Chaintech AV-710 2004-07-27 08:52:12 I just saw a live system using a Chaintech AV-710 card, with the SPDIF optical out, and boy was the sound quality awesome. My friend had purchased it a month or so ago. He uses Cubase SL with the Steinberg Guitar and Hypersonic VST plugins, whatever it was it was good! Too good, in fact.My mate has the good M-Audio PCI card (he paid $350 for it by memory), a Chaintech AV-710 card (he paid $75 for it) and two Audigy cards - the Audigy DE and the Audigy 2 Platinum. The M-Audio and the Chaintech are the best of the lot. The Audigy 2 Platinum follows close behind and is a pretty rock solid card but is a bit too expensive for my tastes, the DE isn't as good but if you like the EAX and the SoundFont features then it's still good and it's a great budget card for gaming.We tested all four of these cards, one by one, took us a whole day, but we tested everything. He is what I would call a PC hardware freak.I took a couple of CDs with custom tracks that I made up from a mix of other CDs, namely the Mantovani Orchestra, Blink 182, APS Storm strike, APS War warriors, Seinfeld, and a few industrial, dance and techno tracks.The PC was hooked up to an AL500 (100w long-throw sub + 5 x 100w wide-range sats) speaker system (in Australia if you know where to look you can get these for around the $600 mark + shipping, this deal seems almost too good to be true but it isn't) and a Sony 595 digital receiver. We tested the Chaintech first, then the Audigy 2 Platinum, then the M-Audio and then the Audigy DE and then finally the Chaintech once again.The subwoofer output was beyond belief, the deep screaming of the soldiers and gunshots made the hair stand up on my neck and the crack and bang of thunder sent shockwaves through me. The rain was crystal clear, you could almost feel each drop splash when the rain was starting to come down.The treble was absolutely beautiful, with the Mantovani orchestra you could almost feel where the instruments were playing, the violins were rich and warm and vibrant, and the flutes were lovely and hollow with a rich bright tone that I've never heard before from ANY sound system, even my uncle's $2500 theatre surround sound system.All up, I had a field day.And, whoever you are, please don't bash that Chaintech AV-710 soundcard, it's probably just as good as an M-Audio card. Sure, it doesn't have MIDI inputs (I don't think it does) and doesn't include some of the extended features that the M-Audio cards have but for the money it does a damn fine playback job and with Cubase SL is plays like a charm, and I can tell you it's a damn sight better than any of the Audigy series as far as crisp 44.1KHz playback goes, all of which I've checked out and heard thoroughly over and over again.As for MIDI devices, I have a USB 49-note MIDI keystation which uses the USB interface for it's MIDI throughput, so no MIDI soundcard required and I use softsynth so I don't even need MIDI hardware! I plan to install the Chaintech card and use a dedicated driver so it and runs beneath my Audigy DE and goes right to the hardware without any problem.This is one fine card a budget freak would never want to pass up. Who knows, they might one day stop production of these ridiculously cheap high quality cards, so let's hope they never run out! They are easily worth 4 times the price!