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Soundcard replacing amp???

Discussion in 'Computer Components' started by SunnyUK, Sep 29, 2003.

  1. SunnyUK

    SunnyUK
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    Now that I'm slowly getting my HTPC put together (thanks for the help with the video in another thread, Gary), I'm thinking about which of the many boxes standing under the TV I can get rid of.

    Seeing that sound cards these days to DTS and what-have-you decoding, I find that my amp only works as an effect amplifier. As I get rid of the standalone DVD player and the sky-box (replaced with a terrestial digital receiver card soon), I won't need the amp to switch sources since everything will come out of the HTPC.

    So the question is: Are there any soundcards out there that will give enough power to drive a 5.1 setup with "real" speakers instead of the tiny ones that usually comes with PCs?

    Thanks in advance for any help :)
     
  2. buns

    buns
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    yeah there are loads..... m-audio revo would be best budget one from what i read, then you can go really really good to something like the..... oops forgotten the name.... well the answer is yes..... search for soundcards and you will find the info

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  3. SunnyUK

    SunnyUK
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    Thanks ad :)

    I have tried to read up on it, and I have also read about M-Audio (maybe you're thinking about Revolution 7.1?). The only thing I have not been able to get a feel for is the output power. Something comparable to a stand alone amp that could produce sound that is loud enough for my hometheatre.

    Any idea about how to connect "real" speakers instead of typical PC speaker sets? So far I've only seen soundcards with typically 3 mini jack connectors that go to a subwoofer (a la Creative Labs) from where the cables go to the satelitte speakers. I've already got decent speakers, so I was thinking of an audio card where I just plug the normal speakers into...
     
  4. Kramer

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    Even the smallest/cheapest PC speakers have built-in amplification.

    All soundcards output a line-level signal which needs amplification.

    I wouldn't dump the amp :D
     
  5. buns

    buns
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    ooops sorry i misunderstood..... as kramer says, no soundcard will do enough that you can do without some amplification

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  6. SunnyUK

    SunnyUK
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    Hmmm... yeah, I guess it wouldn't be easy to get enough power out of the soundcard to connect un-amplified speakers (I'm not after small/cheap PC speakers - I want to use my existing good ordinary hifi speakers).

    Oh well... at least the dream can be adjusted to two boxes under the telly instead of the current 5 *lol*

    Thank you for the help guys
     
  7. Chris OH

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    Hi Sorry to jump in but I am thinking about HTPC's. Would a soundcard replace a processor ie Yamaha DSPE 800? Plan would be to run the signal to pre for mains and power amps for centre and rears. Any thoughts on comparative sound quality welcome.

    Regards
     
  8. BBD

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    I tried this route. I have meridian actives at the front and a power amp for the rear speakers. I connected this to a M-Audio Revo sound card. From a pratical point of few it was terrible, each time I switched on or rebooted the PC I had to switch off the speakers to prevent a potentially damaging and very loud thud coming from the speakers. I had been using a HK AVR 5000 AV-Amp prior to this (preamp outputs). The sound quality was not that different although the HK was better. After a few weeks I managed to sell the HK AV amp for £320 and bought a secondhand Rotel processor for £350. I feed this with the spdif output from the Revo soundcard. The Rotel is in a completely different league a massive improvement. My advice would be to keep the Yamaha until you can afford a dedicated processor.

    PS Souncards don't have hardware decoding. You can use media players with software decoding but this doesn't get around watching tv via Sky-DScaler/DigiTV. The Revo card has its own surround sound software but I didn't rate it.
     
  9. Branxx

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    The only way to eliminate separate eamplification is to go for active speakers, i.e. speaker with built in amplifier. There is a lot of choice depending how much you are willing to spend.

    While M-Audio card suffer from lound pops and crack on PC power up/down they are the only one so far to have bass management and surround processing built into the drivers which is very valuable if you are to dispose of an external decoder.

    For more pure stereo listening RME DIGI96/8 is excellent value for about £200. Although you can still hear a pop on power up/down it is nowhere as loud as with m-audio. You,ll also benefit from not having to restrict yourself to player supporting ASIO or kernel streaming in order to get the best audio quality, as driver will do that for you whichever player you choose.
     
  10. Mr.D

    Mr.D
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    Hmm I get no pops on powerup and powerdown with my maudio 2496. Is this just the analogue ouputs you are referring to? ( I actually get the swedish chef on power up!)
     
  11. sapgem

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    Sorry to keep on harping on about this.. but digital attenuation, as used by soundcards to control volume, is not good.

    Every time you take 1dB off the output volume you will typically be taking that off your SNR as well. My understanding is that a Revo set to -26db output level by the volume slider is gonna have a SNR level of about 70dB compared to a SNR of about 96dB at full volume. Take the -26dB off the volume using a good analogue preamp and you'll keep the 96dB SNR. Seems to me that pre-amps do a lot more than a lot of people think they do.

    I stand ready to be corrected.
     

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