0Yahama DSP-E800 LogoObtendo som de alta final do seu PC

For many people, there’s either sound or no sound, the qual­ity does­n’t really come into it. For oth­ers, spe­cific­a­tion and brag­ging rights rule: bit-rates, sampling fre­quen­cies, band­width, power hand­ling. For many a simple set of pc speak­ers will do very nicely, espe­cially if there are 6 or more of them (more is bet­ter, direito?)  But what do you do if you want awe­some sound from your com­puterWhat do you do if you are an audi­o­phile on a budgetWhat if you play games and want sur­round sound but play music through the same sys­temThere are many choices and this could get very expens­ive and com­plex, but it does­n’t have to.

Enter the Yamaha DSP-E800. Here’s a mod­ern clas­sic, a piece of hi-fi that is in some ways rather dated and yet seems to have no suc­cessor from Yamaha or any oth­er com­pany. I’m talk­ing about a high-end sound­ing, budget-priced sur­round pro­cessor and 3‑channel amp that has been doing the rounds for years. This is a niche mar­ket, a product that only does part of the over­all job, blend­ing into your 2‑channel sys­tem without intro­du­cing com­prom­ise. You simply con­nect the main chan­nel out­puts to your exist­ing 2‑channel amp or pre-amp and you have 5.1 chan­nel func­tion­al­ity — just add some more speak­ers and plumb into the digit­al out­put of your sound-card (it has both optic­al and coaxi­al inputs).  I per­son­ally use one with some basic 1990s book­shelf speak­ers as rears and set the centre chan­nel to “none” to allow my ste­reo speak­ers to do all the hard work. I know three oth­er people who use the Yammy — all superb setups, one very expens­ive — and none of them can even think of a way to move away from it without spend­ing the large mon­ies.

Some sound-cards won’t give you a Dolby Digit­al (nev­er mind DTS) sig­nal and mine was only on the cusp of want­ing to do this. Being the cheapest full-chip­set X‑fi avail­able when I bought it, I had to pay Cre­at­ive a few pounds to enable Dolby Digit­al Live sup­port. I’m glad I did as it works very nicely. DVDs, large file size movies, Call of Duty and many oth­er games all work very well with this set-up. You just have to accept that you won’t be able to digit­ally stream True­HD or oth­er formats that were developed way after the Yamaha was born. To be hon­est, though, with the new­er formats (SACD, DVD -A, True­HD, DTS-MA…) it’s easy to sur­pass those expect­a­tions of excel­lent sound with the old ones — DD 5.1, DTS, Red­book CD audio etc. — if your play­back sys­tem offers suf­fi­cient fidel­ity. I have heard at least one 1990s mod­el CD play­er that can sur­pass sev­er­al thou­sand pound’s worth of SACD hard­ware, when play­ing equally excel­lent lay­ers of the same hybrid Linn SACD/CDI will say no more.

For the h******e amongst you, upgrades are more than pos­sible. Re-clock­ing, improved voltage reg­u­la­tion, bet­ter capa­cit­ors and op-amps will make the most of the DSP-E800, though I have to say it sounds great as stand­ard. In terms of 2‑channel music it’s roughly on a par with two or three hun­dred pounds’ worth of CD play­er when fed from some­thing like a Sound­blaster X‑Fi, though I’m quite sure most digit­al sources will work sim­il­arly well. Com­pared to the X‑fi’s ana­logue out­puts it is slightly ahead — both being in stand­ard, unmo­les­ted trim — giv­ing a pleas­ingly warm and con­cise account of your source mater­i­al, albeit with slightly con­strained dynam­ics.

So why the review of what in com­put­ing terms seems as old as the hillsWell it’s excel­lent and every time I’ve looked they’re avail­able on Ebay, some going for as little as £50.

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