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HTPC for audiophile multichannel audio and Blu-Ray/DVD playback
post Mar 6 2011, 04:17
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Hello everyone,

I'm planning to build an HTPC for audiophile multichannel audio and Blu-ray/DVD playback, with the following features:

- CD and HR audio: bit-perfect playback of 16/44.1, 24/48, 24/88.2, 24/96, 24/176.4, 24/192, in stereo and multichannel
- Blu-Ray Audio: bit-perfect playback of DD TrueHD and DTS HD MA converted to LPCM, up to 24/192, up to 7.1 channels
- DVD audio: bit-perfect bitstreaming of DD and DTS
- Video: high quality Blu-Ray HD and DVD video playback (directly from discs, no ripping here)
- Audio and Video output over HDMI to Marantz SR7001 AV receiver (Cirrus Logic CS4398 DACs for 7.1 channels, up to 24/192 per channel), which sends video over HDMI to a Samsung 46-inch full HD LCD
- Completely silent operation
- Networking: WiFi network access to audio files stored in a 2 TB USB HDD connected to a WiFi router (this router presents the USB HDD as a NAS to all computers in the network)
- Web browsing
- CD ripping capability
- Bluetooth/wireless keyboard + mouse

To meet these requirements I'm considering the following configuration:

- ASUS E35M1-I Deluxe motherboard: completely fanless design, includes ATI graphic processor capable of HD video and audio playback with PAP support for up to 24/192 audio. Also includes WiFi, Bluetooth and HDMI 1.3 output. Still unavailable.
- 4 GB RAM (OCZ LV 1333 MHZ DDR3, with heatspreaders)
- Sony Optiarc slim trayloading Blu-Ray/DVD drive (model no. BC-5500H-01)
- OCZ Onyx 32 GB SSD, just for OS and applications, as well as ripping CDs (these get transferred over the network to the NAS after ripping)
- Case: open to suggestions but considering a Silverstone LC19 (includes a fanless 120W DC/DC power supply)
- Keyboard + mouse: open to suggestions but a keyboard with integrated pad would be ideal
- OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit
- Music player/music library/ripping/tagging: MusicBee
- Blu-Ray/DVD player: PowerDVD (converts HD audio to LPCM)

I'd be greatful to ear your opinions and suggestions about this configuration. I'm especially interested in earing what you think about using HDMI for audio and the DACs in the Marantz receiver.




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andy o
post Mar 6 2011, 16:27
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HDMI for audio is pretty much the only option to get full digital multichannel audio out into your receiver. From my experience with desktop 4000 and 5000 ATI cards, they're the better ones regarding WASAPI exclusive compatibility, but I haven't tried neither last nor this generation's Intel (tried G35 which was a big failure though).

This post has been edited by andy o: Mar 6 2011, 16:27
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post Mar 6 2011, 17:20
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The Silverstone case includes a noisy little fan which is probably needed in order to maintain air flow inside the slim case. I suggest you look for a case that allows to mount a 120mm fan right above the mainboard/CPU. Decoupled and at ~500rpm these are virtually silent and ensure stable operation even in hot summers.
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