In 2003 RME released the HDSP 9632, a PCI 2.1 interface that incorporated their latest 24-bit converters and stereo analogue I/O. It was a 16 channel FPGA powered juggernaut capable of 192kHz. The thing is, eighteen years later RME is still churning them out. That’s right! You can pick one up new in box from Amazon.
I managed to yoink one off eBay for $160 so let’s find out if this critter knows how to Linux in 2021.
Jackbox: System specs
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 7 1700|
|RAM||Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB|
|Motherboard||MSI B350 Tomahawk|
|GPU||Nvidia NVS 300|
|PSU:||EVGA 600 B1|
INSTALL: In order to use the HDSP 9632 we’ll need to install some extra ALSA bits.
sudo apt install alsa-firmware alsa-firmware-loaders alsa-tools-gui
ALSA: You can control the HDSP 9632 directly with alsamixer.
LATENCY: While many kinds of audio latency metrics exist, one useful and well-understood metric is round-trip latency; the time it takes for an audio signal to enter the input of a device, get processed, and exit the output.
This is what sold me on the HDSP 9632. Hard. It’s capable of 9.41 (ms) round-trip latency at 48 kHz with a buffer size of 128. For comparison, my MOTU Traveler clocks in at a respectable 14.84 (ms).
RME HDSP 9632: Round-trip latency @44100 Hz
Why in the world would you want to use a PCI recording interface in 2021? The answer is surprisingly simple: you need the functionality of the RME HDSPe AIO but $899 is not in the budget. In all fairness, $500 for a new HDSP 9632 might not be in the budget but $200 for a used one is.
Outside of that you’re either a hipster or a tech hoarder.
RME Hammerfall DSP 9632
Flawless A/D conversion.
PCI in 2021.
Limited analogue options.