Hi-end Audio on HTPC Builds

robrace

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Oct 19, 2013
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I'm just getting into the HTPC world and want to build an HTPC system to rip my music and DVD/Blu-Rays to an NAS (no gaming). My primary goal is high quality video and audio of the ripped product so that I can get rid of my 400-disc CD/DVD changer. As a result, I intend to rip these sources to the NAS in their non-compressed state. I realize that'll take a ton of storage but am not worried about that. Instead, I'm worried about the quality of the audio output on my hi-end audio system. Ripping my CD's as uncompressed files will give me an exact digital copy of the disc but how can I be sure that'll transfer through the HTPC to my amp/speakers? All of the HTPC builds I see online seem to gloss over quality sound reproduction. Any thoughts on whether I need an audio card and/or the brand of card found to do this task in a high fidelity manner?

Sorry for the newbie question but what steps can I take to make sure I obtain perfect playback of my uncompressed CD files on my audio system?

Great forum! Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

Regards,
Rob
 

nukemaster

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spdif can be either optical(a form of fiber optics) or coaxial(looks like a single RCA cable).

It would keep things digital right up to your amp(then it becomes analog as speakers are analog).

I actually use analog because it is easy to mess with(passive/active filters), but it is far from perfect in many ways.
 

nukemaster

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If you go with digital audio/video over HDMI, you should keep the sound/video quality. while many sound cards have extra features lots of times they apply to the analog outputs(something I am going to guess you may not be using.). Other features like volume leveling or equalizers would also change the sound. The weakest link it a digital system would be your DAC(in your amp)

I think you may well be happy with HDMI audio off the video card, if not. looking at high end audio cards(not gaming cards) would be another path to go. Again, you may wish to go with digital audio(optical if you can to prevent ground loops with your computer system[not a guarantee that you would have one with other connections.])

tourist, The upgradable opamp while a great idea will only effect analog audio(not trying to call the board or your suggestion bad). I think the opamps are only as good as the opamps in your system as well. I have tried different op amps and they all sound a bit different, but none sounded BAD as such to my ears.
 

nukemaster

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I would not have known had I not played with opamps in the past.

They generally use them to set the output voltage for analog audio(well they use them for 1000s of other things outside of audio). So if your dac puts out 0.5 v peak to peak and you need that up to 2 volts peak to peak(line level), you can use an opamp to get the required gain.

You can even make an inexpensive headphone amp with them. Tried it, works great(had to adjust the gain down as the default was WAY too loud for my headphones.).
http://tangentsoft.net/audio/cmoy-tutorial/
 

robrace

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Oct 19, 2013
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Nukemaster - a quick follow-up question: I keep seeing motherboards with S/PDIF audio-out connections. My audio system has optical-in so couldn't I just connect the two using that and get digital all the way from music on the HDD, through the motherboard, to my audio? Wouldn't that maintain perfect audio reproduction and give me CD-quality sound from my uncompressed ripped CD's? Thanks again for your advice!
 

nukemaster

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spdif can be either optical(a form of fiber optics) or coaxial(looks like a single RCA cable).

It would keep things digital right up to your amp(then it becomes analog as speakers are analog).

I actually use analog because it is easy to mess with(passive/active filters), but it is far from perfect in many ways.
 
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