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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Have a VERY old Pioneer receiver (VSX-D503S) that has served me well over its 14 year lifespan, but I fear it is now on its last leg. Recently the right channel has begun crackling and it appears after some thorough wire/speaking swapping I have determined the problem is the receiver and not the speakers.


So, I am needing to replace it and am wondering what the best way to replace it would be? (Also needing to replace/upgrade the Yamaha NX-C220 surround speakers I have been using).


Option 1: Get another new receiver + speakers. Considering some of the theater in a box options (those with out a dvd player). Budget: $400 - $500

Yamaha YHT-390 (~ $350 various places)

Yamaha YHT-590 ($400 @ Amazon)


Option 2: Build a high end desktop for media and gaming. Not really sure what I should look for in a soundcard to use for home theater.


I have a 40" Samsung LCD (LN40A550) that I will be using as a display and the room I will be using is 16' X 13'. By no means am I an audiophile, but I would like to get the best sound I can get for my money.


My main questions regarding using a media pc is whether or not the PC will perform as well as a receiver and which option would be more cost effective. Right now I am leaning towards building the PC and getting some good speakers as the PC will be more multifunctioning than the receiver + speakers.


Suggestions/Comments are welcomed.


Thank you for your time.
 

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A Media PC does not come with an amplifier or a tuner, and few receivers can play media without a source, so aren't you comparing apples to oranges here?


A media PC is really a source device, where a receiver is an amplifier with many added features.


That being said, I can make some observations.


A receiver has many features. It can switch audio, unlike a media PC which is limited to it's own audio/video capabilities. For example, if you wanted to hook up an XBox. It has a tuner. It has amps, so you can use a variety of speakers with it. It's going to be simpler to use than a media PC, if all the complicated HTPC questions I see are any indication.


A media PC can replace a number of source components, but it's not an amplifier or AV switcher. It likely lacks room correction features that would be available in a modern AV receiver. Some "media" speakers will be inferior to what a receiver with better speakers can do, but they are also cheaper on average.
 

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@MichealJHuman: Thanks for the reply. You beat me to an edit. I meant to clarify this a bit.

I already own a DVD and CD player. so input isn't necessarily a problem, BUT the lack of a tuner is something I need to consider.



So, what about doing Apple + Orange here? What sound card would you recommend to connect to the Yamaha YHT-590?
 

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I am not an HTPC expert, so I can't make any reccomendations. Perhaps you could peruse the HTPC forum. I am sure you can find some good info there.


On a personal, note, and I am likely old fashioned, I would not want a PC as a media hub. My reason would simply be that PCs are a bit unreliable compared to dedicated source devices.


Tivo for example, is SO simple to use. In fact, I see Tivo moving more towards a media hub with the ability to rent Net Flix and such. Now all Tivo needs to is to sync with iTunes so I can put all my music on there! With over 500 GB of storage space on my Tivo, 10 GB of music would be trivial



If a media PC were as simple to use as Tivo and had no annoying glitches, I could maybe see using it for a combo DVR, optical player and music storage system.


p.s. I write computer software for a living so computers don't scare me - they just annoy me
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Orius /forum/post/15518375


Option 1: Get another new receiver + speakers.


Option 2: Build a high end desktop for media and gaming. Not really sure what I should look for in a soundcard to use for home theater.


...Right now I am leaning towards building the PC and getting some good speakers

I'm in this forum to pick a receiver because I've been using an HTPC for several years and am now planning to switch to using separate dedicated machines (DVR, blu-ray/DVD/CD player, receiver).


The main reason I want to switch is this: with separate gadgets, you plug them in, and you can use them; it just works. With a PC, you're getting yourself into a lot more work and a similar or greater amount of expenses, not just when you first set it up but over and over again after that, to keep it running or get it running again, or just to work around little annoyances it has even when it's working fine.


With an HTPC, various complexities (compatibility, drivers, registry, software licensing, resource allocation) arise from getting each program to interact with the generalized hardware of a PC and share that hardware with various other software, even for strictly internal processing that a separate independent machine (receiver, DVR, movie player, whatever) would handle smoothly by interacting only with itself. This makes these programs, drivers, and such very unreliable, so the frequency of things just plain going wrong, and the supply of different ways they can go wrong that you've never heard of before, is magnified a lot. Also, your entertainment system becomes subject to glitches/crashes in your "regular" PC parts/programs, and your "regular" PC stuff becomes subject to problems that started in your entertainment system, so either kind of problem means you can lose both sets of functions instead of just one, until it's fixed. The frequency of both kinds of trouble is additionally magnified by of the way they're intertwined using the same computer, and the obscurity of some of the special kinds of problems you can get this way means fixing it takes research, which takes more time, on top of possibly needing to wait for new stuff to be delivered to fix it at additional cost. Even when there aren't problems, between buying specialized parts to add to your computer and buying the programs to carry out the entertainment functions, you don't save any money compared to buying separate machines and could very well spend more, especially since you're likely to do it more frequently. Even with everything working perfectly, you will still run into arbitrary restrictions on what you can do or how well it performs, or additional research and work and costs to work around those, because of digital "rights management" issues imposed by people who have declared HTPC users to be the enemy, so you're getting yourself into a perpetual fight that regular home entertainment system users don't have to fight. (For example, many DVDs have deliberate errors added which PCs choke on but free-standing players don't notice, to keep you from playing them on a PC because if you could do that you could also copy them with it... and HDMI connections have a "handshake" security feature built in which recognizes stand-alone players as secure but not computers.) And even aside from that, with everything working perfectly and no copyright battle problems, you'll still find oddities in how things are designed that bug you and can't be changed. For example, I can't get my DVD playing program to quit turning subtitles on whenever it starts any movie or whenever I navigate between chapters... and volume control in PCs is split into multiple separate sliders so the

convenient volume +/- buttons don't have access to the full range, so you often end up not being able to turn it up or down far enough without opening the operating system's separate volume control program to move a second slider, whereas a receiver would let you turn it all the way up and down and anywhere between with only one knob or pair of buttons that you can use at any time.


Bottom line: the PC route just means more work, time, system down-time, and probably money, for only the same results or worse.


One reason why I went this way in the first place was to reduce the number of "boxes" I'd need by eliminating things like the separate DVR/VCR, DVD player, and receiver. But without a receiver, you'd need "powered" speakers, speakers with their own built-in amps, also often called "computer speakers"... and good sets of those are extremely rare or don't exist at all. (I got lucky finding my current bookshelf 2.1 set fairly easily, but I've never seen another like it, the company doesn't make them anymore, and I know of nothing else like them to switch to for good self-powered surround sound.) So finding those is another way you just create more work for yourself, unless you get a receiver and regular unpowered speakers, but then you're partially defeating the "fewer boxes" purpose, and if you've got space for a receiver, you've probably got space for a few more "boxes" too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orius /forum/post/15518444


I already own a DVD and CD player. so input isn't necessarily a problem, BUT the lack of a tuner is something I need to consider.

Radio tuners are available for PCs, or you could get a cheap separate radio, and could plug its headphone jack into the PC or the receiver if you want. So this isn't really an issue one way or the other... except that PC tuners are inordinately expensive compared to radios and you can't use them when the PC is turned off or not functional...


The separate DVD & CD players are more noteworthy here, especially the DVD player. Sending their output into a PC would be a pointless hassle if it's even possible at all. (I'm not aware of any PC sound cards that can take in surround-sound; some can send it out, but they still usually only take in stereo or mono.) Certainly, if it's possible, it's expensive and weirdly indirect. If you have amps or powered speakers, as you must if you're using a PC but no receiver, then the DVD & CD players could just plug straight in to the amps or speakers, so the PC isn't a part of the chain at all. If you don't have amps or powered speakers, then you must have a receiver, and the DVD & CD players could just plug straight in to that, so the PC still isn't a part of the chain at all. Using a PC for movies & music only really makes sense if the PC is the source, reading the disks itself, without separate dedicated DVD/CD players being a part of the chain at all. Either way, whichever source machine you use (the PC or a separate player), there's no reason to bother doing anything with the other.


BTW, if you use the PC for playing movies instead of the DVD player, then a tolerable DVD-playing program will cost you...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orius /forum/post/15518444


What sound card would you recommend to connect to the Yamaha YHT-590?

What kind of input does that have for surround sound? SPDIF? If you want to play DVDs or surround-sound video games in the computer, any card with SPDIF output will do, for sending surround sound. That's a lot of options; just go for the cheapest that has it, since the receiver's going to do the work anyway and the PC's doing nothing but passing original unaltered data along. You might not even need a card at all if your motherboard's onboard audio includes SPDIF, which many do these days. If you're not playing surround-sound from the PC, all you'd need to send for normal sound & music is stereo, for which a normal headphone-type eighth-inch jack will do, and ALL motherboards have at least that much built in, so there'd be no need for a card for that.
 
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