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Old 5th March 2011, 12:09 AM   #1
Bluto is offline Bluto  United States
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Default Where to begin here ?

I spend most of my time in speaker section.

I'll try and make inquiries brief.

In the last few years I've seen discussion here and there regards HTPC. As with all Audio everyone wants to argue
as to the best way to do this/that etc.

A few years back near all were agreed that any compressed sound simply stunk. Now I see Guys I respect on this/that Forum that once were amongst Naysayers touting same and low cost of HTPC vs. multitude of electrical devices.

Saw a reprint of some soundcard ( 7.1 ) on front page of one of the Audio rags a couple months stating it sounded every bit as good as huge buck Amps/Dacs/ whatever else your system is for a lowly couple hundred bucks.

I've searched all over for primers on getting into HTPC but as all that's electrical or Computer whatever is 6 months old is now a Dinosaur.

I'm really trying to be brief but truth is I don't know what I want to do because I don't know what I can do.

Some of these threads speak of eliminating your 7.1 receiver because you won't need it and you can eliminate your $1000 Oppo Bluray because a $100 PC Bluray will sound as good with the $200 Soundcard and process your DVD collection and SACD cd's just as well. You get all of this as well as the ability to use your PC on your 85" big screen TV as well as all kinds of menu's on that screen and you don't even have to buy a Squeezebox or similiar device to control the whole mess as long as you have a wireless keyboard where you sit !!

I basically don't need all I've purchased to date.

Again .... I find no accurate primer that keeps up to date anywhere. You Guys are light years ahead of the uninitiated.

1)I have a special needs situation. My Wife had a massive Stroke 2 years back and there are some programs for W11 or PS3 that will help Her so investing in 1 of these has to work with whatever I do.

2) I will no longer give Direct TV/Dish or any of these other clowns $70 a month for the junk they program. Come Spring an amplified tower antenna goes up and we join Netflix.

3) We own 3 PC's. All virtually antiquated but good enough for surfing/filing done primarily in the Office anyhow.

4) I don't want to invest in anymore equipment than what I need.

I don't know how to ask questions from there because it all blows my puny aged mind.

I'm willing to invest in HTPC but 1st thing is someone has to convince me that both Audio/Video is on par with separate components. I currently own a Marantz SR6001 and DV 6001 for processing and playback. I run tubes for 2 channel and would rather invest money into 2 channel sound for music but if you guys can convince me HTPC is a better route to go for 7.1 video/audio I'd have no problem selling the Marantz equipment to finance it.

I'm totally ignorant regards what hooks up to this n that. No joke..... pictures would help.

TIA
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Old 5th March 2011, 05:11 PM   #2
Bluto is offline Bluto  United States
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No one?
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Old 7th March 2011, 05:15 AM   #3
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You just have 2 questions...

1. Can a HTPC match a typical 7.1 receiver ?

2. Do you have to spend crazy money $$ to get the latest equipment ?


A =
1. With a fast enough PC (see answer 2) and the right PC , HTPC can exceed separates. The sound card is very important , at the $100-200 range ..Newegg.com - Computer Hardware,Input Devices,Sound Cards,$100 - $200
you are assured of better than receiver reproduction . The 50-100$ range also get you there but with less "frills".

The video card , because of massive 3-d gaming advances , will EASILY do any 1080p , blueray (blueray divx rip). Just get any dual channel ATI/NVIDIA card with 256m memory and the software will do the rest. Video quality is stellar if the PC is "fast enough"

2. The PC ... My main HTPC/server/internet box is 5 years old. Just 1 gig of memory , the first intel dual core processor (conroe E6300). I can surf , watch a 1080P. If I did have to play a blue ray , it would do so with less than 1/4 processing power (easy). The PC should be all "addon card" (separate video/sound card - no integrated). Dell's and HP's suck. Windows 7 will be needed to play native blue-ray content. XP is fine for DVD and audio.
The only issue with a HTPC is the need of an amp .... you need external amps for your sound card. You can source good 200$ 7 - channel HT amps on EBAY or build your own. I only have a 4.1 system and I'm satisfied.

Here, (below - R is HTPC/ left is panasonic 37" LCD) is pix of what I have had (3700 movies/120,000 songs) for 5 years.
Pix of the actual system is in "my stuff" (ostripper)

OS
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Last edited by ostripper; 7th March 2011 at 05:18 AM.
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Old 8th March 2011, 10:24 AM   #4
Bluto is offline Bluto  United States
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ostripper -

Thanks - You said alot there without saying too much.

Some of the 'it's easy' sites show 50 components and 5000 foot of wiring.

I'm reading on links you provided.
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Old 11th March 2011, 01:35 AM   #5
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Default where's that audio source?

I have just finished some pc based sound upgrades and i am happy with the results.
For me, I must have optical out. So then, the dolby digital processing must be external, but how big a problem is that? i have an obsolete marantz unit that has a six channel motor driven volume control! remote even. this was only $60 on the bay, plus it is hackable. i don't mind FLAC at all, but I am having problems getting files organized.

Three things drove me batty--1- the potential for ground loops.2. insane mini-plug connectors.
3-an outrageous variable noise floor coming out of a realtek 8- series chip. Are you kidding me? the optical adapter for asus or MSI mobo cost $7, free shipping on the bay.

Ground loop hunting is a zerosum game because the inherent computer GND.is tied to the house's safety ground. In hi-fi you don't want that.
i don't want to spend money. M-audio cards are out for me. Movie sound is a non aesthetic issue --I many ways Dolby pro is fine for whiz-bang. What i need is variable sub control, for different uses, so I have a marantz that has stereo sub crossovers @80Hz, which spares me from having to build that for the 2-Ch. world. just construct an amp and hook 'em up.

The latest offerings from AMD look super- An ultra-low wattage Mobo/chipset (like 2W), just add memory (which has gone way down (DDR3) This only about $ 150. Atsc Tv, I should say, is a drag. there's little on, and the urban reception is multipath plagued, furthermore dropped signals produce nasty blatting noises. There are high-tech fixes, such as your antenna project, but i refuse to do them (wires, wires everywhere)
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Old 12th March 2011, 02:40 PM   #6
theresa is offline theresa  United States
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Default AMD 6850 and Asus xonar essence STX

Quote:
Originally Posted by colwaiting View Post
I have just finished some pc based sound upgrades and i am happy with the results.
For me, I must have optical out. So then, the dolby digital processing must be external, but how big a problem is that? i have an obsolete marantz unit that has a six channel motor driven volume control! remote even. this was only $60 on the bay, plus it is hackable. i don't mind FLAC at all, but I am having problems getting files organized.

Three things drove me batty--1- the potential for ground loops.2. insane mini-plug connectors.
3-an outrageous variable noise floor coming out of a realtek 8- series chip. Are you kidding me? the optical adapter for asus or MSI mobo cost $7, free shipping on the bay.

Ground loop hunting is a zerosum game because the inherent computer GND.is tied to the house's safety ground. In hi-fi you don't want that.
i don't want to spend money. M-audio cards are out for me. Movie sound is a non aesthetic issue --I many ways Dolby pro is fine for whiz-bang. What i need is variable sub control, for different uses, so I have a marantz that has stereo sub crossovers @80Hz, which spares me from having to build that for the 2-Ch. world. just construct an amp and hook 'em up.

The latest offerings from AMD look super- An ultra-low wattage Mobo/chipset (like 2W), just add memory (which has gone way down (DDR3) This only about $ 150. Atsc Tv, I should say, is a drag. there's little on, and the urban reception is multipath plagued, furthermore dropped signals produce nasty blatting noises. There are high-tech fixes, such as your antenna project, but i refuse to do them (wires, wires everywhere)
I know its totally over kill but I have the AMD 6850 and the Asus Xonar Essence STX. I am totally satisfied with both. I do about 50% of my listening/watching with headphones so the headphone card is essential. The 6850 is used for all speaker use through it's HDMI. The HD68xx series has better support for hi def audio than the earlier series.
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Old 12th March 2011, 03:23 PM   #7
infinia is offline infinia  United States
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Forget PC soundcards ie low level single ended analog signals and PC noise floor issues is a nightmare. HDMI or optical with an external audio processors is the way.

Also agree with most 'colwaiting' thoughts.

start here look for HTPC Audio Windows 7 Media Center : Setup Guide, Knowledge Base & Support - AVS Forum
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Old 13th March 2011, 05:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluto View Post

3) We own 3 PC's. All virtually antiquated but good enough for surfing/filing done primarily in the Office anyhow.
What are the specs of your PCs - motherboard, cpu, ram etc.

No point wasting money if you can put them to use.

Regards
Mike
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Old 18th March 2011, 06:00 AM   #9
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I use a 1.8Ghz - P4 with a old soundblaster live in the "doghouse". Utter silence ,I can tweak the quietest sub 100db amp prototype without issue. Scope shows the soundblaster and the amp are almost dead even at over -95db. For audio, just a single processor ,almost 10 year old PC / with 512megs memory (XP-sp3) is quite sufficient .

OS
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Old 25th March 2011, 05:17 AM   #10
Bluto is offline Bluto  United States
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Thanks All!!!

I was seeing no response so hadn't come back here. Keep it coming - all of it helps!
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