Dr. Evil asks: Sound advice

Yes, quake in fear, for I am posting a news item. Not that it's really news, more a question or two. First, I'm working on a sound card round-up of sorts, and while one can certainly do a lot to highlight the particular features and software of each card, benchmarking quickly becomes problematic. So far the best I've come up with (and it wasn't even my idea) is to benchmark each card in Q3 to see how much they cause the framerate to drop compared to no sound at all.

So question number one is, does anybody have any better ideas on benchmarks or other tests for sound cards? Yes, I know the audiophiles out there will want tests of signal to noise ratio or even extended listening tests to reveal which card has light, airy highs with an unobtrusive yet palpable midrange. Unfortunately, I don't have the equipment to perform the former, and the logistics of sound cards don't exactly lend themselves to the A-B testing required by the latter.

So what about it? Anybody have any better or at least additional ideas than the one I'm looking at now? Post a comment.

On another audio related note, a more lighthearted question: who makes the best sounding MP3 player? I got curious about this recently, and found a couple (FreeAmp and Audioactive) that I think sound better than Winamp, even with the MAD plug-in. Got another program to look at, or just some thoughts about the ones I've mentioned? Post a comment.

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