But what about the sound cards? Is everyone so focused on the picture, they don't care about the sound?
Well, I don't think this is the case, but there just does not seem to be the intense competition at the audio level.
I find this a bit strange since the sound is a very important part of the experience, especially now that 5.1 Dolby Digital audio is common in the game world.
And hey, what about us audiophiles who happen to play movies from our computers into the home theater? There is plenty of software out there now that lets us use our computers as Media Servers. We have good video cards that will output analog video through component video connections, as well as digital video through DVI outputs.
So, what I am saying here is that we have not paid nearly enough attention to the sound cards.
Lynx Studio to the Rescue
Lynx Studio is a company that makes just one thing: sound cards. And they are all high-performance products. No "entry level" items here. If you look at the spec box on the left, you will see that we are talking a kilobuck, at least, for the various versions of the LynxTWO model, which can have up to six analog inputs, and up to six analog outputs, and up to two digital inputs and outputs.
Lynx also sells the LynxOne (24 bit/50 kHz sampling), L22 (24 bit/96 kHz sampling, two channels instead of six), and AES16 (24/192) for various purposes. We are focusing on the LynxTWO-B, which has two analog inputs and six analog outputs, plus two digital inputs and outputs. (The inputs and outputs of models A and C are described in the specification box above.)
The reason I chose model B is that I can use the six analog outputs to drive all channels of audio power amplifiers during bench tests (with one of the outputs passed through a Y connector so it can drive channels six and seven. However, the performance is so good, I would like to invite PC CD/DVD player software manufacturers to modify their player programs so that the resulting output is sent, in digital form, to the DACs of each channel in the LynxTWO.
For the $995 MSRP, you get everything shown in the photo below. This includes the card itself, software drivers (also has the Lynx Mixer), XLR analog cables, XLR digital cables, and instruction manual.
The inputs and outputs are XLR because this sound card is fully balanced, meaning the DACs are differential. Each leg of the signal (+ and -) on each channel has a DAC. That is a lot of DACs. Input DACs are A/D (analog to digital), and output DACs are D/A (digital to analog).