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A better sound quality for HTPC. Comparable to higher-end hifi.

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by optimis9, Feb 4, 2005.

  1. optimis9

    optimis9
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    Hi everyone, this is certainly a good forum.

    I'm new and is currently studying various aspect of building a HTPC.

    From what I gather, display quality wise. HTPC is very capable of matching with lots of $1000+ dvd player. Provided good software tuning.

    However, sound wise, I have to say that I see no one talking about a sound output that is comparable to a good system out there. Can anybody help?

    I'm looking to make this into a music juxebox system with CD on hardisk with on compression. I wish to have the sound output directly to amplifier and produce sond comparable to high-end brand (those above Panasonic and normal sony).

    Any suggestion would really help. Thanks.
     
  2. severnsource

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    PCs certainly can produce high quality sound. I was going to say that the best way is to use a digital output and use an external processor, the sound quality is then solely dependent on the quality of the external processor. However you imply that you want to use analogue connections. This can still give very high sound quality, but you need to choose a soundcard with good converters (the M-Audio Audiophile series are good reasonably priced internal cards), and you need to be aware of the possibility of internally generated noise getting onto the audio outputs.

    If I were using analogue outputs to feed the amps I would use an external converter using a firewire or usb connection to the computer; this reduces the chances of interference from the computer circuitry. Again M-Audio do some reasonably priced converters and there are several other makers. Amatuer / semi-professional recording equipment suppliers are the place to look for this sort of card.

    The software that I use is J Rivers media centre. It is commercial software, but not too expensive. It has a very good cataloguing system, which you will need if you have much music, works with many audio formats and will also play dvds, display pictures etc. It will handle a wide range of audio file formats and can also cope with multi room outputs, and is networkable. Ther is also a company called Cinemar that sells front ends for the J River program. Their music lobby program works well as an interface that cuts out all the unwanted clutter and just lets you select and play the music you want, a version is availble for the pocket PC so you can use that as a remote control for the system.

    There are freeware programs that will do most of this, but I can't say that I've investigated them.

    You say that you don't intend to use compression, but you might like to think about using a lossless compression system such as Flac or Monkeys audio. These will reduce the file size by about 40-60% but will have no effect on sound quality.

    Bill
     
  3. RobsterD

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    Hi and welcome to the forum.
    I'm at present streaming my cd collection from a server upstairs,music I've left as a wav file.
    I'm using a RME HDSP9632 cards analogue outs to an Audio Innovations 500 valve amp driving some B&W 9NT's.
    My player of choice is Foobar2000 with the asio plugin.
    Sound quality is excellent and compares favourably with my turntable(about £2000 inc stand etc),to be honest I think I now prefer it as I haven't played any vinyl for ages.
    I upgraded to the RME from the Maudio Audiophile 24/96 and the difference in sound quality is very evident.
    Rob
     
  4. Ken

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  5. RobsterD

    RobsterD
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    Ken
    Always difficult to try and explain the improvements,everyone has such different tastes with sound quality,but I'm now finally happy with CD playback,the improvements with the RME were across the board "depth,detail.........".
    A really worthwhile upgrade if you enjoy 2ch music via your PC IMO.
    Rob
     
  6. Ken

    Ken
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    Thanks Rob.

    Ken
     
  7. Embarker

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    Don't forget that with an RME daughter card and Theatertek 2 you can get 5.1 dts/dd balanced.

    My mate just sold his TAG, Denon A1 in favour of the above combo, notwithstanding the benefits of backing up dvd's cd's and using say Xlobby to control it all.

    A massive vote for the stereo here aswell
     
  8. RobsterD

    RobsterD
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    I want to keep the 192 Khz analogue output for CD playback and add a 8 port analogue card for surround sound duties instead of the 4 port 192 card.
    The onboard analogue would go to my valve amp and the 8 port card would connect to a 5/7 channel power amp.
    Would this be possible or are there other recommended routes.
    Cheers
    Rob
     

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