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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am just starting to look at tying my computer into my home theater, and need a little help.


My current set-up has my computer (running XP Pro) mounted in an end-table with the 19" monitor mounted on a swing-arm attached to the table. The table sits between the couch and lazy-boy. This has worked well, since the computer can be used from either position. A small 2.1 speaker set provides adequate sound for playing games.


Now, I want to connect the PC's A/V to my home theater (on the other side of the room) for the purposes of playing music/video from the PC through the HT.


One caveat is that I want to keep my current ability to play games on the PC/Monitor (with sound routed to the PC speakers), while TV or music plays on the HT.


There are some serious budget constraints, but since I'm not planning on doing high-definition (it will be a while before I upgrade my TV for HD), or ‘live’ video recording (although I will continue to transfer old VHS tapes to DVD), I think I can get away with simply adding a sound card and some cables. I believe that I can add a sound card that will only be used for music/video purposes, while continuing to use my SB Live/2.1 PC speakers for game playing.


The main problem I foresee is that there will be a 25' cable run between the PC and HT receiver.


So now the questions...
  1. My GeForce4 4600 has a y-adapter that will let me run s-video IN/OUT, so does anyone know of any problem with using 25ft s-video runs?
  2. What type of audio cabling should I do between the PC and HT? I would like to go with digital audio, but I’m concerned that the length may be beyond cables capacity (the longest toslink and digital coax I’ve seen is 12ft).
  3. What sound card should I get? Since I already have another sound card for gaming, the Audigy seems overkill. Is there any problem using one of the M-Audio cards with a second sound card in the system?[/list=1]


    I have already consulted the Meta-FAQ, but haven’t been able to answer these questions adequately on my own… perhaps I just haven’t looked hard enough.


    Any and all help answering these questions is greatly appreciated!
 

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1. Unlike other analog cable, S-Video severly degrades over long distances. 25ft. is not THAT bad though, so it should be ok. I've done 20ft before and it still looked better than composite.


2. Toslink has a very short distance limit. Digital coax does not. Digital coax can go over 100 ft. I believe.


3. I don't have much experience with this, but since you want your PC speakers running at the same time, I would look into a soundcard that allows 5.1 output via SPDIF at the same time as analog (2 channel, 4 channel, whatever) output for your PC speakers. For example, I'm using a $20 Philips soundcard and I have to switch between the two. You won't want that.


On a side note, to be honest with you, playing DVD video via a graphics card's PC-TV out is not the best option. A standalone DVD player or a hardware MPEG2 decoder card would probably be better in your case. HTPC's advantage is when you use the high-res VGA or DVI outputs in conjunction with Powerstrip to connect to a high-def display.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
So, if digital coax can handle the distance, is there a particular sound card that has a digital coax output?


Shouldn't I be able to configure the computer games to use my existing card (and PC speakers), while configuring my media players to use the new sound card (and HT)?


I'm not as interested in playing DVDs from my PC, as I am in playing video files on my TV. I have a large library of files I've either downloaded, captured from VHS, or gotten from friends.



So... any sound card recommendations?
 
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