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Playing MP3's on receiver (1 Viewer)

Dec 23, 2001
I am looking for the best way to play MP3’s on my home theater system. I have an HK AVR8000 that will decode MP3 inputted digitally. I am encoding all my MP3’s with Lame at high VBR rates. I would like to minimize any conversions required and use the DAC’s in my receiver to convert to analog. I am confused how and when the MP3 format is converted and how to input MP3’s into my receiver if I wanted to.

Here is my confusion with the various options. I will input into my receiver using a SPDIF TOSLink or Coaxial input. I believe that SDPIF only supports passing PCM, DD or AC3. So in any of the options below, I am not sure how I would get a native MP3 CODEC in to my receiver. I believe both options below will decode the MP3 format and convert to PCM before they send it on to my receiver.

So here are the options I am looking at and some more questions.

Option 1: Buy an Audiotron and use the SDPIF output in to my receiver. This may be the easiest. The reviews I have seen on the Audiotron indicate that the audio stage is of low quality. I believe that by using the SPDIF output I will avoid using the audio stage.

Option 2: Use a soundcard with an SPDIF output and connect directly to my receiver. So my questions in this area is does the soundcard quality matter, or is it just passing a native digital signal? And again, how do I get MP3 out, versus the DD, AC3 or PCM? Any recommendations on a soundcard?

Anyway, any recommendations and clarification, corrections to my thoughts would be appreciated.


Stunt Coordinator
May 1, 2002
I assume if you want the receiver to do the decoding, you must use the digital output from the sound card, and choose Digital on your receiver if you have the source option. As far as whether or not the sound card's influence on overall sound quality, couldn't tell you.


Senior HTF Member
Dec 3, 1999
A digital output from a sound card will send already decoded mp3 to the receiver. That is, your playback software on your PC decodes the mp3 file to stereo audio and your sound card just converts it to PCM. You aren't going to take advantage of the HK's built-in mp3 decoding that way.
There may be a soundcard out there that will send the raw mp3 format through the digital output but I've never see such a product.
HK offers a product that does send the raw mp3 to your receiver (http://www.harmankardon.com/category.asp?cat=CAL). However, reading through the AVR-8000 manual makes me wonder why you'd want to utilize HK's built-in mp3 decoding. The manual says the receiver may have difficulty playing back any mp3 endcoded at a bit rate of 128 kbps or greater. That makes me wonder if it could even stomach VBR mp3s. Additionally, the AVR-8000 will only play mp3s in stereo. You cannot add any surround effects to internally decoded mp3s.
I'd say dump the whole "built-in" mp3 thing and just run a digital cable to the receiver. It'll be cheaper and potentially perform better than the HK method.

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