Hardware Review: Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 HiFi
What it is/does: High Performance 8 Channel Audiophile PCI soundcard
Reviewed by: Durwood
Manufacturer : Audiotrak / ESI-Pro / Ego Systems
Model: Prodigy 7.1 Hifi
VIA Envy24HT (ICE 1724) audio controller (Useful for Bit-Perfect)
Wolfson WM8776 / 8766 audio codecs (ADC/DAC), providing 2, 4, 6 (5.1) and 8 (7.1) channel support
192 kHz 7.1 HiFi surround audio interface
24-bit / 96 kHz ADC with 102dB(a) dynamic range
24-bit / 192 kHz DAC with 108dB(a) dynamic range
S/PDIF digital I/O with optical connectors
High quality RCA connectors for the main analog output signal
Up to 4 simultaneous inputs and 10 simultaneous outputs
Special design to eliminate CPU and HDD noise
Supports 5.1, 7.1 and other surround formats
Professional EWDM driver based on ESI technology
DirectWIRE support to record any signal from any source internally (Use this to send audio from Winamp / PowerDVD, Win DVD to ASIO for more advance tuning plug-ins)
Advanced NSP support, use effect plugins to expand your sound
Integrated headphone and microphone amplifiers
ASIO 2.0 support for professional multichannel applications
QSound support under Windows X
Works under Windows 2000, XP, 2003 and XP x64
Compatible with all major game and surround standards
Compatible with all major professional audio applications
Rating: I give it a 9/10. I can't give it a 10 because it has low output voltages on the analog outputs and I would like to see better details in the manual ( Although I give the Manual a 8.5/10).
Manufacturer website: www.audiotrak.net (USA) but you can only see it here:
Purchased at: http://www.compumusic.com/ -(out of stock)
(Robert was very easy to deal with A+)
Last place I found to purchase it- http://www.dbsys.de/webshop/product_...9851ae0a54ee43
High Quality Components
User replaceable opamps
Shielding for the analog section of the card. No idea if it really does help reject electric noise generated inside the computer.
Two separate clocks (22.579 and 49.152 for different sampling rates. Its not like the creative labs cards that always resample 44.1Khz audio to 48khz or 96khz.
Directwire Feature allows you to stream sound from different programs into whatever program you need to use. Its better for Pro type applications.
The analog output connections are on a dongle cable so the you have plenty of room to use good quality 3.5mm to RCA cables. You could also probably construct your own cable with RCA cables on the ends instead using a 15 pin connector that is used for standard VGA (DB15 I think its called).
Digital Optical IN and Out
The Manual is very simple. I would like to see some more in-depth explanations but at least they gave me one instead of one only on the CD.
Line Input has to be muted in the Audiotrak mixer instead of the windows mixer. This is a problem for programs like Radiator. See post below by Iceman.
Output voltage is extremely low. 0.6Vp-p or 0.3Vp. If using this card be sure to watch your wiring, it will be very easy to pick up noise at this level.
Availbility seems to be low. I think EGO ssytsm/ESI-PRO is phasing out Audiotrak but I can't confirm it. There does not seem to be any updates on drivers so don't lose your driver CD, and most of their products listed on their websites are "not available" but information is left for reference (or soemthing like the that).
I have only ever owned Creative products so all I had to compare this too was the Creative Audigy/Audigy2. For those who don't know, The Creative products (except maybe the XFI but not sure) all sample at 48Khz and will never switch to 44.1KHZ that is used for CD and compresssed audio. The Prodigy HiFi will sample at the correct sample rate due to the due crystals/clocks.
I never noticed the problems of the Audigy until I listened to the Prodigy HiFi. When I listened to Audigy I noticed that there was some distortion/aritfacts in the midrange section. It was noticeable with a piano playing. It sounds simialr to when you have the volume too high and you hear some cruchiness from distortion. This was not present with the Prodigy. The Prodigy also had very good separatino of sounds from the left and right sides. I was able to pinpoint the location of instruments better than the Audigy. The only thing I noticed is that on some instruments to can sound a bit bright or a little too much high frequency enhancement. This can be altered by replacing the opamps (5 total although I think one is for the line input). Here is a list of opamps that were said to improve the sound of the Prodigy I found in another forum (I will post the link once I find it again).
-OPA2107 (More accurate bass and fuller sound, not as bright)
-AD825 (You will need an adpater to fit this one)
-OPA2134 (Stock Opamp on another one of their cards the Prodigy XT)
-LM4562NA (These tend to sell out quick from Digikey from what I have heard so they must be new or good.)
Some of this info on opamps was gathered from this LINK, as well as my own browsing through spec pages. Try them out on your own.
Also of good note is that the output level on all channels is equal, unlike the Audigy that uses two different codecs on the front vs rear/center/sub/side channels.
The software installed flawlessly. And you don't get any big and bloated extra software. Just a basic control panel only accessable from ICON in the taskbar. It does pretty much all you need it to do, but the user manual is a tad lacking in completely explaining all the features IMO. With a little experimenting it's fairly easy to figure it out though.
Directwire feature: This is probably one of the most powerful features of the Prodigy HIFI . My review of this is coming soon.
EDIT: I have attached a config file that users can load up fromt he control panel of this card. It will setup the directwire feature for use with an ASIO VST host so you can use all of the VST plugins to do audio tuning. See attached "ASIO settings" zip file.
For some reason they are not posted anywhere but that is first on my list to test when I get it installed.
The old prodigy was something like 2.5-3.1V but this one is a bit beefed up compared to the Prodigy and Prodigy LT. I am hoping to get good results here.
Prodigy 7.1 LT output voltages are 1V (0.99V) at full output (ie: full volume 60Hz pure sine wave).
Higher output voltage doesnt really give better sound quality. Its only a bonus in relation to noise rejection - which is important incar. If the car wiring is done correctly, and noise isnt an issue, the higher output voltage wont make an audible difference (taking gain settings into account).
Iceman - while I agree that if everything else is done correctly, voltages won't make too much of a difference, there's this thing called head room. It's a very useful thing to have...
Noise rejection won't be just in regards to the wiring that's added to the car for a project like this though. A higher voltage would be ideal (not I'm not saying 8v here).
Durwood> Check that the Mute button on Line in from the windows mixer mutes the audiotrak card.
On the Prodigy 7.1LT, presing mute on the Windows mixer panel line-in does nothing, and you have to mute the card via the prodigy control panel. This is a problem when using radiator (FM radio program), as radiator can never mute the line in, and the radio will always be heard.
Bad news, output voltage is weak. I measured 0.6Vp-p. Not good. I am disappointed by this.
Still the same as far as line in goes. It was a little tricky to get it to even work, but you are correct. Muting line-in on windows mixer does nothing. However, if you are using ASIO I beleive you would have to use the Audiotrak mixer control panel anyways since ASIO bypasses the windows mixer.
I don't have anything going into line in so it does not botther me, but I will add it to the cons list. You could always use an relay or switch to cut the line signal off.
Glad to hear it!
Depending on where your Pc is, the cables to your amps might only be a few centimetres/inches long.
Mine only have a short distance to cover.