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Better Sound From Media computer to match Tag components

Discussion in 'TAG McLaren Audio Owners' Forum' started by TexKeen, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. TexKeen

    TexKeen
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    I have just set up my new Tag equipment for my cinema ie Amp 1005hr Processor AV32hr and DAVID32 FLOR player feeding HM&KA Speaker (150,sa) and I run a Baric 1209 for picture and a Taw Rock for Scaling.The sound is awesome but when play Hi Def though my media pc the sound is not as good.I run an optical lead from the Ases A8NA SLY motherboard using on board sound to the AV32. I am thinking of using a good quality Coaxial instead QED Signature 75,would I be gaining any good results or is an internal good quality sound card advisable or will I never get near the Tag sound and wasting my money.
     
  2. lenny

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    Graham : this is for you.
     
  3. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    You need a very good soundcard.....Motherboard digital outputs are not that special. You will get a big improvement using a high quality PCI card like the RME HDSP9632 which has both co-ax and TOSlink digital and a whole heap of good analogue conections as well..... I use the co-ax digital connection with a home made 75Ohm cable and Canare RCA's.... This card is not cheap however.......£300+...... Quality costs I'm afraid.....
     
  4. TexKeen

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    Thanks for advice I thought the Audigy Pro 4 was expensive but your card beats that like you say Quality costs.I will search the internet for one today,also when I conneced to the 5.1 bypass to try it out I had no sound any ideas.
    Tex
     
  5. cbemoore

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    I hope this isn't OT, but hopefully Graham can help me out here:

    I'm currently running my HTPC through my AV32R via an optical cable. Since I'm using active speakers, I'm thinking of upgrading to one of the RME sound cards and using the HTPC as a preamp/processor directly to my speakers instead. But firstly, I've got a few questions:

    1) Is this a sensible approach?
    2) Will the quality be comparable to my (SP) AV32R?
    3) If I buy a card with a number of external inputs, will I be able to switch inputs and change volume without having to switch on my display? If so, can I do it using my Windows MCE 2005 remote, or will I need a keyboard or mouse? I need to keep it easy to use or my girlfriend will be complaining!

    Chris
     
  6. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    What did you connect to the 5.1 bypass?
     
  7. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    1 and 2. The PC as a processor can work but isn't a patch on the AV32R, using the AV32R keeps it simple...
    3. Probably but boy you need to do some work to get it to look fairly seamless.

    I use the AV192R and leave the HTPC to do the basics, use a decent front tend for the HTPC (xlobby for instance) and a wireless mouse like the Gryration and a good IR control software like Grider and it all becomes pretty painless once you have got the Philips Pronto to sort it all out.... Something to do during the easter holidays maybe (this year and next!!!!).....
     
  8. Matt Horne

    Matt Horne
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    A friend has replaced his Lexicon (MC1) completely with his HTPC with a RME card running to active speakers. To his ears it sounds better than the Lex. Me personally I cannot be bothered with all the hassle (he is aways fiddling with his system) so if you already have a Tag I would use that myself :)
     
  9. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    Never rated the LEX anyway....... but seriously, exactly my point also.....
     
  10. cbemoore

    cbemoore
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    Thanks for the comments, guys. I guess I'll stick with the TAG - the RME option sounds like a lot of hassle!

    Cheers
    Chris
     
  11. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    The RME isn't a lot of hassle but the full PC control bit using it is....As you have the AV32R it makes sense to use it really......
     
  12. TexKeen

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    I connected all the inputs from the Amp Tag 100R 5 (Qunex silver 4 interconnects) to the 5.1 Bypass outputs.
     
  13. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    PLANK......(sorry but it made me smile!)...

    The 5.1 bypass PCA's are inputs...... :rtfm: Unplug them now, I have no idea if this may damage either unit so quickly NOW.....

    The amplifier RCA inputs only ever get connected to the line level outputs of the AV (Left/Right/Center/surround Left/ surround Right/ back left/ back right/ sub.....). The 5.1 bypass is there as an input into the AV from another source (SACD player for instance) that can only output in analogue and bypasses all but the volume knob inside the AV (no TMREQ for instance........), a 5.1 output from a PC might also be connected in this way, but as we said above, use a digital connection for that if available (i.e. if your PC has a digital output use it into a digital input on the AV).
     
  14. AMCross

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    its not april fools day yet is it ? :D
     
  15. TexKeen

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    Sorry Graham what a Blonker my maths teacher Mrs Lovejoy said "I was a good at all the calculations but always made elementary mistakes" still doing it 35 years on,
    It was only connected for a minute or two.
    Going back too the sound card money being a bit tight what do you think of the M-Audio Audiophile 192 PCI Sound Card at £110 as an alterative to the RME.
    Thanks
    Tex
     
  16. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    Glad the unit survived...... I'm afraid the M-Audio isn't a patch on the RME, it is perfectly acceptable but......We moved from the M-Audio pro range a long time ago to the RME and it simply sounds better...... Either card is a big step up from the likes of a Soundblaster though.......
     
  17. skindiver

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    Hello Everyone ! And many thanks for such a great forum.

    I am about to start building my own HTMAC (HTPC on a Apple) and I would like to have your inputs. The plan:

    - HTMAC Audio out --> AV32R , Krell power Amp, Thiel speakers (I have those gears already)
    - HTMAC Video Output --> yet-to-be-selected scaler/deinterlacer and projector (maybe all-in-one?)

    The reason I want to build it on a MAC rather than on a PC is because I have one already that is connected to an Apple XRaid of about 4 Tb of raid 5 (to store my musics and films). Plus, I love it …
    Here are my thoughts and questions:

    1) AUDIO & VIDEO Hardware

    - AUDIO : Although the Mac comes standard with an optical digital audio output it is not good enough. Both RME and Lynx audio cards are available for MAC, so no worries, but as I might be able to get a Lynx 2 at a discount, is it really better than the RME ?
    - VIDEO : I have a NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra DDL (dual link DVI connection capable of delivering 2560 by 1600 resolution). Is that good enough? If not, what would be?

    2) Ripping CD’s and DVD’s

    - Does the player you use for ripping make a real difference ? That is, can you use the one in your computer or do you need the likes of a DVD32R ?
    - Same question for the software you use.
    - I understand that CDs should be ripped in .WAV and not compressed, but what about DVDs ? which format should be used ? H.264 ?

    2) Player, Software.

    • For music, I guess iTunes will do, but for movies what do you think about Quicktime and VLC (also available on PC by the way).

    As you must have guessed by now, I am not a Hi-fi specialist (but an enthusiast one!) and English isn’t my mother tongue, so try to keep it… almost simple…
    Thanks for your help!!! :smashin:

    Jacques.
     
  18. skindiver

    skindiver
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    Anyone ?
    :lease:
     
  19. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    I have no experience of building an HT MAC I'm afraid, you will come up against various issues like finding suitable ripping software and a pleasing front end for the computer.

    A linx2 might be better or you may not notice any difference between that and the expensive RME, MAC drivers may make a bigger difference though.

    The NVidia 6800 Ultra certianly has enough processing power, however it also has some bugs that are in the hard code and the NVidia 6600GT does not and is also a better internal design and perfectly suited to home theatre work (if you play DOOMIII you may need the faster card though!).

    You need a DVD-Rom computer drive to rip DVD's and region free software etc. DVD's are ripped in their native format and full file size (.Vob/.ifo/.bup).

    Player software, well VLC is quite good for a PC so...... However the real daddy of PC players is TheatreTek which I have no idea if it is available for a MAC.

    I'd seriously consider building a PC for the HTPC work...... Can you get a suitable bridge so the PC can see your storage server?
     
  20. skindiver

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    Graham,

    Thanks for the advices !

    I guess I should:
    1. Get the cheaper high-end audio card I can get (between RME and Lynx).
    2. Trade My Nvidia 6800 against a Nvidia 6600 (with a hardcore gamer that should be very happy to do so!)

    Yes, I could have a PC see my Raid storage but then again I would have to build a complete PC from the ground up which might prove much more expensive and probably not so much better (as the audio and video hardware are identical). It’s true that I don’t know about the drivers though.

    The other reason I’d like to stick with MAC is because I am better at it.

    There are plenty of ripping software available both for DVDs (yade x, mactheripper,…) and for CDs (iTunes…). For movies they remove CSS encryption, Macrovision protection and RCE region protection. So availability isn’t an issue. My question was more quality related. For instance on a PC, do you get different quality ripped file, depending on which software you used ? If yes how could you recognize a good software? what kind of specs should it have (I know I had asked for simple answers, but hey…) ?

    Same question goes for the players. What does TheatreTek allows you to do that, say, VLC doesn’t? Is it the quality of the playback, some features available or some settings possibility? (This is so I know what to look for in an equivalent MAC software ).

    As far as the front-end software is concerned, there are a few available: Matinee for DVD (“video_ts” file launcher) and iTunes for music. Some fully integrated software like CenterStage (music, film & photo) are also being developed. Kind of like a media PC.

    Jacques.
     
  21. Stevesky

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    Hi Jacques,

    Is the MAC iTunes user interface suitable for an HTPC application? I use the PC version on my dev machine for playing my iPod AAC tunes while I muck about and the interface is really designed around viewing from a close distance, preferably on a high definition monitor. It's not really designed to be viewed at 3+ metres as everything is small and finicky.

    I also find that ripping CD's via iTunes does not produce brilliant copies, it doesn't try that hard to get the data off the disc. If there is a sniff of a scratch it results in interpolated samples or drop outs. I eventually swapped the drive out to a Plextor that handles much of this in the drives firmware and speeded up ripping times in the process.
     
  22. skindiver

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    Hi Stevesky,

    iTunes for Mac is very similar to the PC version and It's true that it wasn't designed with the intent of an HTPC use. I have never used it from 3m+ yet, but would agree with you that it's not "ideal". That is why some softwares are currently being developped. I mentioned CenterStage before but there are others that already exist, like MythTV that was developped for Linux but was ported to Mac OS X. The arrival of Tiger (Mac OS 10.4) at the end of the month should also bring tons of new possibilities, especially through very small apps (Dashboard Widgets) that are easy to develop on top of most softwares like iTunes. Then you can "easily" just tailor the interface to your needs and benefit from the existing functionality of the software.

    About the quality of the ripping, that was exactly my question! Although I have never observed any drop out, my ears made me question the quality of the ripping. I am not technically savvy enough to isolate the reason, hence the question about the drive and software used for the ripping. Which drives do you guys use (besides the Plextor)?
    I'll see if I can find a better ripping sotware.

    Jacques.
     
  23. GrahamMG

    GrahamMG
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    Hi Jacques.

    The RME HDSP9632 is just about all you could possibly need onnthe sound card front, assuming it supports a MAC.... The Linx is the other obvious choice but probably even dearer...

    There is not that much wrong with an NVidia 6800 apart from the well known hardware bug, the 6600GT is a great card for HTPC work but as I said if you play very high spec games with all the enhancments turned on you might find the 6600GT struggles but for HT work including hi-def it is excellent.

    The PC world tends to view DVDecrypter as the best ripper and EAC has a strong following in CD ripping circles as it gives very good results. Not all rippers are the same....... Have a google for their web sites for the details.

    Software players tend to all do roughly the same thing but TheaterTek has probably the best support and integrates very nicely with NVidia cards, in its latest V2.1 form it is just about as complete a package as anyone needs and plays just about any file format and multi .ts files seamlessly. Settings will vary depending on hardware but TT has quite a large choice of video settings to ensure you get a first rate picture.

    Do not underestimate the value of a really good front end, it take the computer out of the "only for the seriously geeky" to an everyday wife frendly device, MCE2005 and XLobby make the user interface a pleasent experience, I haven't seen anything like that for a MAC that is that nice to view on a 7ft screen!

    A Plextor DVD716 drive is about as good as it gets currently for accurate ripping, we use them professionally.... As I'm the fussy type I also use a Plextor Premium CDRW for CD work as that device has some very nice error reporting built into the drive firmware as I like to know just how good my copying is...

    I'll be interested in how you get on with a HTMAC but I can't help thinking it is easier and cheaper adn more flexible to build a PC currently.
     
  24. skindiver

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    Hi Graham,

    Points taken. :thumbsup:
    The major challenge will be to find the best components (both harware & software) and make sure they "properly" work with Mac. For instance, RME and Nvidia work great but I am not sure Plextor is Mac friendly :(

    I'll do my homework before I start the buying and building phase and come back to you guys, with my findings, for a reality check. Although I would MUCH prefer to do it on a Mac, I don't want to compromise with quality :nono: . I guess that, thanks to this forum, the Tag spirit is still Alive ... ;)

    Thanks for your help !

    Jacques.
     

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