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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
With these new eight channel sound cards (Terratec, etc) supposedly giving better sound than our DD and DTS receivers, should we just scrap the receiver?


I have been running a single RCA from my SB Live!'s SPDIF to a Denon receiver, which then runs to a Carver amp, for over four years. This setup has worked well and is relatively cheap. The SB produces a slight constant volume hiss that is only noticeable from within a few feet during periods of complete silence, but that is my only complaint.


I am building a new HTPC within a month or two, and I am looking at getting one of these 24/96 cards. My question is should I just use the analog outputs and forget the receiver?


The only problem I see is volume control. I don't use the tuner ever. I would just have to get used to controlling the volume in software. However, with nearly 1000watts that could all be suddenly in use by a Microsucks hiccup I am a little afraid of the consequences.
 

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A receiver still does has support for more connectors, and very importantly, video switching, if it matters to you.
 

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There are other features receivers have as well, in my case I use analog and spdif audio-delay for keeping up (or actually down) with the lag in video processing. That and video switching as Goi mentioned, and video up-conversion if you like that kinda stuff (Denon)


-pd
 

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Just for kicks I actually tried that out recently. Mostly because creative was offering their 6.1 THX speaker system for only $299 rather than $399. I figured for a couple hundred bucks, I'd plug those speakers into their audigy 2 plat card and see if it could stand up to my Castle speakers and receiver. I figured if they weren't good enough at least they would make for great computer speakers for daily use. (the audigy 2 plat has a remote control for volume built in as well).


And, I actually preferred the creative/cambridge speakers hooked up directly to the sound card while watching a DVD. Or maybe it was because I could tweak the sound more with the computer's controls than with my receivers.


Though, I still have to use the receiver to manage all the other audio/video inputs just like the above posters mentioned. Bottom line...although I actually prefer the sound of those little creative THX cubes hooked up to the sound card, I still use the receiver for convenience.
 

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I have my Delta 410 directly connected to my Marantz MM9000 AMP using 5 analog connectors.


I use the two analog inputs on the Delta to connect it to my Vinyl Player Technices SL-1200mkII and the coax input for my normal workstation. I connect the VGA (no **** huh?) to my NEC LT150 projector and the TV out to my normal TV.


It was a mess to get the M-audio mixer to work with girder, but after ~80hours of work, everything works like a charm.


So I guess the big question is why?, I don't know, I just got a great deal on the MM9000 and wanted something to play around with over easter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I finally got my system back out of storage to test this theory.

I sent the analog output of my SB Live! (original/gold plated) directly to the left channel of my Carver amp. I sent the SPDIF output to my Denon receiver and then took the preout to the right channel of my amp. Then I spent quite a while comparing the two. The ruling is that the SB Live sucks. It is distorted and noisy compared to the Denon AVR-85 (and this is the bottom of the line as far as Denon goes).

However, the Denon causes all my speakers and especially my subwoofer to hum consistently regardless of output level, and it has to go.

Would an M-audio card or a Terratec sound better than my old (5 years) and faithful SB Live?

If not, it's time for a new receiver with a top of the line DAC and no humming.
 

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All SB Live cards suck. Gold plated didn't do anything at all to improve thier sound quality.


I switched from an SB Live to an Audigy 2 for my Creative 5.1 speakers and the quality increased dramatically. It went from having a hiss at 1/3 volume, to only hissing if you turn it up loud enough to make your ears bleed.


The sound with the Audigy 2 and Creative speakers is plenty for me. My reciever rarely gets used anymore. As stated before, the additional controll over the sound settings is just an added bonus.
 

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Quote:
posted by AndreasB - I have my Delta 410 directly connected to my Marantz MM9000 AMP using 5 analog connectors.
I see the Marantz MM9000 has FRONT, CENTER and SURR level inputs on the rear - http://www.marantz.com/image/products/u_mm9000_bck.gif


That's the idea! I want to add something like that to my 2.1 system and have 7.1 channel. I heard this model might not be around, so it might drop in price...
Quote:
posted by AndreasB - It was a mess to get the M-audio mixer to work with girder, but after ~80hours of work, everything works like a charm.
Did you get decent impedance "matching" to the level inputs on the Marantz from the M-Audio Delta 410 analog outs (I guess from a PC CD/DVD analog out, and your vinyl source…)? What's the volume level input(s) settled or set at on?


Maybe another card like M-Audio Delta 1010-LT, RME DIGI96/8 PAD could install smoother, but anyway – it installed in your case! I might want to try a good solid card as well to make sure, can’t diss the M-Audio Delta 410 sound card though… :cool:


Here's my Excel list and low Yahoo 5 star prices (USD)...


Sound Blaster Audigy 2 - 24-BIT/192kHz DVD-AUDIO - 6.1 $109.95

Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum - 24-BIT/192kHz DVD-AUDIO - 6.1 $158.60

Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum EX $181.50

M-Audio Delta 410 $179.88

M-Audio Delta 1010-LT $279.00

M-Audio Delta 1010 $519.00

M-Audio Revolution 7.1 sound card $98.88

Turtle Beach Santa Cruz 6 channel DSP audio processor $75.50

RME DIGI96/8 PAD $350.00

RME AEB4-O (Analog Expansion Board) $155.00

Layla 24/96 $669.99

Edirol DA-2496 $519.00

Terratec DMX 6Fire 24/96 $179.00
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Yeah, my plan was to eventually get a 5 channel amp to match up with my carver for 7 speaker output. One of these new 7.1 cards would work great for that setup, but I really need to hear one first. I would like to get the best possible sound from my Klipsch KLF-20s, and I am not sure if any sound card is going to do that.
 

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Well I have the JBL S312 towers w/ a custom sealed 15" Tempest/Adire Audio sub... I wish I had the Klipsch RF-5's or RF-7's, but the JBL's are also excellent (and cheaper). I might add Klipsch RF-x surrounds... And I'm confident they'll drive any Klipsch horn...


The RME DIGI96/8 PAD and optional RME AEB4-O (Analog Expansion Board) is said to take on just about any component - http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=236215


The Terratec DMX 6Fire 24/96 I guess is "audiophile" class - digitalconnection takes me to these audiophile cards - https://www.dcpuraty.com/store/Produ...T=SOUND%20CARD
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
What would be really great is if you could program one of these 7.1 sound cards to act as a crossover and use four channels to bi-amp the front speakers. Instead of 7.1 you would have 5.1, but almost all DVDs are 5.1 anyway.

Pre-amps that have crossovers like this cost a fortune. Only for serious audiophiles, but that's the whole idea of the HTPC. Audio and videophile quality at a fraction of the cost.
 

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Bi-amping the front speakers might be good for 2.1 channel - but I'd rather have all speakers and amps similarly "match" - the surrounds could be smaller but should still go to at least 40-50 Hz (bass management can only go so far if your sub has to put out >70-80Hz directional sound “crossed†over...).


5.1 is a good choice to combine HT and DVD-A, though DVD-A can also put out 6.0 full range (and shoot itself in the .1 foot). I think I solved that with 2 center surrounds, though Chesky wants to add a “Hall effect†that looks like 7.1 w/o the center channel! It almost feels like musical chairs going around my couch – which is sitting still… :)


jdwk – maybe what you mentioned is just a “cakewalk†with some of these cards - this is from a site from a fellow AVS member (Mark Goldie) – “So, I spent £250 on a professional grade M-Audio Delta 410 sound card. This has outputs for 10 channels of audio! I connect those outputs directly to Cyrus power amps, and thanks to the great driver support offered with the Delta 410, I have full bass management and phantom channel capability. PowerDVD does all the DD/DTS decoding and passes the signal straight on to the Delta 410 drivers. It's a nice & tidy solution that produces great sound quality (even though I was initially skeptical due to all that EMI/RF that exists within a PC), particularly bearing in mind the quality of my amplification & speakers - Cyrus Power amps & Sonus Faber Concerto speakers. Very revealing of a poor source.


The only drawback to using the PC as a pre-amp is that there is currently no software available that will decode an incoming DD/DTS bitstream from an external source. Bummer. That means, no PS2 surround sound. Instead, I simply run stereo line level cables to analogue inputs on the Delta 410. Still, Virtua Fighter 4 at 6ft wide & stereo ain't too bad!†- http://www.markgoldie.co.uk/hc/hc2.html


Really nice UK site! Now I wonder what the M-Audio Delta 1010 and RME DIGI96/8 PAD can do? :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks, I'll give it a try when I get the card. I just lost a aution on Ebay for a used Delta (with original box and all) because I slept through it this morning. It went for $102, I was not happy when I woke up.


However, if I could find a good deal on an RME, it was given a lot better reviews on here. I wonder if it has the same level of software support.


It always seemed kind of silly to me that sound cards won't decode an external DD/DTS signal. It has a decoder (or a CPU), and a SPDIF input. What more does it really need besides software support?


It hasn't really been an issue though. I don't think any PS2 games are actually in DD, I thought the optical out was mainly for DVDs. There might be some FMV in games that is DD encoded, but the PS2 would have to encode DD in real time to actually have gameplay in 5.1 surround. The PS2 is powerful but not that powerful.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by jdwk


It always seemed kind of silly to me that sound cards won't decode an external DD/DTS signal. It has a decoder (or a CPU), and a SPDIF input. What more does it really need besides software support?

Because then replacing multiple-hundred to thousand to thousand + dollar receivers with a sound card and amp setup for a fraction of the price would be plainly obvious as the best thing to do? ;)
 

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I think it can be very useful to at least know the CD drive’s output impedance (ohms) and amps input impedance. The ratio should be at least 1:10 (sound card:amp) to work OK, 1:50 would be even better.


Input impedance (analog RCA) of some popular amps:


Sansui integrated amp – 5k ohms

Outlaw Audio Mblock – 10k ohms

Marantz MM9000 – 20k1/2? ohms

Norh Le Amp – 22.1 kohms

Odyssey Stratos – 47 kohms

Tube amps – to 100 kohm and more


Analog output (RCA):


Typical CD player (STB) – 2 volts 10 kohm (woah!)

Toshiba SD-9200 DVD-A player (STB) – 330 ohms (stereo), 600 ohms (5.1 channel)

PC sound cards can go as low as 32-150 ohm range (also have a -10/+4 dB set and forget adjustment)!


When you 1st test it out, make sure you have your quietest CD. If it's loud or louder than you ever listen, then you have a good match and could adjust. If it's a bad match (like from that 10 kohm CD player to that Sansui amp) - you won't get diddly for sound - volume and quality wise... I guess if you know your ratio beforehand you know about what you can expect, volume and quality wise... I wouldn’t say numbers alone will guarantee you super-audiophile sound – that depends on the sound card and amp… itself.
 

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I'd totally agree with the spirit of the thread post, if (and onlyif) a digital ready AMP was available on the market- forgoing need to do preprocessing outside the HTPC. Maybe I'm behind the times; does any one know of any SPDIF or I-link capable Amp?
 

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Well Alex, it's nice you "emulated" the basic principle of this thread! ;) I've been waiting 2 years for that - an all-digital path amp that's priced within reason. The I-link or Firewire for DVD-A is still a no show basically.


But here's my dream amp - (starting I think @ $3,000 USD) now that you mentioned it - http://www.tactaudio.com/M2150/Features.html - "It's 96/24 compatible, upgradeable to 192/24, and is pure digital all the way to the output terminals." 8 channels would set you back about 13 grand...


Here's a good site for some info on these types of amps - http://www.puredigitalaudio.org/resourcesSections.shtml



PS: I was thinking, what if you added a Pioneer DVD-120S ATA slot loading DVD-ROM drive, it comes w/SPDIF digital output - you wouldn't even need a sound card! :D
 

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Well, since this thread pertains to "no" external receiver or preamp (high quality audiophile sound) - you should also know you don't really want to deal with the Windoz K Mixer (volume control on your taskbar...).


Q: "So my question is, which of the other "good" cards allow use of windows' internal volume control? I know it doesn't seem like a big issue, but for me it is. cos I've kinda got my remote control setup to adjust the volume thru windows' internal mixer..and if its disabled, I lose a lot of my HTPC convenience! "


A: Most audiophiles that use a HTPC WANT to disable the kmixer and disabling it is a good thing, that is probably why no one is replying. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...xe#post2324128


Other solution is you insist on using WMP9 is to use it in conjunction with sound card with the driver that bypasses kmixer. Try STAudio DSP24, RME-Audio DIGI96/8, DAL CardDeluxe. All M-audio cards are kmixer infected. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...xe#post2370941



However, I do know M-Audio deals with the "bass management" issue... Maybe Windows 2005 will have a better K Mixer. I won't bet a dime on that until I see it... Good thing I know my 2.1 channel stuff! :rolleyes:
 

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"All M-audio cards are kmixer infected."


All soundcards that use "true" WDM drivers will be kmixer infected. So-called WDM drivers that bypass Kmixer are nothing more than VxD (Win98) drivers in a WDM wrapper with some limitations such as no support for Kernel Streaming.


True WDM drivers support KS in addition to ASIO and both bypass Kmixer.
 
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