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Multi-channel sound card frustration!!

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by Big Adam, Jun 16, 2005.

  1. Big Adam

    Big Adam
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    Ok, here's the deal. I've just about got my dream HTPC-based cinema system built but I am REALLY struggling with the sound.

    I decided to ditch the receiver option and invest in a lovely NAD S250 5-channel power amp. This is as simple and pure as it gets (5x phono inputs --> 5x pairs speaker outputs)

    But my struggle is in identifying the ideal PCI soundcard to team with this unit. Whilst there is a wealth of 5/6/7/8 channel cards on the market, each with customisable outputs, they all seem to operate on a customisable 'stereo' 3.5mm jack basis where (for example) the centre and sub outputs share the same socket.

    Now call me fussy but what I (ideally) want is a high quality card with 6 analogue phono outputs which will allow me to connect directly to my power amp and active sub......oh and the card has to have the decoding ability to maximise my movie sound experience.

    Am I being too picky or am I simply misguided????
     
  2. MikeTV

    MikeTV
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    Well, as a non-audiophile(!), nor expert, I'd say you are being a bit picky and perhaps misguided. :)

    Picky - because so what that the sub and center channel share a connector? This is coming out the back of a PC and from the same circuit board anyway!

    Misguided - because perhaps PC's don't always make the best pre-amps.

    But no doubt there are plenty of audiophiles who could prove me wrong, so take my views with a pinch of salt.

    I believe the m-audio cards are often recommended for quality reasons.
     
  3. Big Adam

    Big Adam
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  4. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    Hi Adam,

    I've just got hold of an RME HDSP 9632 audio card. These give exceptional sound quality and have more traditional analogue outputs. The main card has a breakout cable which has two female phono sockets on it, then there's a daughter card which has 4 built in TRS jacks (1/4" tip-ring-sleeve jacks, like the ones which a berringer feedback destroyer has). As an example of quality Mark Grant can make some supposedly excellent canare interconnects with TRS jacks.

    You can use theatertek 2 with the advanced audio pack to decode DD/DTS with these cards.

    links:

    The Card: http://rme-audio.com/english/hdsp/hdsp9632.htm

    Pic of the main card with two daughter cards (I've only got one on order as I don't need another 4 inputs): http://rme-audio.com/english/hdsp/9632ai_ao.htm

    Good review of another RME card: http://archive.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?threadid=236215
     
  5. Cable Monkey

    Cable Monkey
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    Hi BA.
    I would like to know why you decided to ditch the idea of an amp/receiver that can accept a digital input. Feeding an amp with the appropriate DD/DTS stream absolutely has to be the best way to do it. Entrusting your d to a conversion to a card the size and layout of a pci card cannot offer you the best quality. The same card (regardless of cost/quality) would do the job of digital pass through better. I would have thought that the simplicity of your power amp stage would be eclipsed by the pre amp being a pc, no matter how elegant the box it is in. I would personally explore the use of a card such as the m-audio 24/96 from our good friends at Kustom, or (and I don't know if this has yet been done) a direct firewire link to to an I-LINK capable amp/receiver?
     
  6. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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  7. Big Adam

    Big Adam
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    Owain,
    Thanks for the link. That RME card does indeed look very interesting and would fit nicely into my setup. I'll have a good read this weekend as well as pricing up some suitable Mark Grant inter-connects.

    Cable Monkey,
    As you say, the simplest HTPC setup is a PC with an SPDIF soundcard (or Asus-type daughter board) feeding a digital stream direct to an AV receiver.

    Now, whilst this is perfectly fine, it does my head in to pay for a wealth of functionality (video switching, video upconversion etc etc) that I would not use. I believe that for approximately the same money I can get better results through one dedicated customised box plus 'clean' amplification. (It helps that I snapped up the amp at a really good price :) )

    Of course, I remain to be proved wrong.
     
  8. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    Hi adam,

    glad you like the sound of it, I've just got my HDSP 9632 and I'm well chuffed with it, sound quality is remarkable. still waiting for my daughter card so not had a chance to hear it with movies yet, expect it'll be just as good though.

    one bugbear at the moment for me is the volume control but I'm working on a girder solution for this and hopefully will get it sorted. If you are using theatertek though this won't be an issue.
     
  9. Embarker

    Embarker
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    theatertek has digital volume control so for films it is easy to control - volumre is via keyboard shortcuts - if you rip music to mp3, then tt2 can handle these with the aformentioned voulem control - small rice to pay for such high sound quality

    regds

    dave
     
  10. Big Adam

    Big Adam
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    Yep, Theatertek / MyMovies / MCE2005 is my chosen weapon of choice.

    Owain, if you don't mind me asking, where did you buy your cards from? (PM if preferred)
     
  11. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    yeah, its just with things like foobar that there's a problem. the RME control panel doesn't allow keyboard shortcuts for vol up and down. god knows why, I'm sure it would be a VERY simple thing to add but they seem resistant.
     
  12. Hawklan

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  13. owain_thomas

    owain_thomas
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    sorry adam, our posts crossed, that was a reply to embarker.

    I got my rme off ebay, cost me £235 plus delivery, which is a fair bit cheaper than if you buy it over here. I've had to order the daughter card from a site in germany, they do the 9632 for about £260-270 incl delivery IIRC, daughter card will add another £100 or so. have a look: http://www.musicians-gear.com/cgi-local/priceslist.pl?src=224&ex=GBP_VAT

    not the most professional website I've ever seen ;) and I've not had my card yet (only ordered last week though) so don't take this as a direct recommendation. having said that I'm sure other people on here have used them with no problems before.

    HTH
    owain

    PS you could wait and try and get an ebay one but I've had it as a favourite search for months now and only just managed to complete on one for less than the german site does them for, tbh its probably not worth the hassle.
     
  14. Embarker

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    There is a way of using the presets which can be "learnt" via xlobby/grider, so this does give you eight preset volumes.

    If you are using tt2 with active speakers/ power amps then the digital volume negates the need for this - tt2 short cut is shift and > for up and shift and < for down.

    From memory it is alt or ctl and 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 or the F1 to F8 for the rme which needs to be in focus if not using girder/xlobby.

    As for music, i know with Winamp if you use the directsound emulated, the volume slider works - so integral with xlobby, or use the short cut of arrow up/down.
     
  15. owain_thomas

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    hi embarker,

    yeah, just managed to get girder to control the presets, setting my gml file up at the moment so that it can hopefully emulate volume up/down rather than just having access to the presets, I'll let you all know how I get on.

    Like I said though why the RME driver writers can't just include this incredibly simple feature is beyond me :(
     
  16. Cable Monkey

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    I know enough about BA to know he is no mug. I await the results with considerable interest because it would certainly change my concept of the best way to get audio from a pc. Ho hum! Every day is a school day! :rolleyes:
     
  17. Branxx

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    Hi All,

    Nice to see RME and Lynx solutions are still goings strong.

    I still have Lexicon MC12B V4 in my audio chain, but without reservation RME HDSP 9632 produces more pleasing output directly to my powered speaker than going via digital link and letting Lexicon decode.!
     
  18. Embarker

    Embarker
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    Best bit of advice ever given in my eyes - sold my Tag/ power amps/kef reference and have better sound for way less than "HIFI seperate" retail - forums are brill :clap:
     

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