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How do Hi-End PC Soundcards compare to dedicated AV processors?

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by danny daniell, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    As above....anyone done a comparison?

    Cheers,Dan :)
     
  2. The Dude

    The Dude
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    Even a cheap M-Audio 2496 sounds way better than a Denon 3803 in terms of pure sound quality.. (in my opinion, obviously)


    but is that the question you are actually asking?
    are you talking pure analog-out sound quality, for feeding to a power amp, or just generally which is 'better' overall?
     
  3. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    For feeding to a power amp......i want to uprate my av processor soon & also like the idea of HTPC`s.I guess what i would really like to know is whether i should do away with the av processor altogether & just buy the best possible quality card available for the HTPC running out into something like a five channel Bryston power amp.Are the pc soundcards comparable to something like an Arcam AV8/Meridian 568.2 etc?

    Thanks,

    Dan :)
     
  4. The Dude

    The Dude
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    I can't comment on any better processors, as my 3803 is the best AV amp i've listened too, so I'm a bit limited in that respect.... but, here is my AV kit timescale

    1 I bought the HTPC, with an Maudio 2496 soundcard.
    2 Bought the Denon 3803, (tried feed from both the SPDIF and analogs of the 2496)
    3 Bought my Aaron power amps
    4 As an experiment tried feeding the soundcard 2Ch analog's straight into the Aarons.
    5 Put the Denon straight back in it's box, and up in the loft.
    6 Sold the Denon in the classifieds.
    7 Bought the Maudio FW410, which has 7.1 analog outs... ;)
     
  5. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    Thanks Dude :thumbsup: ,
    what would you consider to be THE current state of the art in pc sound card technology?....oh & also price.

    Thanks,

    Dan
     
  6. The Dude

    The Dude
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    I'm not the real expert on that part.... there are a few guys around here with RME9632 and Lynx2 (?) cards... these are the dogs bitz if you have the money... and don't mind SW only volume control...

    they're way better than even my FW410 for sound quality apparently...
    I had a requirement for portability and connectivity... the FW410 is already my guitar/mic amp, and will be doing some gigs with me in the near future.. :devil:


    I'd personally have gone the RME9632 route if it was a dedicated HTPC soundcard I was after....

    My FW410 was £250
    the RME9632 is about another £100 on top of that i think...
    and the Lynx2 probably another £100 again...

    Check with others here on the last two though... been quite a while since i looked at prices...
     
  7. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    Thanks again Dude,
    & good luck with yer gigs! :smashin:
     
  8. JohnS

    JohnS
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    Whilst the quality is there for DVD via the pc ther is still no way to take a sky 5.1 signal and decode it for surround sound in the pc. Thats the only reason I still use a processor.

    For stereo my rme is at least the equal of my myryad which while not as well known as the arcam, it was a similar price point. (I haven't heard an arcam to comment).
     
  9. owain_thomas

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  10. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    Very interesting reading,thanks Owain :)...shocking reading that such a cheap soundcard can compare so favourably to a Lex 12B :eek: :eek: Please excuse my ignorance,but why do manufactuers put 5.1 outputs on the back of HTPC`s if they can only output stereo? :confused:
     
  11. The Dude

    The Dude
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    anything with an Nforce2 chipset will certainly output 5.1, but i think the problem JohnS was referring to was in the pass-through of existing external 5.1 signals..

    I dont use a sky box, so have never really looked at this problem...
    You can happily get 5.1, 7.1 output from any internal source such as TheaterTek, MediaCenter etc... :)
     
  12. danny daniell

    danny daniell
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    Dude,i am really looking for de-coding of DVD/upcoming Blu-Ray/HDDVD soundtracks.....not really Sky,am hoping to go for the new HD settop box when it`s released which i assume will have it`s own internal 5.1 de-coder.

    Dan :)
     
  13. The Dude

    The Dude
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    what are you waiting for then? :D
     
  14. Triggaaar

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    I assume the new HD set top box will output 5.1 via SPDIF coax or optical, not via analogue, so you will need something to take that signal and decode it. Which at the moment, means a processor. If the new sky box outputs 5.1 analogue, you can ignore that, but I don't see why it would, as most people will use SPDIF.
     
  15. meansizzler

    meansizzler
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    Yup them Dolby Digital Encoders built into motherboards/soundcards do sound pretty neat...but do they upsample everything to 96HZ/24Bit?, that's what I don't get, if I play a 5.1 96hz/24 bit WMA file will it be encoded to 96hz/24bit?...
     
  16. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    :rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

    You are joking, right? Not a hope in hell. It'll almost certainly be the same as the current Sky+ box: not terribly impressive analogue output in stereo, with a digital S/PDIF output that can be fed to a home cinema processor.

    Annoyingly using a HCPC as a stand-alone DAC (let alone a stand-alone Dolby Digital decoder) is, as far as I am aware, still impossible: it's the one major thing missing from an HCPC setup. (Well, that and a hi-def, HDCP-compliant digital video capture device).
     
  17. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Dolby Digital is not a 24/96 format, as far as I am aware - it's 16/48 at best. What's more, it's a lossy compression method - like converting a CD track to an MP3 - so you won't end up with the same signal you started with regardless of bit depth.
     
  18. owain_thomas

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    I'm pretty sure you can use it as a DAC, just can't do the DD thing with it. I'll have a go at using my RME to decode stereo digital audio later and see if it works.
     
  19. The Dude

    The Dude
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    I'm pretty sure my FW410 can do both aswell... wont get a chance to look properly until after the weekend though..
     
  20. Branxx

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    Regardless of all that was written on higher class souncards (including my own) if you need convenience and for anything with more than 2-channels I recommend you add and external A/V processor to your set-up.

    You can still enjoy the excellent sound quality from your HTPC by putting processor in by-pass mode.

    In time there will be software packages that will make the HTPC friendlier for everyday use, but at present it is really fidly.
     
  21. meansizzler

    meansizzler
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  22. Embarker

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    Have never looked back at selling my processor and buying the RME.

    I would not say that the RME is harsh, it's just transparent and will show the weakness in the recording or acoustics or even the balance of equipment.

    If you use an active monitor balanced, then transparency become even more appropriate.

    Yes that means no SKY+ in 5.1 but can live with that for the few times a year that I actually watch something with 5.1 via sky.

    Personally via the RME i've not found the 2 channel that bad either.

    As Theatertek2 does bass management with MP3's - the reasons for keeping £'000's plus tied up in a processor are few in numbers.

    The RME has been compared favourable to the MC12b, so to me it was a no brainer :D

    Rgds

    Dangerous Dave
     
  23. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Well... a few, yes, but generally there is a 24/96 or 24/192 track and there's a dolby digital track - they're not one and the same. In any case, DVD-Auduio is not something that (in the majority of cases) you can output from the player in digital form. S/PDIF doesn't have the necessary bandwidth, and the player won't output hi-res digital audio from encrypted discs anyway (which is virtually all of them).

    We were talking about the possibility of taking a 5.1 24/96 signal, converting it to DD, feeding it out through the soundcard S/PDIF and converting it back to 5.1 channel sound externally without significant loss of quality: that ain't gonna happen.
     

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