HTPC/Music Server PC with external dac?

Bails

Active Member
This may be a stupid question, but before buying a new pc I'd like confirmation that what I have in mind is actually going to work. I'm looking at buying a pc or mac with a soundcard with digital output. I'll feed the digital output to an external dac (dac-ah) then to an amp (t-amp) and then to a pair of passive bookshelf speakers.

This will definitely work okay with music, which I will rip to the hard drive and feed to the dac at 44.1 KHz (bypassing kmixer in Windows, if I go that route rather than a Mac).

But I also want to be able to use the computer to watch DVDs via the DVD-ROM drive. I assume the dac won't decode an AC-3 signal so am I going to able to get audio for dvd replay? The amp only has one input so using a separate analog output from the soundcard is not an option. I believe the dac only accepts 44.1 KHz – although it may also take 48 KHz, I'm not sure – so can I get a two-channel pcm digital signal from the dvd to the dac?

As I say, this is probably a dumb question but any advice would be appreciated.
 

mjn

Distinguished Member
I use a HTPC -> External DAC -> Amp

My DAC has a pass thru for Dolby Digital.
 

Bails

Active Member
Thanks. My dac doesn't have such a feature and the amp I'm using is a simple integrated amp, so the signal will need to be decoded in the dac (somehow).
 

ocdwhiteboard

Active Member
set your DVD player software up to send out PCM and it'll be decoded just like stereo sound would. may be worth considering a decent analogue out soundcard as the performance may exceed that of your current DAC
 

Bails

Active Member
owain_thomas said:
set your DVD player software up to send out PCM and it'll be decoded just like stereo sound would. may be worth considering a decent analogue out soundcard as the performance may exceed that of your current DAC

Thanks. That's exactly what I wanted to hear. Do you have any suggestions for a soundcard (I only need two channel) that would be better than my current dac?
 

ocdwhiteboard

Active Member
don't know an awful lot about your DAC (though just had a flick through some DIY pages relating to modding it and have to say it appeals to my tinkering side), but you could consider something like the RME HDSP9632, this has incredibly well regarded analogue outputs and may well offer a bit of competition for an external DAC. you can get them for about £250-350 for a 2 channel version (another £150 for the add on board that makes it multichannel). They have been favourably compared to surround processors from the likes of lexicon, costing thousands of pounds.

HTH
owain
 

Bails

Active Member
owain_thomas said:
don't know an awful lot about your DAC (though just had a flick through some DIY pages relating to modding it and have to say it appeals to my tinkering side), but you could consider something like the RME HDSP9632, this has incredibly well regarded analogue outputs and may well offer a bit of competition for an external DAC. you can get them for about £250-350 for a 2 channel version (another £150 for the add on board that makes it multichannel). They have been favourably compared to surround processors from the likes of lexicon, costing thousands of pounds.

HTH
owain

Thanks Owain. That's a bit of a coincidence - I was actually just doing a bit of online research of the HDSP9632 (including reading the manual). It does look like a great soundcard. Do you happen to know if it will output 44.1KHz for cd playback without using Foobar or other such software? If the card somehow just bypassed Windows' kmixer altogether then that would be ideal.
 

ocdwhiteboard

Active Member
tbh I've heard conflicting things on this. some people say the drivers bypass kmixer completely so its not an issue. what music player do you intend to use?
 

cbemoore

Active Member
Bails said:
Thanks Owain. That's a bit of a coincidence - I was actually just doing a bit of online research of the HDSP9632 (including reading the manual). It does look like a great soundcard. Do you happen to know if it will output 44.1KHz for cd playback without using Foobar or other such software? If the card somehow just bypassed Windows' kmixer altogether then that would be ideal.

Another coincidence -I've got one (together with the analog expansion board) that I'm not using! If you're interested, PM me and I'll put it in the Classified forum.

(and yes, the drivers completely bypass KMixer so you will get bit-perfect output).

Cheers
Chris
 

Bails

Active Member
I would be interested but am currently living in South Korea! I may have to try and find the card locally.
 

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