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Can sound cards substitute for receivers?

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March 9, 2006 5:34:32 PM

For a home theater PC, can a sound card replace replace the receiver for driving surround sound, assuming I have seperate power amps?
March 9, 2006 8:21:02 PM

No. Soundcards are a preamp, they increase voltage only, they aren't capable of brute force driving heavy wattage, unless you find a sound card that does have speaker power-wire outs, but even then, it's not going to match a receiver or seperate amplifier.

The soundcard is a DAC with some voltage gain capabilities--it can't drive passive speakers on its own.
March 9, 2006 9:58:06 PM

Ok...so, if I want to use the PC for HomeTheater, I can go two routes if I understand you. In BOTH cases, the PC acts as TV Tuner, and DVD/CD player.

In case 1, PC as preamp/source drives a bunch of seperate amps (ie. bryston or some such).

In case 2, PC as acts as a SOURCE for a traditional surround sound "receiver" i.e Yamaha.

Do I have it?
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March 9, 2006 10:08:35 PM

Dude, he said if he has seperate amps!

The answer is yes, I've never seen a real home audio amp that used anything BUT low level inputs.
March 9, 2006 10:40:55 PM

Yes I misread the post.

You can use the PC in the case that you have seperate amps, but noise level may be a bit higher (more EMI because the computer case has so many electronic parts).

Also you will need to get a media player that can decode the primary surround formats--DD, DTS, etc; usually only the "deluxe" versions of DVD software will actually feature this.

HTPCs are more of convenience than anything, getting seperate stand-alone parts will usually assure lower noise levels, both source playback and operation (computer disk drives can be rather noisy).

That said, I do own an HTPC : >
March 9, 2006 10:57:45 PM

Good save!

Or use an nforce 3 with the nforce decoder setup (dolby digital 5.1 and DTS decoding built in I believe), whatever that thing was called....I don't think nforce 4 has it anymore.
March 9, 2006 11:12:40 PM

Soundstorm with select nForce2 boards. And it was a pretty early version of DDL, the noise levels were a bit higher (not to mention it was onboard). It's not really something you are going to want to do unless you are willing to run a Athlon 2100+ Tbird max...maybe stick a 7800 GS in there.

Hah! Good fun.
March 9, 2006 11:18:38 PM

Hah, I was off an entire chipset series! That's why I live with my SB Live! and Audigy :) 
March 10, 2006 6:53:14 AM

Don't listen to astrallite, he's clueless. Have you ever seen Norm on the TV series Cheers? That's astrallite.

The problem you'd have with using your sound card direct to amp is finding an amp with multi-channel analog inputs, unless you bought a DDL card and settled for 5.1, in which case you'd only need an amp with 5.1 digital input.
March 10, 2006 6:55:05 AM

Looking at astrallites re-formed answer, I take back half of what I said about it.
March 10, 2006 7:04:01 AM

D.P. :oops: 
March 10, 2006 7:06:37 AM

Crash you dork :tongue:

The only real application I would see to benifit would to have a cheap amp running some cheap speakers (most $100 HTIaB) or maybe somthing out of your garage :wink: . That or running very powerfull speakers that need huge amps, somthing a normal reciever cant boast. But a reciever or other pre-amp components could still be in the loop for some processing and junk and stuff.

All depends on your applications buddy.
March 10, 2006 7:10:06 AM

Quote:
Don't listen to astrallite, he's clueless. Have you ever seen Norm on the TV series Cheers? That's astrallite.

The problem you'd have with using your sound card direct to amp is finding an amp with multi-channel analog inputs, unless you bought a DDL card and settled for 5.1, in which case you'd only need an amp with 5.1 digital input.


He's using seperates. Analog out to each channel. Analog sound card will be optimal for this situation.

Two votes of clueless! Elmo and now Crashman. I have a fan club now.
March 10, 2006 3:21:51 PM

Here’s0 the whole problem: what’s best? Soon, very soon, I will be making the completely gratuitous purchase of new PC. This will be of the Athlon X2/7900GTX/Raid 1+0/2 Gig RAM variety. I’ll be adding folly to idiocy by buying a phat widescreen Samsung DLP or some such.

Understand that this lunacy is driven solely and exclusively by the desire to experience Nerd Nirvana while playing the soon to be released ElderScrolls: Oblivion. My wife, HATES it when I PC games, but she tolerates it. If, however, I go out and drop 8 large on a new gaming system it’s going to cause one of those marital rifts that, really and truly, is not something to joke about.

Here’s the thing. There is going to be an accident. Perhaps I will slip on a rollerskate while holding a heavy object. Perhaps there is going to be a little midnight mischief involving a soldering iron and a “sizzle POOF”. Either way, the 1998 vintage TV is going. Ditto the 1992 DVD player and 1989 era VCR.

If I replace it with a bigscreen, it’ll be some noise, but nothing too extreme, and of course the new media goes without saying. However, if I then buy a whole new PC and hook it up, well Virginia, we’ve got war.

On the other hand, if I buy new PC that can REPLACE the DVD player, act as a “downstairs” machine allowing us both to simultaneously check email, and pipes in the TV she might suspect something is amiss, but I can sell it.

Here where this forum comes in. I do not yet have surround sound. What I have is a parasound pre-amp and 2 channel amp from the “Dolby Digital” pre 5.1 days. I could probably score some 75w amps from ebay for rear and center, using the current power amp to drive the front speakers. I have two really good Klipsch speakers for the fronts, a couple of heavy, good quality “bookshelf” speakers that I’m not now using that would go to the rears. I also have a 50w subwoofer active subwoofer. Now MAYBE I could ebay the parasound pre-amp for enough scratch to get a good “surround sound” receiver, but I doubt it.

So, what I’m after is this argument, “Gee honey, we need a new TV and the boy put a PB&J in the vcr while standing on the tray of the DVD player. That’s all expensive, but we get off a lot better because this here PC can do ALL THE STUFF the DVD player and surround system can do AND it picks up the wireless so you and I can check emails at the same time and….”

Question is, what’s the most cost effective way to get that game PC hooked up to the big screen while achieving good sound quality AND making it look like it’s actually something other than a way to simply play Oblivion in Geek Glory?
March 10, 2006 5:11:48 PM

Just get a cheap jvc dolby digital receiver and jack the speakers into that and the computer straight into the tv (for video) and the receiver for sound (of course). Based on the speakers you're using, you won't get an optimal surround experience anyway, and mixing amps will only make the coloring worse (very objective here), so no need to put a lot into it. Plus most people can't tell the difference on surround channels that have non matched speakers. Samsung DLP is THE way to go!

I used the "hun, the boy through his cup of milk in the vcr/dvd/cd player" then I told her she could play her games on it too :) 
March 10, 2006 11:28:59 PM

Lucky you and your new flat screen. I output my PC to a regular 30" CRT flatscreen TV for media use occasionally and the screen tearing is annoying as hell, because the NTSC refresh rate is 59.4hz. This means I get an extra frame every 17 seconds that looks like the image gets pulled apart in opposite directions =/

Anyways, value your stuff. New toys are nice but I think you shouldn't fall into the slipperly slope of constant upgrades, unless of course your stuff is so old its getting ready to fall apart.

And I too am getting ready for Oblivion : > Bethesda is like my halfway relaxation point between each Bioware release, I'm still waiting for Dragon Age for the last 5 years...

Too bad things like dual wielding, cloaks, and eastern weapons haven't made it to Bethesda's priorities list, so another two more years of waiting for Dragon Age...

Oh yeah you can't buy/learn skill points anymore...I guess its time to run around constantly pressing space bar to jump to get agility up : >
March 11, 2006 5:33:19 AM

Quote:
For a home theater PC, can a sound card replace replace the receiver for driving surround sound, assuming I have seperate power amps?
YES look for ECHO sound cards There mainly used for recording but you can plug them strate into amp/house stereo
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