PCI-Express Low-latency Solution
So, here's what: I've been using IEEE1394 and USB audio interfaces for a few years now, but I could never achieve the low latency and stability I wanted with my virtual instruments as I once did with my old PCI Delta something-something by M-Audio, now an obsolete dinosaur thanks to no legacy PCI support on recent PC hardware with well-behaved (low DPC) drivers. I don't want to be burned by USB3 and Thunderbolt shenanigans, and I didn't like the cost and reputation of RME, so I went with Lynx this time around because I already had an Aurora and that's been pretty good.
WHAT'S GOOD: It's better than not bad! Just install the card, hook up your favorite DAC with AES, and install the driver. Pow, it works, no config needed. The drivers install without any issues on Win7 64-bit and Win10, and the software mixer is easy to wrap your head around if you're familiar with any DAW mixer. There may as well be no noise floor at all, this card's outputs are so clean at even ridiculous gain, so no worries there. Doesn't pick up any interference from surrounding expansion cards, like the graphics and raid controllers, so I'm led to believe it's fairly well-shielded. Now, the main reason I bought the thing was for playing virtual instruments live, so can it do that? Well, I can record my voice and play my favorite piano library, the Ravenscroft, at less than 5ms latency with some verb and light accompaniment supplied by Kontakt. Honestly, I feel like I'm using a decent workstation again. Yep, that's mission accomplished.
WHAT'S JUST OK: No cables included. You have to buy the "CBL-AES1604" break-out cables separately, and you will need at least one, but they're not too pricey. If you have to sync via wordclock around your studio, you'll likely need two cables, since each cable supplies only either wordclock in or out depending on which port you attach them to.
WHAT'S NOT GOOD: This could just be me, but the Lynx driver resets Windows audio levels to max after every reboot. If you run into this issue, I'd advise to setup your gain staging so you aren't relying on the digital output from this card being anything but full tilt. Sure, it's better that way anyway if you want the lowest possible noise floor, but just be aware - this part of your signal chain cannot be relied upon unless you're handy with powershell and can whip up a startup script to set nominal levels for you. You'll forget to do it otherwise.