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What do you use for good sound in an HTPC?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
If I get a pc with an hdmi out, is that all I need? How do I make sure I have a good quality sound (certain motheboard or sound card)?
post #2 of 24
Yup, if your buying piece by piece make sure the mobo has HDMI and your good.
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffkro View Post

Yup, if your buying piece by piece make sure the mobo has HDMI and your good.

It doesn't have to be a certain "grade" or kind of sound card? They're all good? Do I look for surround sound sound cards or something like that?
post #4 of 24
No sound card needed.
post #5 of 24
Does the audio on the mobo matter? I have a 7.1 set up. I see all sorts of options for audio on these boards.
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by likemovies View Post

If I get a pc with an hdmi out, is that all I need? How do I make sure I have a good quality sound (certain motheboard or sound card)?

I think that would depend if your A/V receiver has an HDMI input. Or if HDMI is connected to your HDTV the TV would need to pass DD5.1 via optical to your AVR.
post #7 of 24
If you are getting your sound over HDMI, then you don't need a sound card.

I am using onboard sound card, and output sound via optical to the AVR, while TV gets direct video feed form the video card.
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by likemovies View Post

If I get a pc with an hdmi out, is that all I need? How do I make sure I have a good quality sound (certain motherboard or sound card)?

I think "good quality sound" can be produced by most onboard audio controllers manufactured since the mid 1990's. All a sound card might offer you is better connection options (optical) and perhaps some amplification. HDMI doesn't have much impact on the quality of audio,either.. it is, after all, just a connection standard. Audio will travel along the HDMI cable to the TV, and it will output to the TV's internal speakers (which is generally good enough for everyday viewing). If you want that audio to sound better (5.1 or something like that), then you need to move that audio signal from the TV to a receiver that would be capable of decoding that signal.

I have two HTPC's. My main system was built using the MSI Media Live Diva 5.1 board (which uses a separate 5.1 channel 100 watt/channel amplifier card). I output audio directly to my home theater speakers. The other HTPC is a mini-itx system. I designed it with a minimum footprint for my living room. Most of the time, the audio from the TV is used (basic TV watching), but I do have a Bose Cinemate 2.1 amplifier. It's connected to the TV via optical cable. The Bose rivals my 5.1 system for Music and DVD playback. On top of all that, I also use DFX audio enhancer (http://www.fxsound.com/dfx/index.php) on both systems.
Edited by ajkrishock - 2/4/13 at 11:22am
post #9 of 24
Good sound on HTPC:
for video - HDMI and A/V receiver,
for music - USB and async DAC.
post #10 of 24
Do you want to send audio formats like DTS-HD master audio to your AV receiver?
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qaq View Post

Good sound on HTPC:
for video - HDMI and A/V receiver,
for music - USB and async DAC.

Why would having a DAC via USB be better than just using the DAC in your receiver? This seems odd to me.
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by macks View Post

Why would having a DAC via USB be better than just using the DAC in your receiver? This seems odd to me.
The assumption here is that the DACs inside a receiver/pre-amp are inferior/worse than a dedicated "DAC". That has been debated to death for years, and while 10 years back that may have been true, my personal belief is that it is no longer true.

In addition, if you use a USB DAC, how do you do room correction....... ?smile.gif
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by macks View Post

Why would having a DAC via USB be better than just using the DAC in your receiver? This seems odd to me.
I'm not really satisfied how does music sound over my Onkyo 1007 with digital (HDMI, S/PDIF, Ethernet) sources. Believe Me, I tried everything - bit exact, LPCM, DTS-HD MA... With good analog source I really enjoy a music and with digital source I have to make myself to listen to something sometimes. Last one method is wrong I guess ) What seems odd to me that 24/44.1 recordings sound even worse than their 16/44.1 versions.
Lets get a bit more detailed though. My Onkyo 1007 has PCM1796 dac chip and NE5532 op-amps. A soundcard like Asus Essence ST has PCM1792A dac chip (better) and exchanged op-amps LM4562 and AD823 (better). A $2,5k DAC has even better DA + pre parts.
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qaq View Post

I'm not really satisfied how does music sound over my Onkyo 1007 with digital (HDMI, S/PDIF, Ethernet) sources. Believe Me, I tried everything - bit exact, LPCM, DTS-HD MA... With good analog source I really enjoy a music and with digital source I have to make myself to listen to something sometimes. Last one method is wrong I guess ) What seems odd to me that 24/44.1 recordings sound even worse than their 16/44.1 versions.
Lets get a bit more detailed though. My Onkyo 1007 has PCM1796 dac chip and NE5532 op-amps. A soundcard like Asus Essence ST has PCM1792A dac chip (better) and exchanged op-amps LM4562 and AD823 (better). A $2,5k DAC has even better DA + pre parts.

If it is on your computer then it is a digital source. The Essence ST is not a usb soundcard. I don't understand why you would re-encode your music to LPCM or DTS-HD. Your receiver should be able to receive CD audio over hdmi.

Your DAC argument is sound but the rest just seems wrong.

Back to the OP: Make sure your A/V receiver supports HDMI. If it doesn't then we can make recommendations on a new receiver.
post #15 of 24
HDMI doesn't support some "CD audio". It supports ... right, LPCM, DD, DTS.
Quote:
Originally Posted by macks View Post

I don't understand...
agreed
post #16 of 24
I'm fairly certain HDMI supports all PCM formats up to 24/192. If your card isn't showing support for 24/44.1 then you probably have a driver issue.

I'm going to assume English isn't your first language.

My intention is not to start an E-Peen fight I was just trying to figure out what advantage a usb DAC would have and why you would use this for music but not movies?

Your answers so far have been mostly nonsense.
post #17 of 24
My video card (7750) supports 24 bits (24 padded to 32), its just sound horrible (like I said above).
The advantage of usb DAC (async USB DAC) is better protocol (receiver has control over source) and better DA, pre parts.
USB is 2.0 only and movies are multichannel.
post #18 of 24
I use the E-MU 1212m with ASIO (and J-River) for audio on my HTPC...
HTPC connects to AVR via optical for audio and via HDMI for movies...

I've gotten used to switching input on the AVR when I want to listen to music...
I believe it is worth the effort to switch input on the AVR to get what I want audio-wise...

Audio only over HDMI is disgusting in my opinion...
post #19 of 24
Music sounds great over hdmi to me. I understand the DAC argument but that isn't as extreme as you guys are making it out to be.

My only other thought is that your receivers are applying 5-channel enhancement to your music(or windows). Maybe you guys are just really picky.
post #20 of 24
I have no doubt that dedicated DACs have better DAC and op-amp chips, but it's a question of subtlety, dynamics, perceived range, and a whole lot of other buzzwords. The biggest benefit to sound in a particular setting is Room Correction. And using dedicated DACs takes that away. No go.
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Qaq View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by macks View Post

Lets get a bit more detailed though. My Onkyo 1007 has PCM1796 dac chip and NE5532 op-amps. A soundcard like Asus Essence ST has PCM1792A dac chip (better) and exchanged op-amps LM4562 and AD823 (better). A $2,5k DAC has even better DA + pre parts.

The myth that appears to be repeated here is the mistaken idea that there is no such thing as diminishing returns with audio components.

In fact there are such things as thresholds of reliable detection for all forms of distortion and noise. They are known to be fairly humble compared to the performance of even mid-priced audio components.

I present to you the Behringer UCA 202. Street price $29.95 Prove to me with a good DBT that you can hear how it degrades the SQ of any commercial recording that you have. Your choice of speakers, amps, etc. Sighted evaluations need not apply! ;-)
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by macks View Post

Music sounds great over hdmi to me. I understand the DAC argument but that isn't as extreme as you guys are making it out to be.

My only other thought is that your receivers are applying 5-channel enhancement to your music(or windows). Maybe you guys are just really picky.

I felt the same way until I saw 1080p/24...
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

The myth that appears to be repeated here is the mistaken idea that there is no such thing as diminishing returns with audio components.

In fact there are such things as thresholds of reliable detection for all forms of distortion and noise. They are known to be fairly humble compared to the performance of even mid-priced audio components.

I present to you the Behringer UCA 202. Street price $29.95 Prove to me with a good DBT that you can hear how it degrades the SQ of any commercial recording that you have. Your choice of speakers, amps, etc. Sighted evaluations need not apply! ;-)

You should have them compare speaker cable while they are at it smile.gif
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Prove to me with a good DBT ...
What for?
Look, arnyk, I wanted to ask you for a long time: can you prove me.... provide me a references to a DBTs there people found some really subtle differences? I mean they could differ not a night from day but something smaller? Thanks in advance.
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