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Will installing a decent sound card improve PC sound via a connected (new) Amp? If so which options to buy (with OPTICAL OUT?)?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
So I have a Haswell i7 rig and onboard ALC1150 sound (Z87 Sabertooth) and it runs fine; but I do some gaming and I like decent sound now...

So I connected a Yamaha RX-S600 Amp (the new slim one) and 5x 100W Behringer 2030P speakers (Sony sub en-route)......

Sounds pretty good.... (connected via optical [and HDMI for an (extra) connected HD/DVD player])... smile.gif It works...

But I wondered if the Sound coming from the PC on-board sound to the Amp was being hampered in any way... and would like to know if buying a discrete sound card would improve the overall sound quality...? drool.gif

So, I trolled a few threads here and there and looked at the following cards .....

1st choice ended up being a Creative Titanium HD...... (someone here who seems to know, suggested that to someone else)....

But where I live; Amazon (Japan) only have one ("good") USED Titanium HD for (currency)$170 rolleyes.gif None new....

While the Red Creative Labs sound card Zx set is $130 (new...)

And the (black) ZxR set is $230 (new)

....while a new Asus Zonar DGX [or is it the DSX??] is $35 (with Optical).

And the Xonar Essence STX (ASM) is $160 (but no optical) Do Amps work better via optical?

And wondered which would you audio fans choose..... (or by-pass entirely?)...

Mainly for gaming (& music listening)

I also use a Creative Zx headset (with the inbuilt soundchip).....

Which.....to choose....to improve if its applicable...

For the best sound...on a bang-for-buck-basis?
Edited by rogerthat1945 - 6/29/14 at 8:21pm
post #2 of 9
HDMI and optical are both digital signals.

The only thing coming out of your PC is 0s and 1s. (or light if you want to be technical)

A sound card is not going to improve 0s and 1s.

Think of it this way, you already have a very good sound card because your receiver is acting as a giant external sound card.
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post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjj226 Angel View Post

HDMI and optical are both digital signals.

The only thing coming out of your PC is 0s and 1s. (or light if you want to be technical)

A sound card is not going to improve 0s and 1s.

Think of it this way, you already have a very good sound card because your receiver is acting as a giant external sound card.

I get that `0` & `1` issue.... Thank you.

.... buuuut don't understand how (I thought) HDMI sound is supposed to be output in Stereo, and Optical is supposed to be 5.1 ready (As many new games are coded for it...); in relation to why would anyone bother with a sound card in their PC at all if On-board sound is already `0` and `1`s` as is a discrete sound card....?

I assumed that a dedicated sound card would `deliver those sound signals (Zero`s and One`s) `more cleanly`....so the Amp could process them more efficiently.

So, at best (to my semi-understanding), I think you are saying that my Amp is effectively a PC sound card and was (also) designed to suit direct PC connections, and developed with PC gaming/connections in mind.... and that it is impossible to improve upon the `signal` the Amp gets from the PC by having a better sound card in the PC rather than relying on the PC on-board sound-chip itself.

Basically; you seem to be saying any cheap motherboard with any low-end sound-chip on board will sound great in all circumstances and in all applications through a decent amp?
eh-smiley.gif

Maybe you are 100% correct.... tongue.gif

Any seconder to the motion from anyone out there?
.
.
Edited by rogerthat1945 - 6/29/14 at 8:24pm
post #4 of 9
Ah.

So any dedicated sound card, on board sound card, or even your receiver has two main components.

1st part is a DAC. DAC stands for digital to analog converter. The analog signal is what you can kind of think as your actual sound signal. Your DAC converts the 0s and 1s into an analog signal. The quality of the analog signal depends on how good your dac is.

Sound cards generally have better dacs than the onboard sound card. Dedicated DACs are better still. And so on and so on.

The 2nd part is an amp. To keep things simple, it amplifies the analog signal. (the amp still changes the sound a lot, but to keep things simple, lets just say that they only amplify the signal)

Your HMDI and optical connections are exporting a digital signal so that the dac on your receiver (which is MOST LIKELY has a VERY good DAC ) to be processed.

In the end what I am saying is that your receiver is a very high quality sound card.

For a lot of people, they simply do not have the room or the money for a full blown receiver, so in order to get better sound than their on board sound card, they get a dedicated sound card or a small dedicated amp and dac.

You on the other hand already have a receiver. If you want better sound, then you just need a better receiver or a better set of speakers.

You are essentially beyond sound cards at this point.


Oh and btw, HDMI can actually output full 7.1 surround sound.

Optical has to actually compress the sound in order to even reach 5.1.

HDMI has so much bandwidth that it does not even need to compress the music.
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post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tjj226 Angel View Post

Ah.

So any dedicated sound card, on board sound card, or even your receiver has two main components.

1st part is a DAC. DAC stands for digital to analog converter. The analog signal is what you can kind of think as your actual sound signal. Your DAC converts the 0s and 1s into an analog signal. The quality of the analog signal depends on how good your dac is.

Sound cards generally have better dacs than the onboard sound card. Dedicated DACs are better still. And so on and so on.

The 2nd part is an amp. To keep things simple, it amplifies the analog signal. (the amp still changes the sound a lot, but to keep things simple, lets just say that they only amplify the signal)

Your HMDI and optical connections are exporting a digital signal so that the dac on your receiver (which is MOST LIKELY has a VERY good DAC ) to be processed.

In the end what I am saying is that your receiver is a very high quality sound card.

For a lot of people, they simply do not have the room or the money for a full blown receiver, so in order to get better sound than their on board sound card, they get a dedicated sound card or a small dedicated amp and dac.

You on the other hand already have a receiver. If you want better sound, then you just need a better receiver or a better set of speakers.

You are essentially beyond sound cards at this point.


Oh and btw, HDMI can actually output full 7.1 surround sound.

Optical has to actually compress the sound in order to even reach 5.1.

HDMI has so much bandwidth that it does not even need to compress the music.


Many thanks for making a slightly difficult subject slightly clearer to a sound noob.

smile.gif

Your comment begs the question (in relation to the PC game/Software Zero`s and Ones relationship with the speakers)......`Why are there no HDMI connected soundcards` attached to DVi output (as no `unnecessary` sound compression is required`)? thinking.gif
So you can get uncompressed 7.1 sound and Stereoscopic 3D on PC`s....
But that might confuse people.... wink.gif

I guess I close the thread somewhere (with thanks)...
Edited by rogerthat1945 - 6/29/14 at 9:04pm
post #6 of 9
HDMI out with come from your video card that can do all audio channels. Just make sure you have it all setup to your speakers 5.1, 7.1...
As my 670 goes into my Denon via HDMI for all my movies and Coaxial to receiver from my DAC. I do not use my onboard, have a USB DAC which is better.

Your onboard audio is very good. As with newer mobo now come with good quality audio, that will make some addon card run for it's it's money.
The difference you hear will be very little, as your receiver will be doing most of the audio processing.
    
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post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sp33d Junki3 View Post

HDMI out with come from your video card that can do all audio channels. Just make sure you have it all setup to your speakers 5.1, 7.1...
As my 670 goes into my Denon via HDMI for all my movies and Coaxial to receiver from my DAC. I do not use my onboard, have a USB DAC which is better.

Your onboard audio is very good. As with newer mobo now come with good quality audio, that will make some addon card run for it's it's money.
The difference you hear will be very little, as your receiver will be doing most of the audio processing.

Hi Sp33dOoops.......; thank you for your input... in part; although the sound is pretty good much of the time, I just wondered if I could improve it a tad...due to some Gameplay issues with sound crackles.

I asked the original question because I got terrible crackling during games like Battlefield 4 and Battlefield Hardline (Beta); but sound ran better in other games and is great playing music (so its not the speaker cables etc).

But BF Hardline Beta finished and BF4 got a few updates and the crackling stopped for now (it comes and goes with various updates in BF4)... Its why I have been thinking about the issue for weeks and weeks..... and what to do..... rolleyes.gif

Its really really annoying having spent such a lot of $$$$$ only to get irritating cracking during the main game/s I bought the rig for (Battlefield). mad.gif

So; I get your point; But, I must STRESS that I have a 120Hz monitor; which I use for Stereoscopic 3D, and that will not run using HDMI (it cripples it).

Stereoscopic 3D only works properly over DVi (although some can run over Display port [not as effectively] as I found with a dual monitor set up)

Hence connecting the Amp via Optical. smile.gif
(And my comment about a DVi graphics link with [potential] HDMI 7.1 sound LINK for suitable speaker rigs [where the previous commenter correctly stated that HDMI sound can be un-compressed 7.1 sound and not DVi compressed 5.1 sound])?

Note my comments about how does a modern Amp turn (for example) a cheap nasty onboard soundchip from (for example) 10 years ago, into the same/similar quality as a `Good` onboard soundchip (ALC1150) from last year, and (my question) in relation to a high-end sound card like the 3D Creative ZxR etc... and its potential improvement.

Its the best `positional 3D surround sound` I was thinking of. band.gif

But I am happy with the comments and see your points of view. Basically you are both saying that its not worth spending any more money, as the difference would be minute/intangible.

So.... with that..... smile.gif


P.S. ninja.gif
I am glad I sold my ZX12R before I completely maxed out the rev counter in top gear on a motorway while wearing jeans and tee-shirt. BMW drivers do not like to do 95mph and see a bike pass them be an additional 95mph....
Edited by rogerthat1945 - 6/30/14 at 3:00am
post #8 of 9
You can simultaneously use the DVI for video and HDMI for audio.
No need to use the HDMI pass-through of the receiver. Because your GPU has multiple outputs thumb.gif
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post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tiihokatti View Post

You can simultaneously use the DVI for video and HDMI for audio.
No need to use the HDMI pass-through of the receiver. Because your GPU has multiple outputs thumb.gif

I understand..(ish).. smile.gif

(Basically, its a kind of magic?) biggrin.gif Even though I am connected to one 3D monitor the sound is working through the other 2D monitor? doh.gif

......
I thought it wouldn`t do that as;-
.....as I have my GPU (GTX 780) with DVi to the Asus VG278H (3D) monitor; and I have a HD/DVD player outputting HDMI to the Same monitor (I prefer to watch on the 27-inch monitor) (obviously) there is only one HDMI on the monitor.

My 22-inch Samsung has HDMI from the i7 on-board graphics going to that. It works BF4 Battle screen just fine (while the GTX 780 powers the game [BF4] itself).
So; you seem to be saying that the sound is going uncompressed via HDMI through a monitor that is not connected to my GTX 780 game card.

Its confusing, and Its why I considered the Creative ZxR set for maximum connectivity.

I don`t know if my having the second monitor connected via HDMI connects/puts ALL the sound through that (currently) or if the Amp is getting the signal via optical (but I am pretty certain it is [the PC software also indicates that]).... But I have it on Optical on the Amp connection dial and it all pretty much works (except for some BF4/Hardline crackling sound issues that come and go). I thought going through HDMI would restrict the graphics somehow... I must play around with connections a bit more without getting so dizzy I give up. blushsmiley.gif

Anyway: Thanks again for the heads up.... tongue.gif
Kudos.

P.S.
Rig...when I thought I had it spot on; until a BF4 update left me with crackles.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CmMCUp1ZJw

Thanks to you I (now) know the easy option would be to throw the HD/DVD into the bin (joke) and use the single Asus monitor HDMI to connect from the PC also.... bigeyedsmiley.png
Edited by rogerthat1945 - 7/3/14 at 3:26am
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