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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have my HTPC connected to a quality audio system: EAD dd/dts processor with Audionics and Quad power amps with B&W speakers. I use a old SoundBlaster Live 1024 for the SPDIF output with Reclock. Theatertek is dvd software. Digital audio stream is perfect with no interruptions at all and with no stutters on video.


Here is the problem:

I heard that hardware dvd player's (set top box, just to understand) digital output are much better than those on HTPC's regarding MUSICAL QUALITY.


So yesterday, for the first time, I connected a friend's EAD TheaterVision player digital out to my ead processor. Sound is DEFINITELY BETTER! Not little differences, there's an ABYSS! Not tollerable!

This is very frustrating for a audiophile as I am, as should be for anyone with a little bit of "ear".


What is possible to do to get a quality spdif out HTPC? Change SBlive?
 

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I'd also like some answers, in addition for movies, as I plan to use Xcard, but am very weary of using its s/pdif coax out and would much, much rather loop through to a better soundcard...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Sorry, I was talking about DD disks.

I didn't compare pcm audio from cd as I know SBlive to reclock everything to 48 Khz. That would not be a serious test.


Tomorrow I'll try with a cheaper dvd player (USD 50 Hyunday) than EAD TheaterVision P tested yesterday and will post impressions. But I'm sure It'll be much better than HTPC. Also because EAD TVP is based on a simple PANASONIC RV30 player! (spdif is taken out from Panasonic MPEG board and then only a little separation transformer is added by EAD).


It would be VERY interesting if some HTPC users (dd/dts dvds from HTPC's spdif outputs to an external processor) could do same test I did and report their impressions! Thanks.
 

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But it's all 1's and 0's ;) I agree there is a big variation in sound quality between a bad spdif implementation and a good one, even with DD and DTS, but with digital it's not all about cost. Can HTPCs sound good? sure they can, but the number of variables is huge, it's a bit like the video stutter problem. Getting something that works faultlessly is difficult.
 

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Sorry, I cannot hear any difference when playing same DVD's from my Pioneer connected through coax digital to my Denon 3801 or from my HTPC connected through RealTek optical out to Denon optical in.


I must be audio challenged.


Yeah, implementation matters, but not that dramatically when it comes to digital pass.


I would suggest excluding all possible variables during testing that might affect end results, another words compare apples to aplles, or lemons to lemons.
 

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I too have noticed differences.


I originally tried digital output from my board. It was awful. I bought an M-Audio Revo. It was much better. TheaterTek still sounded thin. I now use PowerDVD for digital audio output. It's better still and a close match to my standalone DVD player. I believe my standalone player is still a touch better. My standalone can't do an 80" wide picture very well. Like everything in home theater, it's all about trade offs. I too was under the impression that bits are bits, but the perception of music is analog and I hear a difference.
 

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Your EAD Theater P has a reclocking jitter reducing circuit:


"Low-Jitter Reclocked Digital Audio Output , coaxial 75 W and optical TOSLINK, supports Dolby Digital, DTS, linear PCM bitstreams."


Most consumer grade HTPC sound cards do not have this feature. This likely accounts for some of the difference you are hearing.
 

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This is really interesting....I'm about to rebuild my htpc, and use an Nforce 2 Ultra 400 motheboard with Soundstorm...optical SPDIF out.


I'm currently using an M-Audio 24/96, but want to reduce clutter in my htpc and am looking to go with as few add-in boards and components as possible.


Is this ill-advised? Will the SPDIF output on the new motherboard really be different/worse (better?) than the M-Audio I'm currently using?


Inquiring minds...
 

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Two possible differences (and maybe both). One is the sampling rate which can be 48KHz (near 44.1 kbps CD rate) or 96KHz. Second is what is done to the signal when it's converted from digital to analog in the preamp. At 48KHz with no smoothing a good ear can detect harshness due to the step changes in output that occur at 48KHz. If the preamp has smoothing algorithms, harshness will go away. Set sampling rate to 96KHz without smoothing and I don't think there's a human on earth who could tell. Other than the rate, digital out is digital out, the signal can either be interpreted by the receiving device or it can't, particularly home theater systems which are directly connected with relatively short wires. Don't confuse this with cell phones. When you get hash in your ear on cell phone it's cause the signal dropped out or wasn't strong enough momentarily for phone to decode it.
 

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RME, M-Audio, Aardvark, and Digital Audio Labs all make a quality S/PDIF output for HTPC units. The Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe is the most user friendly of the bunch. I also think it's the best sounding of the group with the exception of the top of the line RME cards.


Alan
 

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I second Alan's comments. I also have the M Audio 24/96 and the DAL Carddelux. I use the SPDIF output of both.



The DAL card does sound better and is easier to use.
 
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