Sound card questions for HTPC

Brickfoot7

Honorable
May 27, 2013
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I've been looking at building a simple 2.1 home theater and have a few questions before I start purchasing components. I have two receivers in mind, however recommendations are welcome. Yamaha RX-V867BL or the Yamaha RX-V475. From my research it seems the DACs in sound cards are of better quality than most low end receivers. If that remains true I was looking at ASUS Xonar Essence or the Creative Sound Blaster, bear in mind that I only have PCI-E slots available. My main question is, should I use the sound card for possibly better DACs or use one of my available hdmi ports on a gtx 770. Any comments on something I may have overlooked are welcome as well.

In addition here are the speakers I am looking at for the setup.
Polk Audio PSW Series PSW505
Klipsch Reference RB-51 II Bookshelf Speaker Pair

Thanks in advance.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
while it may certainly be true that a decent soundcard DAC may be better than low-end receivers (although this depends on the models in question too and all brands are not alike) you also need to remember that you will be needing an amplifier if you decide to use a soundcard since the headphone out jack just will not cut it for those speakers. even typical headphone amplifiers are not going to be enough for 75w (300w peak) 8ohm speakers. you will need a fairly hefty power amp for that and generally those are not cheap.

this means the use of a standalone amplifier and (preferably) the use of a line-out port on a soundcard to bypass the internal amplifier so that you do not doubleamp which would mean a higher %THD (although honestly it shouldnt be noticible to all but audiophiles)

will sound quality be better than a cheap receiver? probably. however, you will also spend much more in the long run as well.

a 2.0/2.1 receiver with enough juice to power the speakers is going to be reasonably cheap ($200-300 minimum) while buying a decent soundcard plus a decent amplifier is going to cost at minimum about $500-600 very likely. power amps are not cheap.

i myself use a pioneer elite vsx-30 receiver with my speakers to get sound from my pc ($550 receiver) for my klipsch quintet iv speakers ($500 set) and it works perfectly fine. we have a cheap sony receiver in the other room ($200) powering some sony floorstanders ($150/pair) and it also does a standup job.

while i certainly understand what you are saying about quality... is it worth a big boost in cost to achieve? receivers typically do not have a bad sound.

another way you could possibly go is a preamp+dac combo paired up with a poweramp. however, running hdmi output from your pc to receiver and passthrough hdmi for video to the tv is so much more convenient.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
while it may certainly be true that a decent soundcard DAC may be better than low-end receivers (although this depends on the models in question too and all brands are not alike) you also need to remember that you will be needing an amplifier if you decide to use a soundcard since the headphone out jack just will not cut it for those speakers. even typical headphone amplifiers are not going to be enough for 75w (300w peak) 8ohm speakers. you will need a fairly hefty power amp for that and generally those are not cheap.

this means the use of a standalone amplifier and (preferably) the use of a line-out port on a soundcard to bypass the internal amplifier so that you do not doubleamp which would mean a higher %THD (although honestly it shouldnt be noticible to all but audiophiles)

will sound quality be better than a cheap receiver? probably. however, you will also spend much more in the long run as well.

a 2.0/2.1 receiver with enough juice to power the speakers is going to be reasonably cheap ($200-300 minimum) while buying a decent soundcard plus a decent amplifier is going to cost at minimum about $500-600 very likely. power amps are not cheap.

i myself use a pioneer elite vsx-30 receiver with my speakers to get sound from my pc ($550 receiver) for my klipsch quintet iv speakers ($500 set) and it works perfectly fine. we have a cheap sony receiver in the other room ($200) powering some sony floorstanders ($150/pair) and it also does a standup job.

while i certainly understand what you are saying about quality... is it worth a big boost in cost to achieve? receivers typically do not have a bad sound.

another way you could possibly go is a preamp+dac combo paired up with a poweramp. however, running hdmi output from your pc to receiver and passthrough hdmi for video to the tv is so much more convenient.
 
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