Worth upgrading onboard SPDIF audio? (1 Viewer)

jimwin

Portal Pro
December 23, 2007
92
13
England England
Hi there,

After a friend of mine commented how her new soundcard has made a huge difference to the audio quality she hears, I've been trying to work out if I would get any benefit out of a dedicated card over my onboard audio.

My PC is a dedicated HTPC, and I use the optical SPDIF to output to a 5.1 surround sound amplifier.

I've been looking about, and some places seem to think that as I've using SPDIF output, a dedicated card won't make any difference, as the PC isn't really doing anything to the digital audio. Am I correct with this?

What about ASIO? If I change to the ASIO player in Mediaportal, will I get better sound? Do I need a quality sound card to use this?

Apologies for the noob question. Until an hour ago, I assumed that my onboard audio was as good as it would get with my amp!
 

rtv

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  • April 7, 2005
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    AW: Worth upgrading onboard SPDIF audio?

    If your onboard driver allows for bit-perfect output (e.g. 44,1 khz for Audio-CDs) then you're already at the quality peak. Moving speakers just 40 cm around (to or from the wall) will have a much more dramatic effect than any device change.

    You can however decrease your audio quality with some external cards. They do not pass the digital stream unmodified to the AVR but route it through the volume mixer...
     

    jimwin

    Portal Pro
    December 23, 2007
    92
    13
    England England
    Thanks for that, but how can I tell if it supports bit perfect?
     

    Owlsroost

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  • October 28, 2008
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    The big gain with (good) soundcards is generally better analog output quality - I can certainly hear the difference between my HTPC on-board Realtek sound and the (pretty cheap) SoundBlaster Live SE PCI card I now use over multi-channel analog connections to my AVR.

    If you are bitstreaming AC3/DTS audio to an AVR, this fundamentally must be passed through 'bit-perfect' otherwise it just doesn't work. Anything else normally goes via the Windows sound mixer software so it can be manipulated and mixed with other sounds.

    ASIO, Kernel Streaming(XP) and WASAPI(Vista/Win7) are all interfaces which aim to bypass the Windows sound mixer etc and send audio data directly to the sound card drivers - whether this comes out 'bit-perfect' at the end is down to the drivers......so place your bets now..... (I've been through several sets of Creative drivers for my card which sound different even via WASAPI....)

    Tony
     

    jimwin

    Portal Pro
    December 23, 2007
    92
    13
    England England
    Thanks for all your help on this, I've decided to give it a try.

    I've installed ASIO4ALL and linked it to my onboard REALTEK HD ALC883 audio. Strangely it only sees the 2 input and 8 output channels, and doesn't find the SPDIF or anything.
    I've installed the PureAudio plugin and I tried switching off the "always resample" but I'm still getting "48Kbps" displayed on my amp...

    Any guidance?
     

    Nova eXelon

    Portal Member
    March 21, 2010
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    Well, software can't do anything, if the hardware doesn't allow it. Most on-board soundchips and cheap soundcards always resample sound to 48khz. It's integrated in the hardware. GTX285 is a fast videocard, but DX11 is impossible with it. Which driver doesn't matter here.

    What kind of AVR are you using? Maybe it has analog 5.1 RCA-in. If that's the case, buy this x3:
    Amazon.com: 2x RCA Female / 1 x 3.5mm Stereo Male, 6 inch: Electronics

    and a good soundcard.

    From here on you can connect your AVR -> Soundcard like a CD-Player -> AVR. Some say that there is qualityloss, but the overall higher quality you get switching from on-board sound to a real soundcard is bigger.

    I have my AMP connected the same way. It's a Yamaha RX-797. Speakers are ASW Cantius IV Special and I cannot here the difference between analog and digital. The RX-797 has no digital-in, but my old 6.1 RX-V440 has one.
    Soundcard is a X-Fi Elite Pro.

    Oh and don't wonder about the english.
     

    jimwin

    Portal Pro
    December 23, 2007
    92
    13
    England England
    Well, I've come back to this old post again! I've been able to get the sound to my amp by selecting 44.1kbps option in the realtek control panel. Now my music comes through as 44.1, but then so does audio from my video files?

    I think this proves that my soundcard ALC883 can output at 44.1, but how can I get it to choose 48 for 48 content?
     

    Nova eXelon

    Portal Member
    March 21, 2010
    6
    1
    37
    Germany Germany
    I think you can't do anything about it, except re-encode all your 44,1khz material to 48khz or the other way around through software.
    Many people do this, because software makes a better job in resampling. Well, your soundcard does it on the fly, so what do you expect.....
    For players like MPC to be able to switch the output-rate, they have to have direct control of your audio chip. I don't think that's possible.

    But don't stress yourself, there shouldn't be an audibly difference that you can actually hear anyway.

    Well, should not, but my X-Fi Elite Pro for example has a time-lag in 48khz compared to analog-out. It's gone in 96khz though.
     

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