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Soundcard versus sound through HDMI

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Lets say the setup is 2.1 and the signal coming out of the Xonar DX is analog.

It sends carries the signal to the receiver and is then amplified to the speakers. So:

Xonar DX--->Onkyo TX-SR608--->speaker


Second option.

Nvidia HDMI audio ---> Onkyo TX-SR608 ----> speaker

I always assumed that which ever had the better DAC would give the best sound.

Am I wrong? If the Xonar does not provide better SQ than the HDMI passed through by the GPU, then I have wasted a lot of money purchasing the sound card.
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post #2 of 5
That is correct, whichever device has the better dac should give you better sound quality. The only way I see this not being true is if the receiver uses a different amplifier for the digital hdmi input vs the analog input.
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post #3 of 5
Nvidia's HDMI audio is digital, that means it sends audio information(not signal/output) to the receiver. The TX-SR608 is pretty much an entry-level receiver, and my assumption from that is the receiver's DAC is not as good as the DX's.

I would go DX(analogue, not SPDIF/Toslink) > TX-SR608.
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post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FearSC549 View Post
Nvidia's HDMI audio is digital, that means it sends audio information(not signal/output) to the receiver. The TX-SR608 is pretty much an entry-level receiver, and my assumption from that is the receiver's DAC is not as good as the DX's.

I would go DX(analogue, not SPDIF/Toslink) > TX-SR608.
That was what I thought as well, and thank you Xazen for your response.

This is a loaded question; and it ends up with me questioning the effectiveness of sound cards on paper.

The sound card has more features than the HDMI audio abilities of your graphics card, which is why I would use it; any quality differences are going to be the result of post-processing or level imbalance (in other words, one is putting out a "hotter" signal) EAX or any other post processing technique.

Post-processing does not really "improve" the sound quality. (for example Creative's X-Fi Crystalizer is a very fancy compressor, it changes the signal, that doesn't mean "better" or "worse", just changed)

I believe that the actual difference in sound is mostly subjective rather than objective.

One of the best ways to compare sound cards objectively, through SNR (signal to noise ratio).


In Techwarelab's report on sound cards showed that an onboard sound card is produce a SNR of 108dB versus 118dB of the D2X - very very small differences); nothing audible. Where it does get audible is when something malfunctions or isn't done right to begin with, and that's when the sensationalism has a place to go.

Of course, this is not to say sound cards are a gimmick, as I do not believe it is. Subjective listening is just as important. It just bothers me when I hear people say that the SQ is much better on a sound card versus a modern day on board audio (which has improved drastically over the years).

My research is still on going and I may or may not find things which invalidate my argument. Please feel free to share your thoughts.
Edited by youra6 - 3/12/11 at 6:08pm
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post #5 of 5
I agree that one of the best ways to test objectively is SNR. However, wouldn't it be possible for one DAC to produce a analog waveform that is slightly different than the waveform produced by another DAC. Both of these waveforms could have low noise, yet sound slightly different to the human ear.
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