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What is a good sound card for HTPC?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Can someone help me locate a particular sound card that can do the following?

1.) can *decode* DD and DTS
2.) has a TOSLink optical digital input that accepts DD/DTS 5.1, not just stereo PCM
3.) has a TOSLink optical digital input that works with the analog output, meaning it will convert the digital 5.1 sound to analog 5.1 output
4.) has multi-channel analog output
5.) has PCI slot

Unfortunately, documentation for these is sparse.

So I would appreciate anyone who has experience with this to share their knowledge.
post #2 of 6
Take a look at the HTOmega Claro+...

I've had one in my HTPC for about 2 years now and the sound is fantastic!

The card was designed with audio quality first.

www.htomega.com

HB
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hmmm... the thing about the Omega Claro is this. I don't know if what they said applies to something like the WDTV Live.
post #4 of 6
Do you not have a receiver that accepts HDMI? Almost all of the HTPC's these days are either equipped with Nvidia ION or Mobile ATI 5000 series GPUs.
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post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by astrallite View Post
Do you not have a receiver that accepts HDMI? Almost all of the HTPC's these days are either equipped with Nvidia ION or Mobile ATI 5000 series GPUs.
I don't have a receiver. That probably means I'm not talking about an HTPC per se; rather a "wannabe" HTPC.

Sorry for the confusion.

After some deliberation, I decided that I want to open up my options to other alternatives. I believe I can accomplish this task by creating a survey for anyone to voluntarily take. It will only take a few minutes of your time and this would really help me quantify my data so I can make an educated purchase.

Here goes.

I prepared a short survey for my OT because I wanted to re-evaluate my original question and better rephrase it in a different format that would make my decision-making process more accessible to all of us. I've provided much information as necessarily possible so please let me know if there's anything you need to know to make an informed suggestion.

Basically I was wondering if you can include a list of sound cards (PCI-E or PCI) by voting for the best sound card in different categories for me to tally and choose from so I can have an idea which one to buy. I think most likely the higher-end sound cards may be overkill for my "HTPC" system where digital speakers, amps and AVRs are nonexistent, so to gauge the budget, I'd say something that is a sustainable upgrade (from either onboard sound or an Audigy 2) at a "bang for the buck" range.

In a distant future far away I will upgrade to digital speakers and amp/receiver, by which time I shall return and seek the appropriate sound card.

But for now, here are my current HTPC audio sources.

·Speaker setup: Analog 5.1.
·Headphone: "foam-removed" Sennhesier HD-555.
·Audio movie source: lossy compressed DD and DTS encoded in AC3/DTS bitstreams, 640kpbs-1.5Mbps. They are not HD-Audio as in TrueHD, DTS-HD, etc. There are no external video hardware involved, just files downloaded via filehosting site.
·Audio music source: lossy compresed MP3s with optimally encoded variable to 320kbps high bitrates. (Both audio movie/music sources are from my personal backups globally stored in a remote clandestine server.)
·Audio videogame sources are PC titles.

The following categories are soundcard application objectives that I intend to do with the soundcard, ordered by significance:

Category 1: Analog playback via internal DAC
Category 2: Movies
Category 3: Music
Category 4: Games

Each category is divided by 3 tiers.

Tier 1 = The best soundcard for its category.
Tier 2 = An excellent soundcard for its category.
Tier 3 = A good soundcard for its category.

Examples of what I mean:

Category 1: Analog playback via internal DAC
Tier 1 = Creative X-Fi Elite Pro ----> the best soundcard for Analog playback via internal DAC.
Tier 2 = Turtle Beach ----> an excellent soundcard for Analog playback via internal DAC.
Tier 3 = Asus HDAV13 Deluxe ----> a good soundcard for Analog playback via internal DAC

Category 2: Movies
Tier 1 = Xplosion ----> the best soundcard for Movies
Tier 2 = Asus Xonar D2X ----> an excellent soundcard for Movies
Tier 3 = HT Omega Striker ----> a good soundcard for Movies

Category 3: Music
Tier 1 = Creative X-Fi Elite Pro ----> the best soundcard for Music
Tier 2 = Xplosion ----> an excellent soundcard for Music
Tier 3 = X-Fi XtremeMusic ----> a good soundcard for Music

Category 4: Games
Tier 1 = Creative Fatal1ty ----> the best soundcard for Games
Tier 2 = Xplosion ----> an excellent soundcard for Games
Tier 3 = HT Omega Claro ----> a good soundcard for Games


As you can see, I've placed soundcards that excel in particular areas than others, while also placing them again in different categories > tiers. These are just examples, which show I know next to nothing. Hence, I humbly seek your advice.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
So I would appreciate if someone could "vote" for their favorite or best sound card you think deserves their place and please completely fill out all 4 categories as you possibly can.

Can you please limit only one instance of a specific sound card model per category but there can also be multiple different models of the same company per category.

For instance, I would prefer the following:

Category 1: Analog playback via internal DAC
Tier 1 = Creative X-Fi Elite Pro
Tier 2 = Creative X-Fi Platinum
Tier 3 = Asus HDAV13 Deluxe


But not like this:

Category 1: Analog playback via internal DAC
Tier 1 = Creative X-Fi Elite Pro
Tier 2 = Creative X-Fi Elite Pro
Tier 3 = Creative X-Fi Elite Pro


Let me know if you have any questions and thanks again.





And here is the actual survey:

Category 1: Analog playback via internal DAC
Tier 1 = ____________
Tier 2 = ____________
Tier 3 = ____________

Category 2: Movies
Tier 1 = ____________
Tier 2 = ____________
Tier 3 = ____________

Category 3: Music
Tier 1 = ____________
Tier 2 = ____________
Tier 3 = ____________

Category 4: Games
Tier 1 = ____________
Tier 2 = ____________
Tier 3 = ____________
post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
What is a good low profile sound card that is comparable to the Asus Xonar D2?
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