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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I cant narrow down a search well enough to find out the answer(s) to my question, so here goes ...


I only want ONE audio-out connection.

I dont care if it is toslink or digital coaxial.

I want ALL sound (OTA HDTV, CD/DVD, Internet, etc) to go thru it.

I want 5.1 surround sound: Dolby Pro Logic, Dolby Digital, DTS.

I dont need 6.1, 7.1 or DPL-II.

I want the ONE audio-out connection to connect to my Onkyo 5.1 receiver.

I do NOT want gaming to be the driving force in the decision.

I do NOT want to need to make a lot of adjustments (no adjustments if possible) when switching between onboard HTPC sources (OTA HDTV, CD/DVD, Internet, etc).


Among the components that will go into my HTPC are:

HDTV tuner (AccessDTV or MyHD).

DVD-ROM.

ATI Radion video card (7500 or 8500 if bugs get fixed).


Do I need a soundcard as good as the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 ($280) or could I get away with something less? I was planning on getting the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz ($70) until I looked closer at the specs which made it look like it doesnt really do anything I need.


What is the simplest way to do this?


WARNING: Pun ahead!!!


I need some sound advice.
 

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Well I have much the same requirements as you (except that I do not have an HDTV card). Currently I have one audio out connection (toslink optical) going from my computer to my Onkyo receiver. I do not have to do any adjustments whatsoever when switching my various HTPC sources (mp3, DVD-DTS/Dolby Digital, CD, games, etc). All sound is routed from my computer through the one toslink cable. In addition my receiver auto detects the input stream and automatically switches between DTS,Dolby Digital and PCM as required.


I use a Soundblaster Live! with the digital I/O daughtercard. The Soundblaster series has been much maligned in this forum for poor sound quality and questionable drivers. I run Win2K with the latest official Creative drivers and experience no problems at all. As for sound quality, that is very subjective. I like my current setup and see no need to spend the dough to get the M-Audio. However if you're an audiophile you may see the need.



Cheers

Lester
 

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RScogland


Since you will be exclusively sending a digital signal out of your soundcard to your receiver, one thing I'd advise looking into as far as any potential soundcards is whether the soundcard can 'autoswitch' between pcm and dd/dts pass-thru.


For example, I have a few different soundcards. One of them is the Philips Acoustic Edge. With this card, I can send system sounds etc... out as 2channel stereo pcm. However, when I play a DVD movie and want to pass-thru the DD, I need to go into the Philips control panel and switch it from 'pcm' to 'DD pass-thru' - a trivial task on a normal computer, but a potential irritant on a HTPC. I believe with something like an Audigy, as long as the settings are set as 'digital-output', 'ac3-decode' not checked, and s/pdif set to default, it will send the system sounds to your receiver as pcm and will pass the soundtrack from a dvd out as dd/dts.


Incidentally, I understand that gaming isn't your major consideration (same here) but just so you know, with the digital connection you will only have 2-channel (Front Left/Front Right) audio with games.


I've never compared my various soundcards using their digital outputs and decoding with a receiver (I tend to use my analog outputs) so I won't say anything about that.


Finally you mentioned getting an ATI video card - if you are getting one that is AIW (with tv tuner such as 8500DV) I advise not getting an Audigy since the ATI application software does not work well with the way Creative 'lumped' their analog inputs in the Audigy mixer.
 

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From what I understand there are several sound cards that fit the bill. One thing to watch with most of them is switching the bitrate from 44.1 to 48 is not often done automatically. The only card I'm aware of that does this are the M-Audio cards, and I believe that was due to much nagging from Cliff.


The implication of this is that when you switch between cd (44.1) and DVD (48) sources you'll either be upsampling the 44.1 to 48(if you set it to 48 and play a cd) or downsampling the 48 to 44.1 (if you set it to 44.1 and play a dvd). So, if you don't mind the audio artifacting created by the upsample (I would recommend you set it to 48 rather then 44.1 if you must settle on a single setting) just set it to 48khz and have at it. The M-Audio cards' drivers are smart enough to detect the source sample rate and switch automagically. It's a nice feature... and might be worth the extra $$ if that kind of thing floats your boat.


-rick
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Voop
One thing to watch with most of them is switching the bitrate from 44.1 to 48 is not often done automatically. The implication of this is that when you switch between cd (44.1) and DVD (48) sources you'll either be upsampling the 44.1 to 48(if you set it to 48 and play a cd) or downsampling the 48 to 44.1 (if you set it to 44.1 and play a dvd). So, if you don't mind the audio artifacting created by the upsample (I would recommend you set it to 48 rather then 44.1 if you must settle on a single setting) just set it to 48khz and have at it.
Good to know. I have a question about this. If I were to save all my CD's (uncompressed) to my hard drive, would this still be an issue?


By the way ... either you guys know the info that I wanted or I finally asked the question the right way. Great info from all ... thanks!
 
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