Which sound card for HTPC

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Reginald Trent, Feb 8, 2006.

  1. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    My pc currently has a soundblaster and I'm think about using my Pc for HT. So which card do I need for to pass bitstream DD/DTS to my reciever?
     
  2. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Reginald:

    I picked up the HDA Digital X Mystique 7.1 Gold card and use it in my HTPC. It has a S/PDIF out on it so you can pass your bitstream over to your receiver.

    Parker
     
  3. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    Which model? If the SoundBlaster has digital DIN, you just need a mini-jack to RCA converter to plug that into any coax connection. Plus the software needs to recognize that the SoundBlaster provides a S/PDIF interface.
     
  4. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    Ken,

    I have the Soundblaster Live 24 Advanced HD audio 100db/Dolby Digtal/96Khz/7.1
     
  5. Jamie.G

    Jamie.G Auditioning

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    There is a new card that does live DTS conversion. I forget the name but that would be my pick for card since you can finally do 5.1 in games over Spdif.

    I'm currently using a ChainTek AV-710 and regret buying it but not enough yet for that DTS card.

    I don't think Soundblasters cards are very good for HTPC. They lack features even budget cards have and in order to have them on a Soundblaster you need to pay extra for external devices...wheras they are onboard even budget cards and onboard cards.
     
  6. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Like I said the HDA will allow you to just plug in your HTPC to your receiver via RCA coax or TOSLINK and then let your receiver do the decoding for you. So if you have a preamp or receiver that can decode DTS, DTS-ES, etc. then the S/PDIF out is the way to go. If you want you can also output the card straight to your amp for 7.1 audio, DTS, etc. It is a really nice card for under $90 bucks.

    Here is a nice review of the card with all its features.

    Parker
     
  7. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    Thanks Parker,

    I'm leaning heavily toward your suggestion. It just a matter of getting it for the best price.
     
  8. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    I got mine from J&R Music a couple of months ago. It was less than $90 with shipping. It is also available from Amazon.
     
  9. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    Looks like you're supposed to get this extra Digital I/O module which adds S/PDIF in/out. It's around 20 bucks. (Apparently these are sometimes sold with the SB; make sure you don't have this in a box somewhere.) There's already a digital jack on the SB card which connects to the module; dunno if you can get the jack to work without the extra module.

    If you don't mind spending a bit more, you might be better off with an all-in-one solution that others here recommend.
     
  10. Harris_C

    Harris_C Stunt Coordinator

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  11. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Harris:

    Glad to see you got some of those in. I wanted to talk about them but wasn't sure if you had them or not. This sounds like the card to get. Using a S/PDIF out what would be the difference between the Mystique and this new Explosion?
     
  12. Brian Osborne

    Brian Osborne Stunt Coordinator

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    This may be a stupid question, but why do I need a sound card with all that decoding and up converting of the sound when most Amps do that for you? I am looking to get a new soundcard, currently have a Soundblaster live Plat. I bought a few years ago to do some sound recording/editing. Is there a card that will do limited or no processing inside the computer and leave that processing to the Amp? I thought that the inside of the computer would be a nightmare of interference.
     
  13. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    The thing is, there are (at least) two kinds of sound sources, and two kinds of speaker systems:

    Sound sources:
    - Already-encoded DD or DTS, mostly from DVDs
    - Multi-channel audio, mostly from games

    Speaker systems:
    - Home theater receivers, which take DD/DTS directly through a single S/PDIF connection; digital.
    - Computer speaker setups, which take 5.1 or 7.1 output separately for each channel, using three or four wires; analog.

    So it depends on what you want to play, and what you've got to play it. Playing DVDs on your receiver needs digital passthrough. If your soundcard has digital out, that probably works just fine. But to play a game on the same receiver using the same connection in surround sound you need live Dolby or DTS encoding. The card Harris mentioned is advertised as the first to do DTS.

    If you have computer speakers that don't do DD and/or DTS, you need the sound card to decode into analog. Almost all decode DD, and more and more do DTS. And yes, I suppose that can be noisy.
     
  14. David Andrews

    David Andrews Auditioning

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    The best chioce for the home theater environment is a MB or sound card with DDL.
    I have the X-Mytique and it's everything I was after.

    Computer audio encoding comes in two flavors:
    Software encoding- accomplished by your systems CPU
    Dolby Digital Live hardware encoding is accomplished onboard the soundcard or MB without involving the CPU in the process.

    Software encoding will render the sound format as it exists, As an example… DVD=5.1 MP3=2.0
    So, software can’t deliver 5.1 from am MP3 file because the 6 channel information isn’t there. Software encoding will deliver 5.1 surround from a DVD because it was mastered in 5.1.
    The onboard Realtek can do that fine. So will SoundBlaster, or TurtleBeach, or SoundStorm, or…?

    Dolby Digital Live is a licensed technology, and there are only a few manufacturers who have stepped up to the plate.

    DDL hardware encoding effectively masters ANY sound produced by your computer into your choice of formats up to 7.1 surround..

    Listen to a glorious movie soundtrack in 5.1, and the listen to a favorite MP3, and tell me your satisfied.
    Let’s take for example an artists release that was mastered in 5.1 like Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits. Copy that to your library and you’ve got an MP3, 2.0,

    The X-Mystique will allow you to trim the output of each speaker, which results in the music emanating from the center of the room, completely disassociated from the speakers.

    IMHO, DDL is the only choice for a home theater/ entertainment environment where MP3 files figure prominently

    Hope that helps
    [​IMG]
     
  15. Reginald Trent

    Reginald Trent Screenwriter

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    My Soundblaster Live has 4 outputs for mini jack connectors. My reciever has inputs for for these. Questions is....will I get DD or DTS if I use these connections with my reciever?
     
  16. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Reginald:

    I read a little bit about this card and it doesn't look like it would pass DTS for you.
     
  17. JamesED

    JamesED Second Unit

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    I'm really curious about this card. Would it be appropriate for gaming, too? I've been waiting for Dolby Digital Live every since Soundstorm died out.
     
  18. Harris_C

    Harris_C Stunt Coordinator

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    Parker,

    So what do you think? Why would this not work?

    I think it works rather well for gaming personally.

    The Xi-Fi does pretty well too.
     
  19. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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    Harris:

    I love the Mystique that I have but I was curious as to the difference over S/PDIF between the two. Would the DTS connect work over the S/PDIF for two channel audio to convert it to 5.1? For example if the output fromt he HTPC is 2 channel audio would it convert this to 5.1 DTS before it hits my receiver?
     
  20. Parker Clack

    Parker Clack Schizophrenic Man
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