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Sound advice for my HTPC

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by irishkeet, Sep 5, 2005.

  1. irishkeet

    irishkeet
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    Hi all

    Im currently sourcing the parts for my new HTPC, a long and interesting journey which is nearly finished.

    Anyway I was hoping for some sound advice. Originally I was planning on buying the Asus A8N-SLI premier as it had no board fans and its a great board (Im running it on my main PC) + a M-audion sound card............... after reading the forums Im now considering the MSI K8N Diamond which has 24bit SB Live 7.1 onboard sound and using the SPDIF on the mobo to connect to the sub.

    Speakers I am considering are either Kef Eggs or Canton CD1's - (not even sure if i can connect to these via the SPDIF yet!)

    Does anyone have experience of the MSI board or suggestions on what would be the best option.

    Kind Regards

    irishkeet
     
  2. 9761

    9761
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  3. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    The Asus board you're considering is very good. I have the delux version, which doesn't have the cooling that the premier has, and also doesn't have the same SLi capabilities of the premier (which allows you to change between single and dual GC in windows, without touching the MB). The motherboard's SPDIF will be fine for 5.1 out, but if you want high quality stereo out, you can get an M-Audio Audiophile 2496 for £50, and I'd chose that over the MSI board.

    With regard to your speakers, they will connect to your amp, which will connect to the SPDIF if it is an AV amp, but not if it's a stereo amp (you'd need a seperate DAC if you wanted to use SPDIF with a stereo amp).
     
  4. irishkeet

    irishkeet
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    Hi

    Thanks for your help, the MSI article was very interesteing, I think its back to the Asus board as I want to use the Zalaman fan too.

    So I think Ill go for the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 which has great user reviews on here.
    So I guess I will need to purchase a reciever too, could I not run a lead from the sound out on the card to phono on the Amp? or will the SPDIF be better? also what is a DAC - very new to all this

    Many thanks

    irishkeet
     
  5. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Are you wanting to output music (in 2 channels), or 5.1 DD/DTS for movies (if using your PC as a dvd player)?

    If 2 channel music, using the 2 RCA outputs on the M-Audio card will give you the best quality (can be bettered by more expensive cards). If you're not that fussed about high quality, using the onboard sound could well be good enough.

    SPDIF is sony/phillips digital interface. It is not need for stereo, but can be used (it is normally used for 5.1 dvd sound).

    Side note - feel free to ignore: If you wanted to use the SPDIF out for stereo, to a stereo amp, you would use a DAC (digital to analogue converter) to change the SPDIF to 2 RCA outs. CD players & the like have DACs built in, and offer digital and analogue outs.

    Your motherboard will also have it's own DAC, and you could use it's 3.5mm jack (analogue out) and a cable that goes into your amps 2 * RCA in. A soundcard, like M-Audio, will offer digital out, and it will have a very good DAC, thus offering high quality analogue outs (in RCA format).

    So, to summerise:
    If you want stereo, you will obviously need an amplifier (unless you had active speakers - in built amps - which it doesn't look like you will). That amp will want RCA analogue inputs, either from the motherboards 3.5mm out, from a soundcards RCA outs, or from the motherboards SPDIF, via a DAC (probably not sensible for your needs).

    If you want 5.1 out, the motherboards SPDIF will probably be good enough, and will go straight into an AV receiver, then to 5 speakers and a sub.

    If you want both, you can combine the options above.
     
  6. irishkeet

    irishkeet
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    Hi Triggaaar

    Thanks for your help again...

    I will want 5.1 DD/DTS for movies as the PC will be my video/dvd etc, so in order to achieve this ill need to use the SPDIF (is this correct?)

    Another question, in your opinion would i be better with active speakers or amp & speaker set?

    You also said 'If you want both, you can combine the options above' does this mean ill get the best overall quality possible for both nusic & dvd and ill just need to change the source input on the amp for whatever im listening to?

    Sorry if Im repeating or asking novice Q's but I want to make sure i understand everything before buying.

    Cheers
    irishkeet
     
  7. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Yes, you will use the SPDIF for movies. The motherboard's SPDIF will do. If you want your PC to record from sky or something (a lot harder to set-up) you will be better with a seperate soundcard for SPDIF in & out.

    Active speakers vs amp and speaker is increadibly subjective. There is no right and wrong. Actives will be bigger, because they have an amp attached, so you can't have little lifestyle active speakers. A lot of people here use them, as they are often good for movies (they can give a detailed sound, sometimes preferred for movies than music). This is a large topic. Pop to the speaker forum.

    For both movies and stereo, you will NEED an AV amp. Because AV amps have a lot to do (5.1 speakers etc) they aren't as good at stereo as a pure stereo amp (for the same cost). Depending on how high quality you like your music (and it's cool if you're not bothered, most people aren't) you could have an AV amp, and a stereo amp, or pay a lot on an AV amp such that it has a good performance of both.

    Don't worry about the questions.

    How high a quality system are you after, and what sort of budget have you got? You can buy a dvd player, with amplification and 5.1 speakers (ie front left & right, centre, rear left & right, and a sub) for £400 or you can spend several thousand on it. Most people will pop into Dixons, spend £400 and be happy.
     
  8. irishkeet

    irishkeet
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    Hi Triggarar

    How high a quality system are you after, and what sort of budget have you got? You can buy a dvd player, with amplification and 5.1 speakers (ie front left & right, centre, rear left & right, and a sub) for £400 or you can spend several thousand on it. Most people will pop into Dixons, spend £400 and be happy.

    I currently have the JVC TH-Sw9 system but Im interested in the HTPC as a pvr, dvd & sound system + all the benefits of a pc in the living room, but i dont want to break the bank.

    Curent setup so far is...

    LC13 case
    Asus board - Will try the onboard sound and may well upgrade to the M-audio card
    AMD 64 3000
    2 x 512 corsair
    NEC 3540A DVD RW
    Gigabyte 6600GT fanless VGA
    Nebula DigiTV card for PVR

    Canton CD1 speakers and maybe the Yamaha RXV357 AV Receiver

    Currently have Telewest but planning on just using freeview vis the TV card as i only really used E4

    cheers

    irishkeet
     
  9. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    I've just built a pc with the Asus board, the same Gigabyte GC, the same M-Audio SC, the same DVD drive, and a slightly quicker AMD. It wasn't cheap. If you're planning on storring all your music on it, then IMO, it's a great idea (I built my PC to stream music around the house). If you need it to play dvds, and not all the other PC needs (games, surfing etc), then with your budget (amp, speakers & display) you'd be much better spreading your budget more equally (ie, not several hundred on a PC, but a couple of hundred on a dvd player).

    But I assume you need the PC for whatever.
    You don't need the 6600GT card for your personal dvd needs (you could get an ATI 9600 for peanuts) but if you want it for games, it's good. IMO, you don't need a soundcard at all, I'd just use the motherboard's SPDIF, and put the £50 towards amp and speakers (same with what you save on Graphics card).
    Then go to the amp & speaker section of this forum, and ask what you can get for your budget (maybe what you're looking at is very good, I haven't looked at anything like it) - at that price range, each extra few pounds could make a decent improvement in final quality.
    Also consider buying second hand, particularly from the classifieds here, where you could get much more bang per buck.
     
  10. irishkeet

    irishkeet
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    Again your help has been invaluable
    many thanks
    irishkeet
     

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