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AVR for PC setup? (1 Viewer)

kalm_traveler

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Hey guys, apologies for another thread but this seems like a pretty beginner question so I figured it needs its own thread for clarity.

As mentioned elsewhere, my audio setup on the main PC these days has been a pair of HSU HB-1 MK2 bookshelf speakers driven by a Klipsch Powergate DAC/amp, and I had been sharing one of the main HT HSU VTF-15H mk2 subwoofers out of laziness, but after adding a new HSU sub last week the one in reach of the PC doesn't seem to work if I have two different sources connected so I went ahead and ordered an SVS SB3000 sub.

PC audio purpose I would say is maybe 50% music listening / 50% gaming.

I may eventually be able to move the PC into its own room and would like to be able to give it a 5.1 setup since some games do still have positional audio when connected in a manner that can output it (HDMI from a graphics card, optical/digital coax with Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect enabled, etc).

Also, I am probably about to order a pair of SVS Ultra bookshelf speakers to upgrade from these HSU bookshelves. the HSU's sound decent to me but I want more detail and from reviews it sounds like the SVS Ultra bookshelves will undoubtedly provide that.

That all being said, I don't love this Klipsch Powergate because it has a non-bypassable auto-off function if there's no sound coming in for 5 minutes which means I either have to constantly turn it back on dozens of times per day or use my workaround of connecting another audio devices to the Line In on the PC's motherboard and keep that input 'listening' which seems to trick the Klipsch into staying on even though I can't hear anything since the connected device is in standby most of the time (if curious, I have an ancient Roland SC55 mk2 connected for some retro games). Also it has no internal crossover or EQ settings, so I've resorted to passive external high-pass crossovers for the driven speakers to cut them off at 80Hz.

I had been looking at SVS's little 2ch DAC/amp wireless thing but A) it's $500, and B) it wouldn't allow for flexibility to convert to a 5.1 channel setup in the future.

Given the SVS DAC/amp's price point, that's entering AVR territory. Since I hope to some day have a dedicated PC room again and build into 5.1, does it make sense to pick up a new AVR or perhaps just look for an older Yamaha that doesn't support 4K passthrough but still has at least HDMI in, 5.1 or better processing and amp capability etc since it will only ever be doing sound duty for the PC? I do feel a bit silly now for selling my old RX-A1030 for $100 because that would have served just fine for this purpose I think...

Anyway, given the use case and goal here do you think I should go for a real AVR at this point - and if so recommend a new unit or used as mentioned?
 

kalm_traveler

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If anyone reads this - for example on the "would a used AVR be the best option", I can pick up an old Marantz SR5009 locally for probably $300 which appears on paper to be more than adequate for running even a 7.1 channel setup from the PC with analog cables (I see a 7.1ch analog input section of RCA's).
 

JohnRice

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Can you send audio out through hdmi instead of using analog inputs? Surround receivers are at their best when they receive digital audio. That or optical/coaxial for up to 5.1 that isn't HD.
 

kalm_traveler

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Can you send audio out through hdmi instead of using analog inputs? Surround receivers are at their best when they receive digital audio. That or optical/coaxial for up to 5.1 that isn't HD.
Yes I believe so. I know modern graphics cards have sound drivers for pumping out sound over HDMI. I haven't researched that option or how it works with multi-channel audio yet but I'll whip out my google-fu skills and see what I can learn.

In the past, I had a lossy compressed Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect 5.1 signal over optical from a PC but those are both licensed technologies and it seems that motherboard manufacturers usually don't pay for those licenses for their sound drivers (meaning even though the hardware can do it, the encoding function is not present in the driver software).
 

JohnRice

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Yes I believe so. I know modern graphics cards have sound drivers for pumping out sound over HDMI. I haven't researched that option or how it works with multi-channel audio yet but I'll whip out my google-fu skills and see what I can learn.

In the past, I had a lossy compressed Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect 5.1 signal over optical from a PC but those are both licensed technologies and it seems that motherboard manufacturers usually don't pay for those licenses for their sound drivers (meaning even though the hardware can do it, the encoding function is not present in the driver software).
It might send a multi-channel PCM signal. That's fine. It's still better than having the D/A conversion done before the receiver. This is because the receiver will handle all its surround management and crossovers in the digital domain. So if you send it an analog signal it has to convert it back to digital, than back to analog again.
 

kalm_traveler

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It might send a multi-channel PCM signal. That's fine. It's still better than having the D/A conversion done before the receiver. This is because the receiver will handle all its surround management and crossovers in the digital domain. So if you send it an analog signal it has to convert it back to digital, than back to analog again.
John could I get your opinion on some AVR options for this PC system?

The local Marantz SR5009 the guy wants $400 for it so I'm looking around to see what else I can get for 500 and under.
Found a Marantz SR7005 for $550
Denon AVR-S940H for $200

and just looking at some new units that I'm assuming would be just fine since this is a PC setup so I'll be sitting rather close to all the speakers, I see Yamaha RX-V385 for about $300, and Denon AVR-S750H at Costco for $400.

Would you recommend any of those more than the others, or anything else I should perhaps keep an eye out for in that price range?

I literally only want this to do sound, so HDMI features other than sound input are irrelevant.
 

JohnRice

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I'll have to look at the Denon, but I'd say those Marantz prices are too high.

I have a Marantz SR5004 I'd sell for $100 plus shipping. I bought it as a refurb from A4L, so it has a refurb box, but I do have the original box. The remote is there somewhere. I also have a commercial UPS shipping account, so I get a decent price. I'd just like to get something for it and get it out of the house.
 

kalm_traveler

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that should work for a decent 5.1 system as far as I can tell. Just want to get something in here because the SVS sub is already here, and the Ultra bookshelves will be here tomorrow - really want to see how things sound with good equipment.
 

kalm_traveler

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Doing more research... the Klipsch Powergate DAC/amp thing I'm using right now is only spec'd for 50w x2 at 8 ohms and I don't crank it even halfway up.

I see Marantz NR1510 is a little 5.2 50w per channel AVR that I can get refurbed from A4L for $500. That seems like a decent option since it meets all the needs and is essentially brand new. Little more than I was planning on but it has mostly good reviews and I'd like to try Marantz gear out for once.
 

kalm_traveler

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In case anyone sees this and wants to do something similar - I ended up going for the Denon AVR-S750H. Features for the price and being brand new seemed like the best option for a PC surround setup. I can't wait to replace this little Klipsch Powergate :biggrin:
 

kalm_traveler

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can't edit my post but randomly ended up picking up a used Marantz SR5010 instead because it was only $260. Just got done factory resetting it and getting it dialed in with just the 2.1 speakers I already was using.

MUCH MUCH better just using it for DAC and amplification (plus it has built-in crossovers) than the Klipsch DAC/amp I had been using. It's insane to me how much more detail there is when you upgrade speakers and processing/amplification!
 

CyFactor

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I know I'm late to the party since I've been spending more time on Audiocircle building surround speakers and subs, but I've been using AVRs for surround processing with my Home Theater PCs for years. But I use HDMI to the AVR. My game room has a Marantz SR6012 (Upgraded from a Onkyo only for the 4K support) on a 7.1.2 and my new theater room is running a Marantz SR8015 with 7.3.4. The SR8015 is 8K ready, so I should be good with that one for a long time.

Lately, though, I haven't even been using my PC directly for the movie playback, so the audio connection to the AVR is moot (unless I'm watching YouTube stuff). I picked up Plex a few months ago and installed the Plex server. Now my HTPC is mainly for web browsing and library management because I watch all of my digital downloads and listen to my music library through the Plex app on my Apple TV 4K.
 

kalm_traveler

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I know I'm late to the party since I've been spending more time on Audiocircle building surround speakers and subs, but I've been using AVRs for surround processing with my Home Theater PCs for years. But I use HDMI to the AVR. My game room has a Marantz SR6012 (Upgraded from a Onkyo only for the 4K support) on a 7.1.2 and my new theater room is running a Marantz SR8015 with 7.3.4. The SR8015 is 8K ready, so I should be good with that one for a long time.

Lately, though, I haven't even been using my PC directly for the movie playback, so the audio connection to the AVR is moot (unless I'm watching YouTube stuff). I picked up Plex a few months ago and installed the Plex server. Now my HTPC is mainly for web browsing and library management because I watch all of my digital downloads and listen to my music library through the Plex app on my Apple TV 4K.
ahh so you have the video from the HTPC going through the AVR to the TV.

If I could do that on my desktop PC here that would have made things a lot easier but my monitor is 3840 x 1600 and I run it at 144Hz SDR (it can do some level of HDR and I think 175Hz but with either of those it drops the colorspace) over DisplayPort.

I don't *think* that HDMI can push that, or at least not the version my graphics cards and/or the Marantz AVR support.

For now I'm having to tell Windows to duplicate the displays at the monitors resolution, or just occasionally lose my mouse off to the right phantom screen that doesn't exist.
 

CyFactor

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ahh so you have the video from the HTPC going through the AVR to the TV.

If I could do that on my desktop PC here that would have made things a lot easier but my monitor is 3840 x 1600 and I run it at 144Hz SDR (it can do some level of HDR and I think 175Hz but with either of those it drops the colorspace) over DisplayPort.

I don't *think* that HDMI can push that, or at least not the version my graphics cards and/or the Marantz AVR support.

For now I'm having to tell Windows to duplicate the displays at the monitors resolution, or just occasionally lose my mouse off to the right phantom screen that doesn't exist.

HDR is where things start to get sticky. Not only do you need to have the right AVR with 4K HDR input (or passthrough), you need the right cables (I've run into my share of cable issues), it requires a very specific set of hardware DRM (Digital Rights Management), and the only system I've ever used that worked with 4K HDR content is Intel based with integrated graphics. So far I haven't seen it working on either NVidia or AMD. I do run 10-bit 2060p direct from the PC to my projector through the AVR, and the desktop and Youtube look fantastic, but Power DVD will say that the hardware doesn't support 4K HDR when trying to play Bluray content. AMD supposedly has drivers in the pipeline for their 6000 series graphics, but I have not personally tried it (yet). My Polaris based Radeon Pro WX7100 won't do it.

That's why the Apple TV solution is perfect. The PC as a Plex server doesn't have to deal with the DRM stuff, and the Apple TV 4K supports it. The same HDR files that don't play direct on my PC play fine though the Plex app on the Apple TV even though they are still originating from that same PC.

Here is a shot of Iron Man (1080p) playing from my PC (Power DVD 18) through the AVR to the projector (attached).
 

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kalm_traveler

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HDR is where things start to get sticky. Not only do you need to have the right AVR with 4K HDR input (or passthrough), you need the right cables (I've run into my share of cable issues), it requires a very specific set of hardware DRM (Digital Rights Management), and the only system I've ever used that worked with 4K HDR content is Intel based with integrated graphics. So far I haven't seen it working on either NVidia or AMD. I do run 10-bit 2060p direct from the PC to my projector through the AVR, and the desktop and Youtube look fantastic, but Power DVD will say that the hardware doesn't support 4K HDR when trying to play Bluray content. AMD supposedly has drivers in the pipeline for their 6000 series graphics, but I have not personally tried it (yet). My Polaris based Radeon Pro WX7100 won't do it.

That's why the Apple TV solution is perfect. The PC as a Plex server doesn't have to deal with the DRM stuff, and the Apple TV 4K supports it. The same HDR files that don't play direct on my PC play fine though the Plex app on the Apple TV even though they are still originating from that same PC.

Here is a shot of Iron Man (1080p) playing from my PC (Power DVD 18) through the AVR to the projector (attached).
extreme projector envy :)

I do wish that there was some way I could pass video through the AVR and retain the same resolution, refresh rate, color depth and GSync on the PC monitor but alas...

Incidentally, researching how to get sound out of a computer on HDMI without it appearing like another display to the PC led me to some old HDMI sound cards from around 2009. So...they DID exist at one point.

Currently debating between fiddling with display settings every reboot VS perhaps buying 3 sets of those 3.5mm mini jack to 2 RCA cables and just connecting the PC to the Marantz's analogue 5.1ch inputs.

Something tells me that might add a bit of noise though.
 

CyFactor

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extreme projector envy :)

I do wish that there was some way I could pass video through the AVR and retain the same resolution, refresh rate, color depth and GSync on the PC monitor but alas...

Incidentally, researching how to get sound out of a computer on HDMI without it appearing like another display to the PC led me to some old HDMI sound cards from around 2009. So...they DID exist at one point.

Currently debating between fiddling with display settings every reboot VS perhaps buying 3 sets of those 3.5mm mini jack to 2 RCA cables and just connecting the PC to the Marantz's analogue 5.1ch inputs.

Something tells me that might add a bit of noise though.

Pure Direct is still the best method. Let the AVR do the decoding. I've had mixed results going digital to PCM, then out to the audio device. I'd get a SoundBlaster Pro (I still have a few laying around) and go optical before I ever went back to analog. That said, when I enable Dolby ATMOS on my PC and play back some of those videos in the Dolby Access app, it makes for an excellent demonstration. :)
 

kalm_traveler

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Pure Direct is still the best method. Let the AVR do the decoding. I've had mixed results going digital to PCM, then out to the audio device. I'd get a SoundBlaster Pro (I still have a few laying around) and go optical before I ever went back to analog. That said, when I enable Dolby ATMOS on my PC and play back some of those videos in the Dolby Access app, it makes for an excellent demonstration. :)
Definitely agreed as far as sound quality.

I'm just struggling to find a way to have the sound quality desired without having to jump through silly hoops that screw up the video.

Currently, every time I reboot the PC I have to change the display settings to 'mirrored' for the phantom display from the AVR. If I leave it separate, any 'full screen windowed' applications aren't able to fully take up the real screen - the task bar remains on top.

I see basically 3 options at this point:

  1. deal with having to change Windows display settings every reboot and stick with HDMI
  2. revert back to optical and DTS Connect lossy 5.1
  3. pick up 3 of those 3.5mm to 2 RCA cables and go 5.1 analogue from the onboard sound
I'm not sure between 2 and 3 which would ultimately sound better since the analogue won't be compressed but will possibly pick up electrical noise. Really would prefer to stick with HDMI but not have the annoyances that this phantom 2nd display presents, though diggin into PC forum threads from over a decade ago this has long been an annoyance of a select minority who are both PC gamers and audio enthusiasts and neither graphics card manufacturers or Microsoft seem to care to create a solution.
 

CyFactor

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Definitely agreed as far as sound quality.

I'm just struggling to find a way to have the sound quality desired without having to jump through silly hoops that screw up the video.

Currently, every time I reboot the PC I have to change the display settings to 'mirrored' for the phantom display from the AVR. If I leave it separate, any 'full screen windowed' applications aren't able to fully take up the real screen - the task bar remains on top.

I see basically 3 options at this point:

  1. deal with having to change Windows display settings every reboot and stick with HDMI
  2. revert back to optical and DTS Connect lossy 5.1
  3. pick up 3 of those 3.5mm to 2 RCA cables and go 5.1 analogue from the onboard sound
I'm not sure between 2 and 3 which would ultimately sound better since the analogue won't be compressed but will possibly pick up electrical noise. Really would prefer to stick with HDMI but not have the annoyances that this phantom 2nd display presents, though diggin into PC forum threads from over a decade ago this has long been an annoyance of a select minority who are both PC gamers and audio enthusiasts and neither graphics card manufacturers or Microsoft seem to care to create a solution.
4. Pick up an Apple TV and install Plex server on the PC. :D
 

CyFactor

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If only a Plex server would help with game music/sounds :blink:
I’m just trying to help you with your home theater and responding to your concerns about HDR on your PC. Gaming is a whole different can of worms. Does your television support GSync? My 75” Samsung QLED supports FreeSync with my Radeons. But I keep my PC gaming (I have two rigs - one dedicated to VR and one on a 32” FreeSync display) and my cinema separate. I could easily game with my HTPC if I wanted to, though.
 

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