Best connection method? Fairly high-end HTPC setup. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 09-19-2008, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi everyone. I am sitting here writing this on the best hardware I've ever had in a home theater (probably small change to some of you high end folks!) but I'm happy with it. What I'd like to do is make sure I'm doing this the best way possible. (I also know that "best" can be quite an opinion in this HTPC world.)

So, my HTPC is nothing to write home about but it's working well. What I'm trying to do is connect this to my A/V gear in the best way possible. I had a thread a while back about how to hook it up to my Pioneer Elite. I ended up using DVI>HDMI>Right into the back of the TV.

So the main components here are the HTPC (using onboard SoundMax AD1988B chipset) using optical SPDIF over TOSLink to my Pioneer Elite 84txsi. The AVR then is connected to a 5.1 Klipsch Reference setup. (No TV speakers of course) No HDMI video passes through the AVR. (Although I do have an HDMI connector from AVR to TV for anything else the AVR handles (DVD, Wii, etc))

So my main operation here is to use the HTPC connected to the Pioneer Elite, using the Elite reciever for audio. Second would be watching cable TV off the TV's tuner, passing audio via optical down to the AVR. My main concern is that I am not using my connection options the best way possible.
1. Should I try combining audio and video on my HDMI cables?
2. Should I try running video through the 84txsi AVR?
2a. Then how do I config the AVR not to overscan, etc?
2b. Would i have to worry about quality loss then?
3. Should I just use analog connections from HTPC to AVR?
3a. I think this because I can't send the 84txsi HD formats.
3b. Quality concerns? What about the cheap DAC the onboard sound uses?
3c. Should I do some strange combo of digital and analog connections?

Thanks for any input you can provide!

Pioneer lover: Elite TV and AVR | HTPC Masochist | Bit-perfect Audiophile | Networking Guru |
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post #2 of 4 Old 09-19-2008, 01:11 PM
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Currently, the best you can achieve is to use an ATI 4650 HDMI video to connect your computer to your AVR via HDMI. You will be able to get 48 Khz 16 Bit 7.1 Channel PCM audio with that.

In a few weeks Asus and perhaps Auzentech will introduce an HDMI audio card that will allow you to bitstream every audio coded directly to your receiver losslessly. That will be the ultimate solution as you can not get better than “Truly Lossless”.

Please note that optical once offered the best sound available at that time. Now, HDMI is the “ONLY” connection that can offer “Truly Lossless” audio. 7.1 Channel Analog rca outputs can provide “High quality analog sound”. However, it still is not “truly” lossless.

If you are not using HDMI exclusively, you are not “using your connection options the best way possible”.
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post #3 of 4 Old 09-19-2008, 01:20 PM
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Your connections appear optimal as it is. Running video from the HTPC through the AVR would only degrade audio (slightly) and possibly introduce issues, with no benefits. Analog audio would be alright for HD audio codecs, but in that case make sure you use a high quality audio board instead of the onboard audio, or you may end up worse off than with legacy SPDIF.
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post #4 of 4 Old 09-21-2008, 03:49 PM - Thread Starter
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mpg & dj, thanks for the responses.

What I've got now is an MSI 8500GT with an HDMI output. It allows me to plug a 2-wire SPDIF connection into the card itself, and will then carry SPDIF over HDMI. I fail to see how this is superior in any way except reducing the cable count by 1. mpgxsvcd, I am guessing you mean that the 4650's HDMI output is essentially its own sound card. I read that whole lossless audio thread, and now I'm thinking you're right - wait for the auzentech or go with the ASUS Xonar.

Seriously, it'd be nice to have one fine cable passing lossless pure waveform audio to my receiver, and 1080p video as well. But, if it takes 2, who cares?

Now, my next HTPC tasks are:
1. determine how to get DXVA to really work with my 1080p MKV's.
2. Figure out why I can't get 5.1 audio in games, only movies, via SPDIF.

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