southrncomfortjm wrote:As I said, Dolby Digital Live is for realtime encoding of all sounds, including normal app and game sounds. Since this HTPC seems to be a strict TV and media playback machine, you don't necessarily need this. All you need is the ability to bitstream DD/DTS-encoded data (mind you, if your media files/discs do not contain such data then this does not work) over the S/PDIF port from the sound device to the receiver over an optical cable.I like the Asus USB Xonar. I just want to be sure that my receiver will be able to use that to output 5.1. I don't know what Dolbly Digital Virtual Speaker, Live or anything else listed on the Asus spec page means really. This may be an obvious question, but will DTS work at all since it is not listed?
southrncomfortjm wrote:This means the software can decode DD/DTS data into "PCM/wav" 5.1 sound. That is for people outputting audio using the 3 analog 3.5"mm jacks out the back of their computers (and need a speaker set or receiver that can take 5.1 analog inputs, which your receiver lacks). You need the software to not touch DD/DTS data and just send the data direct (ie. bitstream) through the S/PDIF.I also like the Creative USB Adapter, I just have the same questions as the Xonar above based on the specs. I think I like this option best, though I am concerned by the statement "DTS & Dolby Digital Decoding via free PowerDVD Download" on the amazon page. What does that mean? Can I only get DTS/Dobly surround sound using PowerDVD?
southrncomfortjm wrote:The product page does not mention much, but once I downloaded the manual there is this interesting bit:The Turtle Beach option seems decent, I am just concerned by the "virtual" tag being thrown around with it. That sounds a lot like Pro Logic II.
So this looks promising. The "external system with decoder" is your receiver, your linked manual already said it can decode both formats. It is down to software that can bitstream the data directly from files/discs.The digital audio output may be used to transfer multi-channel audio to an external system with built-in 5.1 decoder for Dolby® Digital or DTS™ formats. DVD playback of Dolby Digital or DTS signals requires a software DVD player that transmits this audio format.
southrncomfortjm wrote:I actually think that cheapo SYBA linked in your first post can do the job too, as long as you have the software. Unfortunately you missed your chance from the very beginning. Better research when you bought your components, including revealing to us in your build thread that you have an old receiver, would have saved you this trouble now. We would not have approved your Biostar board and will suggest one like Chrispy_ has suggested above. It is not like your Biostar is that much cheaper without that S/PDIF port.Price doesn't matter between the three as long as I'm getting the one that works, or should work, better.
If you can afford to buy a new receiver, then of course get one that can take HDMI inputs with audio. You may find some cheaper (<$200) in the used market. The one twist here is that for older, used receiver you should not get those that has "HDMI passthrough/switching", since that means they can only take video over HDMI. You need a receiver that can take both video and audio signals, since your fundamental problem is you don't have the ability to output audio over S/PDIF.
What cjcerny said is pretty spot on. What you need is not any encoding/decoding on the sound device itself. You want the receiver to do the work of decoding digital surround sound data. I see 3 kinds of media that will be played on your HTPC:
1. Recorded shows. I am not too familiar with this one, but assuming you are going through Windows Media Center, then according to cjcerny the recorded files should contain surround sound data (assuming the broadcast gives you surround sound in the first place) and WMC will bitstream over native output. So just adding the S/PDIF output and selecting it as your default sound device should suffice.
2. Downloaded media files. The most popular format in this area is MKV files with DD/DTS sound encoded as a track. That you need playback software. I believe AC3Filter can get used to get Windows to bitstream the encoded surround sound data via S/PDIF. I used MPC-HC and K-Lite pack to accomplish this.
3. DVDs. Cjcerny said that PowerDVD can bitstream the sound tracks. So I think you are good as well.