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post #1 of 17 Old 06-20-2019, 09:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Unhappy Terribly disappointed by going to into analog from digital

Right now my setup on my PC is:

Creative SoundBlaster ZxR sound card
Denon AVR 1910 AV Receiver
B&W MT-50 speakers


I'm using DTS Connect to transfer audio via optical to my receiver. Everything is satisfactory. I am getting stereo sound from all stereo sources + emulated multi channel when I use SBX Pro Studio Surround, also surround encoded games / videos work without any emulation (I turn SBX surround off when playing games and I get directional audio from all 5 channels).


Since this is a compressed signal, I've always wondered what I would gain by going to analog. If all this seems familiar I've asked about doing what I had just done in order to improve sound quality in the past on this forum.



I've bought a new sound card: Sound Blaster X AE-5 which was overly praised for it's superior analog outputs and connected it to the Denon using analog multichannel connections. Set input to EXT IN. And I was pleasantly surprised at the incredibly weaksauce sound. Since the receiver shuts of all DSPs, (which I didn't know prior to this) There is no bass at all. I've measured speaker distances and used the crude software of the sound card to improve imaging, crossover etc. but no matter what I do I can't get the same amount of detail I had with my ZxR. And the bass is terrible because of no management. It's either nonexisant or overly boomy when I turn the gain up.



I tought about getting a Marantz SR 5013 and asked Marantz about it and whether or not it also deactivates the DSPs and this is what they've said:

Good Afternoon Kayhan,

Thank you for your enquiry. The EXT IN connections are designed for SACD / Blu-Ray / DVD players that have multi-channel outputs. The idea is that these kinds of players can decode and process the audio themselves, then have the audio be fed into the receiver via the EXT IN connections.

If using these inputs, you would need to use any DSP settings on the soundcard itself if available.

Alternatively, if your soundcard also has digital outputs like digital coax or digital optical, this could be used, and the DSP functionality on the receiver can be used for these inputs without issue. With that, you'd also benefit of the quality of the DAC chipset in the receiver as well.

For any of our receivers, Denon or Marantz with EXT IN / MULTI CH IN connections no DSP is possible unfortunately.

I hope this information is useful and I'm sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Sincerely,
Marantz Customer Support

What I understand from this is that it's better to let the AVR be the DAC and you'll have better sound anyway. Since Creative, in all their stupidity, decided not to include digital encoding on their new flagship sound card' software, I've pulled out the 150 dollar RGB paperweight off my system and gone back to my old (current) setup.


Should I just call it a day and deal with it? Should I look for an AVR that have DSP capabilities when using analog multichannel sources, if such a thing exists?



Thank you.
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post #2 of 17 Old 06-20-2019, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktorpil View Post
Right now my setup on my PC is:

Creative SoundBlaster ZxR sound card
Denon AVR 1910 AV Receiver
B&W MT-50 speakers


I'm using DTS Connect to transfer audio via optical to my receiver. Everything is satisfactory. I am getting stereo sound from all stereo sources + emulated multi channel when I use SBX Pro Studio Surround, also surround encoded games / videos work without any emulation (I turn SBX surround off when playing games and I get directional audio from all 5 channels).


Since this is a compressed signal, I've always wondered what I would gain by going to analog. If all this seems familiar I've asked about doing what I had just done in order to improve sound quality in the past on this forum.



I've bought a new sound card: Sound Blaster X AE-5 which was overly praised for it's superior analog outputs and connected it to the Denon using analog multichannel connections. Set input to EXT IN. And I was pleasantly surprised at the incredibly weaksauce sound. Since the receiver shuts of all DSPs, (which I didn't know prior to this) There is no bass at all. I've measured speaker distances and used the crude software of the sound card to improve imaging, crossover etc. but no matter what I do I can't get the same amount of detail I had with my ZxR. And the bass is terrible because of no management. It's either nonexisant or overly boomy when I turn the gain up.



I tought about getting a Marantz SR 5013 and asked Marantz about it and whether or not it also deactivates the DSPs and this is what they've said:

Good Afternoon Kayhan,

Thank you for your enquiry. The EXT IN connections are designed for SACD / Blu-Ray / DVD players that have multi-channel outputs. The idea is that these kinds of players can decode and process the audio themselves, then have the audio be fed into the receiver via the EXT IN connections.

If using these inputs, you would need to use any DSP settings on the soundcard itself if available.

Alternatively, if your soundcard also has digital outputs like digital coax or digital optical, this could be used, and the DSP functionality on the receiver can be used for these inputs without issue. With that, you'd also benefit of the quality of the DAC chipset in the receiver as well.

For any of our receivers, Denon or Marantz with EXT IN / MULTI CH IN connections no DSP is possible unfortunately.

I hope this information is useful and I'm sorry for any inconvenience caused.

Sincerely,
Marantz Customer Support

What I understand from this is that it's better to let the AVR be the DAC and you'll have better sound anyway. Since Creative, in all their stupidity, decided not to include digital encoding on their new flagship sound card' software, I've pulled out the 150 dollar RGB paperweight off my system and gone back to my old (current) setup.


Should I just call it a day and deal with it? Should I look for an AVR that have DSP capabilities when using analog multichannel sources, if such a thing exists?



Thank you.
Why aren’t you HDMI from your GPU to the AVR? That would eliminate all of the issues that you’re having by trying to run everything through a soundcard.

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post #3 of 17 Old 06-20-2019, 09:29 AM
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I had a Marantz SR6003 I had used for 2.1 music only. I could never truly bypass the DSP bass management for a truly analog signal.


Now that I have a Parasound Halo P5 preamp I have true analog bass management. I send a digital bitstream to it via the optical connection, the internal DAC converts it to analog and then routes the analog signal through Hi & Lo Pass filters. These are adjustable via a switch and crossover knob on the back of the unit. You can set the switch to "OFF" to bypass either of, or both filters, and can set the crossover . I have my hi-pass set at 80hz. I bypass the lo-pass so the sub gets a full range signal, which is lo-passed in the sub at 80Hz/24db. I used the sub crossover because it has a 24db/oct slope vs 12db/oct in the P5. So, after the DAC converts the incoming signal to analog, it stays analog even during the bass management. Granted, it is not a pure analog signal from the start, but it sounds incredible.


I could get a turntable if I wanted a 100% analog chain, but I'm not going to invest in that.


You would require a separate power amp with a preamp like mine.

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post #4 of 17 Old 06-20-2019, 09:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by d-rail34 View Post
Why aren’t you HDMI from your GPU to the AVR? That would eliminate all of the issues that you’re having by trying to run everything through a soundcard.

I've always been a sound card advocate, always thought I needed the extra processing, features etc. but you know what, I think you are absolutely right.



To hell with the sound card. I've only been using two features of it anyway: a multichannel upmixer for stereo sound and a filter that makes highs and lows a bit more apparent. These two features are already in my AVR. I will be removing it, selling both cards and moving on.


But,


I have connected my monitor to my GPU using HDMI. In order to get sound do I need to connect an additional HDMI from my GPU to the AVR? How will that work? Will Windows detect the AVR as a second monitor? Will the mouse cursor disappear into the nonexistent second monitor when I scroll to the edge? I need help guys.
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post #5 of 17 Old 06-20-2019, 09:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddy_Z View Post
I had a Marantz SR6003 I had used for 2.1 music only. I could never truly bypass the DSP bass management for a truly analog signal.


Now that I have a Parasound Halo P5 preamp I have true analog bass management. I send a digital bitstream to it via the optical connection, the internal DAC converts it to analog and then routes the analog signal through Hi & Lo Pass filters. These are adjustable via a switch and crossover knob on the back of the unit. You can set the switch to "OFF" to bypass either of, or both filters, and can set the crossover . I have my hi-pass set at 80hz. I bypass the lo-pass so the sub gets a full range signal, which is lo-passed in the sub at 80Hz/24db. I used the sub crossover because it has a 24db/oct slope vs 12db/oct in the P5. So, after the DAC converts the incoming signal to analog, it stays analog even during the bass management. Granted, it is not a pure analog signal from the start, but it sounds incredible.


I could get a turntable if I wanted a 100% analog chain, but I'm not going to invest in that.


You would require a separate power amp with a preamp like mine.

I already have two additional dedicated setups in my house for music and movies. This setup is only for PC gaming. Yours is a very extreme approach just for this. I am already converting analog to digital then digital into analog in this setup and I'm finally seeing that this is wrong
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post #6 of 17 Old 06-20-2019, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktorpil View Post
I've always been a sound card advocate, always thought I needed the extra processing, features etc. but you know what, I think you are absolutely right.



To hell with the sound card. I've only been using two features of it anyway: a multichannel upmixer for stereo sound and a filter that makes highs and lows a bit more apparent. These two features are already in my AVR. I will be removing it, selling both cards and moving on.


But,


I have connected my monitor to my GPU using HDMI. In order to get sound do I need to connect an additional HDMI from my GPU to the AVR? How will that work? Will Windows detect the AVR as a second monitor? Will the mouse cursor disappear into the nonexistent second monitor when I scroll to the edge? I need help guys.
I have my PC (Nvidia GTX960) connected via HDMI to AVR, AVR to TV (ARC). I did have to go into Windows sound settings and set it to 5.1 and select my AVR as default source. That’s it.

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post #7 of 17 Old 06-20-2019, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by ktorpil View Post
I already have two additional dedicated setups in my house for music and movies. This setup is only for PC gaming. Yours is a very extreme approach just for this. I am already converting analog to digital then digital into analog in this setup and I'm finally seeing that this is wrong

Extreme? Maybe. Pure? As close as I can get! As this is my dedicated music only system I am not concerned about muli-channel processing. I have a 5.2.2 Atmos setup in my living room for TV/Movies and it does great for that, but I want my music to transport me into the performance from as pure an analog sound as I can get. 100% freedom of system placement and room setup in my finished over-the-garage bonus room allows me to get as close as possible.


As a side note: The Parasound Halo P5, and the newer P6 have HT bypass for those who can only swing 1 system.

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post #8 of 17 Old 06-20-2019, 10:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by d-rail34 View Post
I have my PC (Nvidia GTX960) connected via HDMI to AVR, AVR to TV (ARC). I did have to go into Windows sound settings and set it to 5.1 and select my AVR as default source. That’s it.

I use a 4k TV for a monitor and I can't connect it to the denon since it does not suppport 4k. I have a newer Marantz that does support it but I don't want to connect it to the TV because I believe it will add, however tiny, input lag.



Also I'm waiting on a new monitor to come out which has 4k 144hz output using dual display port connections and in that case it will be impossible to connect to the AVR anyway.
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post #9 of 17 Old 06-20-2019, 10:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Eddy_Z View Post
Extreme? Maybe. Pure? As close as I can get! As this is my dedicated music only system I am not concerned about muli-channel processing. I have a 5.2.2 Atmos setup in my living room for TV/Movies and it does great for that, but I want my music to transport me into the performance from as pure an analog sound as I can get. 100% freedom of system placement and room setup in my finished over-the-garage bonus room allows me to get as close as possible.


As a side note: The Parasound Halo P5, and the newer P6 have HT bypass for those who can only swing 1 system.

I agree. That's why I only listen to music using my dedicated stereo system. However, like I've said this is my gaming PC we're talking about. I don't think it's worth that kind of investment when the only thing I do on it is multichannel gaming.
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post #10 of 17 Old 06-20-2019, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by ktorpil View Post
I agree. That's why I only listen to music using my dedicated stereo system. However, like I've said this is my gaming PC we're talking about. I don't think it's worth that kind of investment when the only thing I do on it is multichannel gaming.

That's fair.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktorpil View Post
I use a 4k TV for a monitor and I can't connect it to the denon since it does not suppport 4k. I have a newer Marantz that does support it but I don't want to connect it to the TV because I believe it will add, however tiny, input lag.



Also I'm waiting on a new monitor to come out which has 4k 144hz output using dual display port connections and in that case it will be impossible to connect to the AVR anyway.
I’m not sure how all of that works using 4K with gaming, as I’m still sporting the 1080p TV in my living room setup. I do however plan on upgrading at some point, but my audio setup for HT is priority first.

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Use DisplayPort from gpu to monitor or tv. Use DisplayPort to HDMI adapter if necessary. This will get you highest resolutions and refresh rates.

Use HDMI from gpu to AVR for audio. The receiver will show up as another monitor, set it to 720p and I position it as the bottom right corner where I hardly ever mouse and is I do lose it, I mouse up and left anyways.
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post #13 of 17 Old 06-21-2019, 03:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Use DisplayPort from gpu to monitor or tv. Use DisplayPort to HDMI adapter if necessary. This will get you highest resolutions and refresh rates.

Use HDMI from gpu to AVR for audio. The receiver will show up as another monitor, set it to 720p and I position it as the bottom right corner where I hardly ever mouse and is I do lose it, I mouse up and left anyways.

Well I've tried it and I can't get 5.1 sound. I correctly set the settings in windows and it shows my system as 8 channels capable but when I test, I can only hear sound from the front left and right channels. The receiver is showing "STEREO".
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post #14 of 17 Old 06-22-2019, 05:44 AM
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Originally Posted by ktorpil View Post
Well I've tried it and I can't get 5.1 sound. I correctly set the settings in windows and it shows my system as 8 channels capable but when I test, I can only hear sound from the front left and right channels. The receiver is showing "STEREO".
You will never get 5.1 sound normally. You would have to use a program that takes over control of the sound card and sends 5.1 data to the receiver. Or you get the Atmos app/plugin for windows and can get it to work. I never had. I pretty much stopped using my pc for audio usage unless it's Tidal which takes control of the soundcard and sends Master audio.

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You will never get 5.1 sound normally. You would have to use a program that takes over control of the sound card and sends 5.1 data to the receiver. Or you get the Atmos app/plugin for windows and can get it to work. I never had. I pretty much stopped using my pc for audio usage unless it's Tidal which takes control of the soundcard and sends Master audio.
The atmos app is never needed. You can / will get 5 channel sound if you set your speakers to 5 channel and then go into the windows configuration and run a speaker test.

But to your point, simply bit streaming the audio out untouched via the HDMI and letting the receiver decode it may work even when the above tests fail.

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Well it doesn't in my case. I can't get anything other than the front channels working.
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post #17 of 17 Old 07-01-2019, 01:06 AM
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Originally Posted by markmon1 View Post
The atmos app is never needed. You can / will get 5 channel sound if you set your speakers to 5 channel and then go into the windows configuration and run a speaker test.

But to your point, simply bit streaming the audio out untouched via the HDMI and letting the receiver decode it may work even when the above tests fail.
The laptop says it is outputting 5.1 sound, but it is not upscaling the sound. So if you run the speaker tests it will ping the back speakers, but whatever you watch will only output in stereo because that is the default sound.

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