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Too many variables... I'm stumped!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi guys!

A message to ask for your help regarding sound in my home theater. I've had my current HTPC for about 18 months and it has performed beautifully but I have never really come to grips with the sound.

I have put the basic specs of my HT below which has my HTPC connected to my Onkyo amp via optical cable. I have been using VLC to play a lot of my MKV 720p content (mostly all TV shows) but with the sound variables in VLC (or most other media players), the sound variables in the Intel audio settings AND the sound options on the amp it seems like there are infinite possibilities that, unless someone points me in the right direction, I will simple never get to the bottom of.

Would LOVE for someone to help me out!

HTPC
Intel Core2Duo 2.93

Asus P5G43T-M-PRO
(ALC887 8-Channel High-Definition Audio CODEC
- Optical S/PDIF output
- Support Jack Detection and Multi-streaming)

Windows 7 Home Premium

Amp
Onkyo TX-SR576

Display Device
Panasonic AX-200E
post #2 of 14
what is the question?
post #3 of 14
I simply use Shark007 and have it passthru digital audio to my audio receiver. I don't let windows or audio drivers do anything, that's the job of my AVR. Just keep it simple.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrBobb View Post

what is the question?

The question is, should I bypass the processing of sound by the HTPC and leave it to the amp or should I let the HTPC do some of the work and set the amp on a particular setting?
There just seems to be SO MANY variables on the HTPC side that I wonder if it is a case of 'too many cooks spoil the broth' with the signal eventually getting to the amp at a poor quality...
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bonscott87 View Post

I simply use Shark007 and have it passthru digital audio to my audio receiver. I don't let windows or audio drivers do anything, that's the job of my AVR. Just keep it simple.

With a username like bonscott then I have to stand up and listen. I will look into your tip and hopefully it will help out a lot. I have tried playing Blu-Ray's of Live at Donnington, No Bull and Stiff Upper Lip and for the life of me I can't figure out what to do with the sound. I want them to sound like the producers and band wanted me to hear them. So 'passing thru' the signal for the amp to process sounds like the right move.
However, what should the amp be on? It has Dolby Digital Plus, DD-EX, PLIIx, DTS, ES, NEO6, 96/24, Stereo, Mono and then all the presets for concert, hall, stadium etc...

Would love your input back!
post #6 of 14
I suggest sending multichannel LPCM/DD/DTS audio over HDMI and leave all audio processing to TX-SR576. Overall simpler and better, and you won't waste major functions of your ARV (Audyssey, etc.).
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

I suggest sending multichannel LPCM/DD/DTS audio over HDMI and leave all audio processing to TX-SR576. Overall simpler and better, and you won't waste major functions of your ARV (Audyssey, etc.).

That's two votes for sending the raw signal straight to the AVR? I assume it won't make any difference that for the video I bypass the AVR and run it straight from the HTPC to the PJ and the audio is connected using optical cable and not HDMI?
post #8 of 14
Yeah, I see your main source is MKV 720p contents (mostly all TV shows). Then there won't be difference between HDMI and S/PDIF. You may hear difference between lossless audio (LPCM decoded from Doby TrueHD, DTS-HD MA) over HDMI and lossy audio (DD/DTS) over S/PDIF when you play BD movies, that's not your case, however.
post #9 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

Yeah, I see your main source is MKV 720p contents (mostly all TV shows). Then there won't be difference between HDMI and S/PDIF. You may hear difference between lossless audio (LPCM decoded from Doby TrueHD, DTS-HD MA) over HDMI and lossy audio (DD/DTS) over S/PDIF when you play BD movies, that's not your case, however.

Thanks for your reply.
Hey, it would be a 2 min job for me to pull the optical cable and let the HTPC send both audio and video over HDMI to the AVR and then the video to the PJ via HDMI. Worth doing? Should there be any loss in the PQ as it passes through the AVR?
post #10 of 14
No loss of PQ by passing video through AVR.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx View Post

No loss of PQ by passing video through AVR.

Thanks, I'll do that shortly. I honestly thought optical and HDMI were exactly the same as far as audio quality/capability..
post #12 of 14
For everything played via 7MC I just pass it thru, if it's 2 ch my AVR uses PLII, everything else it plays as is.
post #13 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cammo View Post

Thanks, I'll do that shortly. I honestly thought optical and HDMI were exactly the same as far as audio quality/capability..

The main differences are:

- S/PDIF: Stereo PCM, DD, DTS
- HDMI 1.0-1.2: Multichannel LPCM, DD, DTS
- HDMI 1.3/1.4: TrueHD (lossless), DD+, DTS-HD MA (lossless), DTS-HD HR, multichannel LPCM, DD, DTS.

Check this chart. Even with HDMI 1.0-1.2 GPU (Intel GMA X4500) + AVR (TX-SR576), PC can decode all of TrueHD, DD+, DTS-HD MA/HR to multichannel LPCM bit-perfect, hence you will get the full quality audio.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cammo View Post

However, what should the amp be on? It has Dolby Digital Plus, DD-EX, PLIIx, DTS, ES, NEO6, 96/24, Stereo, Mono and then all the presets for concert, hall, stadium etc...

Would love your input back!

This is really all up to you, but I don't like to apply any filters like that, I just want it pure as it was recorded.

So since I passthru it comes thru "raw" to my AVR. I have it set to not do any sound filters (with one exception).

So the display says "DTS" or "DTS EX" or "DD 5.1" and I just leave it at that. No "movie" or "sci fi" filter. Just give me the actual unmolested audio.

My only exception is for 2 channel stereo/PCM. For that I let the AVR apply the Prologic IIx filter. This comes into play for any channel that isn't in 5.1 or for Internet streaming say thru Netflix or Hulu if it's not 5.1 (which is most). My AVR does a really nice job with PLIIx so I let it.

My AVR is a mid range Yamaha that's a few years old so no HDMI. So I have Optical to the Yamaha and HDMI for video to my HDTV.
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