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post #1 of 14 Old 05-07-2014, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
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With my current setup I have a pioneer receiver that is connected via an auxiliary cable to my computer in order to listen to music. I'm pretty certain that I am limiting the sound quality that I'm getting from the music I listen to by doing this and was wondering what is the best method to get the highest possible sound quality from my computer to my receiver. Up until now I haven't really cared too much since I haven't had the best of sound systems, but I'm going to be purchasing some high end speakers soon and would like to get the best possible sound quality out of them.

 

Should I be using HDMI instead of an auxiliary cable and should I need to be considering the possibility of adding a sound card rather than using onboard on my computer in order to get better sound quality?

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post #2 of 14 Old 05-07-2014, 05:53 PM
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By 'auxiliary cable' I presume you are talking about a analog RCA connection? (red and white plugs?)

If your computer already has HDMI video output, see if it can be configured to carry the audio as well and see if you notice any difference in sound quality. Listen for how quiet the background hiss is when you pause in the middle of a track.

Alternatively get a sound card like this one and use an optical or coaxial cable.

I use one of those sound cards with a coaxial cable to my receiver and am happy enough with the audio quality.
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post #3 of 14 Old 05-07-2014, 07:01 PM
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the xonar is great if your driving a pair of hd800s...  otherwise, meh...  just use HDMI.

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post #4 of 14 Old 05-08-2014, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Does the onboard sound from different CPU's matter or are they normally about the same in quality? I've never really known much concerning sound cards since I generally focus more on the receivers.

 

I have an i7 3770 ivy bridge if that matters at all when considering onboard sound.

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post #5 of 14 Old 05-11-2014, 08:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valrok View Post
 

Does the onboard sound from different CPU's matter or are they normally about the same in quality? I've never really known much concerning sound cards since I generally focus more on the receivers.

 

I have an i7 3770 ivy bridge if that matters at all when considering onboard sound.

Hi Valrok

 

I see that your somewhat new still - Welcome to AVS!

 

Typically the CPU has little impact on the performance of the sound card, unless, it doesn't meet the minimum requirements of the device, as specified by the sound card manufacturer.

 

At the i7 level, you can currently, support any sound card manufacturers feature sets, without limitation (please note that memory can be a factor, but not likely if your simply using the card for Home Theatre applications).

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post #6 of 14 Old 05-11-2014, 08:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Valrok View Post

Does the onboard sound from different CPU's matter or are they normally about the same in quality? I've never really known much concerning sound cards since I generally focus more on the receivers.

I have an i7 3770 ivy bridge if that matters at all when considering onboard sound.
It is very hard to predict the performance of the onboard sound without measurements. Here is a simple test. Put on headphones and turn the volume way up *without* playing anything. Then use your PC to make it busy. For example run the disk check and see if you hear any noises through the headphone. If you do, then this is a low performing audio output.

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post #7 of 14 Old 05-11-2014, 08:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post


It is very hard to predict the performance of the onboard sound without measurements. Here is a simple test. Put on headphones and turn the volume way up *without* playing anything. Then use your PC to make it busy. For example run the disk check and see if you hear any noises through the headphone. If you do, then this is a low performing audio output.


Great tip that everyone can engage!

 

So using it will require that you narrow your field of options, picking at least three to audition (to start). You will need to purchase the cards from a retailer that will permit you to bring them beck, etc...

 

I recommend that you put E-mu on your list.:)

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post #8 of 14 Old 05-11-2014, 08:30 AM
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Thanks. In this case he was talking about his onboard sound. But yes, if you can hear the activities in your system, then it is a poor interface. There must be enough isolation where that won't happen.

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post #9 of 14 Old 05-11-2014, 08:35 AM
 
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Thanks. In this case he was talking about his onboard sound. But yes, if you can hear the activities in your system, then it is a poor interface. There must be enough isolation where that won't happen.


My mistake, thanks for politely, setting me straight!

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post #10 of 14 Old 05-11-2014, 01:43 PM
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I've never had very much success with onboard audio. Far more likely to get pops and clicks when configuring a player for bit-perfect output with WASAPI and the likes. A dedicated sound card is much less problematic.

Much like onboard video vs a dedicated video card. You are far more likely to run into problems with the onboard video.
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post #11 of 14 Old 05-12-2014, 12:25 PM
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been there, done that,
skip the sound card, skip trying to upgrade the sound card
go digital out, either through HDMI or even USB if you have to, (there are several good devises available for this, not expensive either.)
let your head unit (processor, receiver, preamp, ...) DAC do the work.
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post #12 of 14 Old 05-12-2014, 02:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altpensacola View Post

been there, done that,
skip the sound card, skip trying to upgrade the sound card
go digital out, either through HDMI or even USB if you have to, (there are several good devises available for this, not expensive either.)
let your head unit (processor, receiver, preamp, ...) DAC do the work.


Using a sound card's S/PDIF out is a digital out.

I agree in not using analog out straight out of a PC.
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post #13 of 14 Old 05-12-2014, 03:04 PM
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Note that S/PDIF does not have enough bandwidth to carry uncompressed surround sound. HDMI can carry up to 7.1 24/192 uncompressed. If you are upmixing your music to surround on the PC side, you are better off using HDMI. And like others have commented in this thread, if you stay digital out like S/PDIF and HDMI it does not matter if you use a high-end sound card or not. The signal will be exactly the same.
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post #14 of 14 Old 05-12-2014, 11:55 PM
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Originally Posted by VTOLfreak View Post

Note that S/PDIF does not have enough bandwidth to carry uncompressed surround sound. HDMI can carry up to 7.1 24/192 uncompressed. If you are upmixing your music to surround on the PC side, you are better off using HDMI.

S/PDIF can carry 5.1 with Dolby Digital though. I have been using JRiver's JRSS mixing on some 2ch music to put a touch of ambience in the side surround speakers as well and then experimented between outputting with Dolby compression over S/PDIF and without compression over HDMI. I couldn't pick any degradation due to Dolby compression but unfortunately on my system HDMI gives more background noise.

I had recently changed to higher sensitivity 4 ohm speakers and the background hiss became more apparent. I tried troubleshooting the problem with a mic attached to a tripod directly in front of one speaker.



HDMI gave 5dB more background noise. It was noticeably worse from the listening position.

So thus far I am sticking with S/PDIF.


Quote:
And like others have commented in this thread, if you stay digital out like S/PDIF and HDMI it does not matter if you use a high-end sound card or not. The signal will be exactly the same.

I had suggested a sound card that can be found for probably a bit over a hundred dollars. I don't know if there is such a thing as a "high-end" sound card these days as using a sound card isn't the in-thing as using USB DACs is more the trend and where you will see lots of high-end examples.

Even using HDMI I prefer a basic fanless graphics card over onboard graphics output. Much less problematic and buggy with all the different software and hardware possibilities it is like to encounter.
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