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EVGA NU Audio Pro Review (Internal Sound Card)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the EVGA NU Audio Pro 7.1 Surround DAC, headphone amplifier and ADC. It was kindly purchased new by a member and drop shipped to me. It costs US $300 on Amazon including free shipping.

I like the slick coloring and logo:
EVGA Nu Audio Pro Review PCI Sound Card.jpg


But I hate, hate, hate dealing with internal sound cards! This one even made me dig up a SATA cable for extra power! It took me half hour to get it into my gaming PC which had nice and neat cabling before I cut off all the tie-wraps to wire this thing. :( And this was just the main card. To get the surround channels, you need to insert yet another PCIE card in there:
EVGA Nu Audio Pro Review PCI Surround Sound Card.jpg


And then you need to put in a jumper display port cable to make the two talk to each other. By the time I was done, I was in bad mood but thankfully it all worked once installed their driver package. Unlike the bloatware that Creative ships, this one only had one piece of crapware which was its control panel. As these things go, it was not so crappy although I am unhappy that after I pulled the card out of my PC, the stupid thing auto-started on the next boot. Have to uninstall it now.

Once there, I was pleased to see a solid and working ASIO interface for both input and output which I used exclusively for my testing.

EVGA NU Audio Pro DAC Measurements
We have three different subsystems here so let's start with the DAC portion:

EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements.png


A bit disappointed with output being shy of nominal 2 volts we like to see. And rather high distortion which sets the SINAD exclusively to 100:
Best PCI Sound Card review.png


As you can see though, performance has improved over the Nu Audio (non-pro) version. Well-designed budget DACs are a good bit ahead of this interface but they cost $99 for two channels and here you are getting 7.1. Dynamic range is likewise good but a step behind:

EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements dynanamic Range.png


I was pleased with the clean output of the jitter test:
EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements Jitter.png


Intermodulation distortion test showed the higher residual noise level than desktop products:
EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements IMD Distortion.png


Linearity is almost perfect:
EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements Linearity.png


Filter is the default one we find in DAC chips:

EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements DAC Filter.png


Multitone distortion is pretty good:
EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements Multitone.png


Noise+distortion using a wideband test is not as good as it could be:
EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements THD+N vs Frequency.png


I ran a spectrum test (not shown) which indicated some noise around 50 kHz so not an audible concern.

Nu Audio Pro Headphone Amplifier Measurements
Just about every PC sound card has what I call a "checklist" headphone amp so imagine my surprise when I saw plenty of power and good noise and distortion:

EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements headphone out 300 ohm.png


EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements headphone out 32 ohm.png


As you see, where you set the volume control determines how much noise you get. So at lower volumes you should be able to get even lower noise floor.

There is ample power to drive just about any headphone here. Sweeping the load from very low 12 to 600 ohm demonstrates this again:
EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements PCI Card Distortion vs Load.png


Nu Audio Pro ADC Measurements
Reversing the tables and feeding the card 1.9 volts (near clipping) gives us very respectable interface:

EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements ADC.png


We are talking pro level performance here with distortion at threshold of hearing:
Best internal sound card ADC review.png



Dynamic range shows good performance as well:
EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements ADC dynamic range.png


Frequency response is good enough:

EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements ADC Frequency Response.png


IMD distortion performance was surprisingly good:
EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements ADC IMD Distortion.png


Linearity showed more error than I like to see but still better than typical PC sound cards:
EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements ADC Linearity.png


THD+N versus frequency once again showed above class performance:
EVGA Nu Audio Pro Mesaurements ADC THD+N vs frequency.png


Note that the microphone input is exposed as an extra pair of devices so you have 4 channels of input, not just two!

Conclusions
I went into review of EVGA Nu Audio Pro grumpy but came out happy! No, it doesn't break any records in any one category. But for the first time, it shows competent performance across the three subsystems rivaling purpose built external devices but at much lower cost than the cost of those combined. It is the first time we are seeing this. Engineering had far more power than marketing department it seems!

A lot of you want to have 8 channel output to build surround systems out of PC. Here is your solution at bargain price.

I am happy to recommend the EVGA Nu Audio Pro.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Doodski

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I've been very curious to see this card tested for several months and it's good to see a great test of it. The amp section should be good as it uses the same amp IC's as the JDS Labs Atom. Great test @amirm :D
 

trl

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They improved it across the board. It says so in their marketing material but good to see verification of it.
2 dB SINAD improvement in DAC section and 6 dB SINAD improvement on the ADC is really something, at least its ADC is "fighting" now with the Babyface Pro FS. Perhaps the shielding helps here too.
 

Vasr

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Glad to see the improvement isn't just more led lights.

A few notes.

1. Uses AKM 4493s for all channels. One in the main board for L and R and the other three in the daughter board. Might be worth checking if the daughter board performance is the same as main board for other channels.

2. Unfortunately, the daughter board requires its own PCIe slot. This combined with the non-standard height (it is a bit higher than standard boards) makes it difficult to fit in a small form factor HTPC like case and/or some motherboards depending on what graphic card if any you may be using (even if the case can take full height cards).

3. These were available as EVGA B-stock in their Wed clearances at $200. Worth keeping an eye on that page if you are not in a hurry. It is an excellent bargain at that price. B-Stock inventory is a bit slim these days with the pandemic though.

4. The headphone op-amp is replaceable for those into such things.
 
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YSC

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nice measurement on PC sound card, and more impressive they are using the old AK4493
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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gaming PC + pro gaming peripherals (apx, klippel, gras) + skills = hardcore gamer :cool:
:) Truth to be told, I don't use the PC for gaming at all. The person who built it for me decided to go that way.
 

bennetng

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This card is for those who use a full size ATX board, and before complaining why don't make it external, if they do this, it will either be more expensive, or have poorer performance. Also, it is an unbalanced soundcard with no adjustable analog I/O voltage, so even if the measurements rival some studio interfaces, they can't be used in the same way.
 

YSC

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This card is for those who use a full size ATX board, and before complaining why don't make it external, if they do this, it will either be more expensive, or have poorer performance. Also, it is an unbalanced soundcard with no adjustable analog I/O voltage, so even if the measurements rival some studio interfaces, they can't be used in the same way.
Well it’s good for smaller homes with the pc as main gaming and music centre, the external pre amp can act as volume control if needed
 

Vasr

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quality wise maybe but I'm afraid they overemphasize their sound impact "a bit" :):

True. :facepalm:

But then if a lower-tier cap were to fail pre-maturely earlier, I am fairly certain it would have an audible impact. :D

I would expect it to have at least the same tier caps as the ones in the power supply used in the PC. It can be a "hostile environment" in there temperature-wise if it is in a gaming rig with a powerful graphic card and all that covering impeding airflow.
 

YSC

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True. :facepalm:

But then if a lower-tier cap were to fail pre-maturely earlier, I am fairly certain it would have an audible impact. :D

I would expect it to have at least the same tier caps as the ones in the power supply used in the PC. It can be a "hostile environment" in there temperature-wise if it is in a gaming rig with a powerful graphic card and all that covering impeding airflow.
Yes, and the magnetic shield don’t help at thei regard also, as there’s only so much clearance between the card and the graphics card in a atx board
 
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