The RME Hammerfall DSP 9632 PC Sound Card

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The Hammerfall DSP 9632 internal PCI card (a version is also available for PCI Express) uses a ribbon cable to support analog expansion boards. The Hammerfall DSP 9632 offers a huge combination of expansion capabilities.

For example, RME offers single bracket analog expansion boards with 4 stereo TRS jacks that feature the same performance as the on-board stereo analog I/O of the HDSP 9632--up to 192 KHz, with balanced and 3 different reference levels. With a fully expanded 9632, you get a maximum of 6 inputs and/or outputs.

The RME card also comes with various software utilities like its HDSP Meter Bridge, DigiCheck for Windows, and other useful software for Windows systems. RME Audio also provides MacOS X drivers for the 9632.

For Linux, the 9632 is supported by OSS (Open Sound System) and DIGI96 series drivers are available. ALSA, the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture, is also supported with drivers.

The RME HDSP 9632 has a street price of about $600, much more expensive than other high quality PC sound cards. But it’s actually a huge bargain. With a good DVD/CD transport in the PC (I strongly recommend Plextor’s transports), the RME 9632 S/PDIF output just kills.  Many a separate high-end DVD or CD player costing more than several thousand clams is now yesterday’s dead fish 

As for playing back mp3 files, this RME card puts paid to all the wise guy crap about hearing no audible difference between compressed and uncompressed music. If you can’t detect the difference with the RME card in the loop, your hearing has obviously been destroyed by too many death metal concerts.

Mp3’s are great for earbuds, but absolutely suck for good audio reproduction out of any kind of speaker worth its audio salt. Do yourself a favor—rip and archive your CDs in uncompressed format and then compress as needed for your portable music player. If you are a PC user, get a copy of Exact Audio Copy to do the ripping job right.

The RME 9632 put out a digital signal so clean, so tight, and so jitter free it made me jump out of my skivvies. The soundstage was huge with everything precisely placed. Staggering amounts of new detail flooded through the burst open musical gates.

Bass was killer. It was deep, tight and solid, and gave CPR as it banged away against my chest, as well as thumped the walls, sofa, glassware, and everything else nearby.

The sonic supremacy of the RME 9632 also gave movies an awesome audio makeover. The newly reenergized.1 LFE channel gave deep fits to my hapless neighbors. The surround channels also opened up newly accurate and vastly expanded sonic vistas. Killer.

So keep the copy protection yahoos at bay, save a bundle of money on buying all-new HDMI 1.3 gear, and make a modest investment in a huge sonic makeover via the RME Hammerfall DSP 9632. The RME card can easily, happily, extend the musical life of your system by several years.  What’s not to like?


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