IPB

Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )

 
Reply to this topicStart new topic
Realtek ALC889 vs ASUS Xonar HDAV1.3 vs Auzentech 1.3 X-Fi HomeTheater
julioposa2
post Sep 28 2009, 20:48
Post #1





Group: Members
Posts: 10
Joined: 26-September 09
Member No.: 73484



Hi all,

I'm going to build an HTPC and I'm concerned about audio quality. The idea is to connect the HTPC to my Yamaha A/V receiver through HDMI, so I'm considering three different alternatives:
- MOBO with a Realtek ALC889 chipset integrated and HDMI output
- Setup an ASUS Xonar HDAV1.3 HDMI in the MOBO
- Setup an Auzentech HDMI 1.3 X-Fi HomeTheater in the MOBO

The question is, would there be any difference in audio quality playback when bitstreaming over HDMI between the three alternatives? I assume that using the analog outputs will make a great difference between all, but what about HDMI? I raise this question because all these alternatives seem to have the same specifications, so "in theory", there would be no difference when outputting through a digital HDMI.

I would like to build a solution that stream bit perfect through HDMI, so I'm also concerned about ASIO/WASAPI support. I don't mind spending more money if that is translated to getting better quality. I don't mind audio recording, I'm going to use it only for playback.

I would really appreciate your help.

Best regards

This post has been edited by julioposa2: Sep 28 2009, 21:21
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Arnold B. Kruege...
post Sep 28 2009, 21:42
Post #2





Group: Members
Posts: 3797
Joined: 29-October 08
From: USA, 48236
Member No.: 61311



QUOTE (julioposa2 @ Sep 28 2009, 15:48) *
Hi all,

I'm going to build an HTPC and I'm concerned about audio quality. The idea is to connect the HTPC to my Yamaha A/V receiver through HDMI, so I'm considering three different alternatives:
- MOBO with a Realtek ALC889 chipset integrated and HDMI output
- Setup an ASUS Xonar HDAV1.3 HDMI in the MOBO
- Setup an Auzentech HDMI 1.3 X-Fi HomeTheater in the MOBO

The question is, would there be any difference in audio quality playback when bitstreaming over HDMI between the three alternatives? I assume that using the analog outputs will make a great difference between all, but what about HDMI? I raise this question because all these alternatives seem to have the same specifications, so "in theory", there would be no difference when outputting through a digital HDMI.

I would like to build a solution that stream bit perfect through HDMI, so I'm also concerned about ASIO/WASAPI support. I don't mind spending more money if that is translated to getting better quality. I don't mind audio recording, I'm going to use it only for playback.


Presuming that the audio output of your system would be via HDMI, it would seem that the quality of the A->D converters in the motherboard would be a moot point since they would be bypassed by the all-digital HDMI path.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
julioposa2
post Sep 28 2009, 22:05
Post #3





Group: Members
Posts: 10
Joined: 26-September 09
Member No.: 73484



Thank you very much for your fast response, Arnold. That's a very good point.

For the first option (MOBO with realtek chipset integrated), I was thinking on getting the Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H. Dunno if this is a good card for my purpose.

And for the two other alternatives, the HDMI port is integrated in the sound card, so it depends on the quality of the components each card integrates? I think the MOBO here does not make any difference in what respects to audio output.

What would you recommend?

Best regards,
Álvaro
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
odigg
post Sep 28 2009, 22:57
Post #4





Group: Members
Posts: 629
Joined: 25-July 08
From: USA
Member No.: 56264



I would recommended buying your motherboard of choice and testing it before trying to figure out if you need a sound card. Gigabyte makes good quality components and if I ever upgrade my current motherboard (a 5 year old Asus) I plan to by a Gigabyte.

Also, by testing I don't mean a test of "audio quality" as I strongly suspect that will not be an issue. You simply may find some other technical issue with the motherboard HDMI and your setup.

If all works as you want, spend the sound card money on something else or keep it in your pocket smile.gif

This post has been edited by odigg: Sep 28 2009, 22:57
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Audible!
post Sep 29 2009, 05:08
Post #5





Group: Members
Posts: 532
Joined: 28-June 03
From: CA, USA
Member No.: 7426



There shouldn't be a difference between the options, but...
What OS?
Will you be gaming much on the machine?
I would check out your software playback options for any "gotchas" with the options you're considering.
Would you buy a different motherboard if you go with the sound card?

Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Glenn Gundlach
post Sep 29 2009, 06:09
Post #6





Group: Members
Posts: 369
Joined: 19-April 08
From: LA
Member No.: 52914



QUOTE (julioposa2 @ Sep 28 2009, 13:05) *
Thank you very much for your fast response, Arnold. That's a very good point.

For the first option (MOBO with realtek chipset integrated), I was thinking on getting the Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H. Dunno if this is a good card for my purpose.

And for the two other alternatives, the HDMI port is integrated in the sound card, so it depends on the quality of the components each card integrates? I think the MOBO here does not make any difference in what respects to audio output.

What would you recommend?

Best regards,
Álvaro


I have 3 Gigabyte mobos with AMD Phenom processors and the Realtek codecs from which I use the analog outputs. All 3 machines are recording HDTV roght now and have no problems surfing the web while in record. I have not made formal measurements of the audio but after working in broadcast and consumer hi-fi since 1972, I find nothing to complain about. The noise level is so far down that I believe their 106 dB claim.

Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
andy o
post Sep 29 2009, 07:46
Post #7





Group: Members
Posts: 1325
Joined: 14-April 09
Member No.: 68950



QUOTE (Audible! @ Sep 28 2009, 21:08) *
There shouldn't be a difference between the options, but...
What OS?
Will you be gaming much on the machine?
I would check out your software playback options for any "gotchas" with the options you're considering.
Would you buy a different motherboard if you go with the sound card?

Actually there is plenty of difference... I've been battling HDMI on the HTPC for years now, and just now it's getting exciting (maybe "decent" is a better word).

To the OP,

I haven't tested XP, but I'll assume you have Vista or Win 7 (which if you don't, I suggest you move to for HTPC use).

The Gigabyte's HDMI device is not a Realtek device. The 889 is the analog device in that mobo. The HDMI device is an Nvidia 9400. I have used a 9300, which is the same with a slower clock. Nvidia is horrible with their HDMI audio drivers. At first on a 7.1 system, they had the rear surrounds and side surrounds swapped. Then they fixed it, only to swap them again on the latest driver (which by the way you have to dig really deep for... the one on the Nvidia site is usually not the newest). It is a mess. Also, on my 9200m GS laptop, the HDMI device is only 7.1 channel and stereo capable, no 5.1. WASAPI exclusive doesn't work well, not even close.

The Xonar and Auzen are equivalent more or less, but both of them require specific players for bluray bitstreaming of "HD" audio (Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD MA), TotalMedia Theatre and PowerDVD 9 respectively. PowerDVD 9, I have sworn off, there's a lot of bugs, and Cyberlink is not consumer friendly at all, I've used PDVD 7.3, 8 and 9, and with 9, finally I had to return my license because it sucked so much. Starting with 7.3, they started taking out features with every build (update), which in turn you required to play the newer bluray discs. This is one of the many reasons I recommend getting AnyDVD HD for bluray playback. It's the single most useful piece of software in my HTPC.

Arcsoft (Total Media) is more consumer friendly, but their program is also buggy. The fact that you need one specific program for the cards is just wrong in principle anyway. You can still get up to 7.1 LPCM, but with the Xonar (the Auzen is still in the air whether it does this) you can get WASAPI exclusive to work in bypassing the Windows mixer, but it doesn't bypass the Xonar's control panel, where you have to set manually number of channels and sampling rate. There is no automatic switching, so pretty much negates the practicality of WASAPI exclusive. With the ATI 4000 cards, right now WASAPI exclusive works the best. The Auzen is far more overpriced than the Xonar, which now offers an HDMI-only Slim model. Even the one with the "daughter card", the HDAV deluxe, is less expensive than the Auzen one because the Auzen doesn't come with PowerDVD 9 included (besides being more expensive as well). PowerDVD 9 will cost you another pretty penny, which it's not worth it.

There is no reason to buy any of these though, right now. They're too expensive, and the Nvidia 9400 is an old chip, notwithstanding the bugs. The recent ATI 5800 series and the upcoming rest of the 5000 series have bitstreaming capabilities of HD audio, basically making the Xonar HDAV and Auzen Home Theater HD overpriced if bitstreaming is your goal, and with stuff like WASAPI exclusive it's probable that the 5000 series will work even better than those (like the 4000 series already does). The new CPUs from Intel with GPU incorporated (Clarkdale and Arrandale) will also have an HDMI device with bitstreaming capabilities.

Personally, I am OK right now with an ATI 4670, but I have to jump through some hoops to get non-downsampled audio (which is not a big deal anyway), and have to use a specific build of PowerDVD 8 (2217) which has the least bugs. Newer builds of 8 and 7.3 (which gets parallel updates), and version 9 which came along long after the "usable" builds of 7.3 and 8 came out, suck, especially for HDMI LPCM audio.

Since the 5800 just came out, we're waiting for confirming reports on what its capabilities are. We know it can bitstream with PowerDVD 9, but they haven't said it's only limited to one player, and there's hope that it will allow directshow decoders to bitstream as well. Same with Clarkdale/Arrandale, only those we know work with TMT. It's just getting mainstream right now. I repeat, I would not buy any of those options you mentioned above, they're outdated. The 9400 in age and capabilities, and the Xonar and Auzen in price.

This post has been edited by andy o: Sep 29 2009, 07:58
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
andy o
post Sep 29 2009, 07:52
Post #8





Group: Members
Posts: 1325
Joined: 14-April 09
Member No.: 68950



BTW you can read these threads. Sorry they're long, been up a while as you can see. I've already said how things stand right now, probably the most useful information you're gonna find in the coming days is on the 5000 thread.

PowerDVD 9


Gigabyte GA-E7AUM-DS2H Thread (NVIDIA 9400 mATX HDMI 8 channel LPCM)

ATI 4000 thread

Xonar HDAV1.3 and Xonar HDAV Slim

Auzen Home Theater HD
(this one has useful information in the later pages, there's much more rumor and speculation cause it was delayed for more than a year).
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
julioposa2
post Sep 29 2009, 20:58
Post #9





Group: Members
Posts: 10
Joined: 26-September 09
Member No.: 73484



Thank you very much for your responses, you have helped me a lot.

The OS I was planning to install is Win7, which I think handle the sound better than XP. My intention is to build an HTPC just for audio and video playback, and maybe some gamming (depending on the GPU capabilities).

Finally I will wait for the ATI 5000 series, as the current alternatives don't seem to be mature enough on audio bitstreaming.

Maybe I buy a Sonos solution + NAS in the meanwhile just for stereo audio playback, and leave the HTPC for films, gaming and internet. I have read that the Sonos audio quality for stereo seems to be far superior to any HTPC alternative. Is that right?

Thanks again for your help.

Best regards
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
odigg
post Sep 29 2009, 21:17
Post #10





Group: Members
Posts: 629
Joined: 25-July 08
From: USA
Member No.: 56264



QUOTE (julioposa2 @ Sep 29 2009, 15:58) *
I have read that the Sonos audio quality for stereo seems to be far superior to any HTPC alternative. Is that right?


Probably not. Many evaluations of "audio quality" are done in uncontrolled conditions and loaded with biases and placebo. Many modern motherboard onboard sound chips measure well and have great audio quality. The caveat is that some have some noise when music/video is not playing or at low volumes.

The Sonos *should* have excellent quality so that's not something to worry about.

This post has been edited by odigg: Sep 29 2009, 21:18
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
andy o
post Sep 29 2009, 23:11
Post #11





Group: Members
Posts: 1325
Joined: 14-April 09
Member No.: 68950



I think the Realtek chips are pretty good, especially the 889. Asus used to use the better ones before (I had the P5W Deluxe), but now it seems only Gigabyte uses them a lot. If the OP already has this chip, should be fine in the meantime for analog audio. For stereo, SPDIF should work pretty much the same as HDMI.
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
julioposa2
post Sep 29 2009, 23:48
Post #12





Group: Members
Posts: 10
Joined: 26-September 09
Member No.: 73484



Thank you for the fast responses.

Does it mean that I can get the same/similar audio quality for stereo output using these boards/sound cards and using a Sonos/Squeezebox player?

Best regards
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
andy o
post Sep 30 2009, 00:54
Post #13





Group: Members
Posts: 1325
Joined: 14-April 09
Member No.: 68950



For stereo, you can choose to keep it digital, just like with HDMI, so what Arnold said above applies here as well, the D/A converter on your mobo doesn't matter. If you have a receiver already (I assume at least you're planning to get one since you ultimately want HDMI multichannel), I would think you can use WASAPI exclusive with SPDIF in the same way, and avoid unnecessary resampling on the computer (WASAPI exclusive if working all right, should change your sampling rate according to the source, automatically).
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
julioposa2
post Sep 30 2009, 20:30
Post #14





Group: Members
Posts: 10
Joined: 26-September 09
Member No.: 73484



Thank you very much again, Andy.

So if I understood well, if the sound chipset is integrated in the MOBO and the HDMI port belongs to the graphic card, then the sound will be converted from digital to analog to pass it to the GPU, mix it with video and then output it through the HDMI port, so there will be two conversions, one from D/A and another from A/D again. In this case, if there is a SPDIF belonging to the sound chipset, then this will be a better option than HDMI.

I'm really concerned about static noise, cause this is a pain if it's audible.

Also, how can I find out it the sound card/MOBO supports WASAPI before buying it?

Best regards
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
odigg
post Sep 30 2009, 20:47
Post #15





Group: Members
Posts: 629
Joined: 25-July 08
From: USA
Member No.: 56264



QUOTE (julioposa2 @ Sep 30 2009, 15:30) *
So if I understood well, if the sound chipset is integrated in the MOBO and the HDMI port belongs to the graphic card, then the sound will be converted from digital to analog to pass it to the GPU, mix it with video and then output it through the HDMI port, so there will be two conversions, one from D/A and another from A/D again. In this case, if there is a SPDIF belonging to the sound chipset, then this will be a better option than HDMI.


Andy can probably give you a better answer, but there should be no conversion to analog anywhere inside your computer if you are using HDMI out. The conversion will be done on your TV/receiver, etc. There should be no issue with static/noise.

The only analog signal you will get is if you use a stereo (headphone/speaker) out.

This post has been edited by odigg: Sep 30 2009, 20:48
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post

Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:

 



RSS Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 23rd September 2014 - 05:54