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What Does It Take To Turn The PC Into A Hi-Fi Audio Platform?

Results: Soothe My Soul / Depeche Mode

Track notes

The second single released from the album Delta Machine, Soothe My Soul is a rich track with deep drums and intense vocals. We listened to the Red Book 16/44.1 version, although a 24-bit release is available.

Test results (Listener A)

RunActual DeviceGuess deviceCorrect / Incorrect
1JDS Labs O2+ODACAsus Xonar Essence STX (uncertain)Not Correct
2Realtek ALC889*Realtek ALC889 (very certain)Correct*
3JDS Labs O2+ODACJDS Labs O2+ODAC (uncertain)Correct
4Benchmark DAC2 HGCJDS Labs O2+ODAC (uncertain)Not Correct
5Realtek ALC889*Realtek ALC889 (very certain)Correct*
6Asus Xonar Essence STXBenchmark DAC2 HGC (uncertain)Not Correct
7Benchmark DAC2 HGCAsus Xonar Essence STX (uncertain)Not Correct
8Asus Xonar Essence STXBenchmark DAC2 HGC (uncertain)Not Correct

Listener A's comments:

This was an interesting second test. I can now clearly distinguish the Realtek ALC889 and detect it immediately with certainty. I was highly uncertain of the others. Note my double error in runs six and eight. Twice I mistook Asus' sound card for the DAC2. That's because, subjectively, those were the devices that sounded the best to me. They should be the most expensive, right? It turns out that I show a patter of personal preference for the Xonar Essence STX. It doesn't sound as "reference" as the others, but it seems to be what I favor. The bottom line, either way, is that (excluding the ALC889) I got almost all of the others wrong.

*: Tests of the Realtek ALC889 codec marked with an asterisk had a volume level calibration issue that was corrected later. We kept the results in for the sake of transparency, although they should not be considered representative of an actual ability to distinguish the ALC889 from the other devices being tested.