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Thread: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

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    Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    Hi. I have a Dell T20 'server' as my HTPC. All going really well.
    Currently only have stereo on board sound.

    My Setup is like this
    HTPC -> Stereo 3.5mm cable -> DVD player Left Right inputs <-- edit for clarification

    I want this setup to have DTS and Dolby surround sound when playing movies on plex that are encoded as DTS or AC3
    HTPC -> Optical Cable -> Panasonic DVD Surround Sound System (that supports DTS and Dolby Pro Logic II, and Stereo through optical)
    There is no option of using HDMI input for surround sound... hdmi cable goes to TV! <-- edit for clarification.

    When using Plex to play content, it will often say 'DTS' or 'AC3' or 'AAC'.

    I would really like the proper surround sound.

    What do i need to buy Sound card wise?

    I understand that I can get a basic one to 'pass through' to the DVD Surround, but what formats are AC3, and AAC ? Do I need a soundcard to 'transcode' the audio to DTS always? Is that possible?

    Thanks to you all for any help.

    [confused] !
    Last edited by Lovol2; 24-02-2016 at 07:57 PM. Reason: <-- edit for clarification.

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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    How are you feeding the media to the AV kit as I simply use HDMI to deliver audio to the AV receiver.
    I use shark codec pack to allow the passthrough but recently swapped to using mpc-hc to play the files as that manages to passthrough the high end codecs like DTS-HD & True HD

    Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack
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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    Quote Originally Posted by GoNz0 View Post
    How are you feeding the media to the AV kit as I simply use HDMI to deliver audio to the AV receiver.
    I use shark codec pack to allow the passthrough but recently swapped to using mpc-hc to play the files as that manages to passthrough the high end codecs like DTS-HD & True HD
    Hi, thanks for asking. I can only use Optical connection.

    The DVD player surround sound system only has either Stereo or Optical inputs.... no hdmi inputs!

    So Optical is the only way to get surround sound in to it (it's a great system, super loud, don't want to buy new!)


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    Banhammer in peace PeterB kalniel's Avatar
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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    Xonar DSX:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asus-Xonar-E...6311584&sr=1-5

    Has DTS. You won't gain anything from DTS-HD with that surround set.

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    Evil Monkey! MrJim's Avatar
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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    If you only need 5.1 rather than 7.1 audio, the Xonar DGX is a bit cheaper. I've got one myself, & it's been very reliable with good quality audio (and a bit cheaper than the DSX):

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Express-Norm...ords=xonar+dgx

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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim View Post
    If you only need 5.1 rather than 7.1 audio, the Xonar DGX is a bit cheaper. I've got one myself, & it's been very reliable with good quality audio (and a bit cheaper than the DSX):

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Express-Norm...ords=xonar+dgx
    Not if you want to output over optical, the DGX is only analogue 5.1, not DTS etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    Xonar DSX:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Asus-Xonar-E...6311584&sr=1-5

    Has DTS. You won't gain anything from DTS-HD with that surround set.
    Thanks, so will that 'convert' the audio of AC3 and other media into 7.1/5.1 all the time, so everything that 'is' surround sound will be ?

    ouch, £38!

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    Not if you want to output over optical, the DGX is only analogue 5.1, not DTS etc.
    Thanks, I was thinking £38 was a lot myself (I'm cheap), but £22 is much more like it .

    So will that 'convert' the audio of AC3, AAC etc. and other media into 5.1 all the time, so everything that 'is' surround sound will be ?

    Do they have an option to just 'pass through' if it's already DTS? Or does that make no difference anyway.

    I'm no audiophile, just like the really big bangs from the sub woofer... and bullets flying overhead always sounds ace in proper surround sound.

    Do you use yours with Plex/Kodi?
    thanks again, i'll order that

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    Not if you want to output over optical, the DGX is only analogue 5.1, not DTS etc.
    My previous post replied to wrong reply!

    I see, looking at amazon reviews, they do say there is no DTS output from optical, which is confusing.

    looks like your £38 one it is!

    I assume it will be ok with 5.1 (as my surround sound is only 5.1)

    Thanks to you both. I think what I'm figuring out is that we need something that always outputs DTS audio and then we're done...

    this soundblaster says it does that too..

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Creative-PCI...3AV18RQJBS9H70

    but more money though... although buying a soundblaster reminds me of the days when a SoundBlaster 16 entry was needed in config.sys !
    Last edited by peterb; 24-02-2016 at 01:16 PM. Reason: Merged four consecutive posts

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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    Quote Originally Posted by Lovol2 View Post
    Thanks, so will that 'convert' the audio of AC3 and other media into 7.1/5.1 all the time, so everything that 'is' surround sound will be ?

    ouch, £38!
    Yes, that does all the encoding, yes it works with just 5.1 fine.

    And yes, Dolby encoding licenses aren't that cheap. They invented it, they get the royalties.

    Yes again, that Creative card would work as well, though if you're concerned about cost I'm not sure why you'd want to pay even more!

    edit: PS Please don't multi-post in a row so much - it makes forums hard to read and is liable to put you on the naughty list for post-count spamming and forum privileges could get removed. The edit button and multi-quote buttons do work
    Last edited by kalniel; 24-02-2016 at 01:15 PM.

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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    Quote Originally Posted by Lovol2 View Post
    When using Plex to play content, it will often say 'DTS' or 'AC3' or 'AAC'.

    I would really like the proper surround sound.
    In what way is your current setup but 'proper' surround sound?

    As far as I'm aware the situation is that most receivers only understand DTS or Dolby Digital (a.k.a. AC3) surround sound encodings over S/PDIF. As you seem to be already getting that I'm not sure what you hope to acheive. I don't think it's possible to get the newer, higher bandwidth encodings like Master Audio and TrueHD down a S/PDIF pipe.

    Generally the only reason to buy a sound card is if you want to encode into Dolby Digital/DTS from programs that don't offer the option themselves - typically games. For videos that are pre-encoded you don't need anything special, you just set them up to bitstream as you've presumably done already if your receiver is saying it's receiving those encodings.

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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    Not if you want to output over optical, the DGX is only analogue 5.1, not DTS etc.
    According to section 1.3 of the DGX manual (and again on page 6), both Dolby Digital & DTS are supported over the TOSlink optical output...I assume that means in 5.1 audio...

    http://dlcdnet.asus.com/pub/ASUS/Aud..._Xonar_DGX.pdf

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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim View Post
    According to section 1.3 of the DGX manual (and again on page 6), both Dolby Digital & DTS are supported over the TOSlink optical output...I assume that means in 5.1 audio...

    http://dlcdnet.asus.com/pub/ASUS/Aud..._Xonar_DGX.pdf
    How interesting. There is a distinct lack of Dolby branding and the reviews suggest it doesn't - perhaps it came in a version change? Anyway, you have one so you can check - the PCM drop down should have an option for DTS if it's available.

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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    Quote Originally Posted by EndlessWaves View Post
    ... For videos that are pre-encoded you don't need anything special, you just set them up to bitstream as you've presumably done already if your receiver is saying it's receiving those encodings.
    As I understand it the OP is using the onboard sound from a Dell Poweredge T20 which only offers a stereo line out (and doesn't support streaming audio over Displayport). I assume that the encoding is being shown by the Media software, not the receiver, as the OP is taking a stereo line into their receiver, so I don't see how it could be receiving the encoded bitstream

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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    How interesting. There is a distinct lack of Dolby branding and the reviews suggest it doesn't - perhaps it came in a version change? Anyway, you have one so you can check - the PCM drop down should have an option for DTS if it's available.
    The DGX software says it supports DTS & DD pass through over the optical connection, but I can't see any mention of 5.1 (I don't have any way of testing the 5.1 output either, unfortunately...). Although restricting those formats to 2 channel would be a bit strange, I think.

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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim View Post
    The DGX software says it supports DTS & DD pass through over the optical connection, but I can't see any mention of 5.1 (I don't have any way of testing the 5.1 output either, unfortunately...). Although restricting those formats to 2 channel would be a bit strange, I think.
    No I think you're were right - it should do DTS pass through no problem, as EndlessWave explains above. It won't encode new sources, but that's not what the OP is using it for.

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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    As I understand it the OP is using the onboard sound from a Dell Poweredge T20 which only offers a stereo line out
    I've re-read his opening post and he does say explicitly that he's currently using an optical cable rather than an analogue one. Although I had misread that it was the receiver showing AC3/DTS/AAC rather than the player software so it could be the case.

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    No I think you're were right - it should do DTS pass through no problem, as EndlessWave explains above. It won't encode new sources, but that's not what the OP is using it for.
    The specific features for on the fly encode are called DTS Connect (or DTS Interactive) for DTS and Dolby Digital Live for Dolby/AC3.

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    Re: Your Soundcard suggestions for HTPC with Optical Out, please

    apologies for the confusion, I've updated the original post.

    Current setup is stereo using on board sound.

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