New Diamond sound card has C-Media inside

The PC audio market doesn’t get a lot of love, but we’ll be treated to a new sound card in March. That’s when Diamond is scheduled to start selling the Xtreme Sound HD Pro. Billed as a product for “music and game enthusiasts,” the card has a PCI Express x1 interface and a nifty expansion bracket loaded with extra ports.

Under the plain-looking EMI shield sits a C-Media CMI8838 audio processor. C-Media’s website doesn’t have any details on the chip, but I suspect it’s an updated (and probably native PCIe) version of the budget CMI8738. The old chip is limited to 16-bit audio at sampling rates up to 48kHz, and it can’t feed more than six output channels. However, the new Diamond card supports 24-bit/192kHz audio and eight-channel output.

The CMI8738 combines the audio processor and codec on a single chip to lower costs for card makers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the CMI8838 were similarly integrated. Diamond’s press materials also mention a built-in headphone amp, but that feature may be powered by separate silicon.

Apart from the card’s 120-dB SNR, we weren’t able to gather any other details during our visit to Diamond’s CES showcase. While pricing hasn’t been set, I wouldn’t expect the card to be an expensive offering.

Comments closed
    • just brew it!
    • 7 years ago

    What are those two RCA jacks on the expansion bracket anyway? If they are any sort of analog I/O then the use of an unshielded ribbon cable to connect them kinda defeats the purpose of putting the rest of the card inside a metal EMI shield…

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      Yup. Silly design. Plus, you’d think, by the above photo anyway, that they could have fit all the ports on a single back plate..

        • just brew it!
        • 7 years ago

        Looks like maybe they wanted to have the option of selling a version minus the extra connectors, with a low-profile bracket?

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      They are coax digital in and digital out.

        • just brew it!
        • 7 years ago

        OK, that’s not crazy then. Still not so great from a radiated EMI standpoint though, as that ribbon cable is basically a big ol’ antenna. Better hope that metal can really works to keep the noise out of the analog stuff!

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    Diamond Multimedia went bust a long long time ago and the name was snapped up by one of these indiscretionate umbrella companies like Trust and Kensington who just slap their name on anything with a high enough profit margin.

    They have absolutely no expertise, support, or plans to improve the product because it’s not actually their product.

    I would love to be wrong, but my cynicism is justified so frequently as to be almost a cast-iron guarantee.

    • moog
    • 7 years ago

    I can recall a couple soundcard reviews here…

    2010 Editor’s Choice winner: Xonar DG, $30, playback quality 24bit/96KHz, SNR 105 dB
    [url<]https://techreport.com/review/19997/asus-xonar-dg-and-xense-sound-cards[/url<] 2008 Editor's Choice winner: Xonar DX, $90, playback quality 24bit/192KHz, SNR 116 dB [url<]https://techreport.com/review/14500/asus-xonar-dx-sound-card[/url<] I think the Xonar DS deserves an honorable mention, it has the AV200 chipset from the Xonar D2X. The D2X cost $187 in 2008, but today newegg has the DS for ~$30. SNR only as good as the DG, nevertheless, progress of sorts...

      • rwburnham
      • 7 years ago

      I have a DG and I love it. I’m not an audiophile, but the onboard audio sounded “tinny” whereas the DG seems to have a nice range to it.

    • voodootronix
    • 7 years ago

    You say the pc soundcard market gets no love but a) modern computers can output perfect multichannel digital audio to a serious decoder if that’s your bag and b) there are “pro audio” interfaces covering the price range of anything from about £60-several thousand – so long as you don’t mind having a breakout box (which is better for audio anyway).

    • LSDX
    • 7 years ago

    I don’t know who’s going to buy any modern soundcards without at least HDMI-out with 7ch LPCM, when almost every MB has at least SPDIF coax or optical. Then again most gamers will probably now have graphic cards providing HDMI audio out.

      • internetsandman
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t care for HDMI or multi-channel audio, I’d be after high quality headphone sound, and I’m sure I’m not alone

      • gamerk2
      • 7 years ago

      Except the DAC on onboard soundcards, frankly, isn’t that good. Even a budget card (ASUS Xonar DG(X)) is a massive upgrade in quality over onboard.

      Secondly, SPDIF needs to die. Too many people do NOT know it can’t transmit 5.1 unless using Dolby/DTS, which PC’s don’t typically use. Never mind both formats are VERY low quality…

        • Deanjo
        • 7 years ago

        [quote<]Except the DAC on onboard soundcards, frankly, isn't that good. Even a budget card (ASUS Xonar DG(X)) is a massive upgrade in quality over onboard.[/quote<] If you are using spdif out then the quality of the DAC is a moot point as that the DAC in your receiver is used which is almost with certainty a better DAC then what is found on the soundcard. [quote<]Secondly, SPDIF needs to die. Too many people do NOT know it can't transmit 5.1 unless using Dolby/DTS, which PC's don't typically use. Never mind both formats are VERY low quality...[/quote<] Not true again. SPDIF [i<]can[/i<] be used to transport other multichannel streams easily. What your decoder in your receiver can decode determines what can be decoded via spdif. Some external Audio processors are capable of decoding multichannel WMA and Vorbis streams without downmixing. SPDIF also technically is perfectly capable of even lossless multichannel but DTS-ES and Dolby HD require a DRM protected audio path.

      • DarkUltra
      • 7 years ago

      The only benefit I see would be a good headhone amp and EAX 5 and DS3D alchemy over 8channel hdmi. Not even creative makes that, you have to settle for a auzentech x-fi hometheater hd (but it works just like a creative card, same drivers and software no extra bloat).

      Playing Doom Legacy in 8 channel and on a receiver that has room eq and digital loudness is fun. We’ve had 7.1 support for years its sad many current pc games only support 5.1, like for instance BF3 and MW. Easier to locate your enemies. There are even headphones that support 7.1.

      • albundy
      • 7 years ago

      maybe diamond’s been living under a rock and doesn’t know that all motherboards now come with the same chit on it, even though it’s only been a decade. seriously, what kind of pci-e board doesn’t have onboard audio? sure, some dont have the optical in/out ports, but those boards should have onboard pins to connect an optional spdif bracket that the manufacturer sells separately.

    • albundy
    • 7 years ago

    upgrade onboard audio to…onboard audio? all that and no spdif coax?

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    That photo looks like it’s a product from back in the 70’s/80’s.. no frills.

    Nonetheless, one more sound card option out there couldn’t hurt…

      • Grigory
      • 7 years ago

      Those were the days, maaan, those were the days.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 7 years ago

    In the mid-90’s, Diamond Multimedia had a great reputation for customer service; for reference, this was back in the ISA and VESA-local bus era. Before flashable-BIOS video cards, I called them up with my Diamond Speedstar Pro VLB asking what it cost for the latest BIOS chips and drivers and they sent me free BIOS chips and floppy diskettes.
    Fast forward to the PCI era, and Diamond stopped having an 800 number. I called with a support issue on their top-end (read: $300 or so back then) Stealth 64 Video VRAM video card and stayed on hold for two hours. Never got a person. Left a voicemail, never got a word. After a couple of these incidences and my phone bill (from MI to California), I sent the card back, and faxed the president of the company, and e-mailed (very early thing, e-mail at that point). I never got a response. Within years, Diamond died.
    Someone picked up the Diamond name, not sure who. However, I’ve heard customer service has picked up kind of where it left off –not good. With that in mind, I have trouble looking at them for product at this point.

    I’d love to see them become something else, like they were in 1995.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      They merged with S3 went belly up and then Best Data picked up the brand.

        • LoneWolf15
        • 7 years ago

        Looked that up, I’d forgotten about it. I had a Best Data Voodoo II for awhile.

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      You might wish for the return of 3Dfx as well…

        • LoneWolf15
        • 7 years ago

        But I don’t. After Voodoo 2, wasn’t impressed with the successors.

          • HisDivineOrder
          • 7 years ago

          It’s hard not to be impressed with the cahoneys they had to push the Voodoo 5 6000 as a viable product. Maybe I didn’t think the board would be awesome to buy or to use, but wow, the balls they had to even consider making it and producing it for the end user…

          Other than that, I’d say, yeah. I agree. Voodoo Rush was meh and Voodoo 3 and 4 were terribly underwhelming. Meanwhile, Voodoo 5 proved 3dfx always, always made the wrong bet on where 3d graphics were going to go. And buying STB was the worst mistake they could have made…

            • DarkUltra
            • 7 years ago

            I’m not so sure, the Voodoo 5 6000s T-buffer was the predecessor to current post processing frame buffer effect. But the voodoo 3 and 4 never had proper 32bit color support. Also a page like this humiliating the voodoo 5 couldn’t possibly help 😀

            [url<]http://jooh.no/root/web_pages/voodoo_doodoo.html[/url<]

      • hansmuff
      • 7 years ago

      Ah, thanks for the throwback into more interesting enthusiast times. I remember well that Diamond was a premium, respected brand.

      But remember, overall, computer parts were so much more expensive back then. Component prices have come down so significantly compared to back then. Heck, sound cards used to be $200+, memory used to be very expensive. All components were expensive, really.

      Nowadays, I can put together a really good system for what, $500? We have paid for that with customer service, amongst other things.

      Look on the bright side, some companies still provide good service overall. It’s just that times are over that you can get a helpful, knowledgeable individual on the phone who speaks your language natively.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 7 years ago

      Diamond suffered the same fate as STB. Bought out by a GPU maker who had dreams of being a top-to-bottom product maker only to die when the other guys were still making GPU’s for all the other companies who wanted to make cards, too. Plus, it didn’t hurt that both 3dfx and S3 made bad calls when trying to predict where the GPU market would go in terms of what features were important and which were not (in DX, in OpenGL).

      I owned a Diamond Stealth back in the day. I do not have fond memories of it, but back then the only thing that really gave me fond memories was my Matrox G200 with Voodoo 2 8mb sli because back then Glide was about the only way to get truly consistent 3d performance (as DX was barely supported and abysmal).

      We sure have come a long way…

      • swaaye
      • 7 years ago

      I remember Diamond having a reputation for very poor driver support and back then you often could not go and get reference drivers from the chip vendor.

      • oldog
      • 7 years ago

      Shoot; I remember the 90’s like it was yesterday. Nixon was president, the Vietnam war was over and I was entering college.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Wooo… -_-

      • Airmantharp
      • 7 years ago

      Pretty much- if I’m doing surround sound, I’m using HDMI; if I’m using cans, I want a good amp, be it internal or external.

        • HisDivineOrder
        • 7 years ago

        But why buy a sound card at all if you’re running HDMI? Just go through a motherboard and get the same digital quality. It’s digital. Your amp is the thing doing the legwork on conversion in that scenario. I guess there is a small market for those who need hdmi sound, who don’t have a motherboard that can push audio out through hdmi, and yet who have PCIe.

        But it can’t be a very big one.

          • Airmantharp
          • 7 years ago

          Not sure what you’re talking about, sorry.

    • internetsandman
    • 7 years ago

    I want something that makes the choice between it and a Xonar Essence STX a difficult one

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Creative Titanium HD

        • LoneWolf15
        • 7 years ago

        While there’s a lot of creative hate, you shouldn’t have been modded down for this one. The Titanium HD is a reasonable card, I’ve had good results with the cheaper standard Titanium.

        We’ve mostly hit the wall as far as sound cards go, there’s not a lot left that can be done.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      Guess that all depends on your use of sound card, the media you listen to and of course your personal tastes.

        • internetsandman
        • 7 years ago

        Gaming, classical music, and movies. I can’t imagine there’s anything better AND cheaper than the STX though

          • Deanjo
          • 7 years ago

          For a pure musical experience there are far better external solutions (external DAC and Headphone amp kits). For an all around, “above most but master of nothing” the STX is a good choice.

            • internetsandman
            • 7 years ago

            Oh i don’t doubt that there are solutions better when dedicated to a single focus but yeah, as a jack of all trades it seems solid

      • MadManOriginal
      • 7 years ago

      Look at external solutions. Real, audiophile-y ones, not mere ‘USB soundcards’ made by a computer peripheral manufacturer.

        • internetsandman
        • 7 years ago

        I’m looking for something in the sweet spot. I don’t wanna spend more than 300 bucks on a great setup but I also don’t wanna buy one of those ‘mere USB soundcards’

          • MadManOriginal
          • 7 years ago

          You could start a thread on the forum. Need to know your uses – speakers and/or headphones, surround or 2 channel (2 channel will have a *lot* more options), what inputs you would want.

          • Bensam123
          • 7 years ago

          See my post, it was legitimate.

          • StashTheVampede
          • 7 years ago

          $300 isn’t … a lot when it comes to good headphones and something to drive it. With that budget in mind, I’d definitely get a $200ish headphones and get a Xonar-based card from Asus. PCIe ones aren’t terribly expensive and will drive music and gaming really well.

          Headphones are definitely the first thing you upgrade, then to move to a better driver of that audio.

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