Turned out long, as usual, so here TLDR: is there a guide showing what components do I need and what options do I have to get decent-quality HD audio from a Linux Mint HTPC/desktop computer to my 5.1 speakers via an AVR, or can you guys help me which to buy or need to change to get there?
Bonus question: do monitor and projector calibration ICC profiles generated within Win7 work in Linux Mint, and have the same effect?
Here the TLDR:
I currently run Win7 on my HTPC/desktop/gaming box. I'm planning to upgrade it while building a separate unRAID box for movie and TV series storage. I'd move to Linux Mint for all non-Photoshop and most gaming needs, and would prefer to stick with it for video viewing, as well. Videos would be streamed from the unRAID box.
Reading through all the XBMC and HTPC audio developments since I built my current system gets a bit overwhelming. It appears that current XBMC supports HD audio in both Win and Linux, and that bitstreaming is required for that. It is unclear to me what hardware, software and setup do I need to enable HD bitstreaming from a Linux box, though, and how to get all that to my 5.1 speakers via an AVR.
I would be outputting ripped video content up to 1080p and various HD audio codecs through Onkyo SR-705 attached to an Epson 1080p projector and 5.1 sound system. I watch blurays on PS4, so no need for BD support.
My GPU is an nVidia GTX 560, but might be upgrading that in the future, or if necessary. I'm not set on the mobo, but MSI Z77A-G45 looks like a good fit, which has 7.1 audio from Realtek ALC892 chip.
I currently run audio through a bundle of analog wires from SoundBlaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro (don't laugh, I didn't come up with the name :P) to the AVR. I'm not sure how its audio quality compares to that of on-board audio output via HDMI of a discrete GPU. I'm also not sure if the X-Fi would even run on Linux Mint, or be capable of bitstreaming audio via XBMC.
I would prefer to run everything through the GPU's HDMI to keep things simple, but would consider staying with the X-Fi card if on-board audio quality is crappy. I'm no audiophile and neither is my apartment set for great acoustics, but I like good audio.
Finally, I calibrate my monitor (native software) and projector (HCFR) with a Spyder. I might be upgrading to ColorMunki soon. I understand Linux supports ICC profiles. But does it interpret them exactly the same as Win7? In other words, if I use my current calibration scheme and generate the ICC profiles in Windows 7, can I use the same profiles in Linux Mint and get the same results on screen? I'd prefer to keep my calibration scheme as is, and not have to learn a new way with Linux.