Sound cards/motherboards with SPDIF

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Sacha_C, Jan 19, 2003.

  1. Sacha_C

    Sacha_C Second Unit

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    Since the SPDIF on my video card isn't working, I'll need a new sound card or motherboard with a coax/optical output.
    First I have a few questions, can sound cards with SPDIF output all system sounds by SPDIF or only sounds from digital sources?
    For example, I have TV on my PC and the sound goes through the line in of my sound card, with a card that has SPDIF, would it convert that analog signal and send it through SPDIF or would analog sounds need to use analog outputs?
    Now, which sound card below $100-125 US has digital outputs? And which motherboard below $170 US has digital outputs?
    Finally, I would prefer optical outputs since my receiver has a ton of optical inputs but only 1 coax input, I prefer to leave that coax free in casee I ever get a component with only coax output.
    Thanks
     
  2. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    I use nothing but the digital outputs on my computer, and yes they output everything. most of your current soundcards have digital out, if you want optical then the hercules digifire 7.1 is the way to go, however if you want higher quality sound and can live with using coax then the mwave revolution is must.

    although, I am currently a big fan of the nvidia soundstorm (MCP-T southbridge) which is the onboard sound on a few of the recently released motherboards. my biggest reason for liking it is that it sends out a constant dolby digital signal and upconverts all stereo to SRS, in addition games that use EAX or A3D have a much more defined locational sense with the upconversion to Dolby digital.

    oh and the motherboard I'm on is the asus a7n8x.

    hope that helps you some
     
  3. Sacha_C

    Sacha_C Second Unit

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    But can you use pro logic on the receiver when playing stereo sources like mp3s from the digital output?

    Also, is it true DTS signals cannot be output by digital outputs on sound cards?

    Thanks
     
  4. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Just about any $100+ motherboard has an option for digital optical and coax out, just go to newegg and look for it. Are you going Intel or Athlon? The newest nForce2 chipsets for Athlons have a really cool feature which is onbaord DD 5.1 encoding, but only really useful if you play pc games. Intel chipsets have available digital sound outs as well but no onboard 5.1. [​IMG] As for sound ccards I'm sure the Audigy sound card has digital coax and optical.
    The TV tuner would convert anything analog to digital before sending the data through the PCI slot to the CPU for processing, this includes audio and video. So don't worry, anything you hear on your PC speakers will also be coming out of an optical or coaxial out.
    I play games on the HT and use the coax on my mobo to my receiver. I used to use the analog outputs on my soundcard but now it sounds so clean with a digital passthrough, and so do mp3s. [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  5. Chris Svencer

    Chris Svencer Stunt Coordinator

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    Kinda off topic but just a question for you guys. Are there any soundcards that decode DTS or do all of them just pass it on through SPDIF to a receiver?
    -Svence
     
  6. Sacha_C

    Sacha_C Second Unit

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    "Kinda off topic but just a question for you guys. Are there any soundcards that decode DTS or do all of them just pass it on through SPDIF to a receiver?"

    I think powerDVD can decode DTS by software.
     
  7. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    powerDVD just passes the info through the s/pdif to the reciever just like a DVD player does, so you can watch DTS movies on it. I think most other DVD player programs do that as well.
     
  8. Gordon Moore

    Gordon Moore Second Unit

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  9. Chris Svencer

    Chris Svencer Stunt Coordinator

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    So only software can "Decode" dts to play on your Computer 5.1 setup? Audigy's and others will just pass it on?
    -Svence
     
  10. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    I have powerdvd, and it WILL pass DTS straight to the receiver over the S/PDIF output of your sound card if you have the S/PDIF passthrough option selected.
    WinDVD does so as well.
    If your receiver does not accept DTS, then you'll have to resort to software decoding and use the sound card's 6 analog outputs.
    The multichannel version of WinDVD is nice in that it will even software encode Pro Logic II, and use the directsound3D API to output 5.1 over your analog outputs of the card. Even better: If you have an nForce-equipped motherboard with Soundstorm audio, it will again be converted to DD5.1 in hardware, and sent to your HT receiver as DD5.1! Poor man's prologic II encoder/decoder combo. [​IMG]
    Caveat: Playing a DTS-encoded CD doesn't usually work with S/PDIF passthrough, because often the sound card drivers do not output the DTS digital stream as 44.1kHz, but instead sends it as a 48kHz stream instead, resulting in squeaky high-pitched audio! You'd have to use the DVD player's builtin software decoder to properly play these DTS CDs. Although, at least with an nforce motherboard, it can be reconverted to DD5.1 (with the associated conversion losses), so you can still avoid an analog setup.
    I hope this doesn't sound confusing...the nForce allows you many cool audio playback options...
     
  11. Gordon Moore

    Gordon Moore Second Unit

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    Max sums it up....my point was that powerdvd doesn't JUST pass it through...but instead can do both...decode it or pass through, depends what you're trying to accomplish. Decoding it in software and sending it to your receiver via analog outs can be pretty noisy.
    Chris
    ======
    I don't think I've come across a card yet that can decode DTS via hardware, you're right they all pass it through....everyone's in bed with Dolby which is fine by me but that's for another debate [​IMG]
     
  12. Chris Svencer

    Chris Svencer Stunt Coordinator

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    One last question...I promise. (I have a feeling it is one of those long debates though) What is the difference between DTS and DD5.1? I am guessing it has been discussed before but I couldn't find any direct threads so if someone has a link or any info that would be awesome. Thanks.
    -Svence
     
  13. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    DTS is sony's standard it IS higher quality than DD but the higher quality takes up more space so a lot of DVDs don't use it so they can put more extras on their disks etc.

    DD is dolby labs standard and it's just about universal, elmost everything supports it.
     
  14. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    As far as a motherboard solution, I saw this weekend a Gigatbyte dual bios AMD board with SPDIF. Pretty full featured board and was $139.

    As far as this ...
    [quoteDTS is sony's standard it IS higher quality than DD but the higher quality takes up more space so a lot of DVDs don't use it so they can put more extras on their disks etc[/quote]
    You would be incorrect.
    DTS is a standard by Digital Theater Systems that is partially owned by Universal Pictures. Sony has nothing to do with DTS. Whether it is higher quality is in the ear of the beholder and it really depends on the mix used. It does take up more space since it uses less compression but it is not necessarily higher quality. Try a search in the basics forum if you want more details but this above quoted info is mostly incorrect.
     
  15. Andrew Walbert

    Andrew Walbert Stunt Coordinator

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    As far as HTPC motherboards go, I'd say the most interesting one I've seen is the MSI K7N420 Pro. It uses the nForce chipset, so it has excellent sound output quality (at least as good as the Sound Blaster Audigy 2, which costs well over $100 itself). But the real deal-sealer for me is that it has an optional TV-Out card with S-Video an composite outputs. This, combined with the standard nForce audio riser cards makes it a great budget HTPC motherboard. I'm seriously contemplating getting the K7N420 Pro, a stick of 256MB PC2700 DDR, an Athlon XP 1600+, a 120GB WD hard drive, a cheap DVD-ROM drive, and putting it in an old case I have laying around. Viola - instant HTPC for under $500.
     
  16. Gordon Moore

    Gordon Moore Second Unit

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  17. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    you guys are right, musta been smoking something when I was thinking DTS was sony's.

    but as far as qaulity DTS is a higher bitrate, so if two samples were to take full advantage of DTS and DD the DTS would come out sounding better. if you do wish to get technical, you can record a crappy quality audio into DTS just to make DD better, I've seen it done a couple times in some gimmick stores. But in the world I like, concrete numbers, DTS will outperform DD.
     
  18. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    Real Name:
    Nick So
     
  19. Tekara

    Tekara Supporting Actor

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    hmm. . .you know I was going to reply to that comment with with an intricate explanation of my previous statement refering to the use of a superior qaulity sample being downconverted to DTS and DD to show that DTS can come out ahead. but screw it, the only difference that matters is that they are just two different methods of compressing audio, the only way that you could ever decide on the better is to listen to the difference yourelf.

    there, that makes me feel better. . . no more endless tiffs over the two, because in the end it doesn't matter a bit, my reciever supports both and in 5years there will be something out there better than either.
     
  20. Scott L

    Scott L Producer

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    Just to put some water on the fire a couple years back when the DD/DTS arguments were really flaming up, a buncha audio heads got together (Mike Knapp being one of them IIRC) and listened to several movies comparing full rate DD and full rate DTS. The equipment was very top of the line and their response was they coudln't tell the difference at all.
    On lesser priced, low to mid-range systems is where subtle differences can become apparent. On my budget HT with a Kenwood receiver and JBL speakers I tend to favor DTS, but again that's just my system. I had a really hard time hearing any differences on the Shrek mix.
     

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