Should I bother getting a sound card for SPDIF?

blue92lx

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Apr 27, 2015
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I know this is a subject almost beat to death but I can't really find a definitive answer. So currently I have a Logitech Z506 speaker setup and I'm thinking about upgrading to the Energy Take Classic 5.1 system and a 7.1 Denon Receiver.

My motherboard is an MSI 890fxa-GD70 with the Realtek® ALC889 chip that seems adequate but I've never used a sound card so I don't know if it'll make a difference. The description on the onboard audio state:

"....Only MSI offers the Loss-less 24-bit/192KHz HD Audio function with an incredible 109 SNR dB value to provide the most clear & vivid HD audio quality and support 7.1 channels..."

My motherboard has built-in Coax SPDIF and Optical SPDIF.

So my questions are:

1) Is the onboard audio adequate, or would I actually gain a difference if I spent ~$100 on a sound card?

2) Would a sound card really benefit the SPDIF connection to the receiver vs the onboard SPDIF to the receiver?

3) Is there a difference in quality if I use Coax or Optical SPDIF to the receiver?

4) I also have an NVidia GTX 770 with HDMI, should I just use the HDMI to the receiver for audio or would SPDIF from the onboard audio be better?

5) Would it be better to opt for a sound card with Analogue RCA jacks?


Thanks for all of the help, I know there are a bunch of subjects on this but I can never really find the answer I'm looking for.
 
1 & 2. If your mobo has spdif connections then you would not get any improvements with an external soundcard unless the mobo is so old it won't support the surround sound codecs you want to use that the soundcard does support.
3. Generally coax is considered better than optical. The one advantage of optical is that it isolated the receiver from the PC and this can reduce digital noise from the PC getting into the receiver.
4. The HDMI connection will transmit lossless audio from your PC which the spdif connections will not so if you use BD discs or have files with lossless audio you want to use the HDMI. Otherwise no difference.
5. On movies no. For gaming there might be some special processing that a gaming oriented soundcard would have.
 
1 & 2. If your mobo has spdif connections then you would not get any improvements with an external soundcard unless the mobo is so old it won't support the surround sound codecs you want to use that the soundcard does support.
3. Generally coax is considered better than optical. The one advantage of optical is that it isolated the receiver from the PC and this can reduce digital noise from the PC getting into the receiver.
4. The HDMI connection will transmit lossless audio from your PC which the spdif connections will not so if you use BD discs or have files with lossless audio you want to use the HDMI. Otherwise no difference.
5. On movies no. For gaming there might be some special processing that a gaming oriented soundcard would have.
 

blue92lx

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Apr 27, 2015
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OK that's what I was wondering. I'm picking up the speakers tomorrow and then I'll be ordering a Receiver on Amazon. So when I get the receiver I'm going to use HDMI for the audio through my GTX 770 video card. I'll go from there and see how everything does. Thanks for your reply!
 
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