I listened to Steely Dan's "Gaucho" DTS album at lunch today.
You say "Big Deal !" Well, it is!! You see, the playback (via spdif to my receiver) was with MediaCenter 9.1, from my HardDrive, and the DTS Audio CD had been ripped with EAC and the .wav files were converted to lossless .wma for advanced tagging and broad compatiblity. I've been going nuts trying to find a simple solution to playing all of my 450+ Gb of .wma compressed CD rips with bit-perfect un-resampled spdif output. The ability to play these DTS files tells me I've found the answer. Sure, there are plenty of hoops I could have jumped and expensive sound cards I could have bought, but this solution is a thing of beauty:Onkyo UD-5
This little USB to TosLink dongle cost all of $29.90 (from Fry's Outpost)!! And no drivers required, thank you very much! When I got home for lunch, I found the DHL overnite package sitting on the table. I opened it up, plugged it into an open USB port on my HTPC, hooked up the TosLink cable to my receiver and watched as XP installed native USB Audio drivers. Hmmmmm.... that was simple! Opened up MC9.1 and pointed it at Track 2 of the ripped DTS CD and Voila!!! It was playing!!! Un-Friggen-Believable!! All those messing with Chainlink cards and eeproms and bootleg drivers take note!! A cheap and quick solution, and no PCI slot required!!
Furthering my 25 minutes of testing squeezed between mouthfuls of pasta and sausage, I played the ripped non-DTS version of the same album and smiled when I saw the Sony report 44.1kHz PCM.
Tried it with both DirectSound (default) and WaveOut... works either way, and NO ASIO driver required! Hey....
Wait a minute.... what happened to K-Mangler - I mean K-Mixer ??? I thought that in order to bypass the K-Mixer under XP, one had to have tricked drivers like RME or use Kernel Streaming or ASIO or something? Mind you, the drivers are native WinXP USB-Audio drivers.... I guess there IS a way to write XP approved drivers that can bypass the dreaded K-Mixer! And get this... the ripped DTS CD played just as well with Windows Media Player!!
Can you tell I'm excited?
I can't wait to get home after work and play with it some more. Gotta test DVD AC-3, but I'm sure it will work, it comes bundled with an OEM copy of WinDVD. My guess is that I'll want to use my onboard audio for system sounds, and use this as a secondary sound device for media playback, assuring no system sound glitches. OBTW, I had 3 audio devices enabled during this quick test, the Onkyo UD-5, my on-board SoundMax and my Firewire 410. Gee.... a little setting up here and my system will be convenient enough to use with my receiver, and I can then re-concentrate on my overall project of building a software-preamp to sit between audio players and my FW410 card.... yup, the last bugaboo of an open source DTS decoder has been cracked and now I think a software layer that appears to be a sound card and that talks to the multi-channel interface of cards like the Delta410 and 1010 and FW 410 is possible. Where did that delphi compiler go.....