Audiophile sound from HTPC Sound Card... HDAV1.3? Or is there another option? - AVS Forum
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 24 Old 08-25-2012, 09:01 PM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
NorCalJason's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 576
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 29
Hello AVS community!

I'm laying out my next project, and would like to upgrade the audio of my HTPC.

As a long time HT enthusiast, I already have a dedicated 5 channel power amp. Is there a way to connect my PC directly to my amp?

After doing some research, It seems the ONLY game in town is the HDAV1.3, since with the H6 daughter board it offers RCA outputs for each channel. My problem with this is; I only have (1) PCI-E slot on my motherboard. So would a Xonar Essence STX work with a H6 daughter board? Does the HDAV1.3 come in a PCI spec?

Or is there another card that I've overlooked that allows the same functionality?
NorCalJason is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 24 Old 08-25-2012, 09:15 PM
AVS Special Member
 
lespurgeon's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: California
Posts: 2,455
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 41
My choice was SPDIF out to an external DAC.
I think an external processor/pre-amp would give superior results to anything processing and amplifying up to line-level inside a PC case.
lespurgeon is offline  
post #3 of 24 Old 08-25-2012, 09:25 PM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
NorCalJason's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 576
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by lespurgeon View Post

My choice was SPDIF out to an external DAC.
I think an external processor/pre-amp would give superior results to anything processing and amplifying up to line-level inside a PC case.

I see your point. There's a few things I don't like about this approach:

No remote control volume (I'm using XBMC as my front end, with Constellation remote on an iPad).

No bistreaming audio (I have a Bluray/HD-DvD player as my disk drive)


....

It appears Essence ST might be an option, with the H6 daughter board. But I can't seem to find out how the ST decodes DTS audio from a MKV...
NorCalJason is offline  
post #4 of 24 Old 08-26-2012, 04:31 AM
Advanced Member
 
Ruiner's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Posts: 526
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 17
The H6 doesn't need a real motherboard slot. It has a dummy PCIe tab to stabilize it but will mount fine without if your case as an extra slot.
It connects to the HDAV with a ribbon cable.
Ruiner is offline  
post #5 of 24 Old 08-26-2012, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
NorCalJason's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 576
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruiner View Post

The H6 doesn't need a real motherboard slot. It has a dummy PCIe tab to stabilize it but will mount fine without if your case as an extra slot.
It connects to the HDAV with a ribbon cable.

Great info, thanks! It looks like among the Xonar cards, the HDAV1.3 are the only ones that process DTS...
NorCalJason is offline  
post #6 of 24 Old 08-26-2012, 09:12 AM
Advanced Member
 
elockett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 952
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 17
Another option for you to consider is the Claro Halo XT: http://www.htomega.com/clarohalo_xt.html. I'm using it at present as a PC-based 7.1 prepro and overall I'm very happy with it. In terms of sound quality, IMHO of course, it is essentially identical to the last traditional prepro I owned: Outlaw Audio's Model 990. In summary I'd say detail retrieval is excellent and its transparency good to very good though not the best I've owned (for multi-channel that honor goes to the Theta Casablanca II prepro). The important thing for me is that the Halo XT is good enough that I can say it is musically satisfying, which is all I want at this point. I look forward to trying another sound card down the road (XLR out with fully balanced DACs perhaps?) but the Halo XT will certainly meet my needs for now. Another plus for this sound card is that HT Omega's technical support is excellent.

Update: Oops! I just noticed that you only have a PCIe slot so the Halo XT won't work for you. Oh well; I guess I'll keep the post in case it can inform others who have a open PCI slot.
elockett is offline  
post #7 of 24 Old 08-26-2012, 09:31 AM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
NorCalJason's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 576
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by elockett View Post

Another option for you to consider is the Claro Halo XT: http://www.htomega.com/clarohalo_xt.html. I'm using it at present as a PC-based 7.1 prepro and overall I'm very happy with it. In terms of sound quality, IMHO of course, it is essentially identical to the last traditional prepro I owned: Outlaw Audio's Model 990. In summary I'd say detail retrieval is excellent and its transparency good to very good though not the best I've owned (for multi-channel that honor goes to the Theta Casablanca II prepro). The important thing for me is that the Halo XT is good enough that I can say it is musically satisfying, which is all I want at this point. I look forward to trying another sound card down the road (XLR out with fully balanced DACs perhaps?) but the Halo XT will certainly meet my needs for now. Another plus for this sound card is that HT Omega's technical support is excellent.
Update: Oops! I just noticed that you only have a PCIe slot so the Halo XT won't work for you. Oh well; I guess I'll keep the post in case it can inform others who have a open PCI slot.

Solid option, thanks!

It looks like a direct competitor to the Xonar Essence ST
comomolo likes this.
NorCalJason is offline  
post #8 of 24 Old 08-26-2012, 07:42 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Chronoptimist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,559
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 203
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCalJason View Post

Great info, thanks! It looks like among the Xonar cards, the HDAV1.3 are the only ones that process DTS...
Depending on your playback software, it’s likely to be decoded by the CPU and not the soundcard. (I use MPC-HC for playback, and LAV Audio decodes DTS to LPCM)
Chronoptimist is offline  
post #9 of 24 Old 08-27-2012, 06:14 AM
Member
 
comomolo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
@NorCalJason: I'm exactly in the same boat as you. What drove me to the Asus Xonar Essence ST was the Stereophile review. That card supports the H6 daughter board too (the PCI-E version, the Essence STX, does not).

I'd be interested in knowing the differences between the HDAV1.3 and the Essence ST, from a SQ point of view.

BTW: because I'm a LInux guy, I've checked support for these cards under Linux and while the Essence line is well supported, the HDAV1.3 can't seem to handle HDMI output under Linux (that's irrelevant for my needs, though).
comomolo is offline  
post #10 of 24 Old 08-27-2012, 07:52 AM
Senior Member
 
ralphcramdon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 226
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
do all of the DAC conversion outside of the PC (as in USB sound card) and get one with Burr Brown or audiophile chips. analog inside a PC ? really ? NOT

audiophile doesn't exist anymore if you ask me -- audiophile refers to MUSIC, not video, and it should be 2 channel WAV with breakaway audio enhancer or a decent tube amp to take that digital edge off.

IMHO
ralphcramdon is offline  
post #11 of 24 Old 08-27-2012, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
NorCalJason's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 576
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronoptimist View Post

Depending on your playback software, it’s likely to be decoded by the CPU and not the soundcard. (I use MPC-HC for playback, and LAV Audio decodes DTS to LPCM)

Then that leads to this question... In the scenario above, what would the bitrate be while playing a BluRay with TrueHD? Would the RCA outputs do 192khz/24 bit? Or would the card downsample these....
NorCalJason is offline  
post #12 of 24 Old 08-27-2012, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
NorCalJason's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 576
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphcramdon View Post

do all of the DAC conversion outside of the PC (as in USB sound card) and get one with Burr Brown or audiophile chips. analog inside a PC ? really ? NOT
audiophile doesn't exist anymore if you ask me -- audiophile refers to MUSIC, not video, and it should be 2 channel WAV with breakaway audio enhancer or a decent tube amp to take that digital edge off.
IMHO

The HDAV1.3 and Essence ST use Burr-Brown DAC's, fyi...
NorCalJason is offline  
post #13 of 24 Old 08-27-2012, 12:03 PM
Member
 
comomolo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCalJason View Post

The HDAV1.3 and Essence ST use Burr-Brown DAC's, fyi...

AND they are inside a Faraday cage, preventing interferences... Audio "purists" just seem to hate PCs. Don't ask me why. Oh, and most of them also believe multichannel audio is inappropriate for music. A peculiar species, those purists.
comomolo is offline  
post #14 of 24 Old 08-27-2012, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
NorCalJason's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 576
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by comomolo View Post

AND they are inside a Faraday cage, preventing interferences... Audio "purists" just seem to hate PCs. Don't ask me why. Oh, and most of them also believe multichannel audio is inappropriate for music. A peculiar species, those purists.

Ha!

Admittedly, HTPC's are on the forward edge of consumer electronics. It's great to see this hobby evolve, and the tools evolve with it.

Not long ago I had a large touchscreen IR remote, a $2500 pre/pro, optical digital connections and tons of rca cables, and 5.1 DD was cutting edge. I even had a 250 disk cd changer! The concept of convergence was all the rage, but, nobody knew an elegant way of integrating it all.

Now all that music, and all my movies, fit on one 3.5" hard drive. Free software does all the digital decoding without breaking a sweat. My remote is now a iPad that can access my entire media library anywhere with a wireless network, and can change content on my home theater from anywhere in the house. All my CD and Movie cases are virtual.

And now we're discussing a simple $200 sound card that almost equals yesterday's pre/pros at 1/10th the price.

It's a brave new world!

smile.gif
NorCalJason is offline  
post #15 of 24 Old 08-27-2012, 06:26 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Chronoptimist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,559
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 203
Quote:
Originally Posted by NorCalJason View Post

Then that leads to this question... In the scenario above, what would the bitrate be while playing a BluRay with TrueHD? Would the RCA outputs do 192khz/24 bit? Or would the card downsample these....
Analogue audio is only limited by the quality of your DAC. I can’t imagine there being any problems getting 192kHz/24-bit out from a high-end card.

If you are decoding with LAV Audio, ReClock can even upsmaple everything to 192/24.
Chronoptimist is offline  
post #16 of 24 Old 08-27-2012, 06:48 PM
AVS Special Member
 
hdkhang's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 2,164
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronoptimist View Post

Analogue audio is only limited by the quality of your DAC. I can’t imagine there being any problems getting 192kHz/24-bit out from a high-end card.
If you are decoding with LAV Audio, ReClock can even upsmaple everything to 192/24.

I'm not entirely up to date, but in the earlier days of HD-DVD/BluRay playback on PCs, the analogue outputs were limited to 16bit/48khz if I'm not mistaken - for the encrypted audio streams that is. You could still play FLAC etc. in higher bitdepth and sample rates. Whether or not the LAV codecs can bypass this restriction I'm not entirely sure, but will find out soon enough I guess.
hdkhang is offline  
post #17 of 24 Old 08-27-2012, 06:57 PM
AVS Special Member
 
Chronoptimist's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,559
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Liked: 203
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdkhang View Post

I'm not entirely up to date, but in the earlier days of HD-DVD/BluRay playback on PCs, the analogue outputs were limited to 16bit/48khz if I'm not mistaken - for the encrypted audio streams that is. You could still play FLAC etc. in higher bitdepth and sample rates. Whether or not the LAV codecs can bypass this restriction I'm not entirely sure, but will find out soon enough I guess.
LAV Audio is bitperfect, though you will need the “dtsdecoderdll.dll” from Arcsoft TMT to decode DTS-HD and be bitperfect.
If you don’t own a copy, apparently the trial version works as well, you just copy the dll file into the LAV Audio directory.
Chronoptimist is offline  
post #18 of 24 Old 08-28-2012, 08:18 AM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
NorCalJason's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 576
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronoptimist View Post

LAV Audio is bitperfect, though you will need the “dtsdecoderdll.dll” from Arcsoft TMT to decode DTS-HD and be bitperfect.
If you don’t own a copy, apparently the trial version works as well, you just copy the dll file into the LAV Audio directory.

This is great info to have, thank you!
NorCalJason is offline  
post #19 of 24 Old 08-29-2012, 08:55 AM
Senior Member
 
ralphcramdon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 226
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
"A peculiar species, those purists".


True high fidelity died a long time ago -- my guess is you're too young to even know what it sounds like.

Do you even know why Quad died in the 70's ?


It's sample rate and compression schemes as opposed to sine waves and class A -- 7 channels of your favorite "sound menu" ( ! ) as opposed to being at a concert that's IN FRONT OF YOU.


Oh yeah -- is that a broadband Faraday shield ? (lol)
ralphcramdon is offline  
post #20 of 24 Old 08-29-2012, 09:11 AM
Member
 
comomolo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 49
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralphcramdon View Post

my guess is you're too young to even know what it sounds like.
51 last june is old enough for you?

The fact is most self-appointed "audiophiles" can't pass the most simple blind tests, but I guess they are happy believing what they say and they also have made very rich a lot of clever guys (who are still ripping them off nowadays). That's fine with me. Always has. You make fun of ordinary people, I make fun of "audiophiles". Everybody's happy.

I've always chosen my hardware in a listening room. I'm a musician. My hearing is top notch even at my age, according to my recent tests. I never bought a speaker by the price or specs. It's been a long time since electronics have passed whatever the ear can distinguish, so I don't even care about amplifiers anymore. A 125 db SNR and a THD of 0,0003% on a DAC is just ridiculous. No need to even test it. Fine speakers (the only really critical piece in the chain), an ordinary amp and a decent DAC is all it takes to listen to good sound these days. The rest is pure nonsense, but keep enjoying your hobby. As I said, I'm fine with it.
comomolo is offline  
post #21 of 24 Old 08-29-2012, 10:32 AM
AVS Special Member
 
captain_video's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Posts: 3,511
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 37 Post(s)
Liked: 121
Quote:
Originally Posted by comomolo View Post

BTW: because I'm a LInux guy, I've checked support for these cards under Linux and while the Essence line is well supported, the HDAV1.3 can't seem to handle HDMI output under Linux (that's irrelevant for my needs, though).
IIRC, HD audio via HDMI would only work via the HDAV1.3 if you used the version of TMT that was supplied with the card. Later versions of TMT also supported it, but that's probably not of much use to a Linux user. The HDMI output from whatever video card you were using had to loop through the HDAV1.3 so it could piggyback the audio onto the HDMI signal lines designated for digital audio.
Quote:
Originally Posted by comomolo View Post

51 last june is old enough for you?
You're still a baby. How about 61 as of last January?wink.gif Speaking of musicians and old farts (I apologize in advance for going off-topic), I was fortunate enough to have attended the Atlantic City Pop Festival held just two weeks prior to Woodstock in August of 1969. It had most of the same bands and even more than Woodstock, although they didn't have either Hendrix or The Who. CSN were also scheduled to premiere there but had to pass due to a minor health issue with one of the members. It was far better organized and was a much better concert than Woodstock (it didn't rain once, IIRC). It just didn't get any notariety because it wasn't filmed or turned into a disaster. Best time of my youth.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.biggrin.gif
captain_video is offline  
post #22 of 24 Old 08-29-2012, 10:48 AM - Thread Starter
Advanced Member
 
NorCalJason's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 576
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video View Post

IIRC, HD audio via HDMI would only work via the HDAV1.3 if you used the version of TMT that was supplied with the card.

I've been doing a lot of research on this very subject.

If the goal is to stream encoded HD audio to a preamp/processor from the HDMI connection, you're right.

BUT...

If you're going from the analoge section of the H6 daugther board, I think you're wrong. If my research is correct, there's no down-conversion on the analogue output. It'll output whatever source you feed it.
NorCalJason is offline  
post #23 of 24 Old 08-29-2012, 01:23 PM
AVS Special Member
 
captain_video's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Ellicott City, MD
Posts: 3,511
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 37 Post(s)
Liked: 121
You are correct. I believe the HD audio or whatever audio source you supply is decoded by the hardware on the daughtercard and not the TMT software, but I'm not entirely sure. You only needed to use the supplied version of TMT (or a later retail release) if you wanted to bitstream the audio. You wouldn't be using the HDMI connection for audio if you're using the RCA outputs on the daughtercard. In fact, you probably wouldn't need the HDMI loop cable from the video card to the HDAV1.3 but instead you'd connect the HDMI output directly to your monitor or HDMI switcher. I didn't have the daughtercard with my setup since I was able to bitstream the audio via HDMI to my pre/pro where it was decoded and distributed to my amplifiers and speakers.
captain_video is offline  
post #24 of 24 Old 09-01-2012, 12:51 PM
Senior Member
 
ralphcramdon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 226
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Liked: 10
audiophile is nonsense, I agree -- you're not following this thread.

i'm just saying give me any run of the mill class ab amp made in the 70's, (sansui, rotel, pioneer a zillion), a decent set of 2012 bookshelf speakers (better spkr technology these days), and an ANALOG
source in 2 CHANNEL stereo
and it will sound much better than ANY class D AMP with a digital source (it will be digital at some point anyway), switching power supplies, multichannel pick "your listening environment" CRAP.
ralphcramdon 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