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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Seems like only M-Audio cards are mentioned here. Are they the only manufacturer recommended? If not, who else is good for HTPC if games are NOT the driving force? I dont have anything against M-Audio, but I was just looking for something to compare them to. Thanks,
 

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If all you want is a digital output or S/PDIF, then there are many. Its just that M-Audio offers the best mix of price and performance. For cheaper cards, look at the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz or Philips Acoustic Edge. For fatter wallets, the Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe is the one to get.
 

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There's a big wide world of serious sound cards out there, with excellent performance, and comparable prices. The Lynx One is an excellent example, and if you want to use a PC for high end direct audio out, or for measurement (A/D), it's a very good product.


http://www.lynxstudio.com/images/LynxONEPhoto.jpg

http://www.lynxstudio.com/lynxone.html



Be warned true quality comes at a price; $549 for the Lynx One. It's not their top of the line; they have better.....




-Jon
 

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If you're looking for a top of the line soundcard, look no further than RME , though like most other good soundcards, they tend to get pricey very quickly. Their cheapest card, the Digi96/8, costs around $395, and with the 8 output analog expansion board (AEB) for 7.1 sound, it costs about $640 total. Stereophile has given the Digi96/8 Pro and PAD (as well as the Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe) favorable reviews and they are available online .


I plan on getting a RME Hammerfall Digi9636 and the 8-O AEB sometime during the next month (and a half), then add the ADI-8 Pro if I like what I hear.


Creamware also makes a lot of great cards, but they're great cards that cost a lot of money - their most expensive card costs $4000, which is quite ridiculous. But hey, if you have the money, why not?


There are of course many other soundcard brands out there, mostly targeted towards the musician, but can easily be used in the HTPC. Echo Audio plans on making cards specifically designed for the HTPCer, so keep your eyes and ears open.

Picture of RME Digi9636
 

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But are these cards workable from a HT driver perspective ???
 

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What do you look for in a HT driver? Individual channel volume control? Master volume control? Stable drivers? Bass Management? I know for sure RME has individual channel volume control and small, stable drivers, but I'm pretty sure it does not have software bass management, and it may or may not have master volume control. thorr, a member of this board, just bought an RME Digi96/8 Pro, so perhaps he could better answer your question. You can also ask on the RME newsgroup . When I get my own card, I'll report whether the card can be used successfully in the HTPC environment.
 

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The drivers seem fine to me. They do not offer bass management, however. Attached is a screenshot of the controls. The card works great for me for both music and DVD's. It even plays DTS CD's in Windows XP using the S/PDIF output which no other card can do that I know of. That alone for me is a major plus. The sound quality is spectacular.
 

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Some things more down to Earth that people actually use:


-Nvidia nForce motherboards onboard sound. These have a Dolby Digital 5.1 encoder onboard and can encode multiple channels (say from a DPLII software source like WinDVD) to the digital output. Quite a cool feature.


-Hercules Game Theater XP. A myriad of inputs and outputs in a breakout box, great gaming support and it can virutalize anything (both sounds from your PC or coming in on the analog inputs) to 6.1 channels which it can then send out its discrete 6.1 analog outs. No digital multiple channel out sadly...
 

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The Echo Mia looks good.


AFAIK it uses TRS which would make things a bit difficult in our little HT world.


T.
 

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Some things more down to Earth that people actually use:


What do you mean? Just because the Joe Consumer doesn't use high quality soundcards doesn't mean all people don't. Most computer users in the musicians' community "actually" use these kind of cards and will continue to use them because the sound quality is much better than that of your run-of-the-mill onboard or PCI consumer solution. If you use an external converter, just buy a cheap card with good S/PDIF outs. If you want the soundcard to do the converting, you'd better buy one of the more expensive soundcards if you want to get better sound quality.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Goi
For cheaper cards, look at the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz or Philips Acoustic Edge.
The Turtle Beach does not support 44.1KHz output and has audible artifacts when resampling 44.1KHz to 48KHz.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Drew Eckhardt



The Turtle Beach does not support 44.1KHz output and has audible artifacts when resampling 44.1KHz to 48KHz.
Great for analogue output though (for the price), and doesn't dump a big thump to the power amps at switch on / off
 

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I mean some things that people here actually use...


These are well and good if you're a musician and need lots of analog outs but I can't see many people being interested. The original question was what are some real alternatives for gaming and HTPC usage, and most of the ones posted before did not fall into that category.

Quote:
Originally posted by Colossus Ex
Some things more down to Earth that people actually use:


What do you mean? Just because the Joe Consumer doesn't use high quality soundcards doesn't mean all people don't. Most computer users in the musicians' community "actually" use these kind of cards and will continue to use them because the sound quality is much better than that of your run-of-the-mill onboard or PCI consumer solution. If you use an external converter, just buy a cheap card with good S/PDIF outs. If you want the soundcard to do the converting, you'd better buy one of the more expensive soundcards if you want to get better sound quality.
 

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I mean some things that people here actually use...


Again, stop saying such things. It has been established that people actually use these cards. In fact, one of the users on this board, thorr, has already bought one and loves it. Get over it.

These are well and good if you're a musician and need lots of analog outs but I can't see many people being interested.


When's the last time you had to be a musician to enjoy better sound quality? Thanks to the wonderful concept of convergence, all you need is a good soundcard these days to get good sound in your computer. Allow me to introduce you (again) to Stereophile, one of the lesser known audio publications, and their reviews of higher end soundcards. But maybe you won't accept this either.

Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe

RME Digi96/8 Pro

RME Digi96/8 PAD

The original question was what are some real alternatives for gaming...


What are you talking about? Can't you read? Let me reiterate what the original post says:


"who else is good for HTPC if games are NOT the driving force? I dont have anything against M-Audio"


How much does the word "not" have to be emphasized before you realize that the starter of this thread does not care about games that much? Perhaps I should put it in caps, bold, italics triple size, and in red. NOT.

...and HTPC usage, and most of the ones posted before did not fall into that category.


All you need is an 8-output analog expansion board (for RME cards) to get that surround sound for DVDs. What more do you want for the HTPC?


In a forum where members spend thousands of dollars on audio and visual equipment, a few extra hundred dollars for one of the better soundcards available is not that unreasonable. If price is a concern, that's the way it goes. In this life, one has to pay more money to get better quality. Maybe in the next it won't, but that's the reality of this life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Although I didnt state it, I actually *was* looking for cards that people actually use ... as in *many* people here who have successfully tried it with their configurations. I should have clarified that all I want is a card that can have ALL sound go out one single output (toslink OR digital coaxial) to my Onkyo receiver. I also want it to pass everything that my 5.1 receiver does (ProLogic, DolbyDigital, DTS). Pretty basic stuff I think, so if it cant cheaply do what I need bug-free, with good-drivers, etc, then I will just go with an M-audio.
 

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What's the most inexpensive card that people here know of that has a digital SPDIF input/output? I simply need a card on my HTPC that will accept the digital output from my portable DAT recorder (Sony D7).


Thanks!
 

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Colossus, do you enjoy coming off as rude? I'm well aware of the fact that people use these. Frankly I don't care.


Now please point me towards someone who is using these in an HTPC. Thank you.


And your poking at people who can't afford a nicer soundcard shows your rather limited views. Quite a few people here go with an HTPC because it is a very affordable way to enter the hobby. A $600 soundcard is more then I spent total on my HTPC!


I did miss part of his post that gaming was not an issue. Oops. Meanwhile I'm the only one that is supplying remotely useful information with regards to the original post...
 

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I second Namlemez' recommendations regarding the nForce and the Hercules GTXP. I have both, and have had (mostly) good experiences with them.


The real-time DD encoding on the nForce is very neat, particularly if you like to play games on the HTPC and use the SPDIF for connection to a pre-pro/receiver. However, the drivers are not completely mature. Some people have had no trouble with compatability with it whatsoever, while some (including me) have had to do a fair amount of tweaking to get it to work satisfactorilly with the software DVD players of my choice. If you are interested in analog output directly to an amp, this is not the right choice - the drivers are just not there yet. Its EAX support also seems to be a little spotty.


The Herc GTXP is very nice, very stable, and very compatible. Its multichannel virtualization capabilities are very good, almost rivaling DPL2, and imho, surpassing DTS Neo6 and CES.
 
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