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HTPC amplifier question

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I want to build a HTPC but have some questions on audio amplifiers. Is there an audio amplifier that exists that has coax/optical inputs and has 5.1 or 6.1 or 7.1 analog speaker outputs? The sole function of this device would be to just take digital data from the optical/coax and demux it into 6, 7, or 8 different channels. I'd like to do the signal adjustments from the HTPC. so this device I'm describing is really just a simple 6, 7, or 8 channel amplifier that happens to have a digital (optical or coax) input. Obviously, the analog channels wouldnt all have the same specs since it would be in use for a 5.1 or 6.1 or 7.1 speaker setup.

My plan would be to not have a receiver, just a HTPC, and I would sit this device Im describing behind the TV where my wall plate is where all my speakers terminate at. Or, if this device Im describing is just a 6/7/8 channel demultiplexor that feeds powered speakers that would work for me as well, but I would prefer the former. This way all my audio controls would be done via the HTPC

Surely Im not the only one to ever think this up?
post #2 of 16
http://www.pcalchemy.com/product_inf...mplifier-black

That what you had in mind? They also have a higher-power 5.1 version.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
OUTSTANDING... yup thats what I want. thanks a ton. are there any other vendors that make a competing product?

THANKS!
post #4 of 16
This is interesting. I've been looking for a receiver-less solution myself and now this thread pops up

That solution seems interesting, but the price difference between this and a real receiver is small to nonexistent. What would be the advantage of using this kind of device over a real receiver?

Or maybe there's other brands out there that do the same thing but cost less?
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by opticalc View Post

OUTSTANDING... yup thats what I want. thanks a ton. are there any other vendors that make a competing product?

THANKS!

It is the only one I have seen so far.

GuildsmanCoren:
I think the biggest advantage is integration over a similar priced reciever. I would also prefer a standalone poweramp pre/pro, but in certain situations this could be a good choice.
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by dubyahJay View Post

I think the biggest advantage is integration over a similar priced reciever. I would also prefer a standalone poweramp pre/pro, but in certain situations this could be a good choice.

Okay, I can understand that. Thanks for the info!
post #7 of 16
There is this link

I'm pretty sure the author lurks here too.
post #8 of 16
I believe omaura was showing a mid/high end one at CES as well.

http://www.morleydigital.com/2008/01/02/omaura-tf-amp/
post #9 of 16
The TF AMP should be available in e-tail within the next 4 weeks. We have product that will hit the water for US disty in 2 weeks. Expect announcements in the next week or so.
post #10 of 16
Hey Chris, that's good news!! I can't wait for a TF8 (or a TF5 if I go iSCSI)

-Alex
post #11 of 16
If you get a solution like this your are completely limited to the quality of the DACS internal to the unit itself. That kind of sucks.
post #12 of 16
I wouldn't dismiss it completely. This is 1st gen technology but DAC technology hasn't changed dramatically since the late 70s, early 80s.
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by HaLo6 View Post

If you get a solution like this your are completely limited to the quality of the DACS internal to the unit itself. That kind of sucks.

Wouldn't it use the DACs in the sound card of your computer? It has analog inputs only. Or am I missing something?

The most recent generation of sound cards has DACs who's sound quality rivals that of receivers two to three times the price.
post #14 of 16
No you wont be using any DAC in the sound card since you are sending digital out. DACs are Digital to Analog convertor, its not going analog till it hits this Amp described above, then the Amp, in this above configuration (being a specialty amp), will change it to Analog to send it to the speaker. The amp is taking the place of a pre-amp which IMO is going to cut down on the quality.

All I am saying is you are relying on the quality of the DACS in these Amps, which are a niche product in my opinion. I dont know anything about of read anything but I have never seen these advertised anywhere but pcalchemy.com

I am somewhat picky and have COAX out (since TOSLINK is ******) to a B&K Ref 50 preamp and then using those DACS sent to a B&K Amp which just takes in analog and sends out analog, which is all an AMP is supposed to do.

Just my 2cents.
post #15 of 16
Sorry, Smitty, the above amp takes in a digital signal, which makes it different than other amps just to clarify after I posted
post #16 of 16
We've been working on this sort of thing over the last couple years. We started with an integrated device that combined an external audio interface (soundcard) and high quality Class-D amp modules. The audio interface in our first prototype was a modified Echo Audio AudioFire 8. The main component we used from this product was the FireWire module/DSP - this is a circuit board Echo calls the FireWorks. It includes a TI 1394 chip and TI DSP and provides most of the soundcard functionality. To work with the PC, we have multichannel WDM drivers and multichannel Vista drivers. We replaced the DACs and analog section with higher quality components. The balanced outputs of the analog section are connected directly to the balanced inputs of the amp modules. Since these are matched, we don't need to use as many buffers as are usually used with separate components.

There are a bunch of things we still need to solve before we can produce a commercial product. 1. We have been trying to find an alternative to FireWire for multichannel 24bit audio. Choosing the best interface has been a challenge, especially since you can't clock to the host with USB. Most of the USB solutions out there like Benchmarks or Bel Cantos are reclocking and using sample rate conversion to minimize jitter, etc. However they are only doing 2 channel audio. It's a bit more complicated if you are trying to offer up to 8 channels (or more for whole house audio or systems using digital crossovers).

We are also considering making just a PC centric preamp by not including an amp section.

There are other challenges with developing this sort of product and it's not going as quickly as I'd like, but we keep plugging away hoping that eventually we'll have a nice commercial product. Dealing with all the licensing and DRM issues hasn't made this any easier.
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