Help! Should I use SPDIF or Analog wires to my receiver? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 02-19-2011, 12:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey,
I got Energy 5.1 Classic speakers. I have not bought a receiver yet,cause I am still researching, depending upon my HTPC configuration. There are 2 ways to get 5.1+ sound on the home theater from your pc:
1) Digitial SPDIF
2) Analog Wires out from your sound card to your receiver

In past, I have used on board realtek card's analog out ports to my home receiver (which I sold). Now I find out, I could get 5.1 correctly if I had correct sound card which encodes the sound in DDL or DTS format (asus xonar dx. Since in market, there are not many receivers which have enough multi-channel analog input, you have to be careful when selecting a receiver (if I go analog route). Question is, has someone tried (preferably one owing asus cards or similar that do encoding) both the analog output and digital spdif to their receiver? Was there a huge difference?
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post #2 of 12 Old 02-19-2011, 01:10 PM
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The only difference would be the sound card doing the D/A conversion, or the receiver doing the D/A conversion. Unless you're spending a lot ($1000+), I doubt there will be an audible difference.

Personally, I'd go HDMI out if that's a possibility. You're guaranteed support for the latest audio codecs (TrueHD, DTS-MA).
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post #3 of 12 Old 02-19-2011, 04:13 PM
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I've done both and analog sounds better on advanced codecs. The advanced codec to DD over SPDIF seems to degrade channel separation. I also had issues with bass management. Multi Channel "analog outs is "native" to the PC, and programs such as ffdshow can allow you to fully customize how your PC decodes/processes the sound.
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post #4 of 12 Old 02-19-2011, 05:54 PM
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You might want to consider bitstreaming the audio via HDMI rather than via S/PDIF or analog. S/PDIF has limitations and quality analog output would require that you buy a dedicated sound card, preferably with RCA jacks rather than mini-phono jacks. You can probably get a graphics card that will allow bitstreaming via HDMI for less than the cost of the sound card. Since you haven't bought a receiver yet you might want to consider one that has HDMI switching that can also decode HD audio formats.
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post #5 of 12 Old 02-20-2011, 04:53 AM
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My vote is for digital output. Everything that touches analog sound has the opportunity to distort it, while digital stays bit-perfect. Even if you got a top-of-the-line soundcard and its digital-to-analog converter's specs looked better ON PAPER than those of your receiver, the distortion you get in the 6 phono plug wires that connect the sound card and receiver would likely override that difference.
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post #6 of 12 Old 02-20-2011, 05:08 AM
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Go digital if you have the option for HDMI, it will play everything. If not go analog as with SPDIF you will not be able to get the full bit depth of TrueHD or DTSHD audio. Those are really the only solutions if you desire full bit rate audio.
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post #7 of 12 Old 02-20-2011, 07:37 AM
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Do the newer AVR's handle all the different bitrates of AAC over HDMI? That was the deal breaker for SPDIF on my system, analog connections sounded much better. I'm using the Motherboards onboard audio, a sound card might be better
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post #8 of 12 Old 02-20-2011, 08:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Servicetech571 View Post

Do the newer AVR's handle all the different bitrates of AAC over HDMI?

It's not possible to send AAC over HDMI. There is no MEDIATYPE for AAC in windows audio stack. First, you have to decode AAC to LPCM. Next, you can send 2.0 LPCM over S/PDIF, for multichannel LPCM you may encode it to AC3 on the fly.
From Asus Essence ST I got better sound than bistream, from Realtek I got worse sound. User have to try his own system setup.

Burned by the Audio Inquisition
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post #9 of 12 Old 02-20-2011, 11:19 AM
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All audio sources on a PC are in digital format to begin with. Keeping them in the digital domain from PC to preamp/processor/A-V receiver will eliminate crosstalk and noise that can infiltrate analog signals. The main difference in sound quality will be determined by the D/A conversion and whatever circuitry handles the analog output signal. If the analog sound from your PC sounds better than the analog from your dedicated audio component, then that's what you should probably use. However, if that's the case then maybe it's time to consider upgrading the head unit in your setup.
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post #10 of 12 Old 02-20-2011, 02:40 PM
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The AAC to LCCPM to SPDIF AC3 conversions is what I think was messing up my sound. Works much better just using the analog output jacks on the HTPC.
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post #11 of 12 Old 10-06-2012, 11:23 AM
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Thanks for asking this question. I am in the process of rebuilding my home theater and now setting up my HTPC, amp and projector.
My system was a simple 2.1 feeding a simple 2 channel amp and powered subwoofer. Now that I'm rebuilding I upgraded to 5.1 and needed a new amp.


I purchased a new Yamaha 5.1 amp with HDMI and Toslink inputs and tried feeding it via Toslink. I use Zoomplayer and FFDSHOW to play hires video files. Lots of problem with the LFE channel when using the Toslink for some reason.
I think the way to go is analog from the sound card to an analog amp. My main gripe is sub is way to quiet with the SPDIF and no amount of tweaking with ffdshow or the amp would solve it.
The HTPC can decode and is easier to tweak.

Since I dont need HDMI switching (feeding the projector direct) and I dont need cheasy DSP (jazz club hall effects) I'm going to return the amp and use a simpler ananlog amp.

Analog over SPDIF for me.
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post #12 of 12 Old 10-06-2012, 10:59 PM
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DAC quality in a PC will not be as good as that in a receiver. That said, forcing digital to digital conversion prior to output could do as much damage.
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