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Old 3rd March 2008, 08:49 PM   #1
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Default Need help on Toslink SPDIF out on fan-less compact PC for DAC?

I've searched though the archives but only found bits and pieces of info.

I was just in my garage and found my old (2003) Shuttle SB51g fan-less mini computer and thought of maybe using it for a media/audio unit. It not too old and has a good fast hardrive, 1.5gb of ram and an OK processor 2.1 GHz Intel P4 with a built in soundcard on the motherboard . It was a suped up mini AutoCad station at the time but taking out the Matrox Video card because of excessive fan noise.

The help/question I need answered is: It has (2) Toslink SPDIF ports, one out and one in on the motherboard. Can I use the SPDIF out on the motherboard for digital out to my DAC? Will just dropping in the ASIO driver solve my problems? I'm pretty much in the dark in this area.

If so, what else do I need to make this a good audio player? Foobar software or XXHighend, Good DAC (I have a EAD DSP-7000 & PS Audio Digital link III on loan), XP Pro OS. What else?

I looked at the motherboard manual and there is nothing mentioned about the Toslink except where it's located on the motherboard and which one is in & out.

I appreciate the help and sorry if this has been answered before.

Cheers
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Old 4th March 2008, 09:50 AM   #2
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just get the optical cable and plug it into the dac.

Start with media monkey, move upto foobar+asio and then onto xxHE if you think you need it.

it should be as simple as plugging it in.

Rip everything with Exact Audio copy, it takes longer but sounds marginally better on the majority of discs.

Flac is ther way forward for file format.
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Old 4th March 2008, 04:20 PM   #3
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Basically good advice, but if the onboard chipset is made by realtek (and a lot of other vendors) everything gets resampled in hardware and this cannot be defeated - if you are interested in bit perfect output you will need a better sound card.

The Chaintech AV-710 uses the Via Envy chipset and is capable of outputting unresampled spdif signals, and best of all it is available very inexpensively. Several of my friends use these.

I use an M-Audio Audiophile 2496 pci (also a via envy chipset based card, but higher end) which when properly configured will even pass HDCD subcodes unmolested. (Around $100 last time I checked.)

Otherwise this sounds like an ideal pc for media serving.

Use EAC to rip bit perfect wav files to your hard drive, newer versions even include the ability to rip directly to flac.

I recommend flac lossless compression, it's well supported in both windows based media players and Linux. In extensive listening tests I and several friends were unable to detect any difference between the original wav file and the flac encoded version.

Avoid windows sound and use ASIO to avoid windows kmixer and the resampling and other bad things it does to audio.

I use J River Media Center 12.4 and have been using earlier versions for several years. It's quite robust and resistant to crashes - not something I can say for all media players I have tried. (It's not opensource, shareware or freeware, license is just under $40, and there is a 30 day trial period before you have to buy.) Just about every media format imaginable is supported (not sure that Apple Lossless is supported, although Apple AAC with DRM is) as is ASIO.

Here: www.jrmediacenter.com/

WinAmp, Foobar, and QCD all support flac. All support ASIO, although my recollection is the version of Foobard I used didn't. Currently it is supported. I have not experiemented with xxHE, but have heard very good things about it.
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Old 4th March 2008, 04:45 PM   #4
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Thanks both for the info.

I was hoping not to hear that. Looking in the manual it says audio is Realtek ALC 650 with supported 5.1 channel audio. So there's no way to by-pass the on-board sound card?

CPU:Intel Pentium 4/Celeron; 478-pin
Chipset: Intel 845G/ICH4
Max RAM: 1.5GB
Audio:Realtek ALC 650 supports 5.1 channel audio
Support Digital SPDIF In/Out
OS: MS XP Pro

Article link: http://www.hothardware.com/printarti...?articleid=154

It's was actually a great little box but have not wanted to start cracking on it & reformatting the hardrive...etc till I got the facts. It only has one PCI & one AGP slot, I need to get a graphics card for Tivo type usage (hard to find a good one in AGP w/o fan) and I guess I now need to get a sound card, bummer. I just hate buying gear for an old box.

It looks like Chaintech AV-710 is not available anymore. Anyone know if the Turtle Beach RIVIERA 5.1 card works for bit perfect output ?

I will actually be connecting the audio portion to a fairly revealing set-up and hoping to build a good PC setup to hear what it's like. I'm more of an audio person than a PC.

Any other help is greatly appreciated even though it's basic stuff.

Cheers
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Old 4th March 2008, 05:03 PM   #5
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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Quote:
Originally posted by mr_macgee
Thanks both for the info.

I was hoping not to hear that. Looking in the manual it says audio is Realtek ALC 650 with supported 5.1 channel audio. So there's no way to by-pass the on-board sound card?


Any other help is greatly appreciated even though it's basic stuff.

Cheers
This is exactly the audio chipset in the Asus mobo in my media server, it actually sounds very good through the spdif output (to my surprise) however I was never able to get it to pass unresampled audio to the spdif output either. (No HDCD playback with my HDCD capable dac - and another dac indicated it always output 48kHz sample rate. None of this was very clearly spelled out in the specs and might reflect driver limitations more than hardware. The Realtec 850 in my desktop sounds much worse incidentally.) The Chaintech I mentioned - the AV-710 is less that $30 and will do what you need at the minimum. You can shut off the onboard sound in the bios.

Search for the AV-710 on eBay or half.com - there might be a few around. Most of the surround sound cards cannot do this. Cards from EMU, M-Audio, ESI and others can. If you can't get one of these I would stick with the onboard spdif until you can.

Avoid Creative, afaik none of them use defeatable resampling.
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Old 4th March 2008, 06:00 PM   #6
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Thank Kevinkr,

Shopping around for soundcard, the Chaintech av710 is no longer around except there's one on eBay $55 incl ship. The Turtle Beach RIVIERA looks like it can fit the bill but would like to find out first if it will allow perfect bit output.

http://www.newegg.com/product/produc...82E16829118103

Will 1.5gb of ram be enough?

Will a graphics card with HDMI get in the way

How about Windows XP Pro?

Seeems I'm just jumping hurdle over hurdle tying to use old gear. Hate to go through all this work on this box and find out my iPod gives out better sound.

Cheers
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Old 5th March 2008, 01:39 AM   #7
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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My server started with 512M or ram, and after several years I upgraded it 1GB, it makes some things noticeably faster, and I do use this server for tivo like activities as well as an audio source.

I use WinXP Pro, works as well as any version of windoz..

I can't say what the Turtle Beech Riveria is capable of, but I bet bit perfect output is not one of them. Unless you need 5.1 or 7.1 I would buy one of the few cards that is known to be able to in this regard. You would think with Dolby and DTS pass through that unresampled stereo pcm would be possible, but in the case of the Realtec and probably the chipset in this card its usually not. The non audio flag is set in dolby and dts audio streams which allows it to bypass the usual processing. The low maximum sample rate of 48kHz is a warning, and the fact that it does not mention any other supported sample rates is a concern. Sorry to belabor the point.

See my old server thread here:

Digital Audio Music Server

There is a wealth of useful information for building a media server on XP Pro and what is now obsolete hardware...

Certain boards built around the Via Envy 24 can output bit perfect spdif, but this not a common feature on consumer grade audio cards.

M-Audio Audiophile 2496 and 24192 do, many ESI models like the Julie (discon long ago), and older EMU cards like the 0404 and 1212. (Model # IIRC) And the previously mentioned Chaintech AV-710.. Used Audiophile 2496 are not much more expensive than the AV-710 you found quoted for $55 perhaps less.
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