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Old 8th October 2004, 02:32 PM   #1
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Default cheap SPDIF-out sound card for music, movies, and gaming?

I'd like to add an inexpensive 5.1 surround card to my computer for music, movies, and gaming. Only catch is I need the output to be SPDIF so I can use my 5.1 reciever to power passive speakers.

Do most sound cards with SPDIF outputs let you pass all output--music, movie sound, and game sound--through the SPDIF? I don't want to buy a sound card and then find out that it only gives SPDIF output for DVD movies--I want all SPDIF all the time.

Also, any recommended brands and models?

Thanks,

Dart
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Old 9th October 2004, 03:25 AM   #2
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Cheap ($20) cards with CMI8738-PCI support 16/44.1/48 SPDIF with no resampling, they're 1999 designs so are getting pretty old by now, card vendors supporting optical I/O are Zoltrix, Chaintech, Hercules. I have used these with W98, there are XP drivers but I haven't used them. Installation can be fussy with crackles and pops in sound output, try lowest numbered PCI slot.

More recent sound cards tend to cost more and resample so AC3 passthru may not work.

There are other forums specializing in PC audio, this one is more about standalone digital audio DACs.
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Old 9th October 2004, 03:50 AM   #3
MWP is offline MWP  Australia
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Default Re: cheap SPDIF-out sound card for music, movies, and gaming?

Quote:
Do most sound cards with SPDIF outputs let you pass all output--music, movie sound, and game sound--through the SPDIF? I don't want to buy a sound card and then find out that it only gives SPDIF output for DVD movies--I want all SPDIF all the time.
[/B]
There is only one soundcard that will do what you want (DolbyDigital 5.1 out on the SPDIF always).
That is the NVidia Soundstorm system.
Its not avaliable on a soundcard, so if you want it, youll have to buy an NVidia nForce motherboard with Soundstorm enabled on it.

Every other soundcard with SPDIF out will do 2 channel audio during games, etc, and only do DolbyDigital 5.1 out while playing DVDs.
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Old 9th October 2004, 04:06 AM   #4
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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The old SB Live will do Dolby Digital 5.1 out for DVD playback. For regular sounds it's the usual 2 channel (uncompressed) audio over S/PDIF. It works out OK for my HTPC; I don't have to use the analog outs from the sound card at all. My surround processor automatically recognizes 5.1 or 2 channel PCM; I assume most receivers do that.
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Old 11th October 2004, 07:11 AM   #5
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Look for soundcards with this new
CMI8768 chipset.

Here's one such kind of soundcard offering.
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Old 11th October 2004, 12:56 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies, guys!

So let me make sure I have this right:

Nvidia soundstorm and CMI8768-chipset cards will pass DD 5.1 from DVDs and also convert game surround sound into a 5.1 digital signal my receiver will be able to recognize and decode?

Dart
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Old 11th October 2004, 03:26 PM   #7
MWP is offline MWP  Australia
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Quote:
Nvidia soundstorm and CMI8768-chipset cards will pass DD 5.1 from DVDs and also convert game surround sound into a 5.1 digital signal my receiver will be able to recognize and decode?
They will.
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Old 11th October 2004, 04:15 PM   #8
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Fantastic.

Thanks again for the help.
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