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I know this have been discussed before, but with the release of Vista, new soundcards, drivers and other software, would I like to know if there have been any breakthroughs on the subject?


Maybe the pre definition is not right, as the topic of this thread isn't having your HTPC control/switch external sources.

The topic however, is how one best succeeds in getting ones HTPC working in a surround-setup, by only plugging it in to power amplifiers, thereby shortening the signal path with a better sound quality as a result.

Preferably, as sound quality is key, I want to use a professional sound card like the ones from Lynx or RME. I have heard the X-fi Elite Pro and cards like this just isn't up to standard.

Wishes:

1. HTPC directly plugged in to several power amps via quality connections as RCA or XLR.

2. No speaker pop on power-on/off.

Yes I know this can be resolved by turning on/off ones equipment in the right order, but as I am not the only user of my system this isn't an option.

3. One volume control for all channels.

How is this, in regards to quality, best achieved?

I know that the XP volume control lowers the volume by taking away bits, thereby reducing resolution. So that's out of the question. Vista, on the other hand, uses internal floating point values, rather than integer, so volume adjustment doesn't cause any loss of resolution.

Besides Vistas approach to digital volume control we have the choice of using a sound card with quality analogue potentiometers/volume chips (suggestions for sound cards are welcome but please keep 1 and 2 in mind).

At this point a discussion about analogue Vs Vistas digital attenuation is welcome. And if the winner is the analogue volume control, how would one go about setting it up for daily use. By that meaning, how would I control the sound cards analogue volume from a frontend platform (like MCE) with my trusty remote?

4. Individual level control for each channel.

I know this can be done with the audio decoder configuration in FFdshow and with some sound card drivers (sadly this possibility isn't available with the majority of professional sound cards). But what is the best way to go?

5. Bass management - Individual crossover redirecting bass below an adjustable frequency, for each channel, to the LFE.

This can be done with Vista and with some sound card drivers (sadly this possibility isn't available with the majority of professional sound cards). But what is the best way to go? FFdshow only supports a global crossover frequency.

6. Individual delay for each channel.

Possible with some sound card drivers (sadly not available with the majority of professional sound cards) and FFdshow. But is this the best/only way to do it?

7. Room Correction.

Yes I know that points 4 and 6 will be redundant if I use Room Correction, but I want the possibility to turn room correction off and still have surround configured right.

Do any of you have an idea of what is the best way to go in regards to DRC? Is the Vista option among the better choices? On thing that turns me off with regards with Vista DRC is that it only applies to frequency above 30 Hz.

8. Speaker fill - Pro Logic, Logic7 or something like it.

Can be done with Vista, some soundcards (sadly not available with the majority of professional sound cards) and in the audio decoder configuration in FFdshow. FFdshow also gives one the possibility of autoloading different presets depending on player, file format etc.

Normal stereo-playback, when listening to music in stereo, is a must. A solution either have to autoload a stereo preset for music playback, or give one the possibility of switching back and forth between speaker fill with a click of a button (on the remote)

9. No fiddly daily use. Ones configured I don't want to touch any other thing than my remote and navigate in MCE.


Did I miss anything?



Bit integrity is important as signal processing has a cumulative effect, degrading the signal in a rising logarithmically curve for each step of processing applied. That's why any suggestions to the above points have to keep signal processing to a minimum and application of signal processing in the optimal order, for maximum sound quality.


Please remember that both quality and user friendliness is essential if you have any input or solutions to the problems.
 
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