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EVGA Sounds Out its Nu Audio Card

Long relegated to the tech codexes of old, we all but thought sound cards had died out. With motherboard audio now being at such a strong level, and with anyone after a premium audiophile setup opting for an external USB solution instead for their rig, the demise of the internal sound card seemed almost guaranteed.

EVGA doesn’t seem to think so though. Today at CES in Las Vegas, it announced its latest foray into the audio medium with the introduction of the EVGA Nu Audio. Built in partnership with Audio Note (UK), (a company with over 30 years of expertise in the field of sound), this dedicated internal add-in card promises to pack the very best distortion reducing and clarity inducing components, into its supple and elegant frame, enhancing your gaming and media entertainment in the process.

The Nu Audio card, acts as both a DAC and a headphone amplifier. For your I/O, you get RCA L and R channels for speakers, a 6.3mm headphone jack supporting up to 600 Ohm headphones with separate volume control, TOSLink optical out for 5.1 surround sound, a 3.5mm line in, 3.5mm mic in, and a front header passthrough baked onto the top of the card too.


Audio hardware wise, we’re looking at an AKM (Asahi Kasei Microdevices) AK4493 DAC, and an AKM AK5572 analog to digital converter for all your line ins. On top of that you also get swappable OP-AMPS for your headphones and line out, and a whole slew of other power management stuff courtesy of Texas Instruments and Audio Note (UK) as well.

Past the Jargon

What all that means is that you’re left with a fairly solid sound card, capable of driving stereo audio at 384 KHz at 32-bit, headphones from 16 - 600 Ohms, and recording at either 384 KHz (32 bit) on the line in, or 192 KHz (24 bit) with the mic in, for some serious audio propulsion. Oh and of course, it comes with RGB as well, because reasons.

It fits into a PCIe Gen 2.0 x1 slot on your motherboard, and also requires a SATA power connection as well (I’m guessing for the LEDs?).

It’ll be available in the U.S. as of January 16th, however there’s no mention of a price just yet. Find out more here.

  • ubercake
    Sound cards like this are a hard sell these days considering even my mainstream Z370 board has excellent on-board sound with an on-board headphone amp.
    Reply
  • rabbit4me1
    Let's see one could save the money for a sound card to get a better video card if you're a true gamer that's really not a decision then. it's nice to see independent sound cards coming back in the market though in case one dies on a motherboard I do give that to them. Sorry sadly I'm betting on the house I just hope it's not a failed product
    Reply
  • jaexyr
    The software looks extremely basic, from what I can tell
    Reply
  • spdragoo
    21660441 said:
    Sound cards like this are a hard sell these days considering even my mainstream Z370 board has excellent on-board sound with an on-board headphone amp.

    I'd go even further & say that sound cards in general are a hard sell these days, even for gamers. Heck, I know my system is far from top-line, but its motherboard (Gigabyte?rel=ugc]https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/GA-990FXA-UD3-rev-41#sp]Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 version 4.1) supports not only my 2 speakers but 5.1 & even 7.1 surround sound (including Dolby Home Theater & S/PDIF Out). Considering that when I'm listening to music or other audio it's either a) coming out of my TV or PC speakers, b) coming out of the speakers in my car, or c) from headphones plugged into a 3.5mm jack, I don't really need anything fancier than what my motherboard has built in...

    And this is a fancy sound card. Yes, I know pretty much any digital device has a DAC of some sort in it, but this particular DAC (the AK4493) is at least inching towards high-end (if not on the high end). And that AK5572, per AKM's
    website,&rel=ugc]https://www.akm.com/akm/en/product/datasheet1/?partno=AK5572EN]website, is apparently for when you want to delve deeply into mixing, sampling, & recording your own audio streams at a very high fidelity rate, something that most gamers (even most streamers) aren't going to be concerned about. Heck, I would guess that most Twitchers & other streamers are happy just as long as what they record over their headsets is at least halfway understood by their audience; they're not concerned about getting the sound so crisp, clear & natural-sounding that you'd swear you were sitting right next to them.

    This is going to be a high-end niche device, & I don't know how much they're going to be able to compete. It's not like they have a name in computer audio, let alone audio systems (I mean, heck, if it was Creative Labs or SoundBlaster, I'd be impressed for at least the nostalgia value...).
    Reply
  • mlee 2500
    All I really want is for NVIDIA to come out with a driver which allows for an Audio-only HDMI output (perhaps with a no-overhead dummy video signal which doesn't register as part of your desktop).
    Reply
  • soccerdude84
    why in the world would they make it require a separate power cable
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    21660441 said:
    Sound cards like this are a hard sell these days considering even my mainstream Z370 board has excellent on-board sound with an on-board headphone amp.

    I have yet to see an onboard that matches most sound cards though. I agree onboard is vastly better, even my Z87 board has really good audio, but it still is not as good as my SB Z.

    Still the market is hard to sell but Creative seems to be doing well. They keep coming out with new stuff, like their insane sound bar, so I assume they still sell well.
    Reply
  • dimar
    Too bad there's no surround 5.1 / 7.1. I have lots of SACD and high res FLAC in surround.
    Reply
  • ubercake
    21661705 said:
    21660441 said:
    Sound cards like this are a hard sell these days considering even my mainstream Z370 board has excellent on-board sound with an on-board headphone amp.

    I have yet to see an onboard that matches most sound cards though. I agree onboard is vastly better, even my Z87 board has really good audio, but it still is not as good as my SB Z.

    Still the market is hard to sell but Creative seems to be doing well. They keep coming out with new stuff, like their insane sound bar, so I assume they still sell well.

    I was in the same boat thinking nothing compared to an add-on card. When I built my system with the Asus Prime Z370-A, that all changed.

    Just like with on-board sound, there are a lot of lousy add-on cards out there. Most of the bad add-on cards are under $100. I'm thinking any add-on cards that would compare with or surpass the performance of on-board sound these days cost more than the entire motherboard itself. That's what makes it a very hard sell.

    Additionally, if you're going full audiophile quality, you could very well spend over $500 on an add-on card, that much more on headphones and again that much on a speaker system.
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    21664790 said:
    I'm thinking any add-on cards that would compare with or surpass the performance of on-board sound these days cost more than the entire motherboard itself. That's what makes it a very hard sell.
    Maybe, except I tend to keep my discrete audio cards over the course of a couple of builds. Heck if Creative's Z series drivers were still getting updated I'd consider using my Zx again. As it stands I'll either have to get a deluxe mainboard with really premium audio or pick up an AE-5. I wish they'd just release a non-RGB no-frills edition for a little cheaper. Anyway unless this card comes out and undercuts them, the only card I'd really consider right now is an AE-5. As you said, the true audiophile stuff is insane... dollar per dollar the AE-5 is best on the market right now.

    But again, if I buy a premium-audio mainboard and keep it for at least one overhaul, that's a good option too.
    Reply