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'EVGA Nu Audio Pro Review: Who Needs a Sound Card in 2020?' - Tom's

UsandThem

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May 4, 2000
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https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/evga-nu-audio-pro-sound-card
Testing a sound card is the polar opposite of testing a graphics card. With a GPU it’s easy to be completely objective, but with a sound card it’s almost impossible. I could test the noise floor and confirm the SNR, but I can already tell you that the Nu Audio Pro brought zero audible noise, hissing, or pops under any circumstances. Hence, today’s results are entirely subjective and focus on the card’s ability to reproduce music.
And then everything suddenly made sense.
The first thing that was immediately clear was the wider soundstage and stereo imaging over onboard audio. When sat at the proper listening position, the sound engulfed me much more so when played over the Nu Audio Pro card than when using the onboard ALC1220 as a DAC. On the motherboard’s ALC1220, the audio sounded more like it was coming from in front of me or from a point source, rather than filling the room.
Sound cards and high-end DACs aren’t for everyone. Onboard sound on premium motherboards has come a very long way in the last decade. This doesn’t mean that there is no place for sound cards at all in 2020. It just means that there is no more need for sound cards for entry-level audio systems; the market is now focused on boosting high-end gear.

But if you own (or aspire to own) gear in a higher price class and capable of revealing more detail, the Nu Audio Pro is definitely worth considering.
I tried to stick with my on-board sound as it is one of the better ones offered, but I couldn't help from being disappointed when listening to my music on my headphones. While I really couldn't tell much of a difference with my desktop speakers, I personally could hear the difference with my headphones. Once again, not everyone will agree and that's OK. :D

It all comes down to personal preferences/expectations, but I would encourage anyone who is heavily into listening music on their PC and who has mid-range or higher components, to give a sound card a shot.
 

Monkfiche

Junior Member
Feb 18, 2020
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What headphones are you using? I assume that any usb-powered headphones will be driven by headphone-specific drivers.
 

Oyeve

Lifer
Oct 18, 1999
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When I was married and the kid was young and all my listening was done through great headphones, I valued my then high-end sound cards. Now, I am divorced and the kid is grown and I can listen to what I want when I want I find the on-board audio on my MOBO more than enough. Yes, I am sure a sound card would sound better but 95% of my audio needs are from my sound bar on my TV and when I do just want to listen to music I have my old 5.1 sound system with Infinity speakers from 20+ years ago to listen to. My daily walk-commute is my Note 10+ and my Audio Technica ATH-M50x connected to a FIIO A3 DAC.

I do miss playing around with my Audigy sound card with its software to manipulate music, then windows 7 and 10 killed all of that fun stuff.
 
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Muadib

Lifer
May 30, 2000
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Although I have a sound card, getting a separate DAC was my best move by far. I still have my speakers connected to the soundcard, and have my headphones going to the DAC and headphone amp. One of these days I'll move my speakers over to the DAC.
 

UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
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What headphones are you using? I assume that any usb-powered headphones will be driven by headphone-specific drivers.
I own three pairs of headphones, although I only really use two of them at my PC. For layered/detailed music such as Pink Floyd, I use my Philips Fidelio X2 (open back) pair. For other styles of music, I usually go with my closed-back Sennheiser Momentum 2 set. While none of them have a high impedance or take much to drive them, they simply sound their best when hooked into the sound card.

I do miss playing around with my Audigy sound card with its software to manipulate music, then windows 7 and 10 killed all of that fun stuff.
I had the same Creative sound card for many years until I first built a new PC in 2015 (with Windows 10). Since it was an older card (I can't remember which one it was off hand anymore), Creative hadn't released any updates for it in many years. I just couldn't get it to work properly in Windows 10, and it had all sorts off issues (like not working after waking the computer up from sleeping).

I eventually gave up and pulled it out, and began using the on-board audio (ALC 1150 / later Asus S1220A) for several years. It wasn't like these sound options sounded bad by any means, but they just always sounded like they were missing "something". Not long after Creative launched their newest sound cards, Newegg had the Creative AE-5 on sale around $115, so I figured I would give it a shot and see how the performance and drivers were. I really haven't looked back since then. :)
 

dlerious

Senior member
Mar 4, 2004
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I used a Schiit Jotenheim with phono input for recording vinyl. I have a Chord Mojo I move between computers now (not as much dap use).
 

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