1. Join Now

    AVForums.com uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Blank Canvas

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Aesma_Daeva, Nov 13, 2003.

  1. Aesma_Daeva

    Aesma_Daeva
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    Messages:
    22
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0
    Currently I have (in different parts of the house) a basic PC, a surround amp, and an empty room.

    What I want is a basic but adequate PC based home cinema set up. I plan to use the PC as the core to play music / games / movies. The sound will be output through my hifi / av amp (using this rather nifty device http://www.xitel.com/product_phfl.htm ) via a set of cinema speakers. The visuals will be output through a projector directly onto the wall.

    Obviously this is going to cost a couple of quid, so I plan to buy the speakers first (which I can use with my existing dvd + amp), followed by the nifty gadget, and finally (after lots of saving up), the projector.

    Anyone got any comments or experience of this type of set up ? Any reccomendations for the components ??

    Thanks for any advice...


    A_D
     
  2. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2001
    Messages:
    12,437
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    Surrey. UK.
    Ratings:
    +2,099
    I've only had a quick look at the gadget, but it looks like it only converts a stereo signal into a spdif or toslink signal.

    You can output all your PCs sound via a spdif output from something like a SoundBlaster 4.1 with mono 3.5mm jack to phono converter. It can cost as little as £14 for the OEM and adaptor, and you get 5.1 or 6.1 correctly output to your av amp.receiver too, not just stereo. That's what I'm currently doing.

    If you're getting a projector, you can use the PC as your source, provided you use a Radeon card (9600 non pro is ideal) which will give the best image for DVD playback via a suitable DVD rom drive (such as LiteOn 165H). Combined with the spdif out soundcard and software DVD player (TheaterTec, PowerDVD, WinDVD), that's all you'll need for DVD playback.

    Using a capture card like the new Sweetspot, WinTV GO or Pinnacle PCTV Rave cards (as examples), you can input other video devices and use the PC as a scaler with DScaler software, so the PC remains the source for everything.

    Using it as a music server is pretty simple too, and you can even store video or dvd content there. You'll need a big hard drive for that though. A couple of 120gig drives will do the trick. :)

    Try the projector forums for projectors that will be in your price range, there's lots to choose from!

    Gary.
     
  3. Aesma_Daeva

    Aesma_Daeva
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    Messages:
    22
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hi Gary, thanks for the reply. My original plan was to get a new soundcard, or a motherboard capable of handling 5.1 sound. The reason I picked up on the Xitel gadget was that the site implied that I wouldn't get full digital surround through a soundcard. Is this wrong ?
    I'm a little confused now, can I output a raw signal from my pc via any card, and the a/v amp will decode it into 5.1 for the speakers, or does the PC need to pass a 5.1 signal in the first place ? Surely the quality of the output from the PC must have some effect on quality ?
    I think I'll have a play at the weekend, output the sound from my cheapo card to the amp and see what happens.

    Thanks
    A_D
     
  4. CodeThief

    CodeThief
    Active Member

    Joined:
    May 25, 2002
    Messages:
    660
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    21
    Location:
    UK
    Ratings:
    +5
    Yep thats right, just pass the sound from the SPDIF digital out on the soundcard into a co-axial digital IN on your receiver. The Receiver will then receive an undecoded signal and it'll do it's thing on it :)

    Dave
     
  5. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2001
    Messages:
    12,437
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    Surrey. UK.
    Ratings:
    +2,099
    The SB4.1 and 5.1 cards as well as many others are capable of passing full DD/DTS and extended formats via the spdif to any av amp just as well as any stand alone player. Mine is connected to a Denon 3802 via spdif which plays all formats, including DPLII for stereo sources. I don't have any other cables connected from the htpc to the amp.

    Gary.
     
  6. Aesma_Daeva

    Aesma_Daeva
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    Messages:
    22
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0
    Ok, so I decided the best way to work this out is to simply try it. I've moved all my gear into the one room and hooked up my a/v amp to the basic soundcard in the pc.
    I don't know how it's all working, but it sounds great !! Sounds like surround to me. I assume the amp is doing all the work, maybe mixing up the sound to simulate 5.1 surround.
    I suppose all the fancy gadgets and digital output is an audiophile thing, I would be very surprised if I got a similar jump in performance. Only problem, is that I've just tried to run my new game (battlefield 1942). Fantastic sound, but my graphics card can't keep up. Doh !
    Still at least the money I've saved not buying a new soundcard can go towards my new graphics card.

    Thanks for your advice guys.

    A_D
     
  7. Alex Simon

    Alex Simon
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    If you're just passing out SPDIF and the source supports 5.1 (game, dvd, etc) then you should be getting full 5.1. The amp is merely decoding the signal - not doing any fancy mixing/processing/etc.

    Hope that helps
    Alex
     
  8. Aesma_Daeva

    Aesma_Daeva
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    Messages:
    22
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0
    So have I got this right, my soundcard (or any soundcard for that matter) is outputting a digital signal through spdif ? If the source (in this case a game) has been designed for surround sound, and my amp is designed to handle surround sound, then I need nothing more ?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with the sound I'm getting. I suppose what is confusing me is what are fancy soundcards, and the gadget mentioned in the original post doing, that isn't happening already ?

    If it's just an audiophile thing, I can live with that. I'm really not that fussy, but I don't like to think I'm missing the point.

    Tx

    A_D
     
  9. Gary Lightfoot

    Gary Lightfoot
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2001
    Messages:
    12,437
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Location:
    Surrey. UK.
    Ratings:
    +2,099
    AFAIK, the only way to get true 5.1 from DVDs is via spdif (or toslink if the soundcard has it). Not all soundcards support spdif pass through, so you get either stereo only, or if the card has them, you have to use 6 leads to get each analogue channel to the 6 inputs on the back of the amp.

    The Soundblaster 4.1 costa around £12 for the OEM version, and the 3.5mm jack to phono adapter costs £1.50 from Maplin. So it's not that expensive to get spdif out from your pc.

    It works just like a standalone player - they normaly have a single digital output (phono connector) which is the spdif. You connect that to the digital in on your av amp, and you get DD, DTS etc. If you just use the stereo outputs, you'll only get downmixed 5.1 into stereo, and not true 5.1.

    Gary.
     
  10. Alex Simon

    Alex Simon
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Aesma_Daeva
    I'll leave someone else to answer regarding PC games and 5.1 as I'm a console gamer but what you say is entirely true for DVD.
    All you need is compatability.

    After that it's sound quality. You don't have to be an audiophile to hear the differences between the creative Soundblaster and the M-Audio cards for example but they both give you 5.1.

    Hope that helps
    Alex
     
  11. Aesma_Daeva

    Aesma_Daeva
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2003
    Messages:
    22
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0
    O, I've got my head around the sound now. Moving swiftly on, what about video ? Gary originally said to a radeon 9600 card. What is it about the 9600 specifically ? I've had a quick look at cards, and there seems to be video in/out as an optional extra on several cards. I assume this is what I need, anything else is just performance (the 9600 is still a bit pricey at the moment).

    What are the essentials I need to look at from a video card, with a view to ultimately connecting to a projector ?

    Thanks

    A_D
     
  12. Alex Simon

    Alex Simon
    Guest

    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hi there
    Video out is only necessary if you are running the pc to a normal tv. Any projector will be able to run off either the DVI or VGA outputs of the card which all the 9600s have.
    The 9600 (non-pro) provides the best currently available picture quality and is quiet as it doesn't have a fan (the pro does).

    However any radeon card will provide an excellent picture. Look for the ones with DVI output if you're running to a digital projector and without a fan if having a quiet PC is usefull for you.

    Add Theatertek/PowerDVD/ZoomPlayer and DVD playback is sorted.

    If you wish to use your PC as a scaler for other sources (SKY, Consoles, etc) then a capture card and DScaler is what you need (I wouldn't use the Video-in of a radeon btw). Our SweetSpot (http://www.pluggedin.tv/sweetspot) offers RGB, Component, S-Video and Composite capture and captures very cleanly indeed.

    If you wish to save money, then cards like the XCapture and FlyVideo offer good (S-Video and Composite only) alternatives.

    Hope that helps
    Regards
    Alex
     

Share This Page

Loading...