Originally Posted by Mark_A_W
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.