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Internal s/card w/dolby digital & optical out?

Discussion in 'Audio' started by pbailey, Apr 26, 2004.

  1. pbailey

    pbailey Regular member

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    Hi, looking for an internal dolby digital 5.1 at least sound card, was hoping to get a thx certified card by soundblaster but i don't think they have optical out, not that i suppose it would really matter if it were optical or coax, but i prefer optical, lol.

    Was looking at the audigy 2nx whatever it is, usb 2, but too much $.

    peace
     
  2. pbailey

    pbailey Regular member

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    Oops, i don't think they have dolby digital decoders, but i have a thx cert dolby dts etc decoder anyway, so just the optical out then, is this an optical connection, i didn't think it was, the connection on the far right?
    [​IMG] oh, and sorry if this is in the wrong forum, not really software related.
     
  3. tigre

    tigre Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't think the connector of the Audigy 2 you're talking about is a digital in/out. I'm sure you can find an answer on Creative homepage.

    Good reasonably priced PCI soundcards with digital out:

    Terratec Aureon Sky / Space
    Up to 24bit/192kHz support
    No internal resampling (as Creative PCI cards do), important for bit-perfect digital out, e.g. for connecting a standalone DTS decoder
    5.1/7.1 output
    Optical digital in + out without resampling, is able to ingore copy-protection bit.
    Good headphone output (enough power for high impedance headphones)
    Somewhat crappy drivers; can be flashed with Audiotrack Prodigy Bios to use its better drivers
    Mediocre gaming support (grabs more CPU resources than Audigy cards)
    No DVD-Audio @ > 16bit/48kHz yet (DVD-Audio = high end audio format; DVD-Video works perfectly well)

    Audiotrack Prodigy
    Same card as Aureon Space but much better drivers

    M-Audio Revolution 7.1
    Similar to Terratec/Prodigy Card (Same DAC - Envy24ht)
    Probably the most stable drivers of all three.

    Chaintech AV-710
    High resolution & quality Envy24ht DAC used for front channels only
    Other (less important quality wise) analog outputs use cheaper hardware
    Optical digital out
    Really cheap
    Review: http://www.tweakzone.nl/extreviews/1158

    Here's some more detailed comparison: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/index.php?showtopic=12257&view=findpost&p=124838

    A good place to find information about soundcards is here: http://forum.rightmark.org/

     
  4. pbailey

    pbailey Regular member

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    Excellent reply, thanks a lot tigre, definately be checking those artitcles out, cheers!

    Oh, i've been playing around with myHTPC s.ware, and am thinking about making a dedicated htpc (now that the money is flowing again, phew :0) and was wondering about the integrated audio options these daze, i know they're 5.1, but how good are they actually, just asking cause you seem to know a lot.

    That terratec looks interesting, i remember reading a comparison review of the newest audigy 2 revision, and the terratec was in one benchie using about 50-60 fps more than the audigy 2 as you stated, but that was the only graph, all the others were near identical. Which would you recommend of the three? I'll end up spending about $100-$150 AUD on the s/card, audio is important to me, but i can't afford the audigy.

    I've heard the resampling is a major drawback of the audigys why is this, is the audio supposed to be at 44khz, but it only does 48? Wouldn't a larger number be better, or not for audio?

    Goiung by what you've mentioned i'd go the terratec and flash the bios, but i'll check that link first.

    Sorry bout all the noob questions, just getting right in to this htpc malarkey, great fun.

    peace
     
  5. pbailey

    pbailey Regular member

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    DVD audio requires 6 analogue connections for 5.1 doesn't it? The only analogue connections i have for my speakers are 6 ch direct ;( and a coax and optical. So dvd-a is not a biggy for me at the mo unfortunately.
     
  6. tigre

    tigre Moderator Staff Member

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    DVD-A requires between 2 and 6 analog connections, depending on the format used on the disc.

    [rant]
    I personally don't care about DVD-A at all. If someone wants me to buy his music in high resolution format, I want to be able to transfer it to PC HDD and store it and listen to it the way I want (e.g. downsample + create mp3s from it for portable use).
    [/rant]

    I own a Terratec Aureon Sky and am very satisfied. They're pretty cheap here (I got mine for ~ 55 Euro new at ebay). Maybe I'll flash it to a Prodigy if driver problems become annoying for some reason.

    Today I'd probably get the Chaintech card (maybe I'll get one aditionally if I can find it for < 30 Euro for my main PC and use the Terratec for some livingroom-home-entertainment PC I'm going to build).

    You should make your choice depending on your own needs - I don't do any gaming for example ...

    About the resampling issue: CD audio is 44.1kHz, DVD audio is 48kHz mostly. Quality-wise there's no difference between the formats because both already reproduce more then the human ear can process.
    All Creative PCI cards resample 44.1kHz input to 48kHz internally before digital-analog conversion. The way this resampling is performed is quite crappy causing aliasing/distortion (something like nearest neighbour instead of interpolation). As workarround you can use playback software like foobar2000 or winamp that is capable of resampling to 48 kHz in a decent way before outputting the audio to the soundcard. This will avoid the card's internal resampling. I've read that there's a way to prevent Audigy 2 cards from resampling but there's not really an agreement/conclusion if this works or not. I can't tell though, if internal resampling of audigy cards leads to any audible problems at all or if it's only a theoretical/measurable disadvantage.
     

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