I'm totally new to HTPC's. I've been using a WDTV for years, and just bought a second but the new one seems to have some glitches and doesn't seem to serve data to the second fast enough for glitch free play.
So I was thinking of picking up a used small form factor PC to dedicate to a HTPC. Seems there's plenty of inexpensive options out there but then I noticed some, such as a Dell Optiplex 760, don't have digital audio output.
So question: is there a recommended inexpensive USB>spdif converter? I don't need a full sound card, just a converter. Are they all multi-channel dolby compatible or is that something I have to be careful about?
Is HDMI out of the question?
Yes, out of the question.
Many of the most cost effective options to try this have have plenty of horsepower for a HTPC but have DVI video out.
This can pass-through Dolby Digital, DTS, and 2ch PCM using the optical output. I was using one on my laptop and it works great.
For about $7 more you can get a GPU with HDMI that support HD audio.
Make sure you get the correct one, I think there are others with a similar name. It will most certainly output Dolby Digital and DTS through the optical adapter.
I have a Behringer UCA202 (http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UCA202.aspx
) which is good for the price... It has a good analog output and can output DTS/DD on its toslink output. The only caveat is that it sampling frequency is limited to 44.1/48 kHz.