Funny thing is, I have a Sound Blaster X-FI Titanium PCIe just lying around because I'd rather use onboard audio (Realtek ALC892). The X-FI totally blows the Realtek clear out of the water but I guess I'm totally appreciative of the fact that the Realtek is the 'little engine that could', probably having cost me less than a bottle of Coke but 'offers the highest sound quality', according to Realtek's ALC892 product page, at least.
Oh well, I guess I'm just the embodiment of appreciation itself, at least when it comes to low cost but highly capable things. Or maybe I'm just weird. LOL
Perhaps this is more of an Echo Vale (or even Linux... see below) tangent, but I'll bite.
Yes and no. Realtek's theoretical specs are assuming a "perfect" implementation by the mobo manufacturer. How likely is that?
But yeah, in general Realtek is "good enough" these days. My main beef with the Realtek ALC887 on my Asus M5A97 R2 was that it didn't have sufficient output drive for my headphones. Then I discovered that most Realtek codecs have a built-in headphone amp... but the setting to enable it is not exposed by the default Linux ALSA tools. Grabbed a copy of ALSA's HDA Analyzer
a few days ago, and I'm a happy camper (at least, headphone audio-wise).
But if I do any more vinyl digitizing I'll probably pop my old TBSC or M-Audio Revo in there. Still don't trust Realtek's A/D...
Edit: And in an attempt to bring this back on-topic, NP: Buckethead's "Shadows Between The Sky".
If the world isn't making sense to you, you're either drinking too much or not drinking enough.