PC or Laptop as source for A/V receiver

QUAD S-2 Bookshelf Speaker

nitinbose

New Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2008
Messages
188
Points
0
Hi,

I'm trying to use a laptop for playing media, which would inturn connect to an A/V receiver.

I've come across Creative sound cards with optical outputs and the reviews seem quite good.

The question is: When playing music/movie on a PC, the sound quality seems inferior as compared to a dvd player; Could that simply be due to the sound card/media player or is a hardware player superior to a PC based system?

I'd also like some recommendations on soundcards and the average costs in Bangalore.

Thanks,

Nitin.
 

nitinbose

New Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2008
Messages
188
Points
0

thevortex

New Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2008
Messages
2,619
Points
0
Location
Chennai
Your PC (I would not recommend a laptop as its mobility basically goes for a toss if it is connected to your AV system most of the time) can very well act as a source for your HT system.

If you do not intend to play games on this PC and if you do not intend to load Vista then the best option would be to buy an ASUS Xonar HDAV 1.3. This is a sound cum display card and brings you the best of both worlds. It supports the latest BD Audio standards such as DTS HD and Dolby True HD etc. This can also do some video upsampling but I am not sure about specific capabilities.

If you do not want your sound card to double up as your display card then you can go for the ASUS Xonar D2X. Probably the best sound card out if you are still on a budget and you are not into professional sound production. As far as pure sound quality is concerned this easily bests the Creative X-Fi models. The closest competitor to the Xonar is the Azuntech Prelude which also uses an X-fi chip. The Azuntech card would be a better bet if you use Vista or if you intend to do some surround sound gaming. But for pure hifi, the Xonar still beats it.

This card provides a 7.1 Analogue output facility and the direct analogue sound is simply pristine. The resultant sound is better than that of most AVRs I have heard.
 

nitinbose

New Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2008
Messages
188
Points
0
Hi,

Thanks for the suggestions on the Asus cards. However, these are for PCs, could there be any adaptors to convert these to USBs? or could you please advice me on USB or PCMCIA soundcards, as I've got to use my spare laptop.:D.

Thanks,

Nitin.
 

thevortex

New Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2008
Messages
2,619
Points
0
Location
Chennai
Hi,

Thanks for the suggestions on the Asus cards. However, these are for PCs, could there be any adaptors to convert these to USBs? or could you please advice me on USB or PCMCIA soundcards, as I've got to use my spare laptop.:D.

Thanks,

Nitin.

Nitin, I am afraid I do not have any idea about USB powered sound cards. I dont know if you would get one with sufficient quality that would make your analogue output from your laptop sound better than your AVR's DACs.
 

nitinbose

New Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2008
Messages
188
Points
0
Hi,

I'm sorry I could not explain my setup:

I have an Onkyo HT-SR800, to which I've connected a DVD player using TOSLINK optical cable.

I wish to do the same from a sound card connected to a laptop (because I've got a spare laptop), preferably via USB. The reason for preferring USB is because I shall be constructing a media center PC in a few months time (hopefully the recession might take a turn for the better :D).

The ASUS product was quite good in that it also had a HDMI output for video, however, it was meant for PCI express card.


Please suggest me a suitable product.

Thanks and regards,

Nitin.
 

bhaskie

New Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
223
Points
0
Location
Delhi
If you do not want your sound card to double up as your display card then you can go for the ASUS Xonar D2X. Probably the best sound card out if you are still on a budget and you are not into professional sound production. As far as pure sound quality is concerned this easily bests the Creative X-Fi models. The closest competitor to the Xonar is the Azuntech Prelude which also uses an X-fi chip. The Azuntech card would be a better bet if you use Vista or if you intend to do some surround sound gaming. But for pure hifi, the Xonar still beats it.

This card provides a 7.1 Analogue output facility and the direct analogue sound is simply pristine. The resultant sound is better than that of most AVRs I have heard.

Absolutely. The Xonar D2X seems to be really amazing. Are you using any of these two? If you are, can you tell me which mobo/chipset you are usign it with?
 

thevortex

New Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2008
Messages
2,619
Points
0
Location
Chennai
Absolutely. The Xonar D2X seems to be really amazing. Are you using any of these two? If you are, can you tell me which mobo/chipset you are usign it with?

Yes, it is. I am using the Xonar D2x. And I am using it with the same motherboard that you are using it with. Gigabye 78GM S2H.
 

nitinbose

New Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2008
Messages
188
Points
0
Yes, it is. I am using the Xonar D2x. And I am using it with the same motherboard that you are using it with. Gigabye 78GM S2H.

What would be the price of this card in Bangalore and where would I be able to purchase a card? - I've changed my mind for a full blown HTPC :D.
 

thevortex

New Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2008
Messages
2,619
Points
0
Location
Chennai
What would be the price of this card in Bangalore and where would I be able to purchase a card? - I've changed my mind for a full blown HTPC :D.

I think it was Rs. 8000. And since it is from ASUS it would easily be available if you go to any IT store or even any area in Bangalore which deals with IT products. In Chennai we have Ritchie Street for example.
 

nitinbose

New Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2008
Messages
188
Points
0
I think it was Rs. 8000. And since it is from ASUS it would easily be available if you go to any IT store or even any area in Bangalore which deals with IT products. In Chennai we have Ritchie Street for example.


Please tell me your HTPC configuration, i.e. motherboard, CPU, RAM etc.

Would I require a high end processor such as a 3GHz for blu-ray/HD playback?

How would you rate the Intel DG45ID motherboard, that comes with HD sound, HDMI?
Intel Desktop Board DG45ID - Overview

Thanks,

Nitin.
 

thevortex

New Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2008
Messages
2,619
Points
0
Location
Chennai
Please tell me your HTPC configuration, i.e. motherboard, CPU, RAM etc.

Would I require a high end processor such as a 3GHz for blu-ray/HD playback?

How would you rate the Intel DG45ID motherboard, that comes with HD sound, HDMI?
Intel Desktop Board DG45ID - Overview

Thanks,

Nitin.

I basically did not look at any Intel solution as the Core2Duo processors would be costly even though they are more powerful. For a dedicated HTPC a processor such as the Athlon 64 X2 5000 is more than enough. That is why I chose the 780G chipset. Right now the 790G chipset is also available and if I build another HTPC today I would choose that.

And please dont look at onboard sound and compare specifications. Onboard sound cannot compete with dedicated soundcards. Have you decided on the processor - whether Intel or AMD? That would help narrow down the motherboard choice.

I will detail out my entire configuration soon.
 

doors666

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 15, 2008
Messages
1,782
Points
113
Location
bangalore
If you are only going to connect your laptop to the AVR digitally with either optical or coaxial cable, all these expensive cards are utter waste. You can go with the cheapest one that can give you SPDIF out. As long as you are using SPDIF, the DAC is not going to be used in the sound card, and thats where most of the money goes into.

If you are going to build an HTPC, please keep in mind that you will probably go for a very small cabinet. Nobody wants full tower ATX pc near the home theater. Most of the internal cards (including the asus one I think) will not fit inside these cabinets. You need a card which fits inside the mini cabinets.
 
Last edited:

thevortex

New Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2008
Messages
2,619
Points
0
Location
Chennai
If you are only going to connect your laptop to the AVR digitally with either optical or coaxial cable, all these expensive cards are utter waste. You can go with the cheapest one that can give you SPDIF out. As long as you are using SPDIF, the DAC is not going to be used in the sound card, and thats where most of the money goes into.

If you are going to build an HTPC, please keep in mind that you will probably go for a very small cabinet. Nobody wants full tower ATX pc near the home theater. Most of the internal cards (including the asus one I think) will not fit inside these cabinets. You need a card which fits inside the mini cabinets.

There are ATX cabinets from Antec, Thermaltake etc. which lay flat down just like a receiver. Some even come with volume control just like an amp. Cabinets have come a long way now!

I use an Antec and I cant believe that there is a computer on and busy at work. I cannot hear it even with no ambient noise. Well, only if I concentrate very acutely:)
 

bhaskie

New Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
223
Points
0
Location
Delhi
As for SPDIF quality, though bits are supposed to be bits, onboard sound systems usually use kmixer, which is a known bit-molester. A good card will ensure that the sound is not mangled. An investment here will outlast multiple sound system upgrades. Even a Xonar DX, for <4.5K, is a great buy.

To avoid the bit-molestation and get bit perfect spdif out, one can use ASIO4ALL with foobar2000/winamp etc. to bypass directsound/kmixer :D
 

unleash_me

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 1, 2007
Messages
2,223
Points
113
Location
Nostalgia
Nithin,

I have been using the following for my T60 laptop based system.

1. Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio Notebook Sound Card - Xtreme Fidelity for your laptop

2. http://images.auctionworks.com/hi/68/68411/noc4.2.jpg

3. Beresford Media & Electronics

Or if you want a USB solution, you might want to check out this one

http://www.m-audio.com/images/en/callouts/big/transit.jpg

This is for music setup, sorry couldn't be of much help if you are looking for a complete HTPC.

Happy hunting.
 

nitinbose

New Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2008
Messages
188
Points
0
Nithin,

I have been using the following for my T60 laptop based system.

1. Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio Notebook Sound Card - Xtreme Fidelity for your laptop

2. http://images.auctionworks.com/hi/68/68411/noc4.2.jpg

3. Beresford Media & Electronics

Or if you want a USB solution, you might want to check out this one

http://www.m-audio.com/images/en/callouts/big/transit.jpg

This is for music setup, sorry couldn't be of much help if you are looking for a complete HTPC.

Happy hunting.

Hi Unleash_me,

Thanks for the advice. How do you rate the performance of this sound card? I have an IBM T60 laptop as well. My concern is because I've noticed quality difference between cd/dvd players and sound cards in audio quality - could be because I was using the onboard sound card. How would you compare a hardware player based against this sound card?

Where is this item available at Bangalore and how much did you buy it for?

I am considering an HTPC, however the costs are prohibitive.

My belief is that blu-ray players would be much affordable in a year or so, and then i would purchase one - by then blu-ray discs would also be more common.

Until then I would want a temporary solution to play all video formats, such as divx, mkv etc. Ofcourse, the catch being the small screen of the laptop :(.

Further, I also require your suggestion on a "Lens based Projector" that I've found in eBay:

http://cgi.ebay.in/150-TV-BIG-SCREE...3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=66:1|65:1|39:1|240:1318

Please advice on this as well.

Thanks,

Nitin.
 
Last edited:

thevortex

New Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2008
Messages
2,619
Points
0
Location
Chennai
That only works if the sound device supports all samplerates of your material. Many don't. Also, ASIO4All doesn't always work on every soundcard, and on those with highly specific drivers, it doesn't work at all.

It's free and worth a shot, but IME the quality of SPDIF transmission makes a difference in final sound quality, and it's not an expensive venture to achieve very good SPDIF output.

Good point. However should the OP be concerned, the card in question from ASUS does support ASIO.

Vista users may also try a player called XXHighEnd although it is not entirely a free application.
 
You can now pre-book the Audiolab 6000A Integrated Amplifier at a special offer price.
Top