Recommendations for high-quality audio setup - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 11-19-2008, 04:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi all,

I have recently upgraded my speakers and thus would like to hear some recommendations from you of how I should set up my HTPC to get the best possible audio experience.

I have my HTPC which is running Vista. I am using Winamp to play back my music but will, however, change this if any other options are better.

I have the HTPC connected to my surround-receiver in two ways currently, but I wish to only use one of the options:

1) Auzentech X-Fi Prelude 7.1 connected with 3x analogue minijack - RCA cables. Connected to Pre-in on receiver.
2) Onboard soundcard (Realtek HD on Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H) connected with TOSlink to optical in on receiver.

I have two front speakers and a powered subwoofer connected to my Marantz SR8500 surround receiver.

My dream is to be able to:
1) Play video media (mainly DVDs and x264) with 2.1 sound. I want to utilize all the fancy sound formats.
2) Play audio media (mainly FLAC, but also still some MP3) with 2.1 sound. This is the part I have had trouble with so far. I cannot get my subwoofer to help my speakers with the LFE. Again, I wish for the highest possible quality.

Please, any recommendations, experiences, thoughts are more than welcome.
Thanks in advance.

Best regards
Kenneth Fuglsang
Denmark
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post #2 of 5 Old 11-19-2008, 07:32 AM
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The reason you cannot seem to get 2.1 with music is that music is typically stereo (2.0) unless it is a multichannel mix like many SACD or DVD-A recordings are.

As such your HTPC will send out a 2.0 signal unless you happen to have a soundcard that will perform bass management which yours may or may not do - the card you have is a pretty powerful card and if you dig around in it you might find a way to make it handle the bass management. There is also a possibility you might find that Vista offers bass management in the Properties for the playback device.

If you cannot find any way to perform bass management on 2.0 sources in the HTPC then it is up to your Marantz to perform this function and according to the specs I saw on the Marantz web site it does not have this capability.

This is most likely why you have the experience you mention. You either have no bass management in the HTPC (most likely) or you have not found it. Your AVR does not support analog bass management from what I see so you will not be likely to get anything other than 2.0 output.

I know this is not what you wanted to hear but it may very well be accurate. I am not sure what if any sound cards will perform bass management but that is your best bet - if the card you have does not then it is unlikely any other will. I checked the ASUS D2X and did not see any mention of bass management.

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post #3 of 5 Old 11-19-2008, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for your thorough answer.

In the meantime, I have gotten it to play 2.1 through the TOSlink cable. Unfortunately, the sound is not as detailed using the DACs in the Marantz SR8500 compared to when I use the Preludes DAC's to the pre-in

The only good thing about using the TOSlink is, that the setup on the PC is "plug and play".
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post #4 of 5 Old 11-19-2008, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subzero_dk View Post

Unfortunately, the sound is not as detailed using the DACs in the Marantz SR8500 compared to when I use the Preludes DAC's to the pre-in

I often see this kind of comment and am simply amazed. The Marantz piece is a well regarded unit from what I know and should not be a problem. I do not know exactly what DACs and Op-Amps it uses but there really should be no difference. In fact I would expect it to sound better if there was any meaningful difference.

I have an Integra DTC-9.8 that has very high quality Burr-Brown DACs and I cannot imagine a sound card having better fidelity. Similar, yes, but not better.

You might ensure that there is no molestation of the signal taking place. A good example of this would be if the SPDIF output of 16/44.1 CD data is being resampled to 16/48 which can introduce artifacts that degrade the quality. If so then this has nothing to do with your AVR and can be addressed by making sure the SPDIF data is not being resampled.

At any rate the important thing is that you do have a better understanding of what is happening and can make decisions with more information.

Good luck!

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post #5 of 5 Old 11-19-2008, 11:23 AM - Thread Starter
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You might very well be right, that I can get a similar - og even better - quality from the Marantz.

I'm trying to figure how I can verify the sample rate that is sent to the Marantz. I have checked 44.1KHz and 96KHz in the "Supported Formats" tab of the playback device in Vista where it by default only had 48KHz.

Haven't had a chance to listen properly to it yet, but until now, I haven't noticed that it made any difference.
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