HP z555 Upgrade Project - Page 4 - AVS Forum
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post #91 of 1150 Old 12-31-2007, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
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@ shawnharper,

What's your CPU/video card installation right now? If you don't have either an ATI 2600 series or an nVidia 8500GT/8600GT card or better, then your card can't offload the video decoding from the CPU, which would overload and cause stutter.

Have you looked at Task Manager to see what the CPU load is during playback?

BW
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post #92 of 1150 Old 12-31-2007, 11:09 AM
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I said I would try a standard def DVD to see if I get the same drivers problem and I don't. Harry Potter played just fine.

FYI, I upgraded my 7600 from the nvidea site before changing out the 7600 for the 850GT and I don't seem to have any problems. I do have to add my second TV to the VGA output but I don't have the time right now. It all seems to work well. I'd like to get rid of the SPDIF RCA output being routed back into the case to the video card. If anyone says the SPDIF works from the MOBO I'd like to try that again. Again it may be that I had the wirese crossed but I'm not crazy about just flipping the wires.

I'm going to upgrade the CPU also just for the heck of it.

John
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post #93 of 1150 Old 12-31-2007, 12:28 PM
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@Bigworm
My z555 is stock, with (I think) the 7600 and P4 3.0

@jongig
I'll check the nVidia site before I upgrade and see if what I have is current. If I recall, I trired upgrading previously but learned (from the green button forum) that the newer drivers were worse and caused other problems.

5200: 00004-54831-88075
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post #94 of 1150 Old 12-31-2007, 12:35 PM - Thread Starter
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@ shawnharper,

Shawn, if your z555 is stock, it has a GeForce 6600 based card in it. You'll definitely have video stutter without an upgrade. Even if you upgraded to a 7600, you'll still get it because the 7600 series won't do hardware acceleration.

BW
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post #95 of 1150 Old 12-31-2007, 03:13 PM
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You're right, 6600 it is.

And just to be clear, I'm not upgrading the DVD drive (at this point). My birthday's coming up though...

5200: 00004-54831-88075
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post #96 of 1150 Old 12-31-2007, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawnharper View Post

You're right, 6600 it is.

And just to be clear, I'm not upgrading the DVD drive (at this point). My birthday's coming up though...

Oh, my bad, I thought you had alrady put in the LG drive. You shouldn't have stutter during standard DVD playback, then... That's odd. Did you check the CPU usage, hard drive activity, things like that? That would be the likely places to look for the culprit.

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post #97 of 1150 Old 12-31-2007, 04:08 PM
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FYI, CPU usage. Durring the HD version of Transformers my CPU usage on my 560 ran about 30% with the 8500GT card installed. Maybe I won't install a different CPU. I can't wait to pick up a BluRay and see if it works.

Curious about Power DVD. I thought the Ultimate version was what you had to pay for? Mine says PowerDVD Ultimate.

Would be great if I could get the Windows Media Center remote to work with PowerDVD.

John
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post #98 of 1150 Old 12-31-2007, 04:22 PM - Thread Starter
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@ Jongig,

What you have is PowerDVD 7.3 Ultra (OEM version). Ultra refers to the fact that it can play BD/HD DVD movies. What you have to pay for is PowerDVD 7.3 Ultra (Retail Version). The difference is mostly in how they handle audio tracks. By default, the OEM version will try to downmix the HD audio tracks to 2.0 channels, although on mine I have achieved the following (PowerDVD output -> What amplifier gets):

LPCM -> Dolby Digital Surround EX (Ultraviolet, POTC:AWE)
Dolby TrueHD -> Dolby Digital 5.1 (Troy DC)
DTS-HD -> DTS ES Discrete 6.1 (Stargate)
Dolby Digital Plus -> Dolby Digital Surround EX (Transformers)

That DTS track on Stargate was by far the best sounding movie I have run through my home theater to date!

Bear in mind, my amplifier is a 4 year old Pioneer VSX-815K. It doesn't natively understand PCM, TrueHD, DTS-HD, Master Audio, any of those. I think it sounds pretty darn good!

With that said, at this point there is no need to any bigger on the amp for those audio tracks since there is no sound card yet made that can decode them natively. You have to depend on the software (PowerDVD) and send them out the analog jacks. Haven't tried this with the OEM version yet, so I don't know how well it would work.

Basically, to distill that novel down, if you have a decent amp, the OEM version will do you admirably well. I see no reason at this point to buy the retail version, for the following reasons:

PowerDVD quirkiness (ringing tone on DTS resample)
Lack of soundcard support
Other offerings pending (Arcsoft, WinDVD, Nero)
Buy-in price (TrueHD/DTS-HD amps can run several hundred dollars)

To answer your question on MCE and remote integration, check Post #58 to this very thread.

BW
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post #99 of 1150 Old 12-31-2007, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigWorm2005GT View Post

SATA RAID/ACHI

LAN

Chipset

Found in this link.

I agree with the original poster. Intel 945 chipset, should work. Won't cost anything to try, anyway. I also found the drivers for the 915 chipset on Intel's site, so I may try it myself, that way I can get MCE without all of HP's bloatware.

Know where I can find a copy of the MCE installation disk? If that's legal to ask, that is. I have a license for it (obviously) but not the media, just HP's Recovery DVD. The only installation CD I have for XP is for Professional for my workstation.

BW

@ BW,

Do you know how I would be able to leverage these .exe driver files at time of installation of the OS? (Vista or XP MCE, i'm ok with either) Or do I have to slipstream them into the OS package first? If there was a way that the OS install could realize that these .exe files were for the SATA/RAID and Chipset, that would be great. That would avoid the need to slipstream.

Let me know your thoughts.
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post #100 of 1150 Old 12-31-2007, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a.dave View Post

@ BW,

Do you know how I would be able to leverage these .exe driver files at time of installation of the OS? (Vista or XP MCE, i'm ok with either) Or do I have to slipstream them into the OS package first? If there was a way that the OS install could realize that these .exe files were for the SATA/RAID and Chipset, that would be great. That would avoid the need to slipstream.

Let me know your thoughts.

You'll need to slipstream them in. That way the drivers will be installed at the same time that the OS goes in. But these files don't allow it.

Getting outside of what I know and into guessing, but you might try this. It creates a floppy with the drivers needed. You can then take that floppy (or the files thereof) and use nLite to slipstream them in. The rest of the files can be installed as they are after the OS install is complete.
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post #101 of 1150 Old 12-31-2007, 10:04 PM
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Alright team,

I was on the phone with HP technical support earlier this evening and was able to ask the knowledgeable technician from Canada a whole bunch of questions. I'll break them down here so we can all refer to the info.

1) Clean install of Windows Vista is having serious problems with the HP DEC Zxx machines. The tech said that their are tons of issues with trying to do a proper clean install of Vista due to the software bugs in the OS and the incompatability of a lot of the drivers. No one they've talked to has been successful in putting in a CLEAN install of Vista from scratch with the Z-machines. The tech recommended only upgrading from XP to Vista. That way a lot of the drivers carry over from XP to Vista without as many issues

2) Heat issue. I walked the tech through a lot of the upgrades I've made (8500GT, 1TB HD, 3.4ghz Pentium D, LG BR/HD-DVD player, 4GB RAM). He said that its great that they're all working, but the system originally came with a 250W power supply. He said that all those upgrades might put the system in danger of crashing due to lack of power. So the PS should be upgraded accordingly, but HP had a custom PS made to fit in such a small area (due to the personal media drive bay taking up so much room). This is definitely something to keep in mind for all of us

3) Last but not least, I got some info about the motherboard. The Asus board in the z560 was just being rolled out to HP as the Core2Duo's were being introduced. Therefore, the motherboard we have in our z560's is not compatible with anything higher than the Pentium D 960 processor (3.6ghz)

So here is my dilemna. I started a clean install of Vista Ultimate a couple days ago, and started running into a bunch of driver errors. Even after extracting the .inf files from the driver packages BigWorm provided, Vista still would not install correctly. Right now, the system just keeps restarting itself over and over before Vista launches. And if I go to do a XP MCE install off a disc, it asks for the drivers off a floppy, which I do not have. I haven't tried the slipstream format yet.

I ordered the HP recovery discs a couple days ago, and I will reinstall the factory XP image when the discs arrive. I'll have to take the 8500GT out for now so the factory OS doesn't get confused. A pain in the a$$, but that way I avoid any unnecessary glitches. After install is complete, I will strip out all the bloated HP utilities and applications that I don't need. I'll make a gut decision on whether or not I want to go back to Vista via upgrade after everything is running smoothly (since the Vista clean install is giving the z560 so many problems). Finally I'll throw the 8500GT back in with the latest drivers from MSI website.

I'll have to wait til the end of the week to start all this, and as always, I'll keep everyone updated.

Let me know if you guys have any other questions.
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post #102 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 05:43 AM
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Greetings,

Is it possible to add a second HDTV tuner to these boxes via USB? Will XP MCE recognize an additional HD Tuner?

a.dave, good information. Thanks for the update.

David
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post #103 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 07:03 AM - Thread Starter
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@ tgr131,

Technically, you'd be adding a third tuner. The z555 (and others) includes an ATI HDTV Wonder and a Hauppauge tuner card. But there should be no problem with adding one, MCE should pick up whatever tuners you throw at it. If three is too many, you could always disable one of the built-in ones.

BW
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post #104 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 08:12 AM
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I am sorry to be asking Novice Questions in an advanced thread -- I've had the box for a while, but I was using it primarily to record analog cable, and now want to use it for more.

Am I correct that the box only has one HD Tuner, and all others are SD/Analog? Does the stock z558 have the chops to record two HD programs if it had the tuners installed?

Thanks,

David
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post #105 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
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You are correct. One ATSC (Digital) tuner card (the ATI HDTV Wonder) and one NTSC tuner card (the Hauppauge). One you view one and record the other, or record both at the same time. The HDTV Wonder can do either HDTV or standard broadcasts.

Does the PC have the horsepower to record/view two simultaneous HD signals? Good question, never tried it. Try recording one and see what the system load is, that'll tell you if there's enough resources available to do a second.

Now, that is for over the air broadcasts only. If you have cable (which I'm guessing from your post), then you cannot record High-Definition digital cable with these tuner cards. If you connect the cable box's A/V connections into the A/V connections on the tuner cards, any high definition broadcasts will be automatically down-converted to 480i standard TV definition.

BW
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post #106 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 09:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a.dave View Post

Alright team,

I ordered the HP recovery discs a couple days ago, and I will reinstall the factory XP image when the discs arrive.

You weren't able to create your own recovery disks from the stock drive, or recovery from the recovery partition?
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post #107 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tgr131 View Post

You weren't able to create your own recovery disks from the stock drive, or recovery from the recovery partition?

Can't speak for a.dave, but on my system the recovery partition or subdirectory described in the documentation just flat didn't exist. I had to order mine.
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post #108 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 09:45 AM
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When I upgraded to Vista, the HP Recovery Utility app got corrupted and I couldn't make my HP discs. I should have done that as soon as I turned my system on with XP, but didn't. Not a good move on my part. But luckily they custom make the discs and send them out, so that's what I had to do.

I'll make sure to image those discs as soon as I get them in case anything ever happens again
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post #109 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 12:59 PM
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Food for thought:

1) Not sure about the Canadian Tech, but I've completed a fresh install with Vista on both my z558 and z560. I didn't have any problems. Used Vista Ultimate. I prefer the MCE 2005 interface (Vista IMHO is too busy).

2) If you want spare PSUs, search ebay periodically. I picked up a couple of spares in case I burn one out. Search for HIPRO HP-U2557C3.

3) You don't need a install a sata controller (pci card) in you z55x series if you install the new LG Combo Blu-Ray/HD-DVD drive. I changed out my hard drive and DVD player at the same time. However, I used an IDE hard drive vs a SATA drive. Now I could plug the LG drive into the Mobo sata controller and I used the IDE connector to plug in the hard drive (I didn't even do a fresh install). The computer had no problems booting. Works fine.

4) You don't need to pull out your 8500gt when you do a fresh install. I've permanently pulled the stock video cards in my z558 and z560 and done a fresh install numerous times. When you start up with a fresh install and your 8500gt plugged in, you screen my "freeze" at the nVidia screen set-up screen (This is because the stock drivers (i.e. 6600) won't work with your card.) Simply hit CTL-ALT-DEL and bring up task manager. Close (i.e. End Task) the nVidia screen configuration wizard through the task manager. After that, Windows XP will continue to load as normal.

5) Another option for those that want what Blu-Ray/HD-DVDs on the hp z series. Use a USB drive. (You will still need to upgrade your video card though). I'd recommend the MSI 8500gt. I uses a passive cooler (i.e. no fan) so it doesn't suck any more juice from your PSU. If you want to go the usb route, I'd recommend buying the LG Combo drive and then putting it in something like this:

http://www.cooldrives.com/essibay5cdop.html

I plugged my LG Combo drive into the back USB port and it played back Blu-Ray and HD-DVD titles just fine. This maybe a better solution for owners of the z560/z565 series (Reason: If you change out the stock dvd drive, the eject button no longer works.). You could also do a search on ebay for "Blu-Ray usb" or "HD-DVD usb" and you'll find a laptop HD-DVD drive (Toshiba) that is fully powered by the usb ports (2 free ports are required for playback). I purchased an HD-DVD drive and I'm waiting for it to arrive. I will post my thoughts when I get it working.

Nice thread. Lot of good info.
@BW, thanks for the posting on how to fully integrate PowerDVD into MCE (using the ArcSoft trial software). Very clever. I'm hoping that when ArcSoft releases an English version of their software, it will enable hardware decoding on the video card. I really like their software.

Justin
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post #110 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 01:30 PM - Thread Starter
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@ weatheryoko,

Thanks for the info! I tried a fresh install today myself due to my issues with standard DVD's not playing and other problems. I solved some and found others.

1. You don't need to pull the video card, but you do need to pull the drive. If you use the HP Recovery DVD, it will choke when you try to boot it from the LG drive, giving an error referencing the DVD drive. To reinstall from the HP Recovery DVD, the stock drive will need to be used.

2. I tried to make a custom recovery DVD by taking HP's disc and slipstreaming in the drivers for the Rosewill SATA controller and the 8500GT. This did not work out very well. It found the SATA drivers, but not the 8500GT's. These had to be installed manually. Also, it screwed the automated process on HP's disc. Media Center was nowhere to be found, I was stuck with an MCE load with no MC. So I had to do it again from HP's disc.

3. This worked well, the SATA drivers were not needed for installation. Putting them on after installation complete, along with the 8500GT drivers worked fine.

4. This part is weird. It loaded as MCE 2002, not MCE 2005. Even though I put in my license key that explicitly states MCE 2005, it still shows 2002. This means I can't put in Update Rollup 2, so xBox extensioning may not work right. MTF.

5. The good news is, standard DVD playback is working perfectly now, as is Blu Ray and HD DVD.

6. Weatheryoko, don't do that Arcsoft trick I found just yet. I think with all the software I was loading and unloading I may have screwed the decoders, which caused my playback issues. I saved the regsitry key I hacked to make it work. Let me dig it back up to install on mine, and once I make sure it works, I'll post it here. That way, all you're doing is adding the item to MC's menu.

7. Still need to reload the TimMMoore FireSTB application. I had it recording properly, so that part works, except for full MCE integration, which I'm told won't work on these boxes. You need a hardware decoding capture card for FireSTB to auto-record, which our cards aren't. So, you have to load the app and then use the CapDVHS application to record. It works, but is not optimal. Still working on this one. This remains the best way to get cable/sat high-def recordings onto your PC where it can be manipulated as the user sees fit.

Still working it...

BW
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post #111 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 01:39 PM
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@ weather. a lot of great info man. thanks for that. can you go into a little more info on how you were able to do successful clean Vista Ultimate installs with no problems? i am running into driver errors. and at this point, my system just keeps restarting itself over and over before Vista can even launch. almost like its stuck in a loop.

do you think its because your HD is IDE instead of SATA? i'm assuming your XP MCE install went fine because of the IDE HD as well, as opposed to SATA, which XP was not built for (unless you launch the SATA/RAID drivers via floppy during the setup)

any advice would be appreciated. i am waiting for my HP recovery discs to be mailed to me til then.
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post #112 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 01:52 PM
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@ a.dave,
From what I remember, all I did was put in the Vista disk and start the load. How much memory are you using. If > 3gb, try removing some mem so that it doesn't exceed 3GB. Try a fresh install and see what that does for you. Also, you may want to try and install Vista using your original DVD drive. Once you've got it loaded, swap out the stock DVD drive with the LG. It should boot no problems.

Justin
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post #113 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 02:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigWorm2005GT View Post

Yeah, it's weird. I checked my HD DVD's, they have either TrueHD, or just DD+ 5.1 or DD 5.1. I don't have the DTS mixing option for any of them, always greyed out. The one Blu-ray I rented I can do it.

Should I be able to set PowerDVD to enable the HD DVD's to downmix to DTS at least? The DTS track on Apocalypto sounded incredibly good, but that was because it had the uncompressed track. The HD DVD's hat have TrueHD I have tried both that and the normal 5.1 track, and none of them give me anything better than DD PLIIx. Which sounds good, but I'd like to get better.

Or I could simply upgrade to the retail version. Or like you wait for ArcSoft. If they ever release it...

What's this upgrade path you speak of?

I dont know why the downmixing works for BD and not HD but since it is not working for HD then the TrueHD soundtrack will be 2 channel only over optical. This is why your receiver shows DD PLIIx.
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post #114 of 1150 Old 01-01-2008, 02:13 PM - Thread Starter
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@ Almostinsane,

Thanks for the advice. I have since fixed this, it was settings on my receiver. I now get BE-YOU-TIFUL sound out of it:

Any DTS-ES or DTS-HD track downmixes to DTS-ES Discrete 6.1 (Best)
Regular DTS comes across natively as DTS
Any DDPlus, DD-EX, DD5.1 mixes to DDEX

LPCM and TrueHD are a problem, however. It doesn't mix the way I thought it did, it just comes through as stereo and gets upconverted with DPLIIx. I'd need a new amp AND a soundcard (and the retail version of PowerDVD, I think) that can output these formats, either over S/PDIF or HDMI. S/PDIF I think it out since it doesn't have the bandwidth for them, so it'll have to be somthing like the upcoming Auzentech HDMI daughtercard for the X-Fi Prelude.
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post #115 of 1150 Old 01-02-2008, 11:22 AM
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wow. take a week off and you miss a lot!

I'm about to give up on the ati 2600 hd. The hw is nice, but the drivers suck. big time. plus, the main people in the huge ati thread are no help. neither is ati. they haven't touched my support case in over a week.

sd dvd playback is no where near as smooth as it was with an nvidia card using the nvidia decoders. using the powerdvd decoders is worse. the control panel crashes a lot as well and cpu utilization is _way_ higher playing back dvds and ota hd.

I bought a 8500gt locally to try out tonight. If I can figure out how to move the screen, I'll buy a 8600gt from newegg. I've got my fingers crossed!
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post #116 of 1150 Old 01-02-2008, 11:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigWorm2005GT View Post

@ Almostinsane,

Thanks for the advice. I have since fixed this, it was settings on my receiver. I now get BE-YOU-TIFUL sound out of it:

Any DTS-ES or DTS-HD track downmixes to DTS-ES Discrete 6.1 (Best)
Regular DTS comes across natively as DTS
Any DDPlus, DD-EX, DD5.1 mixes to DDEX

LPCM and TrueHD are a problem, however. It doesn't mix the way I thought it did, it just comes through as stereo and gets upconverted with DPLIIx. I'd need a new amp AND a soundcard (and the retail version of PowerDVD, I think) that can output these formats, either over S/PDIF or HDMI. S/PDIF I think it out since it doesn't have the bandwidth for them, so it'll have to be somthing like the upcoming Auzentech HDMI daughtercard for the X-Fi Prelude.

I've been playing with the downmixing on cars and ratattouie. If I enable downmixing, it mixes to dts 2.0. voices that should be coming from the center channel are coming out the left and right channels. I can't select downmixing in transformers, but it sounds ok.

I have found that just enabling spdif works the best. It seems to pass some form of dd to my receiver with voices coming from the center channel and surround channels sound correct.

it should also be noted that I am running anydvd, if that matters.

as usual, ymmv!
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post #117 of 1150 Old 01-02-2008, 05:25 PM
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Has anyone found a way to extend the range of the wireless keyboard? I'm sitting here 6 feet from the PC and I give up and go get my laptop because the keyboard misses keys. I'm really starting to like this PC and if the keyboard worked all over the PC would be pretty cool.

john
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post #118 of 1150 Old 01-02-2008, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by jongig View Post

Has anyone found a way to extend the range of the wireless keyboard? I'm sitting here 6 feet from the PC and I give up and go get my laptop because the keyboard misses keys. I'm really starting to like this PC and if the keyboard worked all over the PC would be pretty cool.

john

John - I have to say, I'm not impressed with it either. Mine works at 14' (on my couch), BUT only when pointing directly at it (not in a comfortable position). 2 more feet of range would be great!

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post #119 of 1150 Old 01-02-2008, 06:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Derek K. View Post

I've been playing with the downmixing on cars and ratattouie. If I enable downmixing, it mixes to dts 2.0. voices that should be coming from the center channel are coming out the left and right channels. I can't select downmixing in transformers, but it sounds ok.

I have found that just enabling spdif works the best. It seems to pass some form of dd to my receiver with voices coming from the center channel and surround channels sound correct.

it should also be noted that I am running anydvd, if that matters.

as usual, ymmv!

Exactly. I'm going to post up in the first post all the audio modes that you can do with the OEM PowerDVD. You can set it to remix to DTS like you found, but you get that horrible "ringing" undertone that spoils the soundtrack for me.
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post #120 of 1150 Old 01-02-2008, 06:08 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by shawnharper View Post

John - I have to say, I'm not impressed with it either. Mine works at 14' (on my couch), BUT only when pointing directly at it (not in a comfortable position). 2 more feet of range would be great!

I must have a really good keyboard. I can point it any way I like and it works just fine, from quite some distance.
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