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-   -   Sound cards vs. onboard optical audio (http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/htpc-systems-software/15767-sound-cards-vs-onboard-optical-audio.html)

biff March 14, 2009 09:47 AM

Sound cards vs. onboard optical audio
 
I still can't make up my mind what I want to do for audio with my HTPC setup. I've been looking at sound cards and using the analog out and there seems to be a very broad opinion of any hardware on this front. My receiver doesn't have HDMI input but I'm not sure I need it anyway. I really have two choices to get sound to it, either analog or go optical and use the receiver's DACs.

Does a dedicated sound card have any advantages over on board when talking about optical? My initial thoughts are no, since I would think the signal sent over the optical should be bit for bit the same sound data that a dedicated sound card or external DAC would get.... after all that's the point of it isn't it?

My receiver is a HK AVR-235. My main concern is music quality and a distant second is 5.1 for movies. I realize I may not get HD audio when watching blu-rays but from looking at the specs it appears that standard sound is near CD quality anyway and it is only for movies so I'm not sure I'd notice (or care) about any difference there anyway.

vulcan500rider March 14, 2009 09:54 AM

As far as I understand it, optical is optical, as one way or the other it offloads all the decoding to your receiver, so if you're leaning that way, I would stick with onboard.

As for choosing between the two, I always go digital over analog if I have the option; you don't have to worry about your computer handling the decoding, there's no signal degradation, and it's one simple cable. That's just my opinion, of course.

Squeetard March 14, 2009 10:29 AM

I second Vulcan.

JD March 14, 2009 10:47 AM

Well depending on the sound card, you could get features like DTS Connect and Dolby Digital Live in which case all your stereo sound would be upmixed to 5.1 DTS/DD before being sent over optical/coax.

Otherwise it would be the same as onboard, just sending out the exact audio format over optical/coax.

HaDeS March 14, 2009 11:39 AM

Optical ftw. Use the reciever dude.... sound is heaps better.

enaberif March 14, 2009 12:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HaDeS (Post 163490)
Optical ftw. Use the reciever dude.... sound is heaps better.

For the most part analog sounds better than digital because its up to the receiving end with optical to decide the end sound not the sound card.

If you output optical to a $50 receiver with $10 speakers it'll sound bad :P

biff March 14, 2009 01:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by enaberif (Post 163522)
If you output optical to a $50 receiver with $10 speakers it'll sound bad :P

Well it's a Harmon Kardon AVR-235 receiver, which from what I gather HK is pretty good stuff. And my speakers cost me ~1k in parts (for the L&R mains) so they're not cheapies either so I kinda have high hopes.

enaberif March 14, 2009 01:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by biff (Post 163540)
Well it's a Harmon Kardon AVR-235 receiver, which from what I gather HK is pretty good stuff. And my speakers cost me ~1k in parts (for the L&R mains) so they're not cheapies either so I kinda have high hopes.

HK stuff from places like Future Shop and so forth is "ok" equipment but nothing compared to the older stuff simply because HK is now so mass produced.

But yes with that setup you'll be fine.


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