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High End Audio

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by BarkerD, May 9, 2005.

  1. BarkerD

    BarkerD
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    Guys I need some help choosing an audio card for a high end HTPC.

    I currently have a Denon A1 DVD player connected up to a Lexicon MC8 processor running through a Sim2 HT300 projector. The HTPC I have put together so far uses an ATI X800 graphics card with TheaterTek 2.11 and FFDShow to produce a very good 1280x720p picture that seems at least as good as the Denon A1. It would be great if I could find an audio card with an SPDIF or TOSLINK connector to pass through the audio to the Lexicon MC8 to produce a sound as close to the quality of the Denon A1 as possible.

    The M-Audio cards and the Creative Labs Audigy 4 seem options but how good are the SPDIF outputs compared to my Denon A1? Any opinions guys :lease:
     
  2. Mark Ward

    Mark Ward
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    I've done quite a bit of experimenting with different configurations

    I originally went from my HTPC to my motherboard's SP/Dif out to my Lexicon MC-1 and was never happy with it compared to my Arcam FMJ DV27's sound.

    I upgraded to a Creative Audigy ZS and found that although the sound was marginally better that the Mobo, the "clicks" and odd audio dropouts to the Lexicon were too distracting.

    I settled for an RME HDSP 9652Hammerfall with a balanced daughter card for the front 3 and surrounds being handled by an external ADAT DA/AD converter connected by "Light-pipe" (read "Tos-Link"). All connected to active speakers. I now have no DVD Player & No Processor what so ever (and an empty rack as well). All this new equipment cost less that I sold my previous setup for. If you are using a 7.1 setup I'll admit I do miss logic7, but overall I think I've made a step forward.

    For the best sound I'd recommend the RME route, though it's not that straight forward to set up due to the have the ASIO drivers completely bypass KMixer and the windows sound system.

    Take this as one persons experiences to be compared to others rather that the definitive solution to your enquiry though.

    You're not too far from me (Maidstone), if you want to pop over some time and have a look at my setup you'd be welcome to.

    Mark.
     
  3. Mark Grant

    Mark Grant
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    Another vote for RME, much better in my experience than Maudio or creative, if you have a sound system that will let you hear the difference.

    If you are keeping the Lexicon MC8, then this is easy. Just a digital coax or optical cable is needed, depending on which model card you buy.

    If you are looking to replace the Lexicon and do all the audio processing within the PC, then thats not easy ! as I am sure Mark has found out..

    Also consider a Lynx two B http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/Mar02/articles/lynxtwo.asp
    Maybe a bit over the top just to use for digital coax output!

    If you can find the early version RME 96/8 (not the PAD, thats different, and you dont need the analogue outputs I guess) this just has coax and optical inputs and outputs, no analogue, all you need for use with an AV pre-amp, and sounds better in my system than Maudio, lower jitter.

    Never done a direct comparison to a Denon A1, so cant comment on that.

    Hope that helps !

    Mark.
     
  4. BarkerD

    BarkerD
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    Thanks for the info on the RME and Lynx cards cards :thumbsup: Both seem pretty darn good - I wish I could try both :rolleyes:

    I do plan on keeping the Lexicon MC8 because I have a CD plugged in and also like the 7.1 Logic7 AV sound I have, so initally running SPDIF from HTPC to Lexicon is where I am aiming at present.

    Does anyone know whether the forthcoming hidef sky boxes will be supplied with digital or analog outputs? It might be a little early to say but this might influence the choice of card too I guess?
     
  5. alexs2

    alexs2
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    As with the others above,I've not found any of the Creative cards to be all that good,and I only use my laptop's PCMCIA card(creative) for mobile use.

    The Lynx cards are superb,but pricey,and in my own system I use an Audiotrak Prodigy128 as the digital output(with ASIO drivers to avoid Windows KMixer,which surely must be responsible for the poor sound quality of a number of PC's)and then out to a DP AV32R via an upsampler.
     
  6. Hawklan

    Hawklan
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    Hi

    Having heard both the RME cards and Lynx I ended up going the LynxTwoB route as a processor

    My thoughts were that the RME has a wonderfull warm and very easy to listen to sound which is absolutley perfect for two channel and on a blind two channel review on this forum the RME was generally preferred to the Lynx
    Its 5.1 reproduction through Theatertek was really good - very much like a Merdian 568.2

    The Lynx however was more clinical, revealing and dynamic which was just what I needed for my main vice of movies
    It's almost like the Merdian vs Lexicon argument - where I would pitch the RME as Meridian like and the Lynx akin to the Lexicon - saying that I always preferred the Lexicons treatment of two channel

    I would have been happy with either the RME or Lynx but the Lynx just suited my needs more than the RME

    Compared to my Tag AV32R and the Meridian 568.2s that I have demoed the Lynx as a processor just plain excels - I would love to hear it compared to my favourite processor (Lexicon 8 or 12)

    The one thing missing is a matrix solution for music and movies (something like Logic 7) for the HCPC - if that was on the cards then all my needs would be met

    Many thanks

    RON
     
  7. BarkerD

    BarkerD
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    Hi Guys,

    Has anyone had any lipsync problems with either the RME or Lynx cards, and if so how can this problem be overcome :lease:

    The only reason I ask is that I auditioned an iScan HD+ scaler recently and noticed loss of lipsync for the first time, although in fairness there was a feature on the scaler to help correct this.

    Also a couple of people have mentioned using the ASIO drivers to bypass the Windows KMixer. Is this documented in another thread or can anyone explain a little more what how I should go about doing this.

    Many thanks for the responses so far, Dave
     
  8. Mark Grant

    Mark Grant
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    You can be fairly sure the next version sky HDTV box will have some form of digital audio output, the current sky+ does for example.

    If you are going to use the Lexicon for DD decoding etc, then no need to worry which soundcard you have, as sky wont be connected to the PC.

    Mark.
     

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