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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 5:31 pm 
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jessekopelman wrote:
Nil Einne wrote:
Personally I'd think you'd probably get a better overall experience by using the money saved from going 5.1 instead of 7.1 to get better speakers.

Depends on room size/configuration and how much you were thinking of spending on speakers in the first place. Still for normal budgets and normal rooms, I agree.


Well I did say unless you have a large room :-P I'm sure you're right about the speaker bit though.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:19 pm 
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BTW, anyone seen a double blind review or something similar of the amp?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:03 am 
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Nil Einne wrote:
BTW, anyone seen a double blind review or something similar of the amp?

What would a double blind review prove? Only that it sounds different from some other amp. This would only be at all useful if you were familiar with what the amps it is compared with actually sound like. Furthermore, speakers tend to affect the final result a lot more than amp, so you'd also have to be familiar with the speakers they used. I think the reviews you find in this thread and MikeC's original post tell enough of the story -- the amp, in and of itself, produced satisfactory results for all who tried it.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:22 am 
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jessekopelman wrote:
Nil Einne wrote:
BTW, anyone seen a double blind review or something similar of the amp?

What would a double blind review prove? Only that it sounds different from some other amp. This would only be at all useful if you were familiar with what the amps it is compared with actually sound like. Furthermore, speakers tend to affect the final result a lot more than amp, so you'd also have to be familiar with the speakers they used. I think the reviews you find in this thread and MikeC's original post tell enough of the story -- the amp, in and of itself, produced satisfactory results for all who tried it.


You're missing several key points.

Firstly you're right a double blind would prove that the difference is really there but this in itself is important. It's amazing how easy it is for people to hear differences that are not there, which is why I always take such claims with a grain of salt. You only need to hang out in any audio forum where people can 'hear' differences between exactly the same digital stream going to the same DAC and output to the same analog set up or tell you how much better their $200 speaker cable is to know there is a lot of nonsense in the audio world.

I admit for an amplifier + DAC system, it's probably not that likely there is no real difference (and in any case there are also a lot of confounding factors like audio levels, equalization settings etc) but you still need to take great care in presuming that any claimed difference actually exists.

More importantly if done properly, a double blind can also help you determine if a solution is really preferred because it sounds better to the listener or because of some other factor like the cost, the brand, or even (in this case) the perceived elegance of the solution or the fact that other people find it better (many people have now read reviews so they 'know' it's supposed to sound good). It's easily possible that the reason a person prefers something is because they want it to be better. In other words, it can tell us more then is something different, it can give us an idea of 'which solution does this person solely because of the audio output'. This is significant because particularly with multiple results, it gives us an indication of whether we are likely to prefer an alternative solution in the absence of the ability to test it ourselves.

An ideal double blind test would involve multiple receivers and this mobo amp and multiple listeners (perhaps multiple speaker sets as well). But even if you're just talking about one listener it's still useful when you pool multiple results. Ideally the double blind should be performed without either subject or experimenter (if that's necessary) having listened to either set up before hand but for a home test, this is unlikely, most likely the person will be testing their receiver against the mobo meaning they will have experience with the receiver (but if done right, not the mobo). While unfortunate (as there is a good chance the person will either consciously or unconsciously know which is their receiver and therefore it's not truly blind), this is still better since at the very least the person hasn't compared the two, and 'decided' (again doesn't have to be conscious) which one is better beforehand based on who knows what factors and therefore is basically just re-affirming a previous decision (ditto). (In any case of course, by being a double blind at the very least they're hopefully less concious of which one is 'supposed' to sound better.) It could however also involve listeners who've don't have strong experience with either set up which provides a very useful addition since these people (provided the experimenter is blind) approach some degree of a real double blind of a random listener.

Ultimately by taking multiple results from multiple people, we may be able to get some very, very, very rough idea of how this mobo compares to other comparable solutions. There are still so many potential confounding factors to list, but at least there's a far lower chance the person just found the mobo good because they wanted it to be (or vice versa). This is particularly important in this case IMHO because it's a rather niche solution so the sort of people interested in it are likely to be similar in a number of ways. Given the cost and the small number of reviews done by independent sites with a decent review process most of what we are relying on is a self selected population. (Of course I'm aware of the problem of 'independent' usually involving samples selected to give the best results.) While a double blind can't overcome that (although tests from independent listeners will have some effect) it will reduce the chance the person is just hearing what they want to hear which as I've already said is amazingly common in the audio world.

P.S. Perhaps my standards seem to high, I admit I have a semi-scientific mind so I cringe when I see people claiming that something is better because of a 3% difference without any sort of evidence of proper repetition to try and get some sort of error bar or for that matter, suggest the difference is likely to be noticable.
P.P.S. I'm not denying that what I'm describing above is still far from ideal science or that it will be rejected if you try to publish it faster then the current downslide of the world economy but it's a matter of degrees. A number of decent double blinds is likely to be far more useful then 50 or so random comments by of people's experience under unknown conditions who knew exactly what they were comparing. I.E. Not perfect but better then the alternative.
P.P.P.S. Of course the reason it's preferred by the listener is indeterminate. It could be that the amplifiers most listeners have experience with are more similar to the preferred one for example. But as I'm not trying to design audio amps nor trying to understand scientifically what and why people prefer, that doesn't concern me. I'm far more interested in knowing what a relatively unbiased observer thinks of the mobo's audio output in comparison to similarly priced system. Of course it's even possible that a solution may be preferred or not initially perhaps because it's famiiar (or because it's novel) but over time once the new system becomes more familiar or less novel one's opinion will change. But this is something very difficult to test for, so it's not IMHO worth giving much consideration.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:25 am 
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mike chin is mike chin, not a room full of audiophiles who do blind tests on speakers :)

this is silentpcreview, not headfi :)


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 1:01 am 
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Nil Einne wrote:
You're missing several key points.

No, I think you are missing the key point that there are no comparable solutions. The Maui platform is the only commercial offering of its kind. Furthermore, I think the MSI version is the only commercially available version of this platform. So, what exactly do you want it compared to and why? The DIVA Live 5.1 is $190 at Newegg. A similar MSI motherboard with no 5.1 amp is about $90 . . . So what should we be comparing this to? Is there a surfeit of $100 AVR that you'd actually consider buying? It should be pretty clear by the price point that this is not a product for the audiophile market. It is a product for (extremely niche, IMO) market of people who want a surround sound HT setup, but have no room for a AVR and will be using a PC as their only playback device. Given the price and intended use, I would think "it works well enough that I don't miss my AVR" is a good enough recommendation.

The only claim made by this product is that it is a functioning audio amplifier. Unlike some magic cable, I don't see how that is a claim requiring rigorous verification.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:44 pm 
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Have anyone seen a review, anywhere? :?

I'm quite surprised that there's no new BIOS for the 45 nm CPU's, although the old BIOS version probably works as well.

I also thought that the other manufacturers were holding out for AM3 before launching a Maui board, but I guess it's too early given the small market and the economical situation.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:58 pm 
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Actually, I think MSI made claims to audiophile with this platform. Their stake to these claims are worth about $100. So, if you think you get audiophile for $100, you are the idiot MSI is looking for.
Even disregarding the relative uselessness of DBT for audio applications (it's like testing a vacuum sweeper in a swimming pool) who is going to pony up the bucks to DBT a $100 amp?
Why would someone slave to the pseudo-science of DBT when common sense should be enough?
I'm on my second stab at this platform - the first burst into flames and had to be RMA'd. It's reasonably impressive for a 5.1 setup for movies. For an audiophile amp? $100 is about right.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 6:32 am 
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JoeWPgh wrote:
I'm on my second stab at this platform - the first burst into flames and had to be RMA'd. It's reasonably impressive for a 5.1 setup for movies. For an audiophile amp? $100 is about right.

You mean this specific MSI/amp combo? You gotta give us more than just "burst into flames!" :shock: Come on, let's hear the gory details!

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 12:41 pm 
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It did. I have no idea why. It was one of the tiny ICs between the CPU and the rear I/O panel.

The machine went black, then crashed at the Windows desktop for a couple tries. Then I noticed a peculiar odor. A few seconds later, I saw flashes behind the case. I turned it off and opened the side panel to find the fire and really foul smelling smoke.

As for what I was doing at the time? I had put in a BD to watch and TMT demanded an update. I got impatient and bailed on the upgrade - then poof!

Now the annoying part. In the RMA, I itemized the obvious fire and capacitors that obstruct the lower PCI slot from accepting my tuner. I had heard they had fixed this issue and have seen pictures to support it. I also mentioned the amp card, who's bracket was mis-manufatured and sat too high. They sent back a board with the same offending caps and the same wrong amp bracket. Only this new amp had a horrific coil while which made it unusable. (The prior amp had a minor coil whine) So I'm now out $30 in return shipping, and am awaiting my 2nd RMA. By now, the amp has spent more time in transit than in my system.
I'm not very impressed with MSI.
MikeC wrote:
JoeWPgh wrote:
I'm on my second stab at this platform - the first burst into flames and had to be RMA'd. It's reasonably impressive for a 5.1 setup for movies. For an audiophile amp? $100 is about right.

You mean this specific MSI/amp combo? You gotta give us more than just "burst into flames!" :shock: Come on, let's hear the gory details!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 12:49 pm 
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JoeWPgh: What CPU model did you use?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:10 pm 
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A 9350e 65W Phenom
Other hardware:
Corsair HX520
Corsair 2x2GB DDR2 800
2) Avermedia PCIe combo tuners
WD 640 HDD
WD 1T Green
LG BD/HD DVD-ROM /DVD burner
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Mats wrote:
JoeWPgh: What CPU model did you use?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:30 pm 
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REVIEW OF A MAUI SYSTEM -- March 5, 2009
AMD Maui: Ultimate HTPC Integration

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:48 pm 
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MikeC: Thank you.
Edit: thanks to Lawrence Lee as well.

Very interesting article and product. Also good to hear that more boards are coming.
I'd have picked a Phenom X3, or a X2 when they show up, and I'm a bit surprised that AMD didn't do the same for this build. Maybe it's something else that stops them than MSI being slow with updating BIOS for 45 nm.
If 45 nm worked then it should already be supported.
Do you have any info on this?


Last edited by Mats on Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:09 pm 
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Mats wrote:
MikeC: Thank you.
Edit: thanks to Lawrence Lee as well.

Very interesting article and product. Also good to hear that more boards are coming.
I'd have picked a Phenom X3, or a X2 when they show up, and I'm a bit surprised that AMD didn't do the same for this build. Maybe it's something else that stops them than MSI being slow with updating BIOS for 45 nm.
If 45 nm worked then it should already be supported.
Do you have any info on this?

You're welcome.

You have to understand that AMD sent out these samples a long time ago to a bunch of reviewers -- probably early Dec or even before. But it was the wrong season to ask reviewers to examine such a complex machine like a HTPC. Phenom IIs were not out back then.

Internally at AMD, there was some dispute about what CPU the systems should be equipped with, and the power guys who valued bragging rights about a quad-core in the HTPC won over the more experience HTPC guys who wanted to do what we suggest -- a 5050e, which is just about perfect for it, imo. We had one, but didn't have time to make the switch, we'd already spent tons of time on testing the Phenom config.

Anyway, the essence of the article was really to examine the motherboard and audio card, and we can say they're good. The amp is really quite a surprise. (Ridiculous that they rate it for 5 x 100W tho... I don't believe that little thing can produce 500w even for a millsecond.)

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:12 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
REVIEW OF A MAUI SYSTEM -- March 5, 2009
AMD Maui: Ultimate HTPC Integration


Just a small issue...

Page 7:
Quote:
Speaker polarity should be observed; the manual shows the terminal pattern, basically alternating + and - from the top down.


... yet ...

Image

Hope you didn't run the whole test with your speakers out of phase? :)

Edit: And I must say, all in all, a great review. I'll have to look into this for my next HTPC. Being able to leave out the purchase of an amp is a huge selling point. Sound quality is always important for me, but as is a reasonable budget.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:20 pm 
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gr8r-x wrote:
MikeC wrote:
REVIEW OF A MAUI SYSTEM -- March 5, 2009
AMD Maui: Ultimate HTPC Integration


Just a small issue...

Page 7:
Quote:
Speaker polarity should be observed; the manual shows the terminal pattern, basically alternating + and - from the top down.


... yet ...

Hope you didn't run the whole test with your speakers out of phase? :)

Edit: And I must say, all in all, a great review. I'll have to look into this for my next HTPC. Being able to leave out the purchase of an amp is a huge selling point. Sound quality is always important for me, but as is a reasonable budget.

Good catch! :lol:

iirc, I'd already secured the leads on the amp end, and didn't want to rewire, so flipped the polarity on the spkr side.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:33 pm 
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Quote:
You have to understand that AMD sent out these samples a long time ago to a bunch of reviewers -- probably early Dec or even before.

Of course, now I remember you saying that you got it, months ago. Makes sense now.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:11 pm 
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One other incredibly minor detail I thought of reading it--a USB male to female extension for the IR dongle removes the plug-into-front limitation.

I'm not an audiophile...not unless I ever win the lottery.
I did appreciate this review though--the idea of not spending a boatload on a separate receiver just to have a decent home theatre system based around an HTPC is very appealing. I was just looking at receivers plus speakers the other day :shock: :cry:
Very nice platform DAAMIT has come up with. Nice to see that the benefits of the merger are starting to come into play.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:52 pm 
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  • Can the amp be used in different mbs or it must be paired with a AMD Maui mb? Does it work with a NVidia chipset-based mb?
  • How the (pcm?) audio get to the amp? via PCIe or external (RCA) connectors?
  • Does this need some special driver? Does it work with linux?

My next HTPC will be based on linux+vdpau, so I want to make sure if this is an option.

Thanx.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:01 pm 
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jessekopelman wrote:
What would a double blind review prove? Only that it sounds different from some other amp. This would only be at all useful if you were familiar with what the amps it is compared with actually sound like. Furthermore, speakers tend to affect the final result a lot more than amp, so you'd also have to be familiar with the speakers they used. I think the reviews you find in this thread and MikeC's original post tell enough of the story -- the amp, in and of itself, produced satisfactory results for all who tried it.

Double-blind testing is not important here but MikeC's (or virtually anyone's) comments tell us very little. What we need is measurements (impedence, signal/noise at different volume levels, THD).

(Where double-blind testing is useful is in telling us how good those measurements have to be to be audibly identical to a perfect amplifier.)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:11 pm 
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I have to say I don't think much of this platform.

You have a internal amps which put heat in the case, flimsy connections that don't fit standard speaker cable (banana, spade, or even bare wire of any usual guage) meaning this is for the low end, unknown methods of volume control, probably very compromised amplification, probably none of the isolation from electrical noise you get in proper sound cards. Full of compromises.

Technically the ideal is active speakers. The only reason for passive speakers (apart from power cables) is the audiophile nonsense about lovingly selecting components, which results in domination of passive speakers so that audiophiles can spend money on amps (how they love parting with their money!). That means that the market of very good active speakers is limited and can be a reason for going passive.

However that doesn't apply at the low end, where you have good value in active speakers. So this system (low end passive) is no use.

The only issue is cables, but if you are sensitive to 1 extra cable per speaker, then you shouldn't be using 5.1 sound! Stereo>5.1 unless you are prepared to do it properly.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:17 pm 
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croddie: You obviously missed two things: price, and audio quality. How can you possibly expect more out of this product? Did you even read the review?

Which $100 amplifier would you recommend? Not talking about active speakers.


Last edited by Mats on Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:23 pm 
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Mats wrote:
croddie: You obviously missed two things: price, and audio quality. How can you possibly expect more out of this product? Did you even read the review?

The reviews here are extremely long but I read selected parts as usual.

For a low price, the best audio quality is attained with active speakers.

For higher quality, active and passive are both options, but for passive you won't want a solution like this but something more specialized with the right connections, controls and specifications.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:34 pm 
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Which low price active speakers do you recommend for a HTPC?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:38 pm 
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croddie wrote:
MikeC's (or virtually anyone's) comments tell us very little...

...You have a internal amps which put heat in the case, flimsy connections that don't fit standard speaker cable (banana, spade, or even bare wire of any usual guage) meaning this is for the low end, unknown methods of volume control, probably very compromised amplification, probably none of the isolation from electrical noise you get in proper sound cards. Full of compromises.

Technically the ideal is active speakers. The only reason for passive speakers (apart from power cables) is the audiophile nonsense about lovingly selecting components, which results in domination of passive speakers so that audiophiles can spend money on amps (how they love parting with their money!). That means that the market of very good active speakers is limited and can be a reason for going passive.

However that doesn't apply at the low end, where you have good value in active speakers. So this system (low end passive) is no use....

You know in theory I agree with a lot of what you say, but your conclusion is far off the mark. Why? Because none of the theoretical compromises had any audible impact here. OK, so we're talking about the amp hooked up to one pair of speakers only, not tried with half a dozen different types, which would give us a better handle on how well it interfaces with different spkrs. But for $100, the fact that it got even close to filling the role of the Linn amps is notable. No way it is useless for the intended market. In the low end, it's never about ultimate fidelity; it is about sensible balance.

Finally, I think my comments do tell something of value about the sound quality of this system to a lot of people. I've been a straight shooter as a sound-focused reviewer of all kinds of stuff on this site for 7 years, and one of the reasons I started SPCR in the first place is that I have sensitive hearing and a good ability to understand what I hear. That doesn't change because I'm listening to music instead of noise; in fact, my interest in sound began with music.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:50 pm 
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croddie wrote:
(Where double-blind testing is useful is in telling us how good those measurements have to be to be audibly identical to a perfect amplifier.)

It's been a while since I've followed DBT as applied to audio - Has there been one that has concluded there is an audible difference between any 2 pieces of audio gear?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:06 pm 
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Croddie? You're missing the point. Self powered speakers are a great concept until you have to run 25' of decently shielded cable, or more, to reach them.
I've been a very harsh critic of this platform. For music? You are way better off putting your cash into a system dedicated to that. This is not an audiophile solution by any measure.
For BD/DVD playback? In a single box? It's the most impressive result I have gotten from any $100 investment. Ever.
It is what it is, and does what it does. For my money, introducing this as an audiophile solution was a dreadful mistake, as it's clearly not. For HTPC in a box, it's quite impressive.
And I say this while wishing I could find an MSI exec and beat him to a bloody pulp!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:14 pm 
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From all of the initial impressions I have seen from reviewers, I am tempted to believe that the audio quality is fairly decent. So I would not quickly pass judgment that this is a low end platform for cheesy audio.

What this looks like to me is an attempt at an elegant affordable solution to those that want a one box home theater setup. At its current price, I don't think anyone could mistake it for a high end part. Even so, I feel that it is right to wonder why standard connectors are not used for the speaker inputs.

I always enjoy the reviews here on SPCR, and many thanks to Mike Chin and Lawrence Lee. I do feel it is a shame that the 5.1 audio capability was not fully explored, since this was an integral part of the MAUI platform. It would be most thorough to investigate the qualities of the amplifier.

I'm sure a reviewer with such an attuned ear for fan noise should be able to give a good account of the 5.1 surround experience. :)

I wonder if the board is capable of handling Protected Audio Path sources, like Blu-Ray DTS-True HD or whatever it is called.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:55 pm 
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trandy1001 wrote:
What this looks like to me is an attempt at an elegant affordable solution to those that want a one box home theater setup. At its current price, I don't think anyone could mistake it for a high end part. Even so, I feel that it is right to wonder why standard connectors are not used for the speaker inputs.

The connector style is standard...maybe not at home, but in commercial sound systems it is. Works fine.

Quote:
I wonder if the board is capable of handling Protected Audio Path sources, like Blu-Ray DTS-True HD or whatever it is called.


I was wondering this too--I've understood the HDMI hassles to be a big problem (and it was one of the things I was looking at in regards to receivers), so it would be perfectly acceptable to me if:
you could output video direct to TV/projector via HDMI/Displayport/DVI;
you could output 5.1 sound direct to the speakers;
and it all worked with bluray/dvd/hdtv nice and easy.

croddie wrote:
You have a internal amps which put heat in the case, flimsy connections that don't fit standard speaker cable (banana, spade, or even bare wire of any usual guage) meaning this is for the low end, unknown methods of volume control, probably very compromised amplification, probably none of the isolation from electrical noise you get in proper sound cards. Full of compromises.


Amps always put heat somewhere. In this case it will be in the pc case...the only box you will have.
Flimsy connections? Have you ever used those? I have. In hospitals. Reception halls. Universities. Theaters. What "standard" speaker cable are we discussing? Unscrew, insert cable, tighten. What "usual" gauge are you referring to?
Unknown? Did you research it? *Probably* very compromised amplification? Compromised in what way? Why is it probably? It is or isn't. *Probably* none of the isolation compared to *proper* sound cards? I would imagine Mike would've notice the inteference from the electrical noise magnet you are describing while using this nonstop for a week.

At least give the thing some deserved criticism, not just made up complaints.

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