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I've recently built up a dedicated HTPC with the following specs:


AMD Athlon 1.2GHz / 256MB PC2100 / Hercules Digifire 7.1 / NVidia Geforce3 Ti 200 w/TV Out / Leadtek TV2000XP / Coolermaster ATC620 HTPC case / LG DVD-ROM.


Currently I only have a widescreen TV (of course, a projector is on the cards - one day!)


I've got the system setup with ZoomPlayer, Musicmatch Jukebox and PowerDVD etc.


The issue I'm having is with the Digifire card, in order to use the SPDIF digital output for watching DVD's (AC3 passthrough) I have to set an option in the Digifire's control panel. If I want to play music and send it out through the SPDIF the option needs to be changed again and requires a reboot. This isn't an ideal solution.


I prefer to have my audio processor handle AC3 decoding and also be able to use its DSP for music (hall effect etc). Essentially I want to send audio out to the processor in digital form.


From posts I've seen on the forums it seems its not really worthwhile using this setup for DVD due to the SVideo connection to the TV and the suboptimal quality of TV Out on most cards (this card is using a Conexant chip CX....). Correct me if I'm wrong. So I would probably get better PQ with a standalone DVD player (which I already have). I would then still use the HTPC for the main tasks that I built it for: Music jukebox, DivX/Xvid etc, TV capture/timeshifting etc.


For now, the system is great for what I'm using it for, however I've built it with the intention of using it eventually for HDTV with a HDTV set or projector, at that point I will then be able to make full use of processing power to improve PQ (ffdshow etc) and, of course, using a direct VGA connection or VGA->Component.


My questions if you would like to comment:


* When I eventually use the HTPC for video (HDTV w/projector) what is a good soundcard to consider upgrading to which will overcome the problem I'm having with the Digifire? (I've heard about M-Audio but need to know if PCM audio and AC3/DTS will be passed through SPDIF).


* Is it better to perform audio processing on the HTPC or on the audio processor itself (and if so, what soundcard is recommended for this?)
 
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