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· Registered
18 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this is a complex subject, and perhaps I am making it more difficult than it needs to be, but I wanted to see if I understand the problems and possibilities. (It also might help someone else save a few hours searching.)

MY DESIRE: to produce good quality sound on my good home theater system (B&K pre/pro and B&K amp with Dynaudio speakers). I want to get 5.1 sound from Blu-Ray discs with little to no degradation in sound quality.

My equipment:

new htpc with Lite-On Blu-Ray player

HD 4670 video card sending video via HDMI to Pioneer Elite Kuro Pro-111FD

Realtek ALC888 codec on motherboard, digital output via spdif and analog output via 3.5mm mini

B&K Reference 30 which will accept 96/24 via coax digital as well as 6 channel analog via RCA inputs (NOTE: NO HDMI input on this pre/pro)

My Software:

Windows Vista Home Premium (32 bit)

PowerDVD 8 Ultra



I have read much of the thread http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1033822 and I will be remuxing Blu-ray to MKV with FLAC audio as shown in that thread.

Here are the options as I see them:

ONE: Send Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track via spdif to B&K pre/pro

ADVANTAGES: it's relatively easy, and takes advantage of better DACS and superior quality of B&K to decode sound

CONS: lossy, limitations of spdif(?), not all Blu-Ray discs may have a Dolby Digital 5.1 track

TWO: Send flac audio via 3.5mm minis to 6 channel analog inputs on B&K pre/pro

ADVANTAGES: preserves quality of original audio

CONS: more complicated, uses [inferior ??] DACs on mainboard, uses only OK quality 3.5mm mini jacks, perhaps bass management issues

THREE: Same as option TWO above, but buy a sound card rather than using mainboard Realtek audio

ADVANTAGES: same as two, but adds higher quality DACS and opamps of sound card as opposed to Realtek ALC888

CONS: more expensive, which card to buy?

Sound Card Options for THREE above:

Asus xonar dx

Asus xonar d2x

Auzentech x-meridian (difficult to find, vista drivers)

auzentech x-plosion (swappable op-amps)

[NOTE: all the above have 3.5mm mini jacks, but less expensive]

HT Omega Claro Halo XT (swappable op-amps)

Asus Xonar HDAV 1.3 (swappable op-amps)

[NOTE: these cards have RCA output jacks via additional card, cost more than $200]

FOUR: Upgrade B&K Reference 30 to Reference 70 which has HDMI inputs and outputs. This option costs $3,000 with trade-in and is cost prohibitive at the moment. [We are in a recession, you know.]

Which option should I take?

I am inclined to try Option Two at the moment, and see if the sound quality will satisfy me until I can go for option four. [But I am concerned that option one may produce equal or better sound quality.]

Perhaps someone has already tried these options and knows whether the benefit of option three exceeds the cost.

Thank you for your help.


· Registered
1,776 Posts
Option 5. Sell your existing mobo and get the MSI 7411 board with the D2Audio chip on board. Drives 7.1 high quality analog pre amps to your AVR in beautiful sound.


Look at the 7.1 version plug in board. Roughly $170 for board and audio card. Much better than SPDIF and the realtek codec.

· Registered
8,079 Posts
Option 5 isn't much chop if you have PCI cards. Tuner cards for instance.

Java Jack, how about a full size version, for Intel processors, with PCI and PCI Express slots, 8 (12?) Satas, 2 x IDE.....the whole nine yards?

I do Option 3, with an M-audio card. It works VERY well (I even do 6 channel Digital Room Correction).

If I was buying now, I'd get a HT Omega Claro (or +). The RCA outputs aren't worth the extra cost for the Halo XT (you could always solder your own on to the 3.3mm pins).

If I didn't need a Front Panel connection as well as the rears, the Xonar D2(X) would be a real contender too.

While analogue out is a real, high quality alternative for a HTPC....SPDIF and onboard audio are NOT.



· Registered
2,043 Posts
I also vote for option three. Although a $200 soundcard is a bit of an expenditure, it will likely produce the best bang for the buck.

Personally, I use the Xonar D2X, which has excellent analog performance. I am happy with the sound of the opamps. I can easily swap them if I wish, as I have access to soldering equipment and the skills to do so. If this is a big deal for you, you may wish to go with socketed opamps. I convert my BD to MKV to hear full resolution audio tracks.

The Xonar HDAV has the advantage of playing full-resolution Blu-ray discs in conjunction with a special version of TMT. A nice convenience if you want to hear the good audio by just dropping in the disc rather than remuxing to MKV with FLAC audio first.
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