Pick this one apart, gentlemen, since this review is my first sound card review, and it will set a lot of precedents for how I conduct sound card reviews in the future. I welcome your input and any suggestions you can offer for improvement.
The first improvement I can think of is in the way I conduct the testing of the card's audio output -- in the future, I'll likely use a separate machine with a high-quality card or an external USB preamp to provide the input for RightMark Audio Analyzer, to eliminate potential variance caused by each individual card's input stage. However, the more research I do into third-party testing of audio cards, the more it seems like the SNR ratings that I measured in the loopback testing for this review are reasonably accurate, which suggests that the SNR rating of a particular sound card's audio chipset only tells half the story, and that it doesn't always translate to the sound card's true output SNR.
I also had wanted to talk more about the massive -20dB to +20dB adjustment range provided by the Barracuda AC-1's graphic equalizer function. When I pushed the faders in the bass region to the max and cranked the master volume, instead of 'clipping', the sound card simply compressed its own output. This is a huge step to improving audio quality because it prevents the random crackling sound of a clipped waveform from interfering with the experience. This was one impressive sound card in that respect. I just didn't see where it would fit in well in the review, so I made only a passing mention of the broad range of GEQ adjustments.
Last edited by Rory Buszka; 04-06-2007 at 08:51 AM.