Best audio out for HTPC?

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by Bencorn, Jul 19, 2008.

  1. Bencorn

    Bencorn New Member

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    I always thought that the optical was the best audio transmission to go from a HTPC to a receiver. I've been told recently that you get better sound quality from having 5.1 analog out to the receiver. My computer and receiver support both so I was wondering which one is better? I did some research online and haven't gotten a straight answer, can anyone help?
     
  2. Chris

    Chris New Member

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    I use optical
     
  3. kronik85

    kronik85 New Member

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    i use the analog headphones jack, then again, i dont care much for sound quality.
     
  4. CodeX

    CodeX Guest

    I use optical also but I do believe 5.1 discreet analog output would sound better... analog usually sounds better than digital... digital suffers from compression
     
  5. skinjob

    skinjob Active Member

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    Since the source is a PC, most likely all his media is digital.

    If you have a decent receiver, then it probably has a better DAC than your soundcard does, so it's better to pass the bits straight to the receiver.
     
  6. lowfat

    lowfat 24/Mac/SciFi/PC Crew OT Supporter

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    depends on the receiver and the soundcard you are using. If you are using onboard sound, without a doubt use optical. If you are using a Prelude, the DAC and opamps are very good. Unless you are using a mid to high end receiver, chances are they Prelude's will be better.
     
  7. dorkultra

    dorkultra OT's resident crohns dude OT Supporter

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    i'd say optical...although it only outputs stereo to my reciever for some reason, i want 5.1!
     
  8. lowfat

    lowfat 24/Mac/SciFi/PC Crew OT Supporter

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    SPDIF/TOSLINK only carries two channels of audio unless it is compressed. So unless the source is outputting either AC3 or DTS, it will only be 2 channel. Although a lot of newer motherboards and soundcards can encode both AC3 and DTS.
     
  9. Bencorn

    Bencorn New Member

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    I have an okay sound card and an older receiver (3-4 years old). The optical I'm currently using is coming off the motherboard although the soundcard came with the mobo. It is an Asus p5n32 board and I've heard they have fairly decent sound cards. It seems like the analog would be the better choice because it would send the multiple channels all the time while the optical seems to pick and choose when to send the 5.1 signal.
     
  10. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Compression only matters if the data quality is degraded. Case in point: ZIP file are compressed, but they don't lose bits in the process.
     
  11. P07r0457

    P07r0457 New Member

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    that's the lossy vs lossless debate.

    In the end, it depends on way too many factors to really discuss here. And budget and amps/speakers are going to influence the answer, greatly.
     
  12. Bencorn

    Bencorn New Member

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    So... stick with optical? Or are some saying switch to multi-channel analog?
     
  13. lowfat

    lowfat 24/Mac/SciFi/PC Crew OT Supporter

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    you never told use what you are using for equipment, so we really can't say.
     
  14. CodeX

    CodeX Guest

    10:1 he is using MP3 format audio files... which is, to say the least, lossy
     
  15. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    That's not the compression we were talking about. We were talking about the compression of decoded audio data sent over the S/PDIF or TOSLink cable. If the compression used to send 5.1 over those cables is lossless, then it doesn't matter if it's compressed.
     
  16. CodeX

    CodeX Guest

    You can't send 5.1 over those cables...
     
  17. skinjob

    skinjob Active Member

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    You don't decode or recompress data and then send it via s/pdif. You send AC-3 or DTS encoded data via s/pdif to a decoder on the other end.
     
  18. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Sorry, I used the wrong terminology, but what I was getting at is, as long as AC-3 or DTS doesn't degrade the quality of the audio signal, then it doesn't matter if the data had to be compressed to feed 6 channels of audio through a cable with only enough bandwidth for 2 channels.
     
  19. Bencorn

    Bencorn New Member

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    I'm using a pioneer receiver out to a full tower 5.1 setup with self powered woofer. Currently running over optical in what I thought would pull the 5.1 channel audio out of my matroska high def files. Thus far it seems that my receiver is simply "faking" the surround sound because there are some signals being sent to the rear that should definitely have stayed up front. This is why I was wondering if the multichannel analog would have better channel differentiation and quality. As for music, yea I play MP3's but I honestly don't care how well they sound because they are recorded in stereo so my receiver fakes the surround anyway. Do you need anything else for specs or what not?
     
  20. CodeX

    CodeX Guest

    Soundcard
     
  21. TheRider

    TheRider Geeky OT Supporter

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    Use HDMI to supply video and audio.
     
  22. CodeX

    CodeX Guest

    How many soundcards have HDMI out?
     
  23. TheRider

    TheRider Geeky OT Supporter

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    Dunno, I'd do it from the video card not the sound card. The ATI's for example pump audio down the HDMI port of the newer video cards, the built onboard new intel boards with HDMI pump audio down it too, not sure about NVidia.
     
  24. lowfat

    lowfat 24/Mac/SciFi/PC Crew OT Supporter

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    HDMI will be exactly the same as optical in terms of quality.
     
  25. Bencorn

    Bencorn New Member

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    The one that comes with the Asus p5n32 motherboard. It has the multiple channel analog outs. My optical is coming off the actual motherboard but it came with the card because the motherboard didn't have the analogs onboard.
     

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