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The One Has Arrived, Continued, Page 4

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RME touts its Hammerfall DSP 9632 PCI card as the world's most versatile PCI Audio Interface”, and they are probably right. This card features the latest 192 kHz AD- and DA-converters with more than 110 dB signal to noise ratio, and all of its inputs and outputs are simultaneously operational. The 9632 also features easy-to-install, optional high quality analog expansion boards. It also features RME’s TotalMix, a newly developed clock section with maximum jitter suppression of external clock signals.

The Hammerfall DSP 9632 card also features a ribbon cable to support analog expansion boards like RME’s optional AI4S-192 and AO4S-192 boards. These single bracket analog expansion boards have 4 stereo TRS jacks and offer the same performance as the on-board stereo analog I/O of the HDSP 9632--up to 192 KHz, balanced and 3 different reference levels. With a fully expanded 9632, you get a maximum of 6 inputs and/or outputs.

The Hammerfall DSP 9632 offers a huge combination of other expansion capabilities. You can, for example, add a word clock module for one input and two outputs, and/or add a TEB for an additional TDIF port, add 4 analog inputs and/or 4 analog outputs, add a TEB again for an additional TDIF port, or even use an older AEB-4i/8i/4o/8o for up to 14 analog inputs or outputs. For example, RME suggests this 9632 configuration as their “Killer Combo” setup: An HDSP 9632 plus WCM, plus a AI44s-192, plus an AO4s-192, plus a TEB, which are all operational at the same time, and occupy just 1 PCI and 4 more bracket slots within a PC.

There is a lot more to the HDSP 9632 and you should go to the RME Audio web site to get the full run down.

The RME card also comes with various software utilities like its HDSP Meter Bridge, DigiCheck for Windows, and other very useful software for Windows systems.  Thankfully, RME Audio also provides MacOS X drivers for the 9632. For Linux, the 9632 is supported by OSS (Open Sound System) and DIGI96 series (beta) drivers are available. ALSA, the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture, is also supported and drivers for the DIGI9636 are available.

The HDSP 9632 has a street price of about $600, making it more than twice as expensive as the Aria case and the Via Epia M10000 board combined.  But what a high-end audio bargain it is, as you shall see.  I hooked up the Aria/M10000/HDSP 9632 system to my main audio rig, which consists of a pair of German-made MBL 101D loudspeakers.  I use two separate Sunfire Signature amplifiers in this setup, and each of the amps put out 1200 watts/channel via its 4 ohms feeds. This means each power mad MBL 101D is being fed 2400 watts. All of which are wired up using Nordost’s top of the line Valhalla cables and interconnects

This is a no compromise, high-end audio system, and it is so ruthlessly revealing that everything, from cables, power cords, amps, preamps, audio sources, to you name it, all show their true nature, flowers, warts, and all. Nothing is left to the reviewer’s imagination, much as many in the high-end audience might think otherwise.

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21st, The VXM Network, http://www.vxm.com

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