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Question about PC to AMP connections

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Slinkoff, Mar 28, 2005.

  1. Slinkoff

    Slinkoff
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    What soundcard do I need to buy to most cost effectively connect my PC to my audio system? I have a decent amp capable of all the normal Dolby and DTS stuff so I do I still need a card like the X-Mystique (http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/HiTeC.html) to benefit from these formats from my MCE2005 PC?

    At the moment my PC just has the motherboard soundcard so I'm using the lineout from that but I want to connect via optical or coax if I can, is there a difference between those two? What soundcards do you recommend? Internal PCI slots are at a premium (I have 1 spare) so external options would also be good...

    Thanks
    Slink
     
  2. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    I'd strongly suggest not using Overclockers, look at recent threads aobut their dreadful post-sales customer service .. that said, pretty much any soundcard with S/PDIF output will do.

    As long as you use a good quality cable coax is preferred since it avoids digital->optical->digital conversions, but to be honest few people can really tell the difference. :)
     
  3. Slinkoff

    Slinkoff
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    I'll bear the advice about overclockers in mind, thanks. But looks like I don't need to order that card from them anyway right? Any card with a coax connection can send a 5.1+ signal from the source material to my amp? I would only need on-card Dolby processing if I was connecting my PC to a non-dolby amp+speakers, is my understanding correct?

    Slink
     
  4. Razor

    Razor
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    Slinkoff

    You can get the mystic card on ebay if you don want to use o'clockers. I have a Audidgy ZS 2 card with a coax out (digital) going into a sony digital reciever. It was a nightmare to set up but now its working DD and DTS sound great.
     
  5. mrmoo

    mrmoo
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    Not anymore, I've contacted the company and Overclockers is their UK distributer. I would imagine there is some sort of exclusive contract in place. They won't even sell to me direct.
     
  6. Razor

    Razor
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    Hi Mrmoo

    Cheers for that I didnt know that. What sound card did you get in the end?
     
  7. mrmoo

    mrmoo
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    I'm going to hold off and see what the onboard codec sounds like, the A8V-E is supposed to be pretty good.
     
  8. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    I've used on-board chipsets for my 3 HTPCs and don't feel deprived ;), my current system uses an ASUS P4C800 board.
     
  9. Slinkoff

    Slinkoff
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    I'm still a bit confused about what I need. If I'm only using the PC as a PVR and MP3 player then do I even need a 5.1 signal output from it?

    Is anything actually broadcast in 5.1 or is just DVDs and games that make use of it?

    I'm using my standalone DVD player for DVDs with DTS/DD and all that gubbins so is it OK to just output a 2 channel stereo signal from the PC for my PVR viewing and let my amp do its Dolby PLIIex magic to turn into a faux 5.1 signal?

    All the audio cards I've seen do all sorts of DSP processing and have outputs for 5.1 speaker configs but I'm assuming I don't need any of this, I just need a simple coax output to get the best possible audio signal from my PC...
     
  10. KraGorn

    KraGorn
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    Well since you mentioned DD and DTS in your first post I naturally thought you wanted to play AC3 streams off DVDs ... and your last sentence here talks about 'coax output'.

    AFAIK there are no programs broadcast with surround sound, unless the 1080i satellite service is (if that's still around).

    If all you want to do is play MP3s then a simple stereo output, either analog or digital, is clearly all you need.
     
  11. Slinkoff

    Slinkoff
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    Thanks. I did mention DD etc. because I was thinking there might have been programs recorded that have it but it appeaes not. It seems silly to use my PC's DVD player to play DVDs when I have a Denon DHT500 integrated amp/dvd player that can handle all of that (better?) sitting right above my PC. All I want is the best connection I can get from my PC to my amp, I'm intending to use the PC solely for recording/watching TV/watching downloaded avi & mpg stuff and listening to music (FLAC). Coax is the best I think so I just want the simplest card with a coax output on the back.

    This one seems like a bargain to me: http://www.dabs.com/uk/Search2/Product+Details.htm?quicklinx=2FKJ&searchphrase=Trust Sound Card 511
     
  12. Razor

    Razor
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    Sky plus boxes output 5.1 on some movie channels. That sound card didnt look all that, your probably better off sticking to your tos link from your motherboard rather than that card. Also Nforce motherboards are ment to have good sound out properties designed for dvd playback. The creative card only costs around £40 if you want one of those and you can get 5.1 via coax.
     
  13. KraGorn

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    The PQ from the PC will beat the player by a good margin if you're prepared to invest time and effort twiddling and tweaking. :)
     
  14. Slinkoff

    Slinkoff
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    I don't have Sky and don't ever want it either, use Screenselect DVDs for all my movie needs but thanks for the info.

    How can you tell by looking at it? What makes a soundcard good? I don't have a tos link from my motherboard, just normal bogstandard lineout so surely the Coax would be an improvement?

    I've heard this but unfortunately a new mobo isn't an option as I'm using a Dell Optiplex, a pretty bespoke case, I would virtually have to build a new machine.

    I've had Creative cards in the past and have never like them. Horrible proprietry software and interference. What's the difference between Creative's 5.1 via Coax and the Trust card's?
     
  15. Slinkoff

    Slinkoff
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    That's interesting. Even with a progressive scan DVD player connected to my TV via component?
     
  16. betamac

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    I have a Pioneer 565A DVD player connected to plasma via component (Progressive scan) and i can say the picture on my HCPC is a big improvement in PQ over that (I am using theatretek with a 6600GT GFX card using VMR9 Renderless mode)
     
  17. Slinkoff

    Slinkoff
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    Very interesting. Is it the software decoder you use on the computer rather than the actual DVD drive hardware that makes all the difference then? Can I just use the pioneer DVD burner in my machine to play the DVDs but still get great PQ by using the right software and tweaks?
     
  18. betamac

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    Its all down to the software, and codecs you use

    the 2 main ways are FDFShow (fairly complicated and takes some tweaking) or the nvidia codecs which are abit more straight forward, the nvidia codecs work best with nvidia hardware but can be used with ATI also, and if you have the 6600/6800 series of cards you get the benefit of the pure video encoder.
     

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