FAQ on bitstream, passthrough, reclock - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 76 Old 11-29-2011, 05:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi guys. Please advise me if you have any further questions you want to be added. Thanks.


1) What are unpacked audio (or raw PCM) or lossless and lossy audio formats?

Uncompressed (unpacked):

PCM, is an exact replication of the studio master, encoded on disc without compression. The benefit to this is that it maintains the purity of the source without any loss of fidelity that may come from compression. This should be expected as is, i.e 96/24 for multichannel, 192/24 for stereo.

However, you may find out such as a kind of PCM on DVD-Audios and SACDs, not on BluRays since it takes too much space on the disk. Most of the time i found only 48/16 or rarely 48/24 PCM on BluRays which means it is down-sampled studio master replication (not compressed but down-graded).

And if a BluRay contains both PCM and any lossless audio (THD or DTS-Master) together, I would prefer second one since it is always 96/24 and once you decode it, you get a 100% identical copy of the original PCM.

Lossless:

Dolby TrueHD or DTSHD Master is a "lossless" compression codec. Although it is compressed to take up less disk space than a PCM track, once decoded it is a bit-for-bit identical to the studio master (at either 16-bit or 24-bit resolution, at the discretion of the studio). It may help to think of it like a ZIP file that holds a PCM track. Once you unzip the file, you get a 100% identical copy of the original PCM, without compromising any sound quality.
BTW flac is an unofficial lossless format.

OK, if I (as rica) have a DTSHD-Master audio , I directly bitstream it to my AVR, but if I have a THD, either I bitstream directly to my AVR and increase the volume level much higher or extract it with madshi's eac3to and remux to a flac mkv so as to get rid of Dolby's "dialog normalization" and leave my AVR's volume level where it has already been.

You will find a perfect article here by Joshua Zyber:

http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/1233

And most of the explanation here is quoted word by word from his another article, thanks Joshua, btw:

http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/1064

Lossy:

For HD: Dolby Digital Plus, DTSHD-HR

For SD: Dolby Digital, DTS

Those are all compressed lossy formats, for more information pls check out Joshua's article.


2) What is bitstreaming, what is bitperfect (bitexact) or non-bitexact pass-through streaming?

Bitstreaming: You pass lossless or lossy audio formats directly to your AVR. (without decoding them.)
Your AVR will decode it of its own decoder and convert this decoded digital PCM to analog PCM over its DAC. If you select "direct or pure" mode of your AVR, it wouldn't touch the audio for post-processing like adding some effects or down-mixing/up-mixing. In this case decoded and converted (to analog) audio will be transmitted directly as is (bitperfect-bitexact) to the AVR's amplifier.
If we are talking on bitexact bitstreaming, we should consider lossless formats only, bitexact bitsreaming of lossy formats is nonsense in this case.


Pass-through streaming: You may pass directly unpacked PCM or decode lossless or lossy formats inside PC via a SW decoder and convert them to analog (over onboard DAC or SB's DAC) or pass as a digital PCM to your AVR's DAC to be converted to analog and amplify later.
Raw or decoded streams, even haven't been touched by a decoder, finally drop into windows' mixer to be down-sampled or up-sampled if we use windows' renderers like direct sound or wave out.

In this case windows' mixer always interfere with the decoded audio. (wasapi shared mode)

Alternatively you will bypass windows' mixer via Wasapi exclusive mode.
In this case windows's mixer cannot interfere with the decoded stream. (wasapi exclusive mode.)

But there are two options which have to be chosen here:

Bitexact. (it should stay as bitexact in AVR as well.)
Or non-bitexact.

3) What is Wasapi exclusive?

Windows introduced a new audio driver starting with Vista: WASAPI (Windows Audio Session API). This is a low latency driver.

WASAPI gives two options for audio rendering - Shared mode and Exclusive mode.

In exclusive mode, you are the only application talking to the audio endpoint in question - all other applications cannot make any noise. This gives the absolutely best performance possible. This means audio is bypassing Windows' mixer.
As WASAPI in exclusive mode talks straight with the driver of the audio device, the stream sent to this device must match the capabilities of this device in terms of bit depth, sample rate, number of channels and audio format (mostly PCM) otherwise it is silence. You always get automatic sample rate switching using WASAPI exclusive.

In shared mode, windows' mixer will interfere with audio, which means the main stream will share the endpoint with other applications. In other words, you can still hear Windows sounds, etc.
While using it in shared mode, you must either hope that the Vista machine's audio engine is set to the exact sample rate of your audio, or it will downsample if mixer set up already 44 instead of 48 (or 48 instead of 96)

However, bypassing Windows Mixer typically results in lower latency between decoding/rendering and output, though Windows allows low latency playback through WASAPI shared mode without bypassing the mixer.

source: http://mark-dot-net.blogspot.com/200...th-wasapi.html


4) Why and when we need Wasapi exclusive?

Do we need wasapi exclusive in bitstreaming?

No, because Windows' mixer can not interfare with compressed formats, so you can directly pass compressed audio over SPDIF(for SD lossy formats) or HDMI(for HD lossless or lossy formats and SD lossy formats.) to your receiver to be decoded there. (via appropriate decoders which are able to pass compressed stream to the end-point.)

Do we need Wasapi exclusive for pass-through?

Yes you will need it for sure in this case. I mean if you have a raw PCM or decoded compressed stream to PCM in your hand.
(As stated before even flac is a lossless format, it can not be bitstreamed; you should decode it in your HTPC since no contemporary AVR is able to decode it.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by vladd View Post

As mentioned earlier in the thread, FLAC can only be decoded by AVRs (that support it) when playing a file directly from a USB device or the network. Even then, it must be an audio only FLAC file (no video like in an MKV container). It is not possible to bitstream FLAC because there is no specification that supports FLAC bitstreaming via SPDIF (which probably couldn't support more than 2 channel anyway) or HDMI. Even if the AVR could detect and decode FLAC via HDMI, there is no way to output it in bitstream format from the HTPC.


Windows' mixer always tries to interfere with raw pcm (or decoded audio to pcm) and try to down sample or up sample it.

To avoid the mixer interferes with the audio, we should select Wasapi exclusive mode in ReClock.

You may overcome Windows's mixer selecting one of these different options:

1) You can pass-through stream over ReClock as non-bit exact streaming,
or
2) You can pass-through stream as bitexact(bitperfect) over ReClock.
In this case, we should consider unpacked PCM or lossless formats. Bit exact streaming of lossy formats is nonsense sure.

5) How do we understand we are streaming pass-through in wasapi exclusive mode or shared mode?

Easy to understand:

1) While playing your media, just play with Windos's mixer's volume slide bar. If the volume is increasing or decreasing, you are in WASAPI shared mode.

2) Just try to play any windows sound while playing your media. If you hear clicked Windows sound, you are still in WASAPI shared mode.

3) If you are in WASAPI exclusive mode, you will never hear any Windows sound or playing with Windows' mixer slide bar doesn't affect the volume level.


Or so as to make sure 100 percent:
Quote:



For further test:

Configure Window's mixer to worst quality:




Open sample mkv (96_24),


If you see on your AVR's info display (in my case menu > info > audio input signal)i it means WASAPI SHARED MODE:




If you see this (assuming you leave the mixer config same as above), it means you are listening bitexact streaming; WASAPI EXCLUSIVE:





6) What are the requirements for bitstreaming or pass-though streaming?


Requirements for bitstreaming:

SW:
1) A media player which you can easily select your preferred filters like MPC-HC.
2) A splitter which is able to recognize all current containers lile m2ts, mpls, mkv and all lossless or lossy formats and split them truly like Lav Splitter. ( or MPC's gabest /matroska splitters together.)
3) An audio decoder which is able to recognize the compressed audio and pass directly to audio renderer. ( like LavAudio or FFDShow.)
4) Any audio renderer. (Wave Out is my selection in this case.)

HW:
For HD+SD audio bitstreaming:
1) Onboard Intel Clarkdale (HDMI 1.3) or Sandybridge (HDMI 1.4)
or nVidia card (which has HDMI 1.3 or HDMI 1.4 out.)
or AMD-Ati card (which has HDMI 1.3 or HDMI 1.4 out.) PLEASE see: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...3#post21525943
2) HDMI cable.
additional note : If you have an HDMI 1.3 compliant previous generation AVR in your hand you can bitstream HD audio formats to your 1.3 compliant AVR via an HDMI to HDMI cable while you are watching 3D BD ; i mean you cand send 3D video over DVI to HDMI cable (or DVI to HDMI adapter plus HDMI to HDMI cable) to your 3D ready PJ at the same time.
3) HDMI 1.3 or 1.4 compliant AVR. (It must be able to decode all current official HD or SD audio formats .ie, If your AVR is just able to decode DTSHD-HR, you can not decode DTSHD-MA. Or even flac is completely a lossless HD format, you can never bitstream it to any AVR because it is not official format and afaik none of those current AVRs will accept it to decode or unpack. So it must be unpacked by a SW decoder inside PC.) Finally your AVR will decode compressed lossy or lossless format you bitstreamed, convert it to analog over its own DAC and amplify it.

For SD audio bitstreaming only:
1) Onboard SPDIF or Optical output,
or an external audio card which has SPDIF or optical output. (like Creative) ) (btw SPDIF is limited with 5.1 digital bitstreaming) (Is there any difference between onboard spdıf or SB's spdif? No.)
2) SPDIF or optical cable.
3) An AVR which has SPDIF/optical input. (It must be able to decode all official SD audio formats like ac3, dts) or an satellite speaker system for PC like Logitech or Creative.

Requirements for pass-through streaming of unpacked PCM or decoded lossless or lossy audio (BITEXACT or NOT)

SW:
1) A media player which you can easily select your preferred filters like MPC-HC.
2) A splitter which is able to recognize all current containers lile m2ts, mpls, mkv and split them truly like Lav Splitter. (or MPC's gabest /matroska splitters together.)
3) An audio decoder which is able to decode compressed audio and pass directly to audio rendereres like LavAudio or ffdshow. (if your container is mkv, you can directly connect your PCM -raw or converted- audio to ReClock.) (comparing ffdshow with lav in passthrough streaming i'd raher choice lav since it automatically selects the right bitrate.)
4) ReClock adio renderer for both bitexact or non-bitexact wasapi exlusive streaming options.
HW:
For HD+SD audio passthrough streaming:
1) Any mobo which has onboard HDMI output for streaming digital PCM to your AVR. (Any version of HDMI; including HDMI 1.1 and 1.4.)
or any AMD-Ati /nVidia card which has any vesion of HDMI out.
2) Onboard or extrenal sound card's analog outputs. (Onborad DAC is not recommended since they are cheap devices.)
3) HDMI cable or analog cables.
4) Any AVR which has any version of HDMI input . (In this case AVR gets uncompressed PCM and convert it to analog over its own DAC and amplify it.)
or any AVR which has analog inputs or an satellite PC speaker system like Logitech or Creative. (they accept PCM previously converted to analog via DAC of mobo or sound card.)

For SD audio pass-through streaming only:
1) Onboard analog outputs: I wouldn't advise that since onboard DACs are very cheap ones.)
or analog outputs of an external audio card . (like Creative) ) (DACs of external cards always competitive with AVRs DACs.
2) Analog cables.
3) Any 5.1 AVR or an satellite speaker system for PC like Logitech or Creative.


7) How to configure MPC, lav/ffdshow and ReClock for bitstreaming or pass-through streaming?

http://forum.doom9.org/showpost.php?...&postcount=188


8) Do i need bitexact pass-through or should i prefer non-bitexact pass-through with ReClock. (both are wasapi exclusive.)

It's up to you; even we use most modern GPUs with their current drivers, none of them gives the refresh rate 100 % properly.

If we don't touch ReClock's inline config, even it streams in WASAPI exclusive mode, we don't get bitexact streaming but we get most accurate video audio matching and no human ear can distinguish the difference.




Question:

http://forum.doom9.org/showpost.php?...postcount=6961

Response:

http://forum.doom9.org/showpost.php?...postcount=6962

http://forum.doom9.org/showpost.php?...postcount=6963


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post #2 of 76 Old 11-29-2011, 05:32 PM - Thread Starter
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reserved for further extensions.

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post #3 of 76 Old 11-30-2011, 03:35 PM
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Looking forward to the additional info on this. Thanks for creating this FAQ
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post #4 of 76 Old 12-04-2011, 12:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Just completed the first post.

Best.

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post #5 of 76 Old 12-04-2011, 03:46 PM
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well done bro!
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post #6 of 76 Old 12-04-2011, 04:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks Tony.

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post #7 of 76 Old 12-04-2011, 05:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ricabullah View Post

(As stated before even flac is a lossy format, it can not be bitstreamed; you should decode it in your HTPC since no contemporary AVR is able to decode it.).
Windows's mixer always try to interfare raw pcm (or decoded audio to pcm) and try to downsample or upsample it.


Thanks for the guide. However, you should probably correct the quoted but above. FLAC IS lossless. It's just compressed like DTS-HD MA and TrueHD. It is not a lossy format. Many AVRs are able to decode FLAC, but mine at least does so as an audio-only stream through the network.
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post #8 of 76 Old 12-04-2011, 05:29 PM
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i have a theoritical question.

when we have a .mkv files with DTS-HD Master Audio
and we decode the audio stream to lossless pcm trakcs using lav audio + tmt5,

& we also configure reclock as described (wasapi exclusive,origal speed,slave reference to clock audio) for pcm bitexact


is this sound bit-exact , too?



Quote:
Originally Posted by fitbrit View Post

Thanks for the guide. However, you should probably correct the quoted but above. FLAC IS lossless. It's just compressed like DTS-HD MA and TrueHD. It is not a lossy format. Many AVRs are able to decode FLAC, but mine at least does so as an audio-only stream through the network.

curious about that, i also think that flac is lossless
but i have not heard again that you can bitstream flac files
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post #9 of 76 Old 12-04-2011, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fitbrit View Post

Thanks for the guide. However, you should probably correct the quoted but above. FLAC IS lossless. It's just compressed like DTS-HD MA and TrueHD. It is not a lossy format. Many AVRs are able to decode FLAC, but mine at least does so as an audio-only stream through the network.

Thanks i wrote "lossy" instead of "lossless" by mistake and i corrected. This is clear since you will find my another quote somewhere else here:
Quote:


Or even flac is completely a lossless HD format, you can never bitstream it to any AVR because it is not official format and afaik none of those current AVRs will accept it to decode or unpack.

And thanks for the caution on "many AVRs are able to decode flac", i didn't know?

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post #10 of 76 Old 12-04-2011, 05:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony_Montana View Post

i have a theoritical question.

when we have a .mkv files with DTS-HD Master Audio
and we decode the audio stream to lossless pcm trakcs using lav audio + tmt5,

& we also configure reclock as described (wasapi exclusive,origal speed,slave reference to clock audio) for pcm bitexact


is this sound bit-exact , too?

Sure, it is.

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post #11 of 76 Old 12-04-2011, 06:31 PM
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When I follow your setup, I have a few files that I get a small dropout in audio even when passing through digital audio. I haven't fully investigated every file type, but the main culprits seems to be those trollhd 1080i .ts files. Any ideas?
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post #12 of 76 Old 12-05-2011, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Sorry i don't have any idea but you might give it a go with this 1080i sample:

http://www.mediafire.com/?het2xcoug60hvni

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post #13 of 76 Old 12-05-2011, 12:48 PM
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In two places in the passthrough section, you mention analog outputs are not recommended because the onboard dacs are "cheap". I think this is one of the most often repeated misconceptions going.

For example, the realtek ALC889a is a very common processor that supports 7.1, 24 bit output up to 192khz. According to the spec sheet, it has an SNR of 108 db and has a thd of .003%. What's cheap about that? If you compare it to a burr brown dsd 1791 (supposedly an audiophile quality dac), the bb also supports 24 bit, 192khz sample rate, and has an SNR of 113 db and a thd of .001%. Your speakers will almost certainly make more of a difference to the sound quality than that.

I'm not trying to start a religious argument (and certainly not in this thread), nor am I saying that the BB is not a better dac - just that the analog outputs may be fine for many people and lav filters + reclock will give you bit exact sound with those outputs just the same as if you bitstream to an avr. If you have an amplifier or an older receiver that doesn't support newer formats like truehd or dts-hd master, this is a perfectly OK solution.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbordas View Post

I'm not trying to start a religious argument (and certainly not in this thread), nor am I saying that the BB is not a better dac - just that the analog outputs may be fine for many people and lav filters + reclock will give you bit exact sound with those outputs just the same as if you bitstream to an avr. If you have an amplifier or an older receiver that doesn't support newer formats like truehd or dts-hd master, this is a perfectly OK solution.

Sure it is. I just meant it is not advisable to use onboard outputs if you have a Sound Blaster in your hand. But if not, this is an option.
Some years ago (i think it was 2008), i opened a thread on avsforum on bitperfect streaming of BD audio formats. I was using an Xi-Fi and i compared it with onboard ALC. (yes should have been a plecebo )

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post #15 of 76 Old 12-05-2011, 03:07 PM - Thread Starter
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@fitbrit,

After googling again, i haven't found any AVR yet which has real in-built FLAC decoder? Denon 1912 ????

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post #16 of 76 Old 12-05-2011, 03:11 PM
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good read. Thanks.

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post #17 of 76 Old 12-05-2011, 03:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ricabullah View Post

Sorry i don't have any idea but you might give it a go with this 1080i sample:

http://www.mediafire.com/?het2xcoug60hvni

I might have jumped the gun. It appears to be only one file that I've ever had a problem with. Audible drop every 10 seconds or so, but only with reclock as my audio renderer.
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post #18 of 76 Old 12-05-2011, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks @Mfusick!

@clubwerks, really weird? No issues here.
Under external filters, block lavaudio: lavsplitter automatically connects to reclock directly. Pls give it a go with this method. (set your screen resolution to 59.)

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post #19 of 76 Old 12-06-2011, 02:39 AM
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for lpcm : it's better to block lav audio or just uncheck the lpcm box?
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post #20 of 76 Old 12-06-2011, 02:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mbordas View Post

In two places in the passthrough section, you mention analog outputs are not recommended because the onboard dacs are "cheap". I think this is one of the most often repeated misconceptions going.

For example, the realtek ALC889a is a very common processor that supports 7.1, 24 bit output up to 192khz. According to the spec sheet, it has an SNR of 108 db and has a thd of .003%. What's cheap about that? If you compare it to a burr brown dsd 1791 (supposedly an audiophile quality dac), the bb also supports 24 bit, 192khz sample rate, and has an SNR of 113 db and a thd of .001%. Your speakers will almost certainly make more of a difference to the sound quality than that.

I'm not trying to start a religious argument (and certainly not in this thread), nor am I saying that the BB is not a better dac - just that the analog outputs may be fine for many people and lav filters + reclock will give you bit exact sound with those outputs just the same as if you bitstream to an avr. If you have an amplifier or an older receiver that doesn't support newer formats like truehd or dts-hd master, this is a perfectly OK solution.

I have a computer with the 889a sound chipset. It sounds greatly inferior to both my Asus Xonar Essence STX and the HDMI output of my AMD (which is also Realtek). In tests the 889a tests inferior too, far lower performance than the published specs would lead to believe. Most DACs are indistinguishable IMHO but you chose a bad example with the 889a.
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post #21 of 76 Old 12-06-2011, 03:07 AM
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The FAQ needs a rewrite into clear English. The technical explanations would be easier to follow if the writing were better. I am talking about problems with grammar and sentence construction.

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post #22 of 76 Old 12-06-2011, 06:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ricabullah View Post

@fitbrit,

After googling again, i haven't found any AVR yet which has real in-built FLAC decoder? Denon 1912 ????

If you search google (can't remember the right terms now), there is a whole page on equipment that supports flac, including Onkyo high end receivers, which I have, and some pioneers. On my iPhone right now, but will look for you later. My Onkyos decode flac from audio only files, but only through network streaming. Not much use for someone who has multichannel flac in an mkv.
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post #23 of 76 Old 12-06-2011, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ricabullah View Post

@fitbrit,

After googling again, i haven't found any AVR yet which has real in-built FLAC decoder? Denon 1912 ????

My Denon 3310CI plays my FLAC CD rips over network just fine.
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post #24 of 76 Old 12-06-2011, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ricabullah View Post

@fitbrit,

After googling again, i haven't found any AVR yet which has real in-built FLAC decoder? Denon 1912 ????

http://flac.sourceforge.net/links.html

Search was for "Flac-decoding AVRs". For me, it was the 4th link down that was returned.
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post #25 of 76 Old 12-06-2011, 08:46 AM
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post #26 of 76 Old 12-06-2011, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony_Montana View Post

for lpcm : it's better to block lav audio or just uncheck the lpcm box?

If you uncheck the lpcm box, you can not decode LPCM if it's packed into an m2ts container.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pbarach View Post

The FAQ needs a rewrite into clear English. The technical explanations would be easier to follow if the writing were better. I am talking about problems with grammar and sentence construction.

Agreed. Could you help me to edit and rewrite? Please PM me if you want to help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fitbrit View Post

http://flac.sourceforge.net/links.html

Search was for "Flac-decoding AVRs". For me, it was the 4th link down that was returned.

I just told "flac is not an official lossless format"; which means no existing AVR can decode it with its internal decoder when we bitstream flac. (even no any SW decoder is able to bitstream it yet.)
I didn't mean network streaming.

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post #27 of 76 Old 12-06-2011, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ricabullah View Post

If you uncheck lpcm box, you can not decode LPCM if it's packed into an m2ts container.



Agreed. Could you help me to edit and rewrite? Please PM me if you want to help.



I just told "flac is not an official lossless format"; which means no existing AVR can decode it with its internal decoder when we bitstream flac. (even no any SW decoder is able to bitstream it yet.)
I didn't mean network streaming.

Thanks for the offer to help you rewrite, but I don't claim to have the knowledge about this subject that I'd need to make sure my words say what you want.

Concerning FLAC, I have a Denon 4310 that can play FLAC files from a USB hard drive or flash drive, as well as over network streaming. I'm sure that there are other AVR's that can do this.

AT&T U-Verse Northeast Ohio

Denon x4000, Samsung LED TV, B&W 704 mains, two M&K subwoofers, Oppo 103, etc.
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post #28 of 76 Old 12-06-2011, 02:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks @pbarach.
I will try to rewrite it and just started to edit. (check out item 1 and item 2)
I'd be appreciated if you help me in sentence re-construction after i edited. I don't think you need to have any knowledge about this subject to re-construct the sentences?
Best.

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post #29 of 76 Old 12-06-2011, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Theresa View Post

I have a computer with the 889a sound chipset. It sounds greatly inferior to both my Asus Xonar Essence STX and the HDMI output of my AMD (which is also Realtek).

that card costs $180 on newegg, almost three times the cost of my motherboard, so I'm not surprised. The published specs are amazing. If you have really expensive speakers, it's worth the investment to get that card (though if you don't mind my being skeptical, I doubt the amplifier portion of any common receiver or non-audiophile amp can live up to what the xonar is putting out). And it also doesn't do 7.1 surround sound.

But I bet if I put that card in my system, with my speakers, I wouldn't hear that much difference. And bitstreaming would make it a moot point anyway.

And anyway, if you use reclock with wasapi exclusive (which is the point of this thread ) you would probably get pretty good sound from either one.
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post #30 of 76 Old 12-06-2011, 10:23 PM
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Nice info here...granted I'm a little bit of a neophyte and some of this is over my head. If you wouldn't mind adding some more basic info for beginners? Some of the things that I am wondering just looking at this info:

1) Why is this needed? I mean one assumes this is to get the best quality you can from the sound - but why all this work? Is this something that most blueray/dvd/etc players already do, but this is not yet easily available on a HTPC? Or is this somehow unlocking a function that can't be done any other way... I understand the basic point is to allow your expensive receiver to decode the stream as opposed to a cheap soundcard, I just don't fully understand if this is an HTPC specific issue or not.

2) Another way to phrase #1 - What's the alternative to this? And what are we losing out on by not doing the above? What are some quick and easy ways to test if we are losing out on decoding quality because our card is decoding at a level lower than our receiver?

3) Are these methods you describe the only way to do this? Are there no full playback apps for PCs that can bitstream without all of this? Is this mostly a function/limitation of audio cards and could it be fixed easily if the vendors simply wrote a better driver? It would seem to me that a simple checkbox for "enable PCM passthrough" or something could solve this. Why isn't this being done (again this speaks to current limitations and the reasons for this).

again, thanks for this posting - it got me interested - I just think giving some more of this would help make it a complete tutorial.
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