As someone who once used an HTPC as a surround processor (analog outs - straight to power amps) and subsequently abandoned it for a Lexicon, let me say that the HTPC makes a stellar DVD player and scaler, but as an audio processor, it's a black hole.
Aside from the poor ways in which the Windows OS handles audio (which can be circumvented), there can be/are issues with digital volume processing, output voltage amplitude and more. But the biggest problem is that the companies that are producing DVD player software (such as WinDVD, PowerDVD and NVDVD) are focused primarily on the video side of things. And while they're doing a great job on that, the audio is still pretty weak.
While it's true that high-end cards like the Lynx are up to the task, in comparisons to something as pedestrian as a Denon receiver (as recently as a year or so ago), an HTPC simply did not measure up with regard to surround processing - and that's not necessarily a hardware issue.
At the time I was beating my head against this brick wall, there was no software DVD player that gave adequate software control over bass management, channel delay, crossover points, etc. The latest version of TheaterTek
does all of that, though, and combined with a Lynx or RME card, who knows how close one might get to the performance of a Lex or CB? (Although you're still faced with inferior processing and steering algorithms, AFAIK.) If I were going to try this, though, TheaterTek 2.0 (with the Advanced Audio Pack) is where I would start.
As a DVD transport, my personal opinion is that an HTPC does an outstanding job. Some DVD drives do a better job than others wrt error correction, etc., but if you buy one of the better ones and rip the media to hard disk, you'll have none of the problems/issues associated with reading optical media.
|Originally posted by leedc|
If I don't like it, I can still use the computer as a media server and still buy the casablanca or MC 12b.
If you don't like it, you could use it as a high performance/low-cost scaler (or just sell it) but an HTPC doesn't necessarily make a great media server - completely different design criteria.
|Originally posted by Steve Bruzonsky|
Though I must tell you, HTPCs have their headaches, and you can get all the functionality with ease of use using a decent SDI modded DVD player
and the Lumagen VisionPro HDP
While I agree with you about the HTPCs headaches, the second part of that statement isn't really accurate. Software DVD players offer excellent aspect ratio control and an unbeatable feature set. As an example, most SW DVD players offer a "bookmark" function that automatically recognizes the DVD and takes you to the actual start of the movie (or wherever you bookmark) - bypassing previews, commercials, studio vanity reels, etc. I don't know of any CE players with that functionality.
I'm unfamiliar with the Lumagen VisionPro HDP, but an HTPC does a superb job of scaling to 1080p, provides exceptionally granular control over the image, and does so for less than half the cost of the Lumagen unit and an SDI modded DVD deck (albeit at the cost of a painstaking build and tweaking process.)