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Newbie RME 9636 Hammerfall Light Questions

Discussion in 'Converters / Interfaces' started by Biggsy, Apr 7, 2002.

  1. Biggsy

    Biggsy Guest

    Hi everyone, I just stumbled upon this forum a coupla minutes ago and from my initial impressions, it's a godsend!

    I plan on getting a really good quality sound card(to act as a pre-amp) and pair it with a quality power amp to play music off my PC. Doing my homework somewhat narrowed the choices down to the M-Audio Delta 410, Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe, and RME 9636 Hammerfall Light.

    The M-Audio seems to be better associated with PC Home Theater which paved the way for the DAL to become my top pick. This was until I read Stereophile's review on the RME(i.e. older Digi 96/8 Pro version*). Though the review showed both DAL and RME were neck-to-neck in terms of I/O quality, the latter was the clear winner when it came to jitter reduction.

    *Btw, since the RME featured in the Stereophile review was the older Digi 96/8 Pro though I'm assuming the newer Hammerfall is more or less equal or even better.

    Now, on to my "basic" questions about the Newbie RME 9636 Hammerfall Light.

    1) Which reputable online vendor can I get it the cheapest(http://www.sfb.net is the best one I've found so far, $US 345.53 plus another $US 57.16 for DHL shipping and handling).

    2) Would I have a problem(i.e. PCI latency bug) when I use it with a VIA chipset(particularly a KT133A)? I'm using the lastest 4-in-1 driver(4.38a Final).

    3) Would it work when used side-by-side with a Voyetra Turtle Beach Santa Cruz on a Windows 2000 Professional(SP2) platform?

    4) Does the sound card function as a pre-amp? If so, would I be able to control the volume via software?

    5) Does it pass through DD and DTS signals to a A/V Receiver?

    6) Any suggestion on what power amplifier to pair it with? Since the Hammerfall Light is exclusively all digital, it requires the amp to have a digital(i.e. coax or toslink) input.

    Sorry for the many questions. Thank you.
  2. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

  3. Tommy P.

    Tommy P. Well-Known Member

    The VIA KT133A is a PCI crippled chipset. But the Santa Cruz was the only card that worked well with it, and you may be in luck with the Hammerfall, because they've taken the stress off of the PCI bus by design. I'd give it a try, and see what happens. You could always change the mobo later.
    The digital surround signal is passed through the S/PDIF on the card as long as the player application software supports it, such as PowerDVD. Some older versions do not, but most current ones all do.
    Avoid the Delta,Terratec,Seasound,STAudio/Hoontech card in combination with a KT133A, the Envy24 audio chip(they all use the same audio controller chip) will choke the PCI bus. Your choice of software will also determine your latency.

    Tommy P.
  4. Biggsy

    Biggsy Guest

    "I'd get whichever Digi 96/8 card has an analog output, which means you have a much wider range of choices for a power amp. There's going to be a digital to analog converter somewhere in the chain, and connecting to your power amp digitally just puts that converter in the amp instead of the soundcard, and sends you off looking for a hard to find power amp with a digital input. Unless you're running crazy long output cables, you won't notice a difference, and will always have the option of upgrading your DA converter. If you buy a $600 power amp with a digital input, you're probably buying a decent $400 amp with a crappy converter that you're then married to."

    Jon, this makes perfect sense. The DAC on the RME Digi Pro or Hammerfall line would be much better, right? Thanks for helping me see this angle, I'm now looking into the RME Digi96/8 PST which has
    2 x I/O 1/4" TRS Analog
    2 x I/O Toslink Optical
    2 x I/O Coaxial Optical

    ">>Well, yeah, in that it puts out a line level signal, but that seems like kind of a pain in the ass. I'd get some sort of single knob passive attenuator."

    Erm, does this mean I'll be able to control the volume going to the amp then to the speakers via the RME audio volume control panel(if there is such a thing)? Or maybe through the default Win 2K volume control panel?

    "The VIA KT133A is a PCI crippled chipset. But the Santa Cruz was the only card that worked well with it, and you may be in luck with the Hammerfall, because they've taken the stress off of the PCI bus by design."

    Tommy, does this stress-relieving design also applies to the DigiPro series? *Sigh* You're right... I may have to give up my AMD-VIA combo and switch to the ubitiquous ANUS. :)

    Thanks for all the inputs guys. Cheers!
  5. Jon Best

    Jon Best Active Member

    Yeah, that wasn't the clearest answer I ever posted... blame it on yesterday's 8AM to 3AM studio gig...

    Yes, you should be able to use the volume on the RME control panel. Personally, I'd prefer some sort of stereo volume control that I didn't have to use a mouse for, but it should work the other way just fine.


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