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Thread: New P4 motherboard with tube powered audio

  1. #1
    RWhite's Avatar
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    New P4 motherboard with tube powered audio

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    Someone sent me this link today - this is one weird looking motherboard:

    http://www.aopen.com/products/mb/ax4b-533Tube.htm

    There was a pres release about it today (June 3) but it goes to a dead link. Assumeing it will be fixed, you can get to it from here:

    http://club.aopen.com.tw/news/default.asp

    While I understand why people like tube powered amps, isn't this just a bit ridiculous?

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    Phloodpants is offline Junior Member
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    Pearls to swine

    Yuck! That thing uses a Realtek AC'97 Codec audio chip. I was looking at the datasheet and it's pretty piss-poor!

    Some highlights...


    S/N (A-weighted)
    ADC 85db
    DAC 85db (Front DAC with headphone amp)

    THD+N
    ADC -80db
    DAC -75db (Front DAC with headphone amp)

    Power Supply Rejection (DAC, ADC) -68db

    Crosstalk -70db

    Consider that these are lab measurements that are probably done outside of a computer using a smooth analog power supply. Once inside a computer, things probably get worse.
    Notice the PSRR is lousy, which doesn't help!

    Now, I'm not saying this codec will necessarily SOUND bad, although it certainly measures bad! Putting a tube amp on this is as pearls to swine!

    Marketing gimmick. Pure and simple.

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    AHAHAHAHAHAHHHAHAHAHHAHAAH

    Holy shit. Seriously RWhite...did you hack the Aopen site or what?

    mmmm, the warm tubey sound of a realtek chipset.

    Slackmaster 2000
    Slackmaster 2000

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    TexRoadkill is offline Audio Bum
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    That looks AWESOME!!! I cant wait for tube IDE controllers to help warm up all my files.

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    RWhite's Avatar
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    Na, some guy forwarded it to me. I have no idea what he was looking for at AOpen at the time, but there is a dead link to a 6/3 press announcement about the motherboard. I can't wait to read the announcement and see what they have to say about it... it's almost unbelievable.

    Maybe the board will end up as a "Ronco" product.

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    That is hillarious! They just set technology back 50 years!


    Twist

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    Teacher is offline do unto others......
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    Re: Pearls to swine

    Originally posted by Phloodpants
    Yuck! That thing uses a Realtek AC'97 Codec audio chip. I was looking at the datasheet and it's pretty piss-poor!

    Some highlights...





    Consider that these are lab measurements that are probably done outside of a computer using a smooth analog power supply. Once inside a computer, things probably get worse.
    Notice the PSRR is lousy, which doesn't help!

    Now, I'm not saying this codec will necessarily SOUND bad, although it certainly measures bad! Putting a tube amp on this is as pearls to swine!

    Marketing gimmick. Pure and simple.
    well stats aren't everything most digital gear now adays has lower noise floor and less THD that a good 2" but i'm pretty sure no one hear would say their Delta 1010 or whatever sounded better then a 2" because its suppsoe to have better specs..not saying its good either....i would think it would be interesting to see it in action, considering tubes and whatnot are what people who are sonically conscious miss...
    "...if the opposite of pro is a con lets go beyond this, the opposite of CONgress must be PROgress..." Cage

    [url]www.sicbeats.com[/url]

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    RWhite's Avatar
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    Well I was finally able to get into their web site long enough to view the press release. On the assumption that it may vanish again, here is the complete and unaltered press release on this baby:


    SAN JOSE, CA, June 3, 2002 -- AOpen Inc. announced today that it is introducing the world's first vacuum tube motherboard, coinciding with Intel's announcement of the Pentium® 4 845E chipset. The new AX4B-533Tube Motherboard incorporates the novel, modern-day adoption of an idea that was spawned by the invention of the electric light bulb by Thomas A. Edison back in 1879 - the vacuum tube. In taking this bold step towards audio perfection, AOpen's hybrid AX4B-533Tube unquestionably is targeted to a very exclusive niche market - passionate audiophiles and extreme gamers who are interested in building their own ultimate entertaining PCs. The motherboard is also certain to appeal to retailers that desire to cater to these two eccentric groups with custom-built PCs, delivered with matching speaker systems and the latest CD and DVD playback devices.

    Why The Vacuum Tube?
    The first logical question anyone - analyst, journalist, technician or consumer - would likely ask, is . . . why? AOpen engineers admit that their original notion to add the unmistakable sound of tube output to a modern-day motherboard was initially a lark. "We were all together late one night, kicking around lots of crazy ideas when I proposed it would be really cool if we could combine the warmth and depth - tonal realism, if you will - of the sound produced by an audio tube, with one of our state-of the-art motherboards" says Al Peng, product manager at AOpen America Inc., an audiophile for more than 10 years. "Laughter turned into raves a few months later when we did our first lab demo of our unique hybrid creation. The reproduced sound was absolutely amazing.

    It left everyone stunned. What we realized at that moment was how the limitations of typical audio output from a PC as we knew it, had come to an end - and what we were pioneering was a way to literally combine the best of two audio worlds - old and new."

    The Watts and Volts of Combining Solid-State and Tube
    Some skeptics may argue that even average solid-state amplification devices are often better than the best tube devices. However, in terms of tonality - that's where solid-state working alone falls short. Since the tube output stage of the AX4B-533Tube couples the two front digital stereo output channels with tube output, music lovers of all kinds will "feel" their singer, band or orchestra seemingly come alive, while gamers will find that sound-effects become far more convincing and "to your face". A brief look at what makes a tube work provides greater perspective to the overall concept of combining tube with solid-state.

    There are four principal elements in a modern vacuum tube that work together to make it function. The Filament (heater), Cathode, Grid and Anode (or plate). The filament is connected with voltage to boils the cathode, causing the cathode to emit electrons that pass through the grid and hit the Anode. Through this electron flow, the tube amplifies a small (AC) alternating current signal into a larger AC voltage, thereby amplifying it. By controlling the grid voltage, the current flow can be regulated, and create the desired electronic characteristics, while amplifying the signal (source).

    Tubes may date back to well over 100 years, but the AX4B-533Tube proves that even today, tubes shape the sound of many modern bands' characteristic styles. In fact, most electric guitar and bass amplifiers are tube-based. High-end professional audio equipment also relies on the tube as a preferred amplification device. Tubes are even found in digital-to-analog conversion equipment.

    Some Technical Considerations

     SWITCHING POWER One of the more daunting challenges for AOpen engineering team in developing the AX4B-533Tube was the process of powering the tube circuitry that requires high voltage of up to 300V from the power supply to properly operate the tube. By incorporating a switching mode power supply for the tube circuitry that can truly rival solid-state amplifiers, then employing A Maxim 668 DC-DC voltage converter to provide ample voltage for the tube to function under optimal conditions - correct audio playback is achieved. As a result, the AX4B-533Tube performs brilliantly.

     TUBE CIRCUITRY After careful study of many classic pre-amp circuits, AOpen decided to employ a single dual-triode (one tube with two front stereo channels) as the main amplification device. In addition, by following a long path to achieve signal amplification, straightforward amplification is achieved without the use of numerous coupling devices that could add unwanted coloration to the sound of the playback output.
    A separate input connector is also provided allowing users with existing sound card's output going through the tube amplification to achieve desire tube tonality. This design allows millions of users out there with their existing sound card to be working with AX4B-533Tube in tandem.

     NOISE REDUCTION One of the inherent difficulties of utilizing tubes for audio output amplification has always been the dreadful by-product of noise. AOpen solved this problem flawlessly with a method of noise reduction called the Frequency Isolation Wall (FIW). The FIW is strategically placed at all regions throughout the motherboard that separates each operating frequency regions such as CPU, memory, AGP and PCI where the operating frequency ranging from 133MHz, 66MHz and 33MHz. Cross talk among each regions had been reduced greatly for overall system stability as well as minimize inherit noise that may go to tube amplification circuitry.

     RELIABILITY A critical issue with any electronic device is reliability. When it comes to hybrid audio equipment, reliability plays an even greater role. The MTBF ratios for both the motherboard and the tube circuitry in the AX4B-533Tube are stellar, with minimum 50,000 MTBF hours on the motherboard, and 35,000 MTBF hours on the tube circuitry (Tube itself will have about 4,000 to 5,000 hours, depends on operating conditions)

     COMPONENTS AND CONSTRUCTION To ensure accurate tonal quality for music playback and to fully enhance the gaming experience, AOpen engineers meticulously selected the finest components from the world's top-rated manufacturers in designing and building the AX4B-533Tube. In addition, the AX4B-533Tube is painstakingly and patiently assembled, piece-by-piece, then fully inspected and individually tested by AOpen technicians to ensure that each motherboard meets its desired peak performance levels without hesitation.

    The AX4B-533Tube Motherboard comes with latest Intel 845E chipset design and features DDR SDRAM memory channels delivering 2.1 GB/s of memory bandwidth to the processor - maximizing the full performance of the Intel Pentium® 4 processor with 533Mhz FSB offers best overall performance and longevity. It comes with a 4X AGP slots; with new ICH4, the AX4B-533Tube supports 4 ports of USB 2.0 and Ultra ATA/100 interface. With Intel 845E chipset, AOpen's AX4B-533Tube provides a revolutionary fusion of old and new technology, producing unsurpassed PC audio output that takes full advantage of the Intel Pentium® 4 processor's capabilities.

    Audio grade components are used throughout critical circuitry. By cooperating with Reliable Capacitors, high-end Rel MultiCap coupling capacitors were used. Cardas wires are also deployed strategically on the output to achieve faithful reproduction of music and sound effect. (Fred, We need to expand this portion a bit. Please visit www.capacitors.com and www.cardas.com for more information to emphasize the value we are providing to the gamers and music lovers. Thanks)

    The AX4B-533Tube has an estimated street price of $215 USD and fully supports ACPI 1.0 and APM 1.2 specs; comes bundled with Norton Anti-Virus 2002 software; and features AOpen's standard three-year warranty. The AX4B-533Tube is available through all authorized AOpen channel partners. Detailed specifications and photos for website posting or publication are also available by request. More information on the AX4B-533Tube may also be found at: product spec.

    About AOpen
    AOpen Inc. is the world's largest total component solutions manufacturer and a member of a $10 billion technology group. Leveraging more than 25 years of technology
    manufacturing experience and more than 1,000 Group patents, AOpen designs, develops and markets advanced PC motherboards, notebooks, optical drives, PC housings, peripherals, multimedia, telecommunications and networking solutions for resellers, system integrators and those who value reliability and performance.

    Editor's Note: More information about AOpen, AOpen products, services, and business partners is available on the World Wide Web at: www.AOpen.com.

    AOpen is a registered trademark of AOpen Inc. All other products, brand names or companies are trademarks or registered marks of their respective companies.

  9. #9
    Queue's Avatar
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    my favorite part of that press release...

    (Fred, We need to expand this portion a bit. Please visit www.capacitors.com and www.cardas.com for more information to emphasize the value we are providing to the gamers and music lovers. Thanks)
    That's funny.

    Queue
    You've just been Queued

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    Speaking on this subject, does the Realtek AC'97 affect my New Soundblaster Live! Platinum at all, since it's built into my motherboard? or does it bypass that overall?
    anyone?
    -DAN
    -DAN

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