HDMI out with multichannel PCM

Discussion in 'Home Entertainment Computers' started by Rob100, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. Rob100

    Rob100
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    I am thinking of giving my HTPC a bit of an update. I'm still running an old P4 3.0GHz S478 CPU on a AGP board and although the Radeon 2600 Pro can handle 1080p AVC when dxva compliant with ease, when I have to use software decoding (CoreAVC) it struggles big time. Also I would like to add a Hauppauge S2 sat card to get Freesat HD.

    Anyway, I don't really want to spend too much as my Blu-ray and HD DVD needs are already taken care of with stand alone players.

    I was looking at building the system around the GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard as the onboard graphics seem to be up to the job. However one thing I wanted was multichannel audio over HDMI.

    I use Slysoft reclock and at the moment have to decode the AC3/DTS, let re-clock resample as necessary (especially when watching a PAL DVD to reduce back to 24fps) and then let reclock encode back to AC3 so I still get 5.1 over optical to my receiver.

    I downloaded the manual for this motherboard and it states:

    Please note the HDMI audio output only supports AC3, DTS and 2-channel-LPCM formats. (AC3 and DTS require the use of an external decoder for decoding.)

    So what's the best option to get multichannel (7.1) PCM over HDMI. A different motherboard or do I need to consider a seperate video/sound card? I do not need bitstream HD audio over HDMI.

    Many thanks in advance.

    Rob.
     
  2. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    Options for low-ish cost HDMI multichannel PCM are :

    1. nVidia 8200/8300 (for AMD) or 9300/9400 (for Intel) motherboard. 9300/9400 probably a good bet. This has excellent de-interlacing and video performance and supports multichannel PCM over HDMI. The Gigabyte E7AUMDS2H is a well regarded motherboard (some run a bit hot - the Gigabyte seems to be a bit better in this regard)

    2. ATI 4xxx series videocard (4550 passive is a good choice) These video cards have on-board multichannel PCM sound-devices (independent of motherboard or other sound cards) and the 4550 and above have excellent de-interlacing (4350 not so good).

    In both cases make sure any card or motherboard you buy has a native HDMI connector - much easier to cope with than a DVI output that requires a DVI->HDMI proprietary dongle to enable sound.

    The ATI video cards are easier to configure for consistent SD and HD black-level support in Vista than nVIdia solutions - and the 4550 has marginally better post-processing than the 9400 (though both have very good de-interlacing - MUCH better than the HD 3200 stuff on the 780G motherboards)

    I have built two HTPCs - and used 1. in one build and 2. to upgrade an existing 780G build. Both deliver multichannel PCM over HDMI.

    I haven't installed Catalyst 9.1 yet - but apparently it improves on some sound issues (if you switched away from your HTPC to another source you sometimes lost HDMI sound until a reboot)
     
  3. kempez

    kempez
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    You need a souLooking around it's a toughie :(

    I don't know if this card will do both? Not totally clear from the spec.

    I think the asnwer might be a sound card stand-alone
     
  4. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    Looks like it does what is needed - for some reason the ATI description of the HDMI audio on 4xxx series is flawed. They describe it as "2.0 PCM and up-to 7.1 AC3" whereas if the 4xxx cards have a proper HDMI output then they support 7.1 PCM.

    The card I'm using (and it appears to be quite popular) is :

    http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/VGA/Products_Overview.aspx?ProductID=2925

    I wanted fanless (for noise reasons) and native HDMI.

    Separate sound cards are more trouble than they are worth at the moment for HDMI audio.

    The only one available is the Asus Xonar HD1.3. This takes an HDMI video input from your IGP or graphics card and adds audio to it. It requires very specific OS installation, only works with a custom branch of Arcsoft Total Media Theatre, and doesn't support 24p video. They have one advantage - they will bitstream True HD and DTS HD for external decoding in your amp - avoiding any downsampling that PCs apply to 96/192kHz and >16bit sound tracks - though these are not the majority. I'd avoid at the moment...
     
  5. Blu4KHD

    Blu4KHD
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    If 24p is important then i would suggest the Nvidia solution over ATI as the ATI solution for 24p is flaky at the best of times
     
  6. jameson_uk

    jameson_uk
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    WHen you say 1 do you the the AMD 8200/8300 route or the Intel 9300/9400 route? (they are different GPUs right?)

    Are you saying that whichever route you took is about the same for SD material (de-interlacing and post-processing) as the ATI 4550? Do you think the 4650 would be any better with SD material?

    I am totally confused as to which way to turn and find myself changing my decisions on a daily basis!!! All the info on the net is either biased or only talks about HD material.

    Also the whole 24fps thing. Is this really a big issue with ATI cards? I don't actually have a 1080p/24 set so can't see how my 3650 copes.

    All I want is something that will do a decent job of 1080p material, does a reasonable job of LPCM over HDMI, supports 24 fps and does a great job with SD material (as this is still 90% of what I watch)

    I was going to get the same 4550 as you but it has not been in stock at Scan for a while. Then reading various threads on AVSForums I started thinking about a passive 4650 with more power (HIS HD 4650 iSilence 4). Then I started reading about 24fps issues with ATI cards and started thinking about a 9300/9400 mobo. Then I read about the 4650 possibly being better at de-interlacing and post-processing than the NVidia option and I am back to square one...
     
  7. Rob100

    Rob100
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    Ah, that's great. Big thanks for all the info :thumbsup:

    What sort of money would I have to be spending on an Intel CPU to do what I want? Any recommendations would be appreciated.

    1080p24 support is important to me, so if ATI is flaky in this regard I guess I'm best off with the NVidia solution.

    I'm assuming that I can use (for example) MPC HC with AC3Filter set to decode to 5.1 and the audio will output on both the HDMI and multi-channel analogue outs? Basically I don't want to be stuck using a particular player or decoder.

    I have no plans to install Vista and would like to stick with XP. I hope that isn't a problem :rolleyes:
     
  8. Blu4KHD

    Blu4KHD
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    It all depends on the budget on the cheaper side you could get either the 8200/8300 board and bang in a 4850e or the new 5050e and that will give you 1080/24p smooth playback no problem for less than a £100 due to the fact that all the 8200/8300 are AMD boards, I ran the M3N78-EMH-HDMI with a 4850e not overclocked at all and it had no problem with 1080/24p in Blu Ray or MKV playback.

    Now the 9300/9400 current are all Intel boards so coupled with say an E5400 should be ample again you should have no problems with 1080/24p playback from any source although the price now goes up to around £170, I now have a 9300 board (my first intel in over 16 years) but i coupled mine with a Quad core purely because it was on offer at the time with the board overkill i know but again plays everything i throw at it the same as my original 8200 board.

    For playback i have used MPC-HC but now i am with KMplayer easier interface for me:D and i also use TMT and they both give me either Bitstream playback for the standard legacy codecs or LPCM for HD audio no problem.
     
  9. Rob100

    Rob100
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    The M3N78-EMH-HDMI with a 5050e does look good and was the kind of budget I had in mind.

    Can you clarify:

    1) This mobo gave to 7.1 LPCM over HDMI

    2) The CPU (your 4850e) was powerful enough to decode 1080p x264/AVC in software (using CoreAVC or ffdshow)

    Why did you change from this setup to the Intel board if the AMD solution worked fine?

    Thanks again,

    Rob.
     
  10. Blu4KHD

    Blu4KHD
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    1. Yes this motherboard gave me 7.1LPCM over HDMI no problem.

    2. Yes the 4850e was plenty powerful enough with ant 1080p source i threw at it.

    OK why did i upgrade well because i have the upgrade itis bug, The board was out and like i said i have not had an INTEL rig for over 16 years so i thought i would give it a go, But to be perfectly honest the only improvement i have seen over the 8200 board is CPU management with the quadcore i only get around 10% cpu utilisation on any source i play.

    I still have the 8200 board it is not being rebuilt as a replacement for my current workhorse PC as the one i have now is around 4 years old and is an old 4400+, I intend to use the 8200 with a phenom so that any 1080p MKV's i make can be tested on the 8200 board before transferring onto the Intel 9300.

    Rob The 8200 board is very good and so is the 4850e which is ample for 1080p sources and when you work out the cost again'st one of the newer ATI 48XX series cards it works out cheaper.

    Hope you get sorted.
     
  11. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    For info - comparing 1080p playback of BDs is not a great test of GPU quality these days (it used to be when VC-1/H264/MPEG2 acceleration was flaky or not-universal - but that is not the case with modern GPUs)

    1080p sources, however, don't require de-interlacing or post-processing, which is the other important function in video quality.

    Comparing how different GPUs handle 576/50i DVD and Live TV (particularly with interlaced native material - or mixed content - video captions rolling over film for example) is a much better test of GPU quality.

    For example - the HD 3200 on the 780G does a good job at 1080p BD at 60Hz - but is average at best with 576/50i video at 50Hz, whereas the 4550 does a MUCH better job at de-interlacing 576/50i video, but isn't massively better at 1080p stuff in vdeo terms than the 3200. (Though obviously also has multichannel PCM audio unlike the 3200)

    Out of interest - I see that 59 and 23Hz options are now apparently available in Catalyst 9.1 (not near my 4550 set-up to test at the moment) - which may improve the "24Hz" performance of ATI systems.

    (I believe one issue with ATI is that they output 24Hz and 60Hz signals - whereas broadcast and pre-recorded material is actually 23.976Hz and 59.94Hz for obscure 1950s legacy colour/sound interference suppression reasons)
     
  12. Blu4KHD

    Blu4KHD
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    I would have to agree with stephen here about the SD-DVD 576i although i have never tried one as i only watch High Definition material through my HTPC, And as stephen as mentioned that 23hz and 59hz has been added in catalyst 9.1 the Nvidia GPU already had this as standard from the start.

    The only real near test that i could go to is that i do watch the american HI-DEF broadcasts of Lost and Fringe everyweek and there framerate is 59.98 according to KMPlayer and my 9300 and even my past 8200 have no problem with these files at all, Although i have seen posts on another forum about people experiencing tearing with anything other than 108o/24p. I can confirm that on my setup and my previous 8200 this is one thing i have never experienced.
     
  13. Stephen Neal

    Stephen Neal
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    US scripted drama and comedy is almost universally shot 23.976Hz - almost universally in 1080p (irrespective of broadcaster) - and then broadcast in either 1080/59.94i (sometimes referred to as 1080i29.97) or 720/59.94p (sometimes referred to as 720p59.94) In both cases 3:2 field (i) or frame (p) pull-down is used to get from 23.976 to 59.94 - which gives the nasty 3:2 judder many of us hate.

    If you have a transport stream of the broadcast without re-encoding - it will be at 59.94Hz. If you have a re-encode it should be at 23.976Hz with the 3:2 removed - which can then be played back at 23.976Hz refresh with no 3:2 judder (though almost certainly with lower picture quality)...
     
  14. Blu4KHD

    Blu4KHD
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    Correct stephen i just ran a test clip of lost through a couple of programs and it is indeed 59.94hz must be KMPlayer reporting incorrect framerates although it always reports MKV's correct and not .ts :confused:
     
  15. Rob100

    Rob100
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    Thanks again for all the info :thumbsup:

    Main use of HTPC will be for watching x264 MKV and MPEG2 .ts files of US shows.

    I rarely watch any SD TV on the setup where this will be used (PJ in dedicated room). As I said in first post I would like to add a Nova S2 card for Freesat HD, but this is really just to "have a play".

    The 8200 board and 4850e/5050e seems like a good bet. I'll get some bits ordered this week.

    Can believe that ATI didn't have 59.94Hz and 23.976Hz support in their drivers until now :suicide:
     
  16. Rob100

    Rob100
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    Me again :)

    The M3N78-EMH-HDMI seems to be unavailable.

    I don't need a Micro ATX board so was look at the (std) ATX 8300 based M3N78 Pro.

    ASUSTeK Computer Inc.

    A little bit more expensive, but still in the right ball park.

    Any comments good or bad before I order this board?
     
  17. Rob100

    Rob100
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    Oh well, ordered now, let's hope I've made a good choice :rolleyes:
     
  18. stowee

    stowee
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    Sorry to butt in but Im at my wits end trying to figure this one out n you guys sound like you know ur stuff. What it is im trying to do is get my sony vaio vgn-ar630e to play onboard blu-ray audio multichannel pcm via onboard hdmi to my onkyo tx-sr576 which excepts dolby true hd via multichannel pcm, however, I can only get the reciever to recieve 2 channel pcm?? Im wondering if that is the only output available for this os and if it can be fixed. Im starting to think of a stand alone player but dont like feeling beat. Hope you can help guys cheers.
     
  19. jameson_uk

    jameson_uk
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    I have no idea how the audio works on that laptop but there is a chance it will not output multi-channel LPCM over HDMI.

    What player are you using ?
     
  20. stowee

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    My player is the standard blu-ray on laptop Sony eSupport - VGN-AR630E - Model Home
    Ive found dvd's play in 5.1 over hdmi but still 2.0 when playing blu-ray cannot reconfigure speaker options, seems crazy??
     
  21. jameson_uk

    jameson_uk
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    yeah but what software are you using for blu-ray playback? I am assuming this is not a Sony thing? Are you using something like PowerDVD or Arcsoft TMT ? It is likely that your version is not capable of decoding TruHD or DTS-MA and is just outputting stereo from these tracks.

    This will be passing SP/DIF over HDMI which maybe all your laptop can do. If you amp is showing up as DD or DTS rather than 5.1 LPCM then this is what is happening.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2009
  22. stowee

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    Software is windvd9 plus blu-ray, will not pass 5.1 during blu-ray playback only dvd playback. Have you any idea what it could be on the laptop and could it be upgraded to run multichannel pcm?
     
  23. Blu4KHD

    Blu4KHD
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    After a little digging it appears your sony laptop has an Nvidia Geforce Go 8400M GT, and a little more digging it appears this card only supports The Legacy Codecs ie : Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 and only 2ch PCM.
     
  24. Rob100

    Rob100
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    Just following up this thread, having had this running for a few weeks.

    I ended up with the 8300 based M3N78 Pro, a 5050e, 2GB of ram (running XP so didn't see I needed 4GB) and a 250GB Seagate drive.

    Using CoreAVC, 1080p MKV's push the CPU to about 50%. When using PowerDVD's AVC decoder in DXVA the CPU runs at about 3%. Basically the system can eat anything I throw at it.

    One problem I can't eliminate is some minor (but not acceptable for me) tearing and stuttering when using VMR9 or Haali's renderer. Overlay seems to be fine on the whole. I've tried MPC-HC and KMP, but see the problem in both. I've played with setting in BIOS, but just can't get rid of it.

    I also got the WinTV S2 card and put this in the system along with a WinTV Nova card I had kicking about. Bought a license for DVBViewer and I'm very impressed how well this all works. I can record multiple programs from either or both cards (assuming they are on the same mux etc) without any frame drops or corruption. BBCHD and ITVHD work really well (shame about the lack of good content) using DXVA for both MPEG2 (NVidia codec) and H264 (PowerDVD AVC codec). No stuttering what so ever using overlay. Video de-interlacing of the 8300 is very good (much better than my Lumagen video processor from a stand-alone freeview box).

    On the whole I'm very impressed with the system. To be honest the thing I'm most impressed with it the Sat and Freeview performance. I've just order an ATI 4550 card to see if that improves the VMR9 performance.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2009
  25. aggallim

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    Did you manage to fix this? I'm about to build a setup similar to yours and I think that would drive me up the wall!

    What freesat card did you go for, and what was ur Nova card you put in?

    Thanks
    Aaron
     

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