We had to check the calendar when we saw that EVGA had announced a new sound card, and sure enough, it's 2019. Sure, we're barely into 2019, but the fact that a major hardware player is getting into discrete audio is interesting.
Onboard motherboard audio has largely eclipsed discrete sound cards, but unless you're connecting a set of $5 speakers or a cheap headset you found in the clearance rack to your PC, there are still benefits to be had. EVGA seems to think so, anyway, and so it will duke it out primarily with Creative Labs (Sound Blaster) and Asus (Xonar).
EVGA's new NU Audio sound card is engineered by Audio Note, an experienced audio outfit in the UK that's been in business for over three decades. One of the promises EVGA makes is that its NU Audio sound card delivers "lifelike gaming" audio.
The card itself is built from a "high quality silver and gold-plated multilayer PCB, with isolated dual ground planes for analogue and digital circuitry." It also contains a variety of output/input options, switchable OP-AMPs, copper shielding, and of course RGB lighting.
"High-quality audio is built on a simple premise: everything must be solid from start to finish. One weak link in the chain can turn a symphony into a cacophony. The NU Audio card features a high-performance digital section with native DSD support and a clean, powerful analog section. This audio quality carries over to other applications, such as gaming, where the ability to clearly identify the difference between ambient environment noise and a stealthy enemy can be the difference between life or death," EVGA says.
Most of the audio is processed by an Xmos xCore-200 processor. Whether it's better than what Creative has to offer remains to be heard, though EVGA tells PCWorld that one distinguishing feature is that it's aiming to keep sound as pure as possible. That's somewhat different than Creative's approach, which offers a bunch of different ways to clean up and enhance audio, depending on the source.
Port selection consists of RCA stereo out (left/right), a pair of 3.5mm jacks (line-in and mic-in), optical output (TOSLINK), and a 6.3mm headphone jack. It also has an HD front-panel audio header.
EVGA hasn't announced pricing yet, but did say the card will be available starting January 16.