New Build for HD-DVD Playback - What soundcard?

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by Pulsar, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. Pulsar

    Pulsar
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    Hi,

    I am considering upgrading my HTPC for HD-DVD playback. From what I have read, I think a Geforce 8600/8800 will be used for the hardware acceleration and ability to output the res I need for 1:1 on my plasma (1366x768).

    I am probably going to be a sheep and follow everyone else down the Core 2 Duo route, leaving just the soundcard / audio side of things uncertain. So, what are my options for extracting the best sound quality from these HD-DVDs? I currently own a Denon 3805 and don't plan on upgrading that anytime soon.

    Cheers

    Rob
     
  2. Bretto

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    Take a look at the
    ABIT Fatal1ty F-I90HD Socket 775

    It has HDMI out and apparently the new audio codec for HD sound. All onboard. I'm sticking to all onboard to start with. Would never do this for a gaming machine, but lets see how it handles the media PC side of things :smashin:
     
  3. Synchro

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    If you are not using your TV's speakers, what setup are you going to use for sending sound from your Mobo to your speakers, bearing in mind HDMI will be putting sound and vision to your screen?
     
  4. Bretto

    Bretto
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    Ah, my fault.
    Sorry.

    HDMI= graphics.
    I'm going for Logitech Z-5450 for my speakers so they'll either be connected via optical or ordinary PC wires.

    Haven't given it too much though until now....I guess the perfect HD sound will be through HDMI.........now i'm totally confused..........
     
  5. Pulsar

    Pulsar
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    Hi,

    I was thinking more along the lines of what soundcard can decode DTS-HD, DD+ etc? What are you guys using for HD-DVD audio and what are your impressions? I would be very interested to hear from you if you have compared it to a standalone player.

    Cheers

    Rob
     
  6. Synchro

    Synchro

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    HDA Explosion does DTS.
     
  7. tim_kay

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    Pulsar you do not need a soundcard to process the signal. Your amp will do that, although as you have the 3805 (like me!) you won't get dd true hd, as our amp doesnt support it. The best you'll get is dts es. Which is great I can say!

    Your best route is a straight SPDIF pass through, either have optical or coax digital sound on-board, the top intel m/boards I sell all have this.

    The new gigabyte 7600gt is passive and has hdmi, it also has a header for spdif link so you can have audio and video in one cable. Although no good as your amp doesn't have hdmi in.

    Don't listen to anyone who says to go onboard for hd video, it simply will not display as effortlessly as a good hdcp card.
     
  8. Bretto

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    Tim dude, to quote your ebay site (and thanks by the way, I started my spec list by reading your systems) :smashin:

    "Intel® Graphics x3000 Supporting Directx 10.0!
    Truly incredible gpu is fully capable of displaying HD. Stunning DVD playback and good gaming performance.This is the only GPU to support Directx10.0 other than the Nvidia 8800."

    Have I misintertpreted this??
     
  9. Stretch

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    For HD playback I'd be tempted to wait for the new Nvidia 8500/8600 cards to hit the shops, they offer full decode acceleration for HDDVD and Bluray.

    http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2970&p=3

    As for sound I haven't seen PC cards that decode the new True HD audio yet and SPDIF hasn't got the bandwidth to send it digitally to an amp to decode - so you're stuck with DTS and DD 5.1 for now
     
  10. spuddler

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    Hi,there out now to buy(UK),about £64 to £138. 8800 have dropped also,£ to dollar etc.


    cheers BOB
     
  11. Pulsar

    Pulsar
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    Hi,

    Thanks for the replies so far. I will try to respond to those who asked questions / made statements in my direction.

    I know the 3805 can't decode the latest sound formats, this is why I am interested in knowing what my options are for getting the best HD-DVD sound from a PC to the amp/speakers. From looking at what the standalone HD-DVD players can do, I guessed (rightly or wrongly) that there are 3 options.
    1. Output standard bitstream DTS or DD
    2. Have the PC decode the latest sound format and output via analogue.
    3. Have the PC convert to a higher bitrate digital signal that the amp CAN decode (is this PCM?).

    Is anyone using any option other than 1?

    Cheers

    Rob
     
  12. xxxx

    xxxx
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    4. Output the HD sound directly over the HDMI lead to a suitable amp with an HDMI input. The amp will have an HDMI output for your screen.

    Of course you will need to buy a new amp, but it's the only way to actually hear the HD sound.
     
  13. sideysid

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    You can do 2 & 3 using powerDVD to do the True-HD/DTS-HD decoding. Its lossless audio, the only downside would be relying on the PC's DACs. No 3, would require the audio to be passed through the HDMI, in which something like the Abit Fatality F-I90HD mobo states it has v1.2 spec HDMI, which means this would be possible.

    Due to HDCP, the audio would downsample unless you have the Realtek ALC855 audio chip, or use something like AnyDVDHD.
     
  14. charris cy

    charris cy
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    Rob,

    do not change your amp!!!

    please see my post here on information about my HD-DVD/BD HTPC: http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=513191

    This is what I am doing: For DVDs I use the spdif of my soundcard so my amplifier(processor) is decoding DD or DTS. I use theatertek as the dvd software.

    For HD-DVD/BD I use Powerdvd Ultra 7.3. This software will decode the HD audio formats (Dolby Digital+, Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD) and will output LPCM using analog to the amp/processor. The only thing you need is an amp/processor with 5.1/7.1 analog inputs. You will need three cables for this: the cables have one 3.5mm headphone jack at one end and two RCA jacks at the other end. I am currently using my motherboard's jacks but I am testing two sound cards to see which one has the best analogue outputs. Please note that the soundcard is just used as a medium to output the sound from the system. All the decoding is done by the software.
     
  15. Pulsar

    Pulsar
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    Charris,

    Thanks for the info and great link. I have read your thread and it has given me some confirdence in the approach I am taking.

    My plan now is to find a soundcard with good quality analogue outputs to use with the 3805 so that I can appreciate these new sound formats.

    Cheers

    Rob
     
  16. xxxx

    xxxx
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    I see no point in this approach. Either just stick with regular DTS over SPDIF until you can afford to upgrade your amp, or get a new HDMI amp now that can decode the new HD formats.

    All you are going to get by using a soundcard and the inevitable extra digital/analogue/digital conversion that goes with it is muddy sound.
     
  17. charris cy

    charris cy
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    xxxx,

    there are a lot of points to this approach. Here they are:


    Tha amp Pulsar has is a good one and costs substantial amount of money.

    There is no HDMI amp in production at the moment that can decode this format. You need HDMI 1.3 for this to happen and I think the first Denon to be released with that are out in Autumn.

    The Dolby Digital+, DolbyTrueHD and DTS HD soundtracks decoded by Powerdvd are much better than the DD and DTS soundtracks of the same DVD discs played through a Denon 3910 and a Tag Mclaren AV32EX doing the decoding. And that procesoor cost 3k when bought...

    What Puslar can do is buy the Toshiba HD-XE1 player which can decode the HD formats and send it over analog to the amp.

    After comparing though the HD-EX1 to the HTPC we decided that the audio was the same but the picture quality of the PC is better.

    The HD-EX1 is an excellent machine although it is still a 2nd gen one. I will wait a bit more if I want to get a standalone machine. On the other hand with the PC way everything is changable and upgradable and if the same happens as with DVDs then the picture quality will always be better (PC vs standalone machine). And let's not forget that you can store all your movies in hard disks, choose them through a nice interface with full metadata and play them at the press of a button.
     
  18. xxxx

    xxxx
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    All the more reason to stick to DTS and wait, I would say.

    Again, all the more reason to wait.

    Everyone will have their own opinion about that. Personally I doubt it, especially once they have been through the mill of an extra D/A/D conversion.

    He could indeed, but that wouldn't be a HTPC.

    Again, an opinion which which others may not agree.

    Again, a subjective opinion.

    I don't quite see what this has to do with new HD sound formats. Besides which, can you actually do that with HD disks? Even with SD disks it isn't always easy or legal.
     
  19. charris cy

    charris cy
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    Of course they are MY OPINIONS. This is a forum so what we post here are usually our opinion.


    No, but it is a very good reason for using HTPCs. And you can create a multi-room setup if you want. It is the closest you can get to the Kaleidescape system which IMHO has been one of the greatest innovations in AV in the last years.

    Yes you can store HD-DVDs and BDs on hard disks. Check Anydvd HD from slysoft. I do not know how legal it is but I am pretty sure nothing will happen if you are using it.

    Look I am not promoting pcs or anything. I actually have 2 high-end DVD players (Denon 3910 and Lexicon RT-10) and standalone HD-DVD and BD machines. I just find myself though not using them and always preferring the pc.

    The OP posted asked to help him build a PC for HD-DVD playback. Instead of helping him you come and post something like

    which shows that you have no clue on what you are talking about.

    and then this

    which again confirms that you have absolutely no clue.

    then this

    where you tell him to buy an amp that does not exist OR stick with the old formats.

    and then you come and argue all my points saying that they are my opinions and you tell him to just wait.

    If you read the OP first thread and also his equipment you would have seen that he already owns an HTPC. So the upgrade for him is not so much money. Instead you tell him to change his GBP800 amp and all the other nonsense I quoted above.
     
  20. charris cy

    charris cy
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    For DVDs I believe it is a fact that a propertly configured pc can give you a better picture quality than the standalone machines. If you do not believe me do a search in the internet and read about it. Concentrate on the AVS forum where a lot of guys with extremely high-end displays (e.g Sony Qualia) and very expensive dvd players decided to go the pc way.

    Even better than researching this, TRY IT YOURSELF. Compare a good PC (nvidia 7600 and above and theatertek) to any high-end dvd player you can find and then come and talk to me. I have done this and I have done the same for BD and HD-DVD. Then you come and judge my opinions which are based on testing and a great deal of research, money and time spend on the subject.
     
  21. andyr300

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    :thumbsup: :clap:

    long live the HTPC


    best quality there is,yet lacking overall stability.
     
  22. tim_kay

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    I have to agree, absolutely no point whatsoever getting a htpc to decode dd true hd then send over a 3.5mm jack via analogue, the best you'll ever get is a messed up pro-logic style 2.1 channel process.

    The whole point of the dolby digital mix-down is to seperate each and every channel to a completely different sound-track. Meaning they all run in parallel, if you then conver this down you lose the whole point of this advanced soundstage.

    You may well find that your amp sounds better doing the processing from your particular soundcard. But I'd bet my property it won't come even close to a straight spdif for dts-es on your amp, my thinking is you haven't actually got your spdif setup correctly and its outputting a pro-logic signal, or standard surround.

    The simplicity of htpc sound is just having spdif digital enabled at all times, your amp will then do exactly what you paid the hundreds if not thousands for, why on earth you'd want a pc to do this is rediculous!

    I was unaware that the bandwidth over spdif does not carry true hd, its not something I've tested yet, as to my knowledge even an amp that supports it are not widespread on the market. But I can say that bluray with dts-es (something like Saw 3 which I use in all my demos) is simply fantastic.
     
  23. xxxx

    xxxx
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    I have done this. My DVD player (an Oppo) gives a better picture than my PC does (ATI X1600 HDMI, Theatertek).
     
  24. xxxx

    xxxx
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    Indeed, but you are comparing your opinions with a simple physical fact: the only way to get HD sound from a player (PC, HD-DVD, what-have-you) to an amp is over a digital lead like an HDMI lead. Anything else is just a bodge-up involving multiple D/A/D conversions. I've tried playing SACDs and DVD-A over an analogue link and this is similar.

    Don't blame me if the players, the cables or the amps aren't widely available yet: I don't build them. I'm just saying that it can't be done properly using analogue cables and an existing DD amp, and given that it would be better to stick with existing digital solutions until the replacements can be had at a reasonable price.

    And from there you just wandered off on a rant which doesn't merit a reply.
     
  25. Pulsar

    Pulsar
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    Tim,

    I think you may have got the wrong end of the stick. The idea would be to send the decoded 7.1 audio out of the PC using 4 stereo pairs. This audio would be exactly as a XE1 would output over analogue. (This is how I understand it).

    xxxx,

    I haven't done enough investigation into this yet to be able to speak with much authority, but if my amp has a bypass mode for the 7.1 input, surely only 1 D->A conversion is being done, but it is in the PC instead of the amp.

    A further point that may be worth making is that many people judge PC audio by how their soundblaster or onboard audio sound. However there is a whole new level of quality to be had by using a decent card (for digital or analogue) from a company like RME of Lynx.

    The main reasons for attempting a HTPC for HD-DVD and BluRay playback is so that I can 1:1 pixel map the picture to my plasma. This should avoid the need for a scaler and actually save some cash. However this isn't going too well at the moment (see my other thread).

    Thanks for all the interest.

    Cheers

    Rob
     
  26. xxxx

    xxxx
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    True enough. I suppose it's the principle I object to more than anything else.

    It certainly can't do any harm to play with, whilst waiting for an all-digital solution over HDMI.
     
  27. Comer

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    When I read this thread yesterday morning, I really thought that XXXX was incorrect to knock the sound quality from analog outputs for HD-DVD or Blu-Ray. Just to prove that he was wrong I spent a few hours comparing Lossless DTS, DD+ etc sound tracks using the analog inputs form my PC to my lowly Marantz 4300 to the SPDIF input on the same amp.

    To my complete surprise, the sound using the analog outputs was very flat and lifeless in comparison to the downgraded digital signal using SPDIF. I searched through all the options of the sound card but there was nothing that made a difference. Also, I was initially using the onboard analog sound of my Asus P5B mainboard but noticed pretty bad crackling so I "upgraded" to the Creative SoundBlaster Audigy SE 7.1 and even on this card I could still hear very slight crackling in the opening scenes of The Last Samauri HD-DVD with PowerDVd 7.3

    I know that this may be as a result of issues with my setup but definately on my system the SPDIF gives a much getter sound than the analog outputs.
     
  28. tim_kay

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    Well im glad someone here actually tested both, and came to the same conclusion as all our testing.

    You simply can not beat a digital spdif passthrough, and let you amp handle the dts/dd5.1 processing. Until something like the Onkyo 605 comes out not worth worrying about dolby true hd, but I'm told spdif wont handle this anyway, but need more tech help on that one!
     
  29. Pulsar

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    No disrespect meant, but how are Comer's views any more conclusive than charris's? Comer has hardly been able to test a high-end card for analogue output, so it is foolish to draw conclusions based on this test alone.

    I think there is plenty of life in this one yet. :devil:

    Rob
     
  30. charris cy

    charris cy
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    Sorry I did not post for a few days, but I am now joining agian the discussion.

    Of course it is always better to use the amp's/processor's for D to A conversion. But for the HD audio formats at the moment this is not possible. And even if use a standalone player still the decoding will be done by the player and output it over analog to the amp or HDMI (if it supports LCPM over HDMI).

    We are still some time away form HDMI 1.3. Have in mind not only your amp must have this but also your player.

    Tim,

    there is nothing wrong with my spdif setup. Everything is working perfectly. And I am using a Lexicon RT-10 and Denon 3910 as DVD players. I just compared last night the Casino Royale soundtrack. I compared the BD's LPCM fully uncopressed soundtrack using the PC against the DVD's Dolby Digital soundtrack using the Lexicon. In my opinion the BD's soundtrack was much better, more clearer and accurate even although all the DA conversion was being done in th pc.

    xxxx,

    sorry if I was agreesive in my answers to you before but I think you gave misguided advice because you are not very knowledgable on the subject. As you are doing in the quote above. The amps/processors have a bypass mode which can be used on the 5.1/7.1 inputs. This disables all the digital conversion in the amp so nothing is happening there. Only one D to A conversion is happening and that is the one in the pc.



    Guys,

    in an ideal world we would be using the super powerful DACs of our amp/processors to do all the DA conversion (although I read somewhere that the Toshiba HD-XA1 has DACs much more powerful than most amps!!!). But for the HD audio fromats this is not yet possible. Even the European players are still 1st generation and some do not have HDMI 1.3.

    Pulsar,

    I am getting tommorow the M-Audio Revolution 7.1 card (http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Revolution71-main.html) to check it out. I will let you know If I find it better than the onbard sound. The other card worth checking out is this one: http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-meridian.php
     

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