Would appreciate a little sound (card) advice

Discussion in 'Computers' started by ChristopherDAC, Sep 9, 2005.

  1. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    Greetings all:
    I have a sizable collection of LaserDiscs, and I would like to be able to record music and other audio from them conveniently. Unfortunately, at present I have only the integrated audio device on my motherboard, which only supports stereo analog input.
    As at least three-fourths of the audio I want to record is in 16-bit 44.1 kHz PCM [the CD-audio data stream buried on most LDs since the mid-80s], and my player has a digital output, I would like to get an audio device which would accept S/P-DIF input which I could then dump to a .WAV file, preferably without any reclocking or other processing. Fiddling endlessly with the recording levels in order to strike a balance between dynamic range and headroom is driving me bats, when I know I could make a bit-for-bit perfect copy instead, given the equipment.
    Does anyone have a recommendation for such a device, preferably inexpensive? I am running Windows XP Pro on an AMD Sempron platform, Soyo motherboard with plenty of expansion slots, mounted in an old Dell case which is mostly empty space by this point.
     
  2. Chet_F

    Chet_F Supporting Actor

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    Do you need a SPDIF In (2-pin)?

    Here's one that's cheap:
    http://www.mdofpc.com/onlinestore/cm...d-p-11605.html

    I don't know if that will work for you.

    pricewatch.com is a good place to search for good prices. Just be careful who you order from - check their feedback.

    Good luck.
     
  3. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    Well, that's got SPDIF input, but it's inside the case, not an external connector, and I've already got that -- in fact I think the integrated audio on my m/b is exactly the same as that stand-alone card! If I could think of an easy way to use that internal connector, I might do it, but what I really want is a TosLink or RCA or some kind of mini-jack to accept a digital feed from outside.
    I'm not nearly so concerned about digital output, because my preferred modus operandi would be to burn the .WAV files to CD once I have them as I want them, and then play those back with my regular audio equipment. The point of this excercise is less to preserve perfectly what the recording engineer intended [though it would, hopefully, have that effect too], but to keep me from having to re-do his job. From that point of view I can live with analog output if I have to choose one or the other.
    To put it another way, while most people have the litmus test of "can I play back a dtsCD in my CD-ROM drive, feed it through the digital out to my reciever, and get dts?", mine is more like "can I play a dtsCD or dtsLD on my LDP, pipe that into the box, record it as a .WAV, burn that to a CD, put that in my LDP again, run it to my reciever, and get dts?". That's the kind of thing I want.

    Anybody know one?
     
  4. Chet_F

    Chet_F Supporting Actor

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    "can I play a dtsCD or dtsLD on my LDP, pipe that into the box, record it as a .WAV, burn that to a CD, put that in my LDP again, run it to my reciever, and get dts?"

    I don't know a great deal about home theater equip, or converting to another type of media. That said I don't think you can get that very last part, i.e. 'and get dts'. I would think once you convert it to a .WAV file, you are essentially downgrading the audio to 2 channel 16 bit 44kHhz stereo. You can't take that sound and convert it back to a DTS format and get what you originally started with, i.e. the DTS sound from the DVD or LD at it's original bitrate.

    Here's something a little closer:
    http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showd...number=180-970

    But this is used to convert analog sound to digital. I don't think that's going to help you.

    You'll love this nest link. This guy built his own digital to analog converter:
    http://sound.westhost.com/project85.htm

    That brings about another question....what type of connection do you have for your SPDIF?

    I think I found what you need, not positive though, take a look:
    http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_u...2496-main.html

    Hope that helps.
     
  5. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    The audio stored on a dtsCD is formatted as 2-channel, 16-bit, 44.1 kHz PCM -- that is, the dts stream is [if you will] camouflaged as a regular Red Book stream in order to get on the CD or LD in the first place. If I record that digitally, the .WAV file will contain the pseudo-audio data, and if it's not resampled or otherwise processed it can be played back as DTS. [Note: playing back through a normal DAC as PCM results in a truly evil "black noise" which can damage equipment.]

    Anyway, I'm not looking for a digital-analog convertor, or an analog-digital convertor, because I'm not trying to playback digital files to analog audio or record analog audio to digital files. I can already do those things. What I want to do is catch a PCM stream via SPDIF and dump it to a .WAV file -- digital to digital. For that, I need [I think!] a soundcard with a digital input.
     
  6. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    I have a Soyo motherboard with a C-Media chip, and it came with a tiny card with S/PDIF in/out (both optical and coax) that plugs into the motherboard. It's short; it doesn't reach the PCI slot.

    If you don't have that option, then any soundcard with a S/PDIF in should work. The cheapest one I found at newegg.com was this Turtle Beach -- $50 for the retail version ($2 less for OEM).
     
  7. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    What I need would be one of those cards, then, because my M/B was a discount item, a return which had been checked and found good I think, and it was without any of the extras Soyo describes. Perhaps I can get one from them... I'll have to look into it.
     
  8. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

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    The new Soundblaster X-Fi cards are supposed to allow bitcorrect input/output in the "audio creation mode". They are not the cheapest cards around, but IMO one to watch (the number of transistors of its DSP - 51 million - rival a Pentium 4).

    -Christian
     
  9. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    I was at Fry's today and they seemed to have two models which might do what I want, the Turtle Beach Catalina with optical in and out, and the SIIG Soundwave 7.1 with coax. Now I can use TosLink or RCA indiscriminately since I have both, and I don't make any difference between them; has anybody any experience with either of these?
     
  10. Mike Fassler

    Mike Fassler Supporting Actor

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    im not familiar with the siig card but turtle beach cards are generally pretty good and have decent driver support.
     
  11. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    I picked up the SIIG and I'm playing with it. So far it's not doing exactly what I want, and I can't quite tell why not. On the other hand, I'm not at all sure it won't do it -- if I can find the right instructions!
    At least, while the pseudo-PCM file from the dtsCD "looks" right in a wave editor, the CD I burn fails to trip the decoder.
     
  12. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    After trying to use the SIIG card, I'm going to return it and get the Turtle Beach; the T.B. card comes with a bunch of things I don't really need, but it must have a better user interface than the SIIG. The SIIG uses this "Xear Audio Control Panel" which doesn't really control anything, and it comes bundled with the least useful software package ever and effectively no manual or Help file.
     
  13. ChristopherDAC

    ChristopherDAC Producer

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    Well, the Turtle Beach is definitely a step up in terms of user-friendliness and product support. Be warned: it is not a "full-duplex" device, so selecting the digital audio input renders the outputs unavailable except for passing through the input signal, and with any of the outputs running [including the digital output and all of the line outputs] the digital input is unavailable. Fortunately the user interface enables switching "on-the-fly" of these two states.
     

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