This post is now linked from the MCE 2005 FAQ for your convenience, and I have summarized findings of all in this thread below. Special thanks to chung_chang for the MSI motherboard write-up.
Below is my attempt to condense hugely useful and IMO hard-to-find information on giving MCE 2005 / WMP10 better audiophile-grade sound output.
For all the lurkers out there wondering the same thing I am, here's the answer I think:
To get bit-perfect 44.1 kHz audio passed to your pre/pro or receiver while playing audio from MCE 2005 (which uses Windows Media Player 10) without EVER having to switch programs from MCE to something that uses ASIO, there are five things you can do, explained below:
1) Use the M-Audio Transit USB
configured in audio mode and set this as the default sound option in Windows Media Player 10. If you do this, your DTS/AC3 (Dolby Digital) recordings will not be passed properly unless you manually switch output in the M-Audio control panel before you watch an AC3 track, but as many have suggested, all you have to do is leave your system's on-board audio SPDIF output set as the player for DVD and system sound, and you're all set. So, you could use the Transit over USB for your music (e.g. receiver's optical input 1) and use your system's soundcard or onboard sound (e.g. receiver's coaxial SPDIF input) for DVD/DTS/DD/Gaming and normal Windows sounds. You could manually change the Transit USB to DTS/DD mode but that defeats the point of mouse-free (remote control) bit-perfect audio listening for me. ***Edit 4/30/06: Transit USB installed and working perfectly. Also note: reports of a PPAI brand (model #1455) USB sound card achieving bit-perfect output have been verified here
, so this off-brand model might work for you as well if you can find it.
2) Use a Creative Audigy 4
card and select the "Bit-accurate" output option in creative software as detailed here
3) Configure an MSI K8NGM2-FID motherboard
with onboard HD Audio according to the following writeup by Chung_Chang
:Q: Is there any onboard sound that is bit-perfect under MCE2005?
A: Yes. The MSI K8NGM2-FID (nVidia 6150) can achieve bit-perfect sound under MCE 2005 using the onboard Realtek 880 chip. It can handle passing DD and DTS in both 44.1KHz and 48KHz and it has been reasonably proven that 44.1KHz 2 channel PCM (typical stereo music CD) is also bit-perfect. The best part of using this board is that switching between 44.1KHz and 48KHz source sampling rates is done automatically
by the driver. It is also believed that other boards using the Realtek HD-Audio Codecs can produce bit-perfect sounds but that has yet to be proven.Q: How do I set up for bit-perfect audio with MCE 2005 using the MSI 6150 Motherboard with HD-Audio?
A: First, follow this excellent guide
to complete your basic setup. Note: as of this writing, the only Realtek drivers confirmed to work as desired are v5253. These v5253 drivers are being graciously hosted here
by bling24 if you can't find elsewhere. Once drivers are installed, find a DTS sound file (like this one
) and play it with WMP. If you can't hear the sound correctly, go into the sound driver configuration, click Audio I/O tab, click the configuration button next to Digital, select 44.1KHz and click the Auto Lock
button (all while the DTS sound is still playing). You should now hear the DTS sound perfectly and all other sounds will now be bit-perfect too under MCE. There is also no need to change those sound settings again even after reboots.
4) Use ReClock
, the tool developed by an AVS forum member (http://reclock.free.fr
), to alter the actual frequency the Microsoft DirectShow (standard for Windows/WMP10/MCE) drivers use to reproduce audio and video. I have not tried this, and probably will not, as I'm going to use solution #1 above. I am inherently skeptical of tinkering with DirectShow / DirectX for fear of jeopardizing other computer uses as well. If anyone finds more success with this, let me know.
5) Purchase an expensive RME Audio Hammerfall
card that supposedly bypasses Windows kmixer.sys using its own driver, and hence does not corrupt the digital audio output in the process. Thomaspf shares that "Their windows XP drivers are not native WDM audio drivers but Win9x/NT style MME drivers with some additional glue (power mgmt, PNP) to make it run under W2K and XP. One of the open issues for them is to support native WDM applications." For more speculation on this solution, check here
. This is not an option for me due to both price of the card and inherent riskiness of using a driver that must "stay broken" in order to keep working.
So that's basically it...finally I think I've found my solution, and it's the Transit USB. I will be ordering an MSI motherboard to test onboard sound, for now direct questions to chung_chang.
Remote-controlled bit-perfect audio using MCE 2005 and it's streamlined "10-foot" interface will be a great thing, because now I don't have to teach my wife to use JRiver, Foobar or even Winamp with the ASIO plugin for music, and we can use all the categorization and integration features of MCE 2005. Easy and WAF-approved...Yippee!
I hope others seeking to do this find my post useful.