Media Player with 5.1 Balanced Outputs?


Novice Member
Hope I've selected the right form. I currently use an HTPC. It works relatively well though not as easy as a typical DVD player. It was supposed to be, but let's not go there...

Anyway, I am now looking move on as my HTPC is getting a bit long in the tooth. However, I am reticent about rebuilding it or building another. Frankly it wasn't worth all the time and trouble to put together and configure, etc.

So what I'm looking to do is to replace it with a media player appliance. I know I won't find anything that will replace all the functionality of my HTPC, but I'm willing to give up a few things for the sake of ease of procurement and ease of use.

As far mandatory stuff goes, it's a relatively short list:

- 1080p capable
- plays any audio or video file/format a PC can (within reason)
- can stream from a media server like WMP or Plex
- play's BR disks
- has 5.1 balanced outputs (for all six channels), preferably using jacks and not XLR connectors
- is easy to use - along the lines of a dvd player

Something that would be, I think, quite close, would be the Dune Player Max, except it doesn't have balanced outputs. All the other players I've seen only have at most 2 channel balanced output.

I'm also not that interested in very high end players, but would be willing to spend roughly the same that it would cost to build a very decent modern HTPC (i.e. in the $1500 range).

The kicker seems to be the balanced outputs. And yes, I know I could get something with unbalanced and convert, etc. but I really don't want to. The balanced lines would be going straight to self-powered speakers. No pre-amp, no amp, no nothing.

I'd also be open to considering using more than one component, but so long as it doesn't involve painful config, etc.

So far, I haven't been able to find anything even remotely close. Any thoughts or suggestions would be most appreciated.


Distinguished Member
Unfortunately balanced outputs are extremely rare in A/V which has always been a disappointment to me, the best I have seen is stereo balanced no matter the price.
Audiophiles using singled ended signals has confused me since balanced is standard in any usable studio but there you go.


Distinguished Member
I'm not familiar with this kind of tech but are there USB soundcards that provide this kind of output ?

If so and their is a linux driver, they only way I can see this on a consumer device is the Pivos XIOS DS which runs XBMC, the linux firmware (dont bother with Android firmware) is open source and some people have been working on getting USB soundcards with SPDIF outputs going on it as it doesn't have that out of the box.

1) It's very early days the box is still effectively in beta development though you can get your hands on them plus they are very low cost.
2) Convince or pay someone to include the driver in the OS or roll your own build of the firmware.
3) The box doesn't support HD audio pass-through due to licensing issues, it's hoped a rumoured higher model will address this.
4) No optical BD drive and it couldn't play encrypted discs to begin with.

If your interested and such a USB device & linux driver exists I'd ask on the Pivos forums first before pulling the trigger on anything, they may be able to say if it's technically possible.


The Dune Max & Duo (no optical drive) are the only media players with 7.1 analogue outputs and the ability to decode the HD audio formats onboard. Therefore the Max is as close as you can get to your wish list in a single box. However even the Max does not have a preamp stage so the 7.1 outputs really would need to be connected to an AV processor for volume, bass management etc. Even the possibly upcoming HD Pro does not AFAIK offer everything you want, and due to the constant delays to the Sigma SMP8910 chipset it would use it may not ever see the light of day - and with prices for the basic Pro module being an estimated £2,000 it is going to be out of your price range anyway.
Although the Max has about the best media compatability of any media player (PCH etc has very similar abilities) it is still going to fall short of a PC as it simply doesn't have the processing power or memory for adding decoding for everything going. If playing DVD & BluRay rips etc then it will do all that fine, but if trying some weird media downloaded off the internet you may well come unstuck with any media player.



Novice Member
@trollslayer - yes I've found it odd as well. It's not like it's particularly complex or expensive technology, and although folks suggest it's only needed for long run cables, it would still seem to make sense just to use it everywhere. To me anyway.

@next101 - thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately, that's exactly what I'm trying to get away from - i.e. setting up, customizing, tweaking, etc. - I'm hoping to find a solution that's plug and play, or at least closer to it than an HTPC.

@MarkE19 - appreciate the thoughts. I'm willing to give up a bit in the way of universal playback capabilities. It's really the balanced outputs that I really don't want to give up.

Alas, looks like there's nothing out there...

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