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mobo sound + HTIB vs. high end sound card

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by bratan, Jan 28, 2008.

  1. bratan New Member

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    Hello everybody,

    New to this forum, reading posts, tons of very helpful info – thank you! Wondering if I may ask for a recommendation. I am using my home PC as an HTPC + audio center + multipurpose + gaming (moderate) machine (don’t have separate TV set or music center). Planning to go HD (in several steps due to financial reasons). I am just learning the subject, so please forgive me if I am totally off using HD terminology or if some of this is very much obvious and has been discussed. At the moment looking at the sound card options.

    I want to achieve following goals: (a) build full HD home theater system around my PC (b) achieve highest quality possible (including with Senn HD280pro headphones) for music (c) keep my Creative Inspire T5400 5.1 analog speakers for some period of time and then upgrade to higher quality digital HTIB (from Onkyo HT-SR800 to HT-S990THX the last is probably too expensive :) ).

    Will appreciate answers to any question below:

    Question 1: Will I lose any audio quality using mobo s/pdif with HTIB, no sound card at all with nVidia 590 sound, Asus Crosshair, optical s/pdif, no SupremeFX Audio Card 1988 installed: (a) for cd’s and lossless .wma files; (b) 5.1 dvd audio; (c) future TrueHD/DTS-HD for BD/HD-DVD?

    Question 2: Can I transmit lossless 24bit/96kHz 7.1 TrueHD/DTS-HD for BD/HD-DVD using s/pdif (max data rate limitation?) using mobo sound or any high end sound card at all? What is s/pdif maximum capability?

    Question 3: Since the gaming is not number 1 priority, I am looking at Prelude X-Fi, HT Omega Claro Plus, and Asus D2 sound cards. Will I be able to achieve following goals with any of these cards: (a) HD or at least 5.1 digital sound, (b) High quality stereo, (c) high quality analog outputs (d) 7.1/5.1 digital game sound?

    Thank you,
    bratan
     
  2. btarunr

    btarunr Editor & Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Answer 1: No, maybe plain PCM but no DTS interactive/Neo 6 , Dolby Digital formats decoding

    Answer 2: Depends solely on the audio chipset, the Realtek ALC888T, ALC888DD, ALC889A do support BD/HD-DVD lossless PCM transmission, not DTS-HD. DTS-HD still hasn't hit production PC-Audio yet.

    Answer 3: Since gaming isn't your number 1 priority implies you game casually/occassionally and you have other audio applications using a sound-card. My suggestion: HT Omega Claro Plus. Reason: Lowest price compared to Xonar and X-Fi Prelude 7.1, Awesome front-channel DAC made by Analog Devices, almost all the media features of the other two cards are packed into this one. :)
     
  3. bratan New Member

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    Thank you, Btarunr.

    So I will be able to send lossless two channel stereo from CD/WMA. How about just re-directing encoded 5.1 from PC DVD player to the A/V receiver without additional loss in quality (not counting initial encoding losses) using onboard audio?

    Does nVidia 590 chipset already have audio codec able to out s/pdif?

    Today you can order Xonar from Amazon for $150:laugh: while Claro plus you can only buy from Newegg for $174.99 and it out of stock;).

    And nice (comparing to my creative 5400) onkyo sets SR600 5.1 and SR800 7.1 with receiver and speakers for ~$250 and $450 respectively. Sound card price is not negligible:). But then (mobo-receiver) no games probably at all:D.

    Thank you,
    bratan
     
  4. btarunr

    btarunr Editor & Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    You can, it depends a lot on the onboard audio CODEC.

    Look, it's not the motherboard chipset that determines it, first off. It's a little tiny chip called the Onboard CODEC (coder, decoder ; a chip that basically does DAC / ADC operations) The Supreme FX that comes with the Crosshair has the chip, the SPDIF connections that you find on the mainboard are actually routed to the SupremeFX card, they cannot function without the card. To my knowledge, it uses a Realtek chip. Take a good look at the tiny square chip, if it says ALC 888DD, ALC 888T or ALC 889A, you can do basic lossless PCM out.

    Oh I ignored the Xonar PCI and instead gave you the price of the Xonar D2 (PCI-E version). Xonar compared to a Claro Plus is a loss of sheen. The Claro Plus comes with a very high quality front-channel DAC. You'd rather buy this.
     
  5. bratan New Member

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    So it is ADI 1988B chip located on SupremeFX audio card. I got confused looking at nvidia .pdf Product Comparison Chart at:
    http://www.nvidia.com/page/nforce5_amd.html

    that mean that when I remove SupremFX card, I will have no spdif output from mobo at all:(.

    And is the difference between claro and claro plus only in the AD8620BR front channel opamp?
     
  6. btarunr

    btarunr Editor & Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, no SupremeFX = no SPDIF connector use. There is no difference between the Claro and Claro Plus except the AD8620BR.
     
    bratan says thanks.
  7. bratan New Member

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    Btarunr, thanks a lot for your help!:D
    PS: in this case I might as well solder AD8620BR (ouch :eek:- $26.4 from digi-key) or maybe some other like LM4562MA only $5.70 – same pinout:cool:. The warranty will be void:eek:!
     

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