't see any other reviews mentioning testing like that being done.

    It would be more interesting to see you get this NU Audio Card and do the Testing and Posting your Review and Findings here on the Forum.

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    MSim
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/14 16:40:23 (permalink)
    bcavnaugh
    MSim
    If you do some testing between onboard  and NU Audio or other Audio cards. Do you mind testing out with windows sample rate and bit depth set to at least 24-bit/96000Hz. It would be interesting to see. I don't see any other reviews mentioning testing like that being done.

    It would be more interesting to see you get this NU Audio Card and do the Testing and Posting your Review and Findings here on the Forum.




    Gift me one Mr money bags.
     
    Right now i see no point spending $200 on NU Audio card. It has less features than my $150 Creative AE-5 sound card. I doubt it would improve my audio quality.
     
    We still have no clue what if any features evga might add to the NU audio software. If they would add the features mention in this review, i would probably give the card a shot or wait for evga next sound card to come out that will support more than just stereo.
     
     

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    bcavnaugh
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/14 16:52:54 (permalink)
    I knew it would be interesting

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    MSim
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/14 22:33:09 (permalink)
    bcavnaugh
    I knew it would be interesting


     
    Why do you continue to try and provoke me with pointless replies towards me. If you or anyone else on here do no like what i have to say, use the ignore member function.

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    bcavnaugh
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/15 09:26:43 (permalink)
    MSim
    bcavnaugh
    I knew it would be interesting

    Why do you continue to try and provoke me with pointless replies towards me. If you or anyone else on here do no like what i have to say, use the ignore member function.

    Because I was really hoping that you would buy this Audio Card before me and write up a review as you said you might do in another thread.
    You seem to know more about Audio Cards than anyone else on the Forum so this was why I hoped you did a review for the rest of us.
     
    Also "I knew it would be interesting" was not aimed at you but the Thread in General.
    I would have Quoted your post if I was trying to provoke you.
    post edited by bcavnaugh - 2019/02/15 11:03:54

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    MSim
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/15 13:57:22 (permalink)
    bcavnaugh
    MSim
    bcavnaugh
    I knew it would be interesting

    Why do you continue to try and provoke me with pointless replies towards me. If you or anyone else on here do no like what i have to say, use the ignore member function.

    Because I was really hoping that you would buy this Audio Card before me and write up a review as you said you might do in another thread.
    You seem to know more about Audio Cards than anyone else on the Forum so this was why I hoped you did a review for the rest of us.
     
    Also "I knew it would be interesting" was not aimed at you but the Thread in General.
    I would have Quoted your post if I was trying to provoke you.




    When did i say i knew more about sound cards than anyone else? I don't remember saying that at all.
     
    Don't you agree the method of how hardware is tested is important. For all we know onboard was stuck at 16bit/44Hz while dedicated sound card default sample rate and bit depth could be higher. 
     
    What's holding me back from trying out NU Audio is the poor software. EVGA markets the NU Audio towards gamers, when they failed to offer any software features for gamers or for people who like listening/watching video streams online.
     
    Having quality software features is important. Look at ASUS Sonic Studio 3 audio software and Creative SB audio software. Sonic Studio 3 allows you to make a preset for each app, it will auto switch to that preset when the app is launched. Creative SB software has smart volume, scout mode, presets for select games or music, crystal voice and voice morphing.
     

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    bcavnaugh
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/15 21:30:26 (permalink)
    MSim
    bcavnaugh
    MSim
    bcavnaugh
    I knew it would be interesting

    Why do you continue to try and provoke me with pointless replies towards me. If you or anyone else on here do no like what i have to say, use the ignore member function.

    Because I was really hoping that you would buy this Audio Card before me and write up a review as you said you might do in another thread.
    You seem to know more about Audio Cards than anyone else on the Forum so this was why I hoped you did a review for the rest of us.
     
    Also "I knew it would be interesting" was not aimed at you but the Thread in General.
    I would have Quoted your post if I was trying to provoke you.




    When did i say i knew more about sound cards than anyone else? I don't remember saying that at all.
     
    Don't you agree the method of how hardware is tested is important. For all we know onboard was stuck at 16bit/44Hz while dedicated sound card default sample rate and bit depth could be higher. 
     
    What's holding me back from trying out NU Audio is the poor software. EVGA markets the NU Audio towards gamers, when they failed to offer any software features for gamers or for people who like listening/watching video streams online.
     
    Having quality software features is important. Look at ASUS Sonic Studio 3 audio software and Creative SB audio software. Sonic Studio 3 allows you to make a preset for each app, it will auto switch to that preset when the app is launched. Creative SB software has smart volume, scout mode, presets for select games or music, crystal voice and voice morphing.

    Sorry I am not saying that you said it I am saying it from your Posts over the years and the information in them.
    Yes
    I no longer buy ASUS Products.
    I dropped Creative Products back in the Mid 90's and never looked back.
    I got my NU Audio Card tonight and I will have to wait and see now.

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    MSim
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    Re: Nu Audio Review By Experienced Computer Audiophile 2019/02/16 08:29:22 (permalink)
    My collection of sound cards over the years.
    Creative Audigy 2 ZS Platinum (PCI)
    HT Omega Claro+ (PCI)
    Creative AE-5 (PCIE)
     
    I don't remember any software issues with the Audigy 2 ZS Platinum (it's been too long). The HT Omega had a weird software issue that would cause Left and Right audio to flip (newer software fixed that problem). When the AE-5 first came out it had some drier/software issues. I kept having to mess with speaker setup to have any sound (it's been fixed).
     
    The audio difference between NU Audio and other audio solutions, i wonder if it can be shown in a video game like this one. 

     
     
     

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