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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone... I read several AVS threads last year when hooking up an HD-DVD drive to my computer, and recently have been reading many HTPC threads, but this is my first time posting.


I've thought about building an HTPC for a while, and now that I have some income available, I'm putting together a parts list. (And my pricing sheet includes a donation to renethx!) I'm fairly certain the configuration I have in mind will work, but I'm not 100% certain, so I wanted to confirm a few details first. I've done quite a bit of research before posting, so not trying to be redundant, just haven't found this precise setup discussed with recent info.


I plan on putting an LG GCC-H20L drive in for playing HD-DVDs and Blu-rays. I want to have full quality output in both video and audio under HDCP. I'd like to keep hardware as much as possible in the HTPC box.


My strategy: Use an HD 5750 video card for video and a Xonar HDAV 1.3 Deluxe for audio. On the audio side, I'd let the Xonar be my DAC and hook up an amplifier with speakers rather than bitstreaming to a receiver. For software, I'd use ArcSoft TotalMedia Theatre 3.


What I'm wondering is if HDCP will be happy with this scenario, since video will be going out one card and audio out another. My understanding of HDCP is that it requires a "protected path" for both video and audio, and that generally this happens by sending both over the same HDMI cable. Also, from what I've read, it sounds like both signals can be routed through the Xonar first and then the video card, and that while the first Xonar cards included a video processor that affected things, that can now be disabled. But I could be wrong in my understandings.


Also, would this setup theoretically play archived copies of HD-DVDs or Blu-rays stored on a hard drive?


I know computers pretty well, but I'm rather new to the world of HDCP, HDMI, etc. Any help/clarification/confirmation is greatly appreciated.
 

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If you want to spend extra on unnecessary equipment and get the HDAV (are you thinking this is a better route because you don't own a HD bitstreaming Recevier?), then it should work. You may still have to run the video from the ATI to the HDAV and then out the HDAV to the TV. The HDAV just won't add the audio signal to the HDMI stream since it is decoding it locally to analog.


TMT is about the only commercial player left that can play HD-DVD. You can always transcode a HD-DVD to a MKV so non-commercial players can play it (Media center, MPC-HC, etc).


You'll definitely want to add anydvd HD to the list of must buy. This is so you can decrypt the movies to copy to your hard drive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrwalte /forum/post/18275236


If you want to spend extra on unnecessary equipment and get the HDAV (are you thinking this is a better route because you don't own a HD bitstreaming Recevier?), then it should work.

My reasoning on adding the HDAV:

1. I wanted to keep as much as possible in one box (some would argue the merits of that approach, but it's the one I had chosen).

2. I didn't want to worry about issues with a longer HDCP chain (e.g. if a receiver would still ensure a PAP).

3. I don't own any receiver at the moment, and the added price of an HDAV and amp seemed to still be less than that of a 7.1 receiver which could handle TrueHD or DTS-HD MA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrwalte /forum/post/18275236


TMT is about the only commercial player left that can play HD-DVD. You can always transcode a HD-DVD to a MKV so non-commercial players can play it (Media center, MPC-HC, etc).

I have a nice library of HD-DVDs, so supporting them is important to me. Not familiar with MKV; I'll have to check that out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrwalte /forum/post/18275236


You'll definitely want to add anydvd HD to the list of must buy. This is so you can decrypt the movies to copy to your hard drive.

I've looked at AnyDVD HD, but I wasn't sure I'd need it... I already have an Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive, and have it working with my current PC, and as I recall I had configured things so I could access the HD-DVD files without AnyDVD HD. I figured if I copied them to a hard drive folder, TMT3 would play them. I don't recall off the top of my head what software I was using and I don't have my laptop with me at the moment, but I'll double-check when I can.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by theharmonyguy /forum/post/18285919


My reasoning on adding the HDAV:

1. I wanted to keep as much as possible in one box (some would argue the merits of that approach, but it's the one I had chosen).

2. I didn't want to worry about issues with a longer HDCP chain (e.g. if a receiver would still ensure a PAP).

3. I don't own any receiver at the moment, and the added price of an HDAV and amp seemed to still be less than that of a 7.1 receiver which could handle TrueHD or DTS-HD MA.




I have a nice library of HD-DVDs, so supporting them is important to me. Not familiar with MKV; I'll have to check that out.




I've looked at AnyDVD HD, but I wasn't sure I'd need it... I already have an Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive, and have it working with my current PC, and as I recall I had configured things so I could access the HD-DVD files without AnyDVD HD. I figured if I copied them to a hard drive folder, TMT3 would play them. I don't recall off the top of my head what software I was using and I don't have my laptop with me at the moment, but I'll double-check when I can.

You are thinking on the right track for your wishes.

But for a moment let me play the devil's advocate here.


The HDAV Deluxe is a big chunk of money, worth it but still expensive (imo).


Do you already own an amp?

What else do you plan to hook up to that amp?


FYI: the cheapest AVR with HD decoding is currently @ $250 (newegg.com w/free $30 gift card). Of course the sound quality would probably not compare to the 'HDAV + Amp' combo.


The HDAV deluxe + 7-channel amp = $225 + $700 = $925 (rough estimate)


For the same amount you could also get a real kick-ass receiver.

The Onkyo TX-SR876 for instance. It is listed at $1600 but is on sale at Tigerdirect for $976. The power output would be less than a separate amp but you get numerous other benefits with it. HDMI 4in/2out, Powered Zone 2 & 3. ISF calibration controls for display calibration (very useful and important imo). It becomes the center of your AV setup in a way that the amp can never do.


I have the same drive (GGC-H20L) and about 40 HD-DVDs.

But since the ATI 5000 series of video cards arrived on the scene I have started to switch my HD-DVD collection to Blu-Ray. I have a reasonably mid-range AVR which can decode HD audio over HDMI. I don't trust the software players to not muck up the audio signal and I prefer to have the receiver do all the decoding. The 5750 has built-in PAP as do all 5000 series cards.

Btw: PAP is only required to get the audio to the receiver. I don't believe the receiver has anything to do with PAP.


How many HD-DVDs do you own, I'm guessing close to a 100 maybe? Most HD-DVDs that I have encountered have either DD+ or plain DD.

Eg. Transformers HD-DVD has only DD+ while the BD has DTrueHD.

On the other hand you do have The Matrix Trilogy w/ excellent HD audio, Troy w/ TrueHD etc.

My point is the sound quality is not going to be much different if you didn't have the HDAV and simply used the 5750 to pass software decoded PCM.

So instead of the HDAV + Amp, you would have a HD AVR capable of decoding HD audio codecs. Your HTPC output would go straight to the receiver (bitstreamed for Blu-Ray and PCM for HD-DVD).


Something to think about.
 

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Another benefit of a mid-high Receiver such as the Onkyo listed is you get EQ and time alignment (it's possible the HDAV software can do this - not sure). EQ and TA are one of the best things you can do for your audio quality.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrwalte /forum/post/18286468


Another benefit of a mid-high Receiver such as the Onkyo listed is you get EQ and time alignment (it's possible the HDAV software can do this - not sure). EQ and TA are one of the best things you can do for your audio quality.

To be even more specific most if not all of the Onkyo units incorporate Audyssey Room EQ which will have the most significant impact on SQ you can get... I suspect that jrwalte was referring to this but I felt it worth clarifying.


I personally am not a big fan of direct to amp output from an HTPC for a variety of reasons. One such reason is that when you muck with the volume digitally you actually degrade the SQ. You probably will not notice this (there are soooo many things people think they will notice that in fact they cannot if put to the test) but technically it is true.


Another issue I have is that the PC can do things that may be unpleasant. Nothing beats a good reciever for flexibility in source and output switching.


As stated, the HDAV cards are now more or less obsolete for new builds or any case where you can use HDMI and are able to buy any of the ATI 5xxx cards. Why buy into more complication (believe me when I say that) for little return?


I am also virtually certain you will have to run the video into the HDAV, although this may not be true. You should be able to determine this by thoroughly reading the HDAV threads.


Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by hirent /forum/post/18286170


Do you already own an amp?

What else do you plan to hook up to that amp?


FYI: the cheapest AVR with HD decoding is currently @ $250 (newegg.com w/free $30 gift card). Of course the sound quality would probably not compare to the 'HDAV + Amp' combo.


The HDAV deluxe + 7-channel amp = $225 + $700 = $925 (rough estimate)

Actually, I was thinking a Simplifi 7075S - that would bring a total (HDAV+amp) of around $350... a $1,000 receiver on top of the HTPC (even without the HDAV) would definitely be over my budget.


I really wouldn't be using the amp (or a receiver) for anything else - I'm looking to build a consolidated home theater, and I already have a nice setup for say stereo music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hirent /forum/post/18286170


How many HD-DVDs do you own, I'm guessing close to a 100 maybe? Most HD-DVDs that I have encountered have either DD+ or plain DD.

Eg. Transformers HD-DVD has only DD+ while the BD has DTrueHD.

On the other hand you do have The Matrix Trilogy w/ excellent HD audio, Troy w/ TrueHD etc.

My point is the sound quality is not going to be much different if you didn't have the HDAV and simply used the 5750 to pass software decoded PCM.

No, not that many, though I don't really want to buy Blu-rays of my HD-DVDs yet (not even sure if all of them are even available in BD yet). But I honestly hadn't thought about checking whether mine had TrueHD etc. (kind of a "duh" thing in hindsight, but when I first started getting HD movies I had the naive expectation they would all be top quality).


I appreciate the other perspectives, I'm certainly more of a newbie with all this. I'm a musician (played piano since I was 5, grew up on classical music) so I have an discriminating ear and care about sound quality, but I'm not sure I'd qualify as an audiophile. I may be going for more than I really need, I just didn't want to miss out if I could do better without too much expense.
 

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The Xonar Deluxe outputs analog without hdmi in.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by theharmonyguy /forum/post/18288633


Actually, I was thinking a Simplifi 7075S - that would bring a total (HDAV+amp) of around $350... a $1,000 receiver on top of the HTPC (even without the HDAV) would definitely be over my budget.


I really wouldn't be using the amp (or a receiver) for anything else - I'm looking to build a consolidated home theater, and I already have a nice setup for say stereo music.




No, not that many, though I don't really want to buy Blu-rays of my HD-DVDs yet (not even sure if all of them are even available in BD yet). But I honestly hadn't thought about checking whether mine had TrueHD etc. (kind of a "duh" thing in hindsight, but when I first started getting HD movies I had the naive expectation they would all be top quality).


I appreciate the other perspectives, I'm certainly more of a newbie with all this. I'm a musician (played piano since I was 5, grew up on classical music) so I have an discriminating ear and care about sound quality, but I'm not sure I'd qualify as an audiophile. I may be going for more than I really need, I just didn't want to miss out if I could do better without too much expense.

Most of the movies are now out on BD as well.

Warner Bros had an exchange program for their HD-DVDs.

Check it out here.

You have to send in the cover art of the HD-DVD (not the disc) and pay $5 for every title you wish to exchange. Not completely free but its still something. Plus you get to keep the original HD-DVD disc itself.


Honestly speaking, if you don't have many HD-DVDs, I would suggest going the 5750 and the AVR route. You would be able to hook up anything with a HDMI connection (eg. standalone BD player) in the future if you so wish. With a HDAV, the bulk of your money is tied up in one machine.


I've never heard of the brand, but $120 for a 7-ch amp @ 50W/ch is pretty good. Though at that price ($350) there are many good receivers out there too.


It kills me to see my HD-DVDs lying unused right now, but that's the way it goes.
 
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