nice work on the latest update. i really have to say though, i am uneasy with the "Self Noise" column and how it's purely based […]
nice work on the latest update. i really have to say though, i am uneasy with the "Self Noise" column and how it's purely based on the DAC. it's uncomfortably close to those endless arguments in audiophile forums comparing two CD players, one with 64x oversampling DACs, and the other with 128x oversampling DACs, and how the latter has to sound far better. (in reality of course, nobody can actually tell the difference under blind, controlled ABX testing.)
i own many Sound Blasters, including a CT2760, CT3900 and CT3980. i cannot honestly say that the CT2760 has "high" self noise, compared to a CT3900 or CT3980, just because it has a slightly older DAC. i just think it's a misleading way to put it. the DAC is one of the least important factors for determining noise on an old sound card, just look at this thread. these cards are full of strange DSP issues, mixer issues, clipping, etc... all of these cause much more noise and distortion than the DAC. the PCB design of a sound card has far more impact on noise than the DAC. noise can leech into the card from a busy ISA bus with lots of cards, and the DAC won't help you at all there.
quite frankly, i would argue the #1 source of self-noise on an old sound card is the high number of old, dried-out electrolytic capacitors. i learned that lesson when i replaced all the electrolytic capacitors on my CT1350B. it instantly went from being borderline unusable, to being a decent sounding card. that showed me where the noise is really coming from on these old cards, not the DAC.
i would like to suggest that the "Self Noise" column be retitled "DAC," and it should simply list the model of the DAC. that way, if someone believes that the DAC on their card affects the noise floor, they will already know which part numbers to look for, and which to avoid. plus, the chart will be providing more good information, because right now it doesn't actually list the DACs being used on each card, besides CT1703.