Direct to power amp: best audio card? - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 108 Old 11-14-2012, 09:55 PM
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Originally Posted by hdkhang View Post

If it were not for the presence of Audyssey Multi-EQ XT32 + Sub EQ I would not be even considering an AVR.

You have me wondering... how big a deal is Audyssey? Really?

If you've already taken the time to use REW and apply the appropriate filters via a Behringer Feedback Destroyer Pro for a flat-ish inroom response... What do you gain with Audyssey (or ARC, or Ypao)?
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post #92 of 108 Old 11-14-2012, 10:18 PM
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In my experience, not much. To hear others talk about it, Audyssey is a huge deal, but not for me.

I went from an x-meridian direct driving a bunch of aragon and palladium amps and two subs (a small one and an SVS PB2+) with no room-correction to an HDMI connected Denon 4311ci driving the same amps and subs. My room is very large - roughly 20x25x10 plus vaulted ceilings up to about 20' feet at the peak. The Denon has Multi-EQ XT32 and will also EQ two subs. I don't notice a significant difference in everyday listening from my prior configuration, nor when toggling Audyssey on and off. The only significant difference was going from 7.2 to 9.2 - the extra front wide speakers make movies sound bigger.

This is probably a minority opinion, but for me Audyssey room-correction has been a big fat 'meh.'

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post #93 of 108 Old 11-14-2012, 11:00 PM
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I have been running PC audio directly to my amp for a while now and have been thrilled with the sound. My equipment:

HTPC with Asus Xonar D2X
Bryston 4B SST for the fronts
Emotiva UPA-2 for the rears
MartinLogan Prodigy fronts
MartinLogan Aeon i rears
MartinLogan Descent subwoofer

No receiver, no center.

The sound is a huge step up from the Pioneer Elite receiver I was using previously as a preamp/processor. The detail from the D2X is just amazing, and really not surprising if you compare the specs of the card with a typical receiver, especially when it comes to signal-to-noise ratio (118dB).

If you think about how little a high-end sound card does compared to a typical receiver, it's not surprising it performs so much better in the one crucial area (sound). There's just not much margin for using expensive components in a receiver. The D2X uses Burr-Brown PCM1796 DACs, the best in the business.

Some comments:

1. To the guy saying connect the mobo's analogue outs directly - horrible, horrible advice.
2. The Asus cards handle bass management.
3. I love the D2X, but the Essense ST + H6 is supposed to be even better (124dB). One of the main downsides of the D2X is that the analogue outputs are 3.5mm stereo jacks instead of mono RCA outs.
4. My previous Pioneer receiver had Audyssey room EQ but I don't miss it.
5. You CAN connect an external audio source (with one big limitation). I have my PS3's SPDIF output connected to the sound card's line-in, it's digital, but only 2-channel (AC3/DTS doesn't work).

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post #94 of 108 Old 11-14-2012, 11:08 PM
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Nice setup Brian!
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post #95 of 108 Old 11-15-2012, 09:52 AM
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I run and $200 asus stx card directly to heavily modified tube monoblock amps using the computer's volume control- used primarily for audio, but also blu-rays and dvds. It ablolutely trashes anything I have previously used, including some very high-end, very expensive DACs, passive preamps, etc. I'm not sure what it is - it may be the the direct connection, or that the soundcard's dac is that good.
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post #96 of 108 Old 11-15-2012, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCalJason View Post

You have me wondering... how big a deal is Audyssey? Really?
If you've already taken the time to use REW and apply the appropriate filters via a Behringer Feedback Destroyer Pro for a flat-ish inroom response... What do you gain with Audyssey (or ARC, or Ypao)?

Mostly ease of use as well as having that room correction being applied for all your sources. Don't get me wrong, I'm still undecided, just that it isn't as clear cut as it used to be. So for instance, Xbox360 at the moment is being fed into my HTPC via line in and then out through the power amp, it means my HTPC has to be turned on whenever I want to hear sound when gaming. The other convenience of the AVR route is that I'd connect the Xbox + HTPC to the AVR and then route that to either the TV or the projector. At present, only my HTPC goes to the projector, and there have been times when it would have been nice to play Forza on the bigger projector screen. My projector is old so it doesn't have digital inputs so I'd have to run VGA out from the HTPC and the Xbox via a switch. This problem would be mitigated by a newer projector as well, which all adds into the why I have not yet fully decided. I don't have much scope currently to add acoustic treatments to my room, so that is why the room correction appeals.

In any case, can you elaborate on your REW + Behringer FBD Pro setup for home theatre usage?
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post #97 of 108 Old 11-15-2012, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdkhang View Post

In any case, can you elaborate on your REW + Behringer FBD Pro setup for home theatre usage?

I'm using the Behringer as a parametric EQ for the subwoofer channel. It's been a godsend in taming the boom out, yet retaining the low end of my eD A5-350.

The curve is set using test tones generated thru REW, and measuring with a microphone.
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post #98 of 108 Old 11-15-2012, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCalJason View Post

I'm using the Behringer as a parametric EQ for the subwoofer channel. It's been a godsend in taming the boom out, yet retaining the low end of my eD A5-350.
The curve is set using test tones generated thru REW, and measuring with a microphone.

Righto, thanks for that... I was confused as I thought you were using it for full 5.1 or more and given that it only has stereo inputs, was kinda wondering if there was some special undocumented feature.

Might be something for me to consider and should be good for dual subs as well? As in - can it equalise each sub independently?
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post #99 of 108 Old 11-15-2012, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdkhang View Post

Righto, thanks for that... I was confused as I thought you were using it for full 5.1 or more and given that it only has stereo inputs, was kinda wondering if there was some special undocumented feature.
Might be something for me to consider and should be good for dual subs as well? As in - can it equalise each sub independently?

Yes, it's two channel. Each one is completely independent.

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post #100 of 108 Old 11-19-2012, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCalJason View Post

Yes, it's two channel. Each one is completely independent.
biggrin.gif

Coolies. I think the sub is the trickiest part of the audio chain to get sounding right so I may stick with direct to power amps and worry about getting the 5 other channels right at another time. Every time I read about AVR's I hear stories of overheating and other things that give me pause... but then the convenience is still there as is the ease of running room correction etc. I have time anyway, so for now I can sit tight and do some more reading.
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post #101 of 108 Old 11-20-2012, 08:49 AM
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There's one piece here that I can't quite wrap my head around so I am hoping for some help (I find this whole architecture intriguing).

All of my blu-ray rips are MKVs with the HD audio soundtrack (DTS-HD or Dolby True-HD). Right now that just gets passed to my AVR and decoded there. I can have all my movies in whatever frontend I want (I just use WMC). I also have DVD rips with DD/DTS and live TV with DD5.1. Obviously in this setup, something needs needs to decode the DD/DTS/DTS-MA/True-HD. I am going to guess these software decoders are not something open source but require TMT or something for DTS-MA/True-HD? And what about DD/DTS? Can Windows do that natively or do I need some other frontend? For Live TV (CableCard) there is only one frontend -- WMC.

I don't want to have to use a specific front-end and most of all not commercial to get the decoding done in software.

I gotta say though this kind of setup would make a lot of things easier -- like Zone 2/3 audio from any source being played on the PC w/o jumping through hoops.

 

 

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post #102 of 108 Old 11-20-2012, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

There's one piece here that I can't quite wrap my head around so I am hoping for some help (I find this whole architecture intriguing).
All of my blu-ray rips are MKVs with the HD audio soundtrack (DTS-HD or Dolby True-HD). Right now that just gets passed to my AVR and decoded there. I can have all my movies in whatever frontend I want (I just use WMC). I also have DVD rips with DD/DTS and live TV with DD5.1. Obviously in this setup, something needs needs to decode the DD/DTS/DTS-MA/True-HD. I am going to guess these software decoders are not something open source but require TMT or something for DTS-MA/True-HD? And what about DD/DTS? Can Windows do that natively or do I need some other frontend? For Live TV (CableCard) there is only one frontend -- WMC.
I don't want to have to use a specific front-end and most of all not commercial to get the decoding done in software.
I gotta say though this kind of setup would make a lot of things easier -- like Zone 2/3 audio from any source being played on the PC w/o jumping through hoops.

I know, I too was confused on how the 'decoding' is handled.

From the source (disk, mkv, etc), the audio tracks are compressed.

If you are used to "bitstreaming" that compressed audio track is fed over HDMI to a AVR that decompresses it, then routes the signals appropriately.

The decompression task is laughably easy to do via software.

XBMC, JRiver, WMC, Plex, etc, all have the necessary software to decode all the surround sound formats. This data is then fed to the software for your audio card, then converted to analog signal on the card itself.

Yes, Windows Media Center can be setup to decode lossless audio tracks and output that to your audio card.

You will be able to play your BR rips with DTS-HD in WMC.
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post #103 of 108 Old 05-29-2013, 08:51 AM
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Resurrecting an 'old' thread.

Has there been any new audio cards worth looking into?

I'm thinking of upgrading from my Xonar D2X (largely because it lacks RCAs).

If price is no object is the LynxTwo still the best? Are there any issues with day-to-day usage (like difficulty of adjusting the volume etc)?
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post #104 of 108 Old 05-29-2013, 09:46 AM
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Hi Bryan,

I just did a good bit of research and purchased the Asus STX. To my knowledge there have been no new products out in this space, and yes, Lynx is still apparently the best. Cost justification and how much 'best' I will leave to you. smile.gif

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post #105 of 108 Old 05-29-2013, 11:11 PM
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Hi Nethawk,

I was leaning towards the ST/STX too. The STX does not support 5.1 analog output right? I do need that.

If the Lynx is significantly better I may be able to justify it, but there's not a whole lot of information and I'm a little wary because the LynxTWO was introduced in 2000. Virtually prehistoric by computer peripheral standards. I'm also wondering how user- and software-friendly it is since it's sort of a professional product.

Sounds like I will need the Essence ST+H6 combo?
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post #106 of 108 Old 05-29-2013, 11:38 PM
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Yes, the H6 will extend capabilities to 7.1 analog.

Honestly I couldn't tell you whether any of them makes a difference. I bought for 2 channel use, if going for HT I'd use digital connection and let my AVR do the processing, but I must admit I'm curious.

I can't blame you for trepidation on the Lynx!

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post #107 of 108 Old 05-30-2013, 08:23 AM
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If you have a high end motherboard, you might actually be able to get away with onboard sound.

Otherwise, get a xonar or something.
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post #108 of 108 Old 02-17-2014, 02:51 PM
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Interesting thread (if you filter out the bickering biggrin.gif). I have been wanting to do this for a while (direct HTPC to Amp), came across few months back, have been reading through it. It started about 2 years back and technology has changed since then. My HTPC is running i5 sandy bridge with regular ASUS mobo, no high end, and onboard realtech sound, I don’t have the dough to get everything at once so will be doing it one or two things at a time.

1st planning is to get the amp, connect it directly to on board sound. Use the center and front towers only. (I have an old cheap Sony sub, directly connected to onboard). I don't have the speakers yet, will be buying them as well, might go with Andrew Jones too, not decided.

Next buy a better sound card (around $200)

Then get the rear and center speakers and a good sub

Any suggestions? How bad will it be with the onboard? Will the $200 soundcard make a huge difference? Or should I get the other speakers first? I am not considering buying a separate preamp/processor at all at this point, now if I but the sound card at the end THEN I might consider the preamp for the extra 400-500 dollars, but its unlikely
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