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How to Improve PC to AV System Sound

672 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  greywolf
Objective-to get best sound from MP3 and MPEG4 files on my computer as I play them thru my high end stereo

Current Setup Yamaha v2500 receiver; Windows PC w/Santa Cruz Turtle Beach Sound Card running RCA cables from soundcard to the receiver

I'm looking for suggestions on whether a sound card upgrade utilizing digital connections can/would make a real difference. I'm also happy to any other thoughts on how to "do this right."

Playing a CD thru the system (also thru RCA line) sounds far superior to same track played from the PC thru the system---as an auido novice I'd like to know WHY??? And, of course, what if anything I can do to improve this situation.

Thanks in advance to any and all who can lend insights...
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Try the HTPC forum. I use a Revo 7.1 6ch analog.
will do, thx; I've been reading up on sound cards, do you know anything about the TB Montego? Is that equivalent to your Revo 7.1? My sole concern is sound quality
Originally Posted by HonestLeeD
Objective-...Playing a CD thru the system (also thru RCA line) sounds far superior to same track played from the PC thru the system---as an auido novice I'd like to know WHY??? ...
It's because you've taken the original digital bits on the CD, and compressed them to 1/10th their original size, using MP3 or similar "lossy" compression scheme. You've thrown away 90% of the original data. It shouldn't be a surprise that it doesn't sound as good - the real surprise is that it still sounds as good as it does, given 90% of the data is missing!

If you want original CD quality, then don't worry about your sound card. Worry about your compression format. To match the original quality, you need a lossless format of some kind.
Now that's described in a way I can really understand, big ups to Jimre :)

Assuming I've done the dumb thing by tossing most of my CDs, at this point will a better sound card than my four year old TB Santa Cruz make a real difference or is it not going to do it (or be such a marginal upgrade) so as to not be worth the $80-150 (e.g., for either a TB Montego, Creative X-Fi Xtreme Music, or M Audio Revo 7.1)...adddional thoughts appreciated!
The biggest hardware difference you could probably make is to use a digital audio SPDIF connection from the sound card to the receiver, rather than analog RCA jacks. That way you're using the better quality digital-to-analog converters (DACs) on your receiver, rather than the cheap ones on your soundcard.

But for music, IMHO it's still going to be a small improvement compared to the difference between lossy & lossless source material.
I bought a cheap (~$30) sound card with an optical digital output. I can pass AC3/DTS unmolested or PCM signals through it with no loss whatsoever. Best investment I've ever made in my HTPC :)

how many of these threads are there? I think i can see at least three right now !!!!!
for mp3s if ure a gamer get an xbox 360...

i stream my 50+ gig collection to my stereo from the computer in my bedroom, over wireless...

for video if u have a HTPC u get more funtionality between the too...

also u can look into media xtenders and the link
Any advice as b/w the TB Montego, Creative X-Fi Xtreme Music, or M Audio Revo 7.1; also do you know if it makes a hugh difference using a $20 25' optical digital cable vs. a $200 glass cable? I realize again, real issue is with lossy format so assuming I burn something as a Wav file would I really care b/w the two cables and/or the card?

Thx again for being so helpful!
thx for sharing; did you notice any difference in output for MP3 files, i.e., did digital transmission improve the quality? Thx.
Any sense as to wheteher there is any difference in running a 25' toslink cable (TB Montego) vs. a 25' 75 ohm digital RCA jack cable (Revo Sound Card). Presumably, I'd use a plastic fiber (vs glass cable) with Toslink given that a 25' glass cable runs around $200. Do you have > attenuation/transmission loss (probably misuing those terms, sorry) with coax vs. plastic fiber at 25'...

Also, can someone confirm that in either event using a digital cable, whether coax or toslink, my Yamaha DAC (rather than the soundcard) will be doing the work vs those on the soundcard

Anyone with any thoughts on this? Thanks again!
If a digital connection works without obvious pops and dropouts, no other cable will work better or worse. It will be exactly the same. If you feed you Yamaha receiver a digital connection, The digital to analog conversion will be done by the Yamaha. The most important part is to have the best quality recording to be fed to the digital output.
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