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.
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?