What's the best option for sound these days? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 8 Old 08-13-2019, 11:47 AM - Thread Starter
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What's the best option for sound these days?

So i have a Xonar HDAV 1.3 slim which sounds great but I think got broke by a windows update last week (maybe a hardware failure...but my money is on drivers since I think there were last updated for windows 7, maybe when 8 just came out - computer randomly restarts a lot now I removed from the system and it seems better for the moment).



So assuming this is the guilty party how do I get good sound back? My Geforce card and motherboard both sound noticeably worse. It appears that no one cares about quality sound anymore.



Ideally, I'd like the sound to just go out via hdmi into the receiver, if there's a pass through like this card that's fine, or if there's a video card that someone gave a passing through to integrating good sound too I'd like to know.
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post #2 of 8 Old 08-13-2019, 10:50 PM
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HDMI is all digital. There is no way the sound card you have can be better unless you enabled processing to artificially alter the sound. The quality of the audio has to be identical since the same bits are being sent from all the outputs.

I suggest using the HDMI output you are not using for graphics - the HDMI from your GeForce card should go to the monitor, the other one to your receiver. Or if your monitor is connected by DisplayPort, use the GeForce HDMI.
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post #3 of 8 Old 08-14-2019, 05:24 AM
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The Xonar was a great card in its day but now that most graphics cards can pass through digital HD audio there is absolutely no need for it. It's outdated and obsolete. Just set up your playback app to pass through the digital audio to your receiver or preamp/processor and you're good to go.
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post #4 of 8 Old 08-14-2019, 05:32 AM
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The recent Windows 10 update (and GEForce was updated too I think) messed up my sound as well; brand new high end laptop. At the beginning of anything, a game, Youtube, etc. the audio bizzblazaps for about a second. Haven't looked into it yet. I'm using the laptop's speakers and have a secondary HDMI video-only monitor.
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post #5 of 8 Old 08-14-2019, 02:23 PM
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ditch the receiver. use your pc as your receiver (hdmi is horrible for audio). buy a usb dac connect to the pc (there are many very reasonably priced dacs that have incredible sound quality) . run analog interconnects to an amplifier. connect amp to speakers -no preamp. use volume control from your software. do not use power dvd or other licensed products because they have copy protection and require hdmi for lossless audio of blu-rays. I use mkv with mpc hc for Blu-ray rips;-dvds I can play directly from disc with mpc.
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post #6 of 8 Old 08-16-2019, 12:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerall View Post
ditch the receiver. use your pc as your receiver (hdmi is horrible for audio). buy a usb dac connect to the pc (there are many very reasonably priced dacs that have incredible sound quality) . run analog interconnects to an amplifier. connect amp to speakers -no preamp. use volume control from your software. do not use power dvd or other licensed products because they have copy protection and require hdmi for lossless audio of blu-rays. I use mkv with mpc hc for Blu-ray rips;-dvds I can play directly from disc with mpc.
That solution sounds like a total pain in the a*s. Get a receiver and let it process the audio, amplify, and provide switching for other sources.
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post #7 of 8 Old 08-16-2019, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerall View Post
ditch the receiver. use your pc as your receiver (hdmi is horrible for audio). buy a usb dac connect to the pc (there are many very reasonably priced dacs that have incredible sound quality) . run analog interconnects to an amplifier. connect amp to speakers -no preamp. use volume control from your software. do not use power dvd or other licensed products because they have copy protection and require hdmi for lossless audio of blu-rays. I use mkv with mpc hc for Blu-ray rips;-dvds I can play directly from disc with mpc.
I'm not even sure how to begin to respond to this post but I'll give it a shot. HDMI is all digital so if you let the digital audio pass through to the receiver or pre/pro there is absolutely no interaction or processing done on the audio signal from the PC side. If you're getting terrible audio via HDMI then whatever you have connected to it that is processing the signal is where the problem lies. I'm really not sure how using a USB DAC is going to be any better than using HDMI to a high end receiver or preamp/processor with quality DACs built-in. HDMI was specifically designed to transmit high end digital audio with no loss of signal or quality. USB was never designed for that purpose.

If you're only using your PC for audio playback then whatever "purist" configuration you're trying to use may work for you, but it's going to be a total PITA for most people. Many people have tried to suggest using a PC as a controller for a home theater system. Let's be very clear about one thing. A PC is a component in a system, not a controller. Trying to use it as a controller means you can't add other components because it has no input switching capabilities. All of the components in a home theater system are controlled by a preamp or receiver, including a Home Theater PC. Your way is nothing more than a kludged setup that offers next to nothing in the way of convenience or versatility. It's simply not going to cut it for the vast majority of users. You would never consider connecting a DVD player or other A/V component directly to a power amplifier so why would a HTPC be any different?

Last edited by captain_video; 08-16-2019 at 04:08 PM.
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post #8 of 8 Old 08-19-2019, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by captain_video View Post
I'm not even sure how to begin to respond to this post but I'll give it a shot. HDMI is all digital so if you let the digital audio pass through to the receiver or pre/pro there is absolutely no interaction or processing done on the audio signal from the PC side. If you're getting terrible audio via HDMI then whatever you have connected to it that is processing the signal is where the problem lies. I'm really not sure how using a USB DAC is going to be any better than using HDMI to a high end receiver or preamp/processor with quality DACs built-in. HDMI was specifically designed to transmit high end digital audio with no loss of signal or quality. USB was never designed for that purpose.

If you're only using your PC for audio playback then whatever "purist" configuration you're trying to use may work for you, but it's going to be a total PITA for most people. Many people have tried to suggest using a PC as a controller for a home theater system. Let's be very clear about one thing. A PC is a component in a system, not a controller. Trying to use it as a controller means you can't add other components because it has no input switching capabilities. All of the components in a home theater system are controlled by a preamp or receiver, including a Home Theater PC. Your way is nothing more than a kludged setup that offers next to nothing in the way of convenience or versatility. It's simply not going to cut it for the vast majority of users. You would never consider connecting a DVD player or other A/V component directly to a power amplifier so why would a HTPC be any different?
USB does have specifications for dealing with audio. Originally, the spec included USB Audio Class 1.0. This was limited to a stereo pair but it did support higher resolutions like 96 kHz / 24-bit. Not long after, the spec was updated to USB Audio Class 2.0. This supported multichannel high-resolution audio up to 192 kHz/ 24-bit. It has been supported on macOS and Linux for many years and is the preferred interface for a lot of audio interfaces used in recording studios. It took a while for Microsoft to finally support USB Audio Class 2.0 in Windows, which they started to do about a year or so ago. So, I wouldn't say USB was never intended for that purpose. You can use one of those 8 channel USB audio interfaces, which use very high-quality DACs, and they work pretty well in some home theater applications. Maybe not as convenient as an AVR but they will sound better than most AVRs priced under $3K. Those higher priced AVRs probably use similar DACs, like the ESS Sabre chips.

Just an aside... With my multichannel audio interface, I could play audio simultaneously through headphones and speakers. They have to do this for monitoring purposes. Using a software mixer utility, I could assign whatever channels I wanted to hear on the headphones (usually just FR, FL, and C). I haven't been able to find any AVR that does this. When you plug in headphones, the audio to the speakers is cut off. I'd like to do this again with an AVR because I have hearing loss. Instead of cranking up the sound and annoying the rest of my family, I'd like to plug in a pair of headphones. Of course, I'd need to have a separate volume control for the headphones.

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