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Sound Card Play from Other Sources

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September 28, 2009 10:28:04 PM

Soon i am going to be getting a Samsung T260HD and am going to be hooking it up to my computer for an upgrade to my current monitor and hooking it up to my AT&T U-verse Set-Top-Box (STB) to replace my old tube TV. I have a reasonably new set of 5.1 analog surround Altec Lansing computer speakers and i would like to pass the audio from the STB to my computers Sound Card via Optical Cable (TOSLINK) then to the analog speakers via the sound cards 3.5mm jacks (1/8" ). First...Can i even do this with my set-up?? I know that it wont always be 5.1 but if i am watching an HD channel i want to be able to hear it in 5.1 instead of the crappy built in speakers that the TV has. I need to find a good sound card with at least Optical Input and 5.1 Analog Output and be PCI or PCI-E. It would be great if it didn't cost more than $140 but a little over is ok. Also if it could be from a well known company like asus, creative, ect.

Thanks

Here is the order again: AT&T Uverse STB----via TOSLINK---->Sound Card----via Analog---->5.1 Analog Speakers

The Creative X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro fits my needs but does anyone have a better card (similar price) or one they liked better...Please Tell.
September 29, 2009 11:12:40 AM

Yes, this should work just fine once you have a sound card that supports toslink input.

I would, however, highly recommend against a Creative sound card.
Their products are junky, their drivers fail and the company has to many shady practices.
Instead, look into and ASUS' Xonar line for their excellent sound quality and support.

I would recommend the ASUS Xonar D2 (or the PCIe D2X, if it is priced lower when you purchase) which is currently $140 after MIR on newegg.
It offers the proper connectivity you require, a more featurefull setup and will sound MUCH better.

I can personally attest that even the lowest of the line, the Xonar Dx with a 116dB SNR, has a much better sound quality when compared to a Creative X-Fi product (109dB SNR).
Not only is the sound clearer and crisper, it just sounds right (kinda hard to describe until you listen to both side by side).
As the Xonar D2 (and D2X) has an even higher 118dB SNR and Burr-Brown DAC's, I would assume it sounds even better.
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September 29, 2009 1:23:44 PM

Some points:
1. I too am hearing about problems with drivers. I own the Auzentech Forte X-Fi which is a great card overall but it has issues with sound (apparently related to a problem with NVidia's NForce 4 chipset so it should be gone when I upgrade my computer but would I have a problem with non-Creative drivers?)

2. I tend to agree about considering Asus or another card. I think I'm going to set down and spend even more time reading about the pros and cons between cars; all audio cards seem to have pros and cons. I forget how great my sound card is sometimes until I listen to another computers with cheap onboard sound. Sometimes reviewers get so into it you forget that they really are great cards with minor issues or differences.

3. Although you may still want a new sound card you may wish to consider getting a set of Tritton headphones. Their 5.1 Surround sound headphones have a mini Receiver that takes in Digital audio and can output 5.1 to the eight speakers in the headphones or to analog PC speakers (as three 3.5mm->Stereo RCA for FRONT, REAR CENTER and Subwoofer).

I own a set of AX360 speakers. They work well but there have been minor issues reported like the volume control breaking but they have several models after mine now. Here's how you could set things up:

Tritton 5.1 Headphones and Receiver:

1) TOSLINK from STB to Tritton receiver
2) Digital Coax from Auzentech Prelude to Tritton receiver
3) Tritton Receiver -> Tritton 5.1 Headphones
4) Tritton Receiver -> Logitech 5.1 Surround system

*This method will play audio WITHOUT the computer so you can watch TV with OR without the computer on.
**A SPLITTER can be used for the digital audio to avoid manually switching (just mute the unwanted audio). It may also be needed if you have multiple inputs of Digital Coax or TOSLINK audio (adding a standalone DVD player).
***I don't believe the Creative Fatal1ty Pro supports BOTH digital outputs; just TOSLINK I believe whereas the Auzentech card supports either from the same output.

Tritton link: http://www.trittontechnologies.com/
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September 29, 2009 2:27:25 PM

Thanks for the quick replies. Photoboy that is a good idea but i don't really want to spend any money on a new set of headphones or on an external receiver, i would like it to be all internal. Outlw6669 are you completely sure that the sound card will decode the audio from the ATT STB in 5.1 and then pass it out through the analog? I need to be sure because if it cant then i don't need to get an expensive sound card. I also have been looking at the Asus cards more than the Creative but i asked about the creative one because it is cheaper than the asus ones.

Thanks
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September 29, 2009 4:58:50 PM

I see an issue here: 5.1 can only be transmitted via Dolby Digital/DTS (most STB's support Dolby Digital, so I'll use that for my example).

As SPDIF/TOSLINK can only transmit 5.1 with an encoded signal, the audio will remain encoded when it reaches the sound card. Unfortunatlly, most cards these days do NOT have a decoder, so that signal will go to waste. I know for a fact, ASUS cards do not have a Dolby Digital decoder, although I think at least some of Creatives X-fi's do. The last series of cards I know for a fact had decoders built in were the old Audigy2 line...

Assuming you're sound card has a decoder, you can do this:
STB -> SPDIF/TOSLINK -> Sound Card -> Analog -> Speakers
As the sound card would decode the signal, convert it to analog, and send each channel out to the speakers.

If you're sound card can NOT decode Dolby Digital, you would need something like this:
STB -> SPDIF/TOSLINK -> Digital Reciever -> Analog -> Speakers
Subbing the reciever for the sound card.
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September 29, 2009 4:59:35 PM

I should stress, a 2.0 signal from the STB would still work fine; its a 5.1 Dolby signal thats the issue...
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September 29, 2009 6:43:19 PM

Thanks Gamerk316 You have been a lot of help to me recently. You were the only one who had a useful response in one of my other posts. And again you were the most helpful. I guess now that is my only choice without going out to buy another expensive piece of equipment so that is what i'm going to do. I'll just have to deal with 2.0 while watching TV and get 5.1 while watching DVD's and music from my computer as long as they are 5.1 sources.

Thanks!
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September 29, 2009 10:40:54 PM

Now i need some good sound cards that will work well for gaming (i do game a little so it needs to be able to do 3d sound with the new EAX) but mainly listen to music and watch movies in 5.1. Less than $150 would be great.

I hate to say this but the Asus D2 wont work for me, Thanks for the suggestion. If i didn't game that would have been my choice.

Thanks for the help so far.
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September 30, 2009 12:15:43 PM

Out of curiosity, any reason why the D2 won't work?

And BTW, I only learned half this stuff a few months ago with my setup; I probably wasted a good $500 on stuff I didn't need :D 
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September 30, 2009 3:17:54 PM

I need a sound card that will support EAX 5.0 and Ive hear that it doesn't support anything above 2.0. But the X-Fi Prelude does. Did you like that card while you owned it? And that is why i'm using these forums to find the right card for me...so i don't have to waste tons of money i don't have, so thanks for doing that and sharing what you learned with us. :) 
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