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For an audiophile on a budget.

A Review On: AIM SC808


Rated # 17 in Sound Cards
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Purchased on:
Price paid: $120.00
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Pros: Awesome quality/price ratio, powerful headphone amplifier, exchangable opamps

Cons: Average microphone recording quality and surround sound quality

AIM SC808 has gained quite some popularity in Poland. For a much lower price it competes with cards like Asus Xonar STX. It's more than capable to drive even very demanding 600 ohm headphones and if you want to further upgrade it, it allows you to change the opamps for greater synergy with your favourite headphones.

With the default opamps it has a relatively bright sound with decent soundstage. Most recommended headphones for it are Beyerdynamic DT150, Sennheiser HD650 or Audio-Technica R70X, which I own myself.

The output impedance of the amp is 30 ohms, so it can have issues with some low impedance headphones due to damping.

It features a daughter card for connecting 7.1 surround system as well as it allows to connect front case sockets instead, but only the microphone port works this way. To connect headphones you have to use 6,3mm jack socket at the back of the case. This is where a 3m cable added to many headphones comes in handy.

Of course for such a low price (about 111 pounds) where must be some downsides. While the stereo sound quality over speakers (RCA output) and headphones is superior you'll find it less than desirable for any ambitious voice recording for which you might prefer to go with a USB microphone as the quality is comparable to an average onboard card.

7.1 sound quality is also average at best, so if you own or plan to get some high end 5.1 or 7.1 surround speakers you're better off looking for something else. If you are looking for a card to drive demanding headphones and your main concern is music and general stereo playback, this may be a product for you.

One remark: old revisions (blue side of the box) had a hardware issue which caused it to disappear from the system completely after a reboot (not even visible from BIOS). New revision (red side of the box) has this bug removed. It's a hardware issue possible to fix only if you are very experienced with electronics, so if you come across a faulty card better return it to get it exchanged. Some shops, at least in Poland, even add "NEW" to the product name to assure the buyers that it's free from it.


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