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socialxray

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I am going to create a monster multi-media PC and I want to use it as a pre/pro!

Yes, I want to use the analog output of the sound card and hook them directly to a multi-channel amplifier.

I know some people will think this is sacrilege but after doing some research I have found sound cards that have better DACs than some of the high-end stuff. Certainly better that my Squeezebox3.

Of course this does not mean that using the PC as a pre/pro will yield exceptable results.

Does anyone have any experience on setting up a PC this way?

1. I am concerned about sound quality above all else, but the PC will be used for both music and movies.

2. I also wonder how TrueHD and DTS-HD are handled on a PC since one day I will be adding a BD-ROM or HDDVD-ROM. I can't find any information so I am assuming that they are not supported yet.

3. Most mid to high end sound cards have a toslink or coaxial input. I am going to hook my satellite receiver to this but I am not sure how to decode the incoming Dolby Digital signal.

4. Any tips or sound card recommendations would be appreciated.

5. Lastly, I will be using PowerDVD 7 as the playback software. I believe (but not sure) that DD-EX and DTS-ES via this software. Any thoughts on PowerDVD?

Almost everything else I have worked out (noise, heat, interface, video, etc.) but any advise is appreciated.

Thanks for your input.
 

Joey_V

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Auzentech Prelude or X-Meridian are the primo soundcard for straight out analog HT sessions.

Check here:
http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-meridian.php
http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1113796&highlight=x-meridian

The Prelude is yet to be released this month, but it builds on the X-Meridian.

Note that both soundcards build on the XFi, which is a good card in it's own right.

And, keep in mind, DAC chips are only a small portion of the sound you get from a DAC unit. Just because soundcards may have newer DAC chips than those found on say a SB3, there's more to the build and design of the overall DAC unit before one can conclusively say which is better.

Good luck with your hunt!

Joey :)
 

socialxray

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Yes but what about sound quality? Does anyone have any experience with sound cards? I am wondering if it is going to be worth it sound quality wise.
 

amey01

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Can't say I have any advice, but I'm certainly interested in your results! Joey's right though - DAC chips are not the only weighing factor on the sound of analogue audio - it is the implementation of that DAC chip that is far more important, particularly the output stage quality, noise shielding, power supply, etc.
 

socialxray

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Right. That is why I am considering a HT Omega Claro Plus+ sound card for my PC. It has the same DAC at the SlimDevices Transporter and it uses Analog Device's AD8620BR opamps for the front channels. I am no engineer but these seem to have good specs.

What I am worried about is electro-magnetic interference from the PC itself since I want to use the analog outputs. I am also wondering if a PC sound card can at least best my Squeezebox 3. This should be relatively easy to do but I wanted to get opinions before spending the dough.

From the sparse replies it seems that no else in the forum has attempted this. I'll let everyone know how it turns out once I start my build later this year after Service Pack 1 for Vista comes out.
 
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HopelessDFilms

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Bypass the creative and step up to EMU

I half agree with the tips for creative, I have used many creative products in the past, and do have one of their 'higher end' sound card setups on one of my rigs. I have many MANY beefs with the CREATIVE line.... even the Xfi.

Without wasting time on elaboration, the sound quality is just not sufficient in my opinion. It will make due, for stereo, and if you are planning on running digital through spdif or an optical it will be alright, but the internal processing on these cards is just not at the level of quality that we all are expecting.....

My tip is to bypass the Creative line, and step up to their professional line, EMU. In the recording industry the EMU line is highly acclaimed and used by many professionals. The nice thing about these cards/boards is that their sound output is extremely pristine and clean. If you choose to utilize the onboard processing of the gear it does make a dramatic difference.

Here is a link to one of their products that I highly reccomend.... you will notice the plenty of connections.

http://www.emu.com/products/zoom/15163.html

Here is another link for another product which I also highly reccomend, and have many times before...

http://www.m-audio.com/layout/imgview.php?i=/images/en/callouts/big/firewire_410.jpg

both products contain the necessary spdif and optical to support up to 7.1 surround... the nice thing about the maudio is that you are capable of running balanced cable from the 1/4" outputs on back to a receiver, amp, processor, and all in glorious 7.1!!!!! What more can you ask for? Take a look at these products, the emu can be had for around 300$, and the M audio 410 can be had for 269$ about the same price for each, but I would probably reccomend the maudio slightly more for what you want only because of the balanced output capabilities...

hope this helps.
 

HopelessDFilms

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Forgot one thing....

The mini jacks on most pc sound cards the 1/8" headphone out is super sucky.... It is very easily attacked by noise and distortion..... I would not recommend running multi channel into a very nice speaker setup from these...

In my own experience going from these 1/8" jacks to the balanced 1/4" jacks is just a night/day difference...

just my .02
 

socialxray

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Thanks for the response Hopeless.

I really like the M-Audio solution.

So this thing just hooks up to the Firewire port? I suppose there is software that you can use to assign channels?
 
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JonFo

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I second the motion for the M-Audio.

And yes, just plug into the firewire port on your PC.

Since it's external, there are fwer interference questions, and you can locate it closer to the amps.

I do note that the outputs of the M-Audio are listed in the referenced picture are unbalanced. But they are still 1/4" TRS connectors, so it will be much better than 1/8" junk on the internal cards.

BueJeans cables will set you up with 1/4" to RCA (or XLR) cables for this application.

One thing to check is whether it will 'thump' on turn-on/off. You would not want to surge your amps.
 
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JonFo

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Another plus for the M-Audio: it has a mic input. This way you can do room and speaker measurements. A huge plus.
 
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socialxray

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MIC input is definitely useful. My family may not see me for days if I had a mic input.

One critical question though. Can you pass a DVD-A signal through the firewire cable?
 

HopelessDFilms

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Technically speaking you should be able to pass SACD and DVD-A through the firewire.....since it turns it into analog and the digital copy protection is now null invoid.... Think about it this way, there are a few sacd players that use ilink or in real terms firewire..... So yes! You will be able to pass it through firewire, now finding an appropriate software to send the channels is another matter.... and yes the software provided should allow you to distinguish each output for each channel..

I wasn't sure if you'd have been interested in the mic inputs, but glad to hear that you are. The device has very low latency as well for recording purposes and if used on a laptop, say out in the field, you are able to power the device through the firewire bus.....no ac plug needed. For a more permanent setup though, I'd probably recommend the ac.

I am not sure if I made a mistake or not on the balanced output on the maudio.... the model I recommended is the firewire 410, which in the image doesn't say that it is balanced....although in their similar model the 1814 the 1/4"outputs are for sure balanced...I have been meaning to contact maudio about this and to get a confirmed response, but sadly I am lazy. :cool:
 

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