Go Back   Hardware Canucks > HARDWARE > HTPC Systems & Software

    
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1 (permalink)  
Old March 14, 2009, 09:47 AM
biff's Avatar
Hall Of Fame
F@H
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Courtice, Ont.
Posts: 1,235
Default 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.
__________________
Q6600 @ 3.83GHz w/ D-Tek Fusion
Asus P5Q-PRO
2x 2GB PC8000 Mushkin Redlines @ 1020MHz w/5-5-5-12 timings
EVGA GTX 280 (SC?)
OCZ Gamer Xtreme 600W PSU
Cooler Master Cosmos on water
Reply With Quote
  #2 (permalink)  
Old March 14, 2009, 09:54 AM
vulcan500rider's Avatar
MVP
F@H
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Regina, SK
Posts: 498

My System Specs

Default

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.
Reply With Quote
  #3 (permalink)  
Old March 14, 2009, 10:29 AM
"Quote This..."
F@H
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Hell
Posts: 3,828
Default

I second Vulcan.
Reply With Quote
  #4 (permalink)  
Old March 14, 2009, 10:47 AM
JD's Avatar
JD JD is offline
Moderator
F@H
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Toronto, ON
Posts: 6,892

My System Specs

Default

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.
Reply With Quote
  #5 (permalink)  
Old March 14, 2009, 11:39 AM
HaDeS
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Optical ftw. Use the reciever dude.... sound is heaps better.
Reply With Quote
  #6 (permalink)  
Old March 14, 2009, 12:29 PM
enaberif's Avatar
Hall Of Fame
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Calgahree, AB
Posts: 10,596
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by HaDeS View Post
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
Reply With Quote
  #7 (permalink)  
Old March 14, 2009, 01:14 PM
biff's Avatar
Hall Of Fame
F@H
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Courtice, Ont.
Posts: 1,235
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by enaberif View Post
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.
__________________
Q6600 @ 3.83GHz w/ D-Tek Fusion
Asus P5Q-PRO
2x 2GB PC8000 Mushkin Redlines @ 1020MHz w/5-5-5-12 timings
EVGA GTX 280 (SC?)
OCZ Gamer Xtreme 600W PSU
Cooler Master Cosmos on water
Reply With Quote
  #8 (permalink)  
Old March 14, 2009, 01:24 PM
enaberif's Avatar
Hall Of Fame
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Calgahree, AB
Posts: 10,596
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by biff View Post
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.
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
No sound off my Onboard or my soundcard Shadowmeph Troubleshooting 3 February 27, 2009 04:37 PM
750i FTW Onboard Audio Problem kragnorok Audio 2 February 8, 2009 08:36 PM
Audigy 2 value or DS3L onboard audio? donimo Audio 17 January 16, 2009 04:19 PM
Onboard Audio versus Soundcard mazabe Audio 10 May 9, 2008 05:21 AM
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio is not really a X-FI sound card dirtfarmer Audio 15 January 2, 2008 07:15 PM