EVGA Nu Audio Sound Card Review
Peter Donnell / 4 weeks ago
The software interface is actually quite simple. All of the heavy lifting in regards to processing is done on the fly by the card its self. This isn’t a software decoder with preset EQ profiles for gaming and movies. However, you will find a few less cluttered options such as Acoustic Sound, Harmonic Sound, and Natural Tone (for example), for the digital filters. All of the hardware has been chosen to be good at their jobs for each input and output respectively. You can pick from speakers and S/PDIF, as well as set the master volume and headphone volume. I do love that you can link the volume wheels too, which can come in handy.
On the other side, you have the microphone and line-in selection. There’s a master mute, volume, and boost control. However, again, everything else just works as it should right out of the box. To that extent, the software is just a nice front end for things you can already do in Windows Sound Manager, so it’s up to you to use it.
The most important aspect, I would say, is the sample rate option. If you’re listening to ultra-high quality DSD audio files, then selecting 16bit audio is obviously going to sound average. You need to ensure you select the highest your other audio equipment can handle. Remember, the sound is only going to be as good as the weakest link.
For fine-tuning your audio, you will find a bank of six EQ profiles, all of which are left blank by default. It can be tweaked to suit your needs, source material and playback equipment. No set of speakers or headphones are created equally, so it’s really down to your own ear to tune things how you desire them. For the purpose of this review, I shall be leaving the EQ flat as I’m happy with how my speakers are set up, and the same for my headphones.
It wouldn’t be 2019 if it didn’t have RGB, and RGB it certainly has. I’m amused they didn’t include some kind of jargon about it having audiophile grade LEDs. Actually, I’m scared to check if it has haha. You can set colours, rainbows, brightness, speeds, etc. Of course, you can turn it all off too, so don’t be put off by the lights.
For me, not in a bragging way, but to give you some feel of how I perceive audio. I run a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos setup at home. I use two-floor standing speakers with a pair of 6.5″ drivers each, and a 1″ soft dome tweeter for my fronts. They’re not crazy high-end, they’re the Yamaha NS-F51’s with a set of Yamaha NS-P51 surrounds and centre. There’s a further set of Yamaha surrounds ceiling mounted for the Dolby Atmos heights. All this runs through the Onkyo TN-XR656 amplifier. It’s a good setup for the room size and budget (just under £1000) I had at the time. For this review, I’ll be running the Nu Audio through the line-in to drive the two main fronts on this setup. For general desktop usage I’ll be using the Creative T20 speakers, and for headphones, the 1More Quad-Drive over-ear headphones.
Have an Ear For It?
Sound is such a subjective quality. I have friends that couldn’t tell an A note from a D note even if I called their names out while playing them. Then I have friends who appreciate me taking time to calibrate their surround speakers EQ, Crossovers and delays for them because they can tell the difference. Most people are somewhere in between though, in that if it’s loud enough and sound good enough, and often because it looks good, then it’s good enough. That’s why people buy Beats headphones [ZING] and soundbars for their TVs. 18 years of playing the guitar have given me a little more of a tuned ear than most, which certainly helps.