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Use an HTPC to eliminate the receiver?
ledhed2222
post Sep 6 2010, 22:48
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I'm in the process of choosing parts for my first HTPC. I realized that there should be a way to "cut out the middle man" that is the A/V receiver assuming you could find a soundcard with a good DAC and DTS-HD/Dolby TrueHD onboard decoding. If such a thing exists (or were to exist), I don't see why you'd need a receiver anymore; you could just use an amplifier, which would be much cheaper. The only hang up might be source selection if you have a record player or radio, but that can be resolved too.

Does anybody know if such a soundcard exists?

Has anybody tried to replace their receiver with a computer?
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LANjackal
post Sep 7 2010, 16:28
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One of the primary functions of a receiver is source switching, which PCs are still largely incapable of. However, if the PC is your only source, you could comfortably drop the receiver.


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probedb
post Sep 7 2010, 17:08
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You'd still need power amps.
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SCOTU
post Sep 7 2010, 23:52
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QUOTE (LANjackal @ Sep 7 2010, 11:28) *
One of the primary functions of a receiver is source switching, which PCs are still largely incapable of. However, if the PC is your only source, you could comfortably drop the receiver.


There are standalone HDMI (and other format) switchers that are reasonably cheap and I would imagine it wouldn't be tremendously difficult to wire them to a computer to control them (if you had some programming knowledge).
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ledhed2222
post Sep 8 2010, 05:07
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@ probedb I know I'd need power amps, but amps are cheaper than receivers

@ LANjackal/SCOTU, yeah it's the source switching that would be a problem. For me, that would just be my record player, which I could get around using the audio inputs and some passthrough software.


It's a compelling thought, I've always thought receivers were over-glorified and mostly too expensive.
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LANjackal
post Sep 8 2010, 15:58
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QUOTE (SCOTU @ Sep 7 2010, 17:52) *
There are standalone HDMI (and other format) switchers that are reasonably cheap and I would imagine it wouldn't be tremendously difficult to wire them to a computer to control them (if you had some programming knowledge).
I assumed he was asking for an out-of-the-box solution, not a hack. There's a difference.


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SCOTU
post Sep 8 2010, 16:16
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so if the only source is the HTPC itself and maybe one stereo audio input (no extra video inputs) the solution is easy. TrueHD and DTS-MA are both decodable in software so if you have videos/blu rays with those audio, you can just play them on the HTPC and dump out analog audio to your amp. Windows has a built in passthrough for your other audio source. PCs have everything built in that you'd need for a "reciever" for only itself and one other stereo audio input.
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DVDdoug
post Sep 8 2010, 21:00
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QUOTE
@ probedb I know I'd need power amps, but amps are cheaper than receivers
It's usually the opposite! wink.gif I got my 5x100W home theater receiver "on sale" for about $100 USD. Maybe you can find a bargain amplifier, but a 5 or 6 channel amp (or 3 stereo amps) usually costs several hundred dollars.

Amplifiers tend to be specialty items marketed to audiophiles & pros, whereas receivers tend to be mass produced & mass marketed. Smaller production volume means higher production costs for amps, and the target customers are willing to pay more than the "average consumer".

P.S.
I don't know what's available, but I think you can find a soundcard with the features you're looking for. One of my motherboard-soundchips supports Dolby AC3 (but not DTS or Dolby HD). And as SCOTU suggested, your DVD/Blu-Ray player software may be able to decode the audio to work with any 5.1 channel soundcard.

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Sep 8 2010, 21:11
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Notat
post Sep 9 2010, 01:53
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Yes, ledhed2222, check your assumptions. I think you'll find that DVDdoug is right.
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ledhed2222
post Sep 9 2010, 08:15
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Well $100 for a 5x100 amp is better than $500 for a 5x80 receiver that does TrueHD. But I see your point (and Notat's). However, if you look on the used market–ie audiogon–I still think you can find some deals.


The main point here is this: if you're already planning on connecting a PC to your stereo to do all the things an HTPC ought to do, the receiver starts to feel redundant. Maybe multichannel amps are more expensive, but they usually have better amps than receivers do...right? I still think there is a possibility to save a lot of money here.....
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Pepzhez
post Sep 9 2010, 12:58
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I wouldn't look to the high-end hi-fi market for much of anything, particularly amplifiers. Underneath their shiny, excessively overpriced exteriors there is nothing special going on there (aside from the ludicrous price tags). Look instead to pro sound equipment, which by necessity is (usually) built to get the job done properly, and at a realistic price level. Compare, say, a lower end $300 QSC 2-channel studio amp to a $1500+ "audiophile" amp and see if you can think of a better way to spend the $1200 difference. Don't take my word for it. Investigate for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

Will the "audiophile" amplifier look nicer? Invariably. Will it perform any better than a workhorse studio amp? Not bloody likely.
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probedb
post Sep 9 2010, 16:29
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Why is 5x100 better than 5x80? Have you actually tested any lower end receivers to see if you can tell any difference with higher end ones? That would mean they're cheaper, you can also buy second hand. I'm not sure why you see the receiver as a problem?

If it is *just* for a HTPC and you have no intention of ever wanting any other inputs then maybe you can just hook the 6 channel analogue outs into one or more power amps (depending on config).

A receiver is just more flexible overall. I'd rather have a HTPC and let the receiver do the decoding.
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80sman
post Mar 8 2011, 14:07
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Msi released an htpc platform based on this idea. It was called the media diva. It was unfortunately doomed by msi using cheap motherboard components and a lack of uptake from Joe public.

I have one at home, it's great for music and blurays played directly from the computer. But as has already been suggested it's no good for amping an input, I'm left with a small lag when amping tv input. I've also found it difficult to get all the aspects of an htpc, getting them to play nicely together.

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