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Dedicated sound card or onboard spdif ?

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by basse_j, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. basse_j

    basse_j
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    I've gone through tons of information on whether I should get a sound card or just use an onboard spdif-connection on my future HTPC. Now I'm really confused :(

    I want to do the following: Connect my HTPC to my high-end Sony Reciever via. a digital-connection (spdif or toslink). I want to use following sound sources on the PC:

    1) DVD sound tracks (DD, DTS, etc.)
    2) Ordinary CD's / ripped CD's / High-quality MP3
    3) TV sound from a Hauppauge PVR-250 capture card.

    Is there any point in spending money on a high quality soundcard in this setup ?

    I've also seen some talk about onboard spdif connections being upsampled to 48 Khz, but can't figure if/how this will affect me !

    Any pointers :) ?
     
  2. bond007

    bond007
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    With this, it will depend upon the chipset used on the motherboard for the sound. My pc's onboard chipset (realtek on a shuttle sb51g) isnt great for the spdif, well at all :), it doesnt keep a constant connection and the amp (sony stb830) takes a second or two to lock onto the signal, so there is always a pause in hearing any audio at the start and then mixing the audio doesnt work (well dont know if it would on a soundcard not tried it), ie ac3 and and other audio playing on the computer, on mine, it just cuts off all sound. So it would depend upon your chipset, but a soundcard could reduce the cpu load.
     
  3. drummerjohn

    drummerjohn
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    I use and Nforce2 motherboard that has Soundstorm and Dolby Digital encoding to my Sony Amp and its fantastic.
     
  4. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    I also used nForce2 boards, now on an ASUS with no on-bard encoding, and I've never felt the need for a soundcard if all I need is SPD/IF output. I like the look of the Dolby-Live equipped 915 board from ASUS or the up-coming nForce4 for AMDs.
     
  5. keylion

    keylion
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    I used an MSI nforce 2 motherboards with a breakout bracket that plugs into a connector on the motherboard and has a coaxial and Toshlink connector on it. There are no issues with dropping signals or recognising formats - it works perfectly and sound fantastic.

    I don't really see the point in buying a separate sound card when you are only going to pass through the digital signal to your receiver/amp.

    KL
     
  6. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    I've seen it argued that boards like the M-Audio have superior digital outputs, something to do with 'jitter' whatever that is, personally the sound from my ASUS sounds fine to me from my 3803.
     
  7. jfinnie

    jfinnie
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    Many cheaper soundcards (AC97 ones, and some Soundblaster/CMEDIAs) and motherboards with integrated audio can suffer the following problems:

    a) SPDIF that only runs at 48KHz, meaning playback of CD's must be rate converted in software (sounds nasty, and eats CPU power)
    b) Poor quality SPDIF due to electrical noise
    c) Missing SPDIF electrical isolating tranformer to save cost (it's about $1, a lot to a motherboard manufacturer making millions of boards) - this is there to prevent earth loops between equipment destroying the SPDIF signal - it's only tiny, at 0.5V peak to peak.
    d) Audio master clock for DACs will be generated from 14.318MHZ - which does not divide down exactly to 44.1Khz or 48Khz - meaning the clock pullses will always be a tiny bit off where they should really be, resulting in jitter.

    Cards such as those from MAUDIO and RME will be designed to avoid all these issues. If you absolutely have to, you probably want to go for a board with integrated optical SPDIF (no transformer issues), maybe based around the Realtek AC97 codecs (they can do 44.1Khz natively without rate conversion, but it's still derived from a 14.318Mhz crystal) , or something with a VIA Envy24PT chip if you can find it. (which should avoid nearly all those probelms if you are lucky....)

    Cheers

    James
     
  8. SeaneyC

    SeaneyC
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    Nvidia should be shot for dropping soundstorm in the new boards IMHO
     

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