Flac 5.1 through "Sound System" - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 22 Old 05-30-2009, 05:15 PM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
bulkymicrowav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Sorry about the noob question but I've gotta learn some time.

So here's the deal. I recently built a HTPC I've been converting my DVD and a few Blu-Ray to MKV files for playing back on the system. I have an older 5.1 AV receiver with Dolby Digital and DTS decoding. I have 5.1 analog inputs on my receiver as well as optical and coax SPDIF. From what I have read the only way I can get the full 5.1 (multi channel) surround sound from the FLAC files to my sound system is via the analog inputs on the receiver. I am currently hooked up via SPDIF optical and I am able to decode Dolby Digital and DTS but obviously not the FLAC. My question how can I connect my computer to the Analog 5.1 inputs so I can get surround?

Secondary question. When I do upgrade the AV receiver with HDMI will I be able to play the multi channel FLAC files via the HDMI?

Thanks!!
bulkymicrowav is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 22 Old 05-30-2009, 06:25 PM
Advanced Member
 
mslide's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 882
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 13
Can't help you with the analog question, but it is possible to convert the flac streams to AC3 on the fly and send that over spdif. I do exactly this. I ripped all my blu-ray movies to mkv while converting the lossless audio tracks to flac even though I only have a receiver that supports spdif. Why? Because I plan on buying a new receiver one day that supports hdmi. When that day comes, I don't want to rerip anything.

My hardware happens to support Dolby Digital Live, so it's a little easier for me. Whenever I play something, a flac decoder decodes it to 5.1 or 7.1 (or whatever it is) PCM. My audio chip re-encodes it to Dolby Digital for me but I'm pretty sure you could use something like AC3Filter or FFDShow to do that for you in software. I've never done it that way, so I can't really be of more help, but you don't have to give up on spdif quite yet if you don't want to.

Regarding your HDMI question, yes, but you will be decoding them on the fly (in software) and sending the multichannel PCM to your receiver. There will be no loss in quality during this process.
mslide is offline  
post #3 of 22 Old 05-30-2009, 10:53 PM
AVS Club Gold
 
renethx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 15,939
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 77 Post(s)
Liked: 314
What player/audio decoder are you using? You will need to enable FLAC decoding or a separate decoder such as MadFLAC.
renethx is offline  
post #4 of 22 Old 05-31-2009, 01:53 AM
AVS Special Member
 
jong1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: London, UK
Posts: 1,687
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mslide View Post

it is possible to convert the flac streams to AC3 on the fly and send that over spdif. I do exactly this. I ripped all my blu-ray movies to mkv while converting the lossless audio tracks to flac even though I only have a receiver that supports spdif. Why? Because I plan on buying a new receiver one day that supports hdmi. When that day comes, I don't want to rerip anything.

My hardware happens to support Dolby Digital Live, so it's a little easier for me. Whenever I play something, a flac decoder decodes it to 5.1 or 7.1 (or whatever it is) PCM. My audio chip re-encodes it to Dolby Digital for me but I'm pretty sure you could use something like AC3Filter or FFDShow to do that for you in software. I've never done it that way, so I can't really be of more help, but you don't have to give up on spdif quite yet if you don't want to.

Yep, ffdshow, AC3Filter and Reclock can all re-encode any 5.1 channel PCM track to AC3. MadFLAC can be set to convert 7.1 tracks to 5.1 (although many players will do this too).

....and the bitrate used for this is 640kb/s. It is much higher than the 448kb/s or even 384kb/s used on DVD. It is not as good as HD audio but much better than DVD audio, so quite an acceptable compromise until you have an HDMI AVR which supports multi-channel PCM.
jong1 is offline  
post #5 of 22 Old 05-31-2009, 06:01 AM
Advanced Member
 
soulrider4ever's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Orange County, NY
Posts: 678
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by bulkymicrowav View Post

Sorry about the noob question but I've gotta learn some time.

So here's the deal. I recently built a HTPC I've been converting my DVD and a few Blu-Ray to MKV files for playing back on the system. I have an older 5.1 AV receiver with Dolby Digital and DTS decoding. I have 5.1 analog inputs on my receiver as well as optical and coax SPDIF. From what I have read the only way I can get the full 5.1 (multi channel) surround sound from the FLAC files to my sound system is via the analog inputs on the receiver. I am currently hooked up via SPDIF optical and I am able to decode Dolby Digital and DTS but obviously not the FLAC. My question how can I connect my computer to the Analog 5.1 inputs so I can get surround?

Secondary question. When I do upgrade the AV receiver with HDMI will I be able to play the multi channel FLAC files via the HDMI?

Thanks!!

To answer the original question - Yes simply purchase 3 - 1/8" to Stereo RCA cables. They look like this

On the back of your receiver, you should have under the DVD section, labeled MultiCH IN, this is there you plug in. You'll need to plug in the various sections properly so you get your FR/FL/C, etc. mapped to the proper channel.

I'd recommend getting a better soundcard than the builtin motherboard due to noise. Something like a Bluegears b-enspirer is a good start.
soulrider4ever is offline  
post #6 of 22 Old 05-31-2009, 10:06 AM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
bulkymicrowav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jong1 View Post

Yep, ffdshow, AC3Filter and Reclock can all re-encode any 5.1 channel PCM track to AC3. MadFLAC can be set to convert 7.1 tracks to 5.1 (although many players will do this too)

If I use these together will it encode on the fly?
bulkymicrowav is offline  
post #7 of 22 Old 05-31-2009, 10:16 AM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
bulkymicrowav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by soulrider4ever View Post

To answer the original question - Yes simply purchase 3 - 1/8" to Stereo RCA cables. They look like this

On the back of your receiver, you should have under the DVD section, labeled MultiCH IN, this is there you plug in. You'll need to plug in the various sections properly so you get your FR/FL/C, etc. mapped to the proper channel.

I'd recommend getting a better soundcard than the builtin motherboard due to noise. Something like a Bluegears b-enspirer is a good start.

Thank you for your answer, I thought I could use the 1/8" to Stereo RCA but I wasn't sure. Since the outputs from the soundcard/mother board are duel, for the Front/Center, do you know which is "left" or "right". Or will I have to just test them?

Thanks!
bulkymicrowav is offline  
post #8 of 22 Old 05-31-2009, 01:16 PM
AVS Special Member
 
jong1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: London, UK
Posts: 1,687
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by bulkymicrowav View Post

If I use these together will it encode on the fly?

You don't need them all. Any one will do the encoding. It is really user preference which you use.

Personally I always use Reclock, so it is preferable, in fact essential, that Reclock does the encoding just before sending to the sound card. But if you don't use Reclock either ffdshow or AC3Filter could be used (or Dolby Digital Live/DTS-Connect, if your sound card/Motherboard supports one/both in its drivers).
jong1 is offline  
post #9 of 22 Old 05-31-2009, 07:58 PM
Advanced Member
 
soulrider4ever's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Orange County, NY
Posts: 678
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by bulkymicrowav View Post

Thank you for your answer, I thought I could use the 1/8" to Stereo RCA but I wasn't sure. Since the outputs from the soundcard/mother board are duel, for the Front/Center, do you know which is "left" or "right". Or will I have to just test them?

Thanks!

There is a limited number of possibilities, so just go for it - however, going off of memory, I believe - red = right and white = left, and white = subwoofer - however, I may be reversed, I know that once you get 1 connected in properly, then the others follow suit.
soulrider4ever is offline  
post #10 of 22 Old 05-31-2009, 11:15 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Favelle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Victoria, BC, Canada
Posts: 3,786
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by bulkymicrowav View Post

Thank you for your answer, I thought I could use the 1/8" to Stereo RCA but I wasn't sure. Since the outputs from the soundcard/mother board are duel, for the Front/Center, do you know which is "left" or "right". Or will I have to just test them?

Thanks!

Just test them. It can only be one of 2 ways..... white is usually left. For the center/sub, I always get that one wrong, but its easy to tell right away ha ha!

In terms of LFE, size does matter!
Favelle is offline  
post #11 of 22 Old 06-01-2009, 03:52 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Mark_A_W's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 8,110
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Encoding a lossless format, like FLAC, to lossy AC3 is madness.

Just run the RCA cables listen unmolested.

Loving my Electric Bike!!
Mark_A_W is offline  
post #12 of 22 Old 06-01-2009, 04:44 AM
AVS Special Member
 
jong1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: London, UK
Posts: 1,687
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark_A_W View Post

Encoding a lossless format, like FLAC, to lossy AC3 is madness.

Just run the RCA cables listen unmolested.

Well I'd have to disagree with that. It is a judgement call for sure and for some it may not be right, but it is not madness.

1. People know they have to get rid of that old SD TV to benefit from HD; They should not assume their old AVR and speaker combo is inevitably going to be up to the job of HD audio. Many home amplifiers, speakers and the acoustic environment in which they are placed are simply not able to show off the benefits of lossless audio over full bit rate AC3. Many are really cheap and taylored to offering acceptable DVD audio. It will not be possibly to determine whether AC3 or even a good quality analogue input is best in a blind trial.

2. Motherboard digital to analogue converters and even those on most "gamer" sound cards are very poor. They are worse even than the DACs on basic AVRs and MUCH worse than a good quality AVR. Since digital to analogue conversion probably has the biggest impact on sound quality before it is delivered to the speakers it is not a good idea to use these. To get good analogue playback you really need to buy a good quality "audiophile" sound card and whilst this will work for some it is not cheap and may not yield much if any benefit if fed e.g. into a cheap "integrated" AVR/speaker set.

3. Many AVRs bypass all equalisation/room correction etc. when fed with an analogue input. In the tough accoustic environment of many living rooms this could severly impact quality too.

So, yes, going analogue is worth considering. But if you are just stepping up to HD from DVD it may be quite OK to:

- future proof by buying a video card that can do multi-channel PCM over HDMI (like the ATI 4xxx series)
- appreciate the wonder of HD video over horrible old DVD!
- appreciate the improved quality of 640kb/s AC3 over 480kb/s or, even worse, 384kb/s on DVD
- save up for a better, HD quality, AVR that can accept HD audio over HDMI.
jong1 is offline  
post #13 of 22 Old 06-01-2009, 04:56 AM
AVS Special Member
 
Mark_A_W's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 8,110
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jong1 View Post

1. People know they have to get rid of that old CRT to benefit from HD;


Well I'd have to disagree with that.

I have 4 fully HD capable CRT displays in the house (CRT projector, 1080i 100hz CRT 76cm tele, and two 24" CRT monitors).

Loving my Electric Bike!!
Mark_A_W is offline  
post #14 of 22 Old 06-01-2009, 05:39 AM
AVS Special Member
 
jong1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: London, UK
Posts: 1,687
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark_A_W View Post

Well I'd have to disagree with that.

I have 4 fully HD capable CRT displays in the house (CRT projector, 1080i 100hz CRT 76cm tele, and two 24" CRT monitors).

Fair enough! And there are some old SD flat panels out there too.

What I meant was that people understand they need to move from an SD (normally CRT) TV to an HDTV to benefit from HD, yet many just assume their old audio enviroment will automatically be capable of getting the best out of HD audio.
jong1 is offline  
post #15 of 22 Old 06-02-2009, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
Newbie
 
bulkymicrowav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
I really appreciate everyone's input. I was able to successfully encode the multi channel FLAC to AC3 on the fly (so much nicer than the stereo I was getting). And I just bought the 3.5mm to RCA stereo and will be hooking that up some time this week.

My last question is mostly of personal opinion, Would you be able to tell the difference between say, a Dolby Digital AC3 stream and a DTS HD converted to FLAC then re processed on AC3?

I know there is huge difference between an analog FLAC and a compressed AC3 FLAC but having never heard a real DTS HD or similar media I don't know if I would tell the difference between the DD and reprocessed AC3.

Thanks!
bulkymicrowav is offline  
post #16 of 22 Old 06-02-2009, 12:11 PM
AVS Special Member
 
jong1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: London, UK
Posts: 1,687
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by bulkymicrowav View Post

I really appreciate everyone's input. I was able to successfully encode the multi channel FLAC to AC3 on the fly (so much nicer than the stereo I was getting). And I just bought the 3.5mm to RCA stereo and will be hooking that up some time this week.

Great. Please let us know how it goes!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bulkymicrowav View Post

My last question is mostly of personal opinion, Would you be able to tell the difference between say, a Dolby Digital AC3 stream and a DTS HD converted to FLAC then re processed on AC3?

I know there is huge difference between an analog FLAC and a compressed AC3 FLAC but having never heard a real DTS HD or similar media I don't know if I would tell the difference between the DD and reprocessed AC3.

First there is the question of the bit rate of the DD track. If the DD track is 640kb/s then there really should be no difference in quality between 640kb/s pre-encoded and 640kb/s encoded on the fly; There is no benefit to being able to do the encoding "offline". However, studios can use different mixes for different tracks. So it is possible the sound will be noticeably different.
jong1 is offline  
post #17 of 22 Old 06-02-2009, 08:59 PM
AVS Special Member
 
JerryW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Location, Location
Posts: 1,012
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by jong1 View Post

Great. Please let us know how it goes!

First there is the question of the bit rate of the DD track. If the DD track is 640kb/s then there really should be no difference in quality between 640kb/s pre-encoded and 640kb/s encoded on the fly; There is no benefit to being able to do the encoding "offline". However, studios can use different mixes for different tracks. So it is possible the sound will be noticeably different.

There was a guy who did some listening tests over on hydrogen audio and he found an enormous amount of quality variation between different AC3 encoders. His testing wasn't formal double-blind and it was limited to a single audio sample (the castanets sample regularly used to test audio encoders). His impression was that the commercial AC3 encoders available to him were significantly higher quality than the free encoders.

I have no idea if ac3filter uses an ac3 encoder of higher quality than that one user was testing - I just wanted to point out that not all AC3 encoders are created equal.

Copyright is not property, it is merely a temporary loan from the public domain.
JerryW is offline  
post #18 of 22 Old 06-02-2009, 09:26 PM
Advanced Member
 
soulrider4ever's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Orange County, NY
Posts: 678
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jong1 View Post


2. Motherboard digital to analogue converters and even those on most "gamer" sound cards are very poor. They are worse even than the DACs on basic AVRs and MUCH worse than a good quality AVR. Since digital to analogue conversion probably has the biggest impact on sound quality before it is delivered to the speakers it is not a good idea to use these. To get good analogue playback you really need to buy a good quality "audiophile" sound card and whilst this will work for some it is not cheap and may not yield much if any benefit if fed e.g. into a cheap "integrated" AVR/speaker set.

3. Many AVRs bypass all equalisation/room correction etc. when fed with an analogue input. In the tough accoustic environment of many living rooms this could severly impact quality too.

So, yes, going analogue is worth considering. But if you are just stepping up to HD from DVD it may be quite OK to:

- future proof by buying a video card that can do multi-channel PCM over HDMI (like the ATI 4xxx series)
- appreciate the wonder of HD video over horrible old DVD!
- appreciate the improved quality of 640kb/s AC3 over 480kb/s or, even worse, 384kb/s on DVD
- save up for a better, HD quality, AVR that can accept HD audio over HDMI.

I just wanted to add a few notes regarding these comments. On point 2 - while this is generally true, I'd like the OP to know there are exceptions to this. The Lynx Two B card, the Asus Xonar D2x, Auzentech Prelude offer very nice DAC selections that are found in even some 'flagship' AVR's. Some of these cards even have swappable OPAMP's which also effect the analog output, and these cards (except Lynx) are roughly ~$200.

I agree wholeheartedly that the benefit could be minimal into a cheap AVR.

Which brings me to point 3, this is true, the AVR will bypass room correction, etc. However, I know that Vista has it's own room correction settings, and these soundcards do offer Bass Management within windows. Essentially the HTPC using analog out acts as a dedicated preamp.

So that of course leads me into my next point - why even use an AVR, just buy a nice power amplifier (IE - Emotiva UPA-7/XPA-5) and be done with it. This way you are 'future proof' since all speakers are always going to end up analog no matter what.

This post isn't an attack on his points, I felt they were all very good points - but just wanted to make a point that it is possible to get just as good SQ out of analog out as HDMI into an AVR, if not better for the $$ - because of the huge compromises AVR's make in the amplification section (with the exception of the $6k flagship models)

A $200 Asus Xonar D2X plugged into a $800 XPA-5, for $1000 you will have an exceptional sound for the $.
soulrider4ever is offline  
post #19 of 22 Old 06-03-2009, 12:47 AM
AVS Special Member
 
jong1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: London, UK
Posts: 1,687
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by soulrider4ever View Post

I just wanted to add a few notes regarding these comments. On point 2 - while this is generally true, I'd like the OP to know there are exceptions to this. The Lynx Two B card, the Asus Xonar D2x, Auzentech Prelude offer very nice DAC selections that are found in even some 'flagship' AVR's. Some of these cards even have swappable OPAMP's which also effect the analog output, and these cards (except Lynx) are roughly ~$200.

I agree wholeheartedly that the benefit could be minimal into a cheap AVR.

Which brings me to point 3, this is true, the AVR will bypass room correction, etc. However, I know that Vista has it's own room correction settings, and these soundcards do offer Bass Management within windows. Essentially the HTPC using analog out acts as a dedicated preamp.

So that of course leads me into my next point - why even use an AVR, just buy a nice power amplifier (IE - Emotiva UPA-7/XPA-5) and be done with it. This way you are 'future proof' since all speakers are always going to end up analog no matter what.

This post isn't an attack on his points, I felt they were all very good points - but just wanted to make a point that it is possible to get just as good SQ out of analog out as HDMI into an AVR, if not better for the $$ - because of the huge compromises AVR's make in the amplification section (with the exception of the $6k flagship models)

A $200 Asus Xonar D2X plugged into a $800 XPA-5, for $1000 you will have an exceptional sound for the $.

Hey. Thanks for the info and for another suggestion on a way forward. In defence of my comment on sound card quality I feel I must point out I did say
Quote:


To get good analogue playback you really need to buy a good quality "audiophile" sound card

and I'd say the cards you mention fall somewhere in that category!
jong1 is offline  
post #20 of 22 Old 06-03-2009, 06:59 AM
Advanced Member
 
soulrider4ever's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Orange County, NY
Posts: 678
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
^^ You certaintly did, I know

Seriously, if you ever get a chance to try that combo - I doubt you'll ever think twice about going back to even a upper midrange receiver.
soulrider4ever is offline  
post #21 of 22 Old 06-03-2009, 10:36 AM
AVS Special Member
 
jong1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: London, UK
Posts: 1,687
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 12
It does make life complicated though if you have more than one multi-channel source.
jong1 is offline  
post #22 of 22 Old 06-03-2009, 11:12 AM
Advanced Member
 
soulrider4ever's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Orange County, NY
Posts: 678
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jong1 View Post

It does make life complicated though if you have more than one multi-channel source.

Agreed, and a good point. However, if you are able to consolidate w/e devices into the HTPC. Your radio/TV/DVD/Blu-Ray/CD/MP3, plus those soundcards do have at least 1 digital IN - so if you have a device you can't incorporate for w/e reason, at least you have that

Also, a simple 'Y' splitter off the amp could be used if you HAD to
soulrider4ever is offline  
Reply Home Theater Computers

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off