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Audio/Soundcard question

Last response: in Components
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February 1, 2010 1:34:50 AM

I just recently received a Dell XPS Studio 8000 desktop for Christmas. I love the system, but I have one need that the system cannot accomodate out of the box and don't know who to ask to find a solution.

The computer is basically our bedroom home theater system. It is running Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit and is using the Dell 24" monitor that it came with and is now also connected to an LG 32" 1080P HDTV. We watch Blu-Ray movies using the the Blue-Ray drive it came with on the LG and it looks great. It sounds good, too, using the on-board sound (I'm not sure what it is using because I have realTek software managing it and also Soundblaster X-Fi software -- guess I should have looked into that more before it was purchased).

Anyways... we have a Comcast HD Tuner that pulls in our TV signal. It is connected to the LG TV using one of its HDMI ports, but the sound currently comes out of the TV only. I want to route the audio from the HD tuner (using either the digital coax output or the S/PDIF optical output) to the PC so that the sound will come out of the PC's speakers (Bose) BUT I cannot do this because the PC does not have an S/PDIF or digital coax input jack. It does have an S/PDIF output, but obviously that will not get the job done.

The computer has one free PCI slot available. My question is: Is there any type of expansion card I can get that will allow me to connect digital audio from my HD tuner to my PC so that I can route the sound out of my computer/computer speakers, whether it is an actual soundcard or not? And if it has to be a soundcard, what PCI (not PCI Express) soundcard out there will do what I need? Outside of the digital audio inputs, I have no real demands on the sounds as I am not an avid gamer or anything like that.

I emailed Creative Labs, but they pointed me to their X-Fi Titanium which is a PCI Express card and obviously will not work.

Any ideas at all?

Thankk BIG TIME for your help,
Andy
February 1, 2010 7:41:17 AM

The HT|Omega Striker looks to be a quite good option for you.
It is a standard PCI device and has both a coax and optical input.
For its $90 price, it really is a quite feature full card.

I would recommend avoiding Creative's cards if at all possible.
They have sub par performance, are over priced and have terrible driver support.
There are many better options out there at every market point to counter Creative's offerings.
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February 1, 2010 4:54:26 PM

In 2005 I would have gone to my grave swearing that Creative cards were the best out there for most non-professionals... but debacle after debacle has convinced me that it's indeed time to expand my horizons.

Referring to the card the above poster mentioned...

http://www.thinkcomputers.org/old/index.php?x=reviews&i...

That sounds like the perfect card for your application.
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February 2, 2010 9:48:26 PM

Thank you so much for your assistance! I looked and looked and looked and couldn't find anything. Now it looks like I have one option as I looked at the diamond card that was mentioned and I saw a lot of user feedback that said the 7.1 sound was not digital.

Outside of the HT Omega card, are there any others out there that will do what I need it to? (Just curious -- and it certainly doesn't have to be from Creative, although I couldn't find an option from Creative that would do what I wanted to do and fit in my machine at the same time. I did find the titanium 7.1 but was only available in PCI Express and the Soundblaster 5.1 Live, but I don't have an empty 5 1/4" empty drive bay to accomodate the front panel jacks which not surprisingly include the digital inputs :(  ).

Thanks again, gang! I will now sleep better knowing that I do have at least one option!
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February 2, 2010 10:51:57 PM

anarvey said:
... Now it looks like I have one option as I looked at the diamond card that was mentioned and I saw a lot of user feedback that said the 7.1 sound was not digital. ...

Don't believe everything you read (I know that that paradoxically includes this). The "reviews" on Newegg need lots of salt. Use the C-Media driver and you'll be fine.
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February 3, 2010 9:55:38 AM

anarvey said:
...I looked at the diamond card that was mentioned and I saw a lot of user feedback that said the 7.1 sound was not digital.

I believe you are mixing up their reference to Encoding as Decoding.
While it certainly is true that the Diamond card can not Encode a 5.1 signal over the digital output, it should have no issues Decoding the signal as in input.

Decode = Processing an external digital signal and outputting it as analogue.

Encode = Processing an external OR internal digital signal and outputting it as Dolby Digital or DTS for a receiver to decode.

If you can afford it, I would recommend looking into a better sound card.
Even if this card can work for you, it is a quite inexpensive solution and will not have very good sound quality.
anarvey said:
...Outside of the HT Omega card, are there any others out there that will do what I need it to?

Yes, there are quite a few.
Which one is best for you would really depend on your budget, speaker setup and how high quality you would like to make the sound.
The Striker is a pretty good compromise between a lower price and better sound quality.
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February 3, 2010 11:02:43 AM

Agreed with outlaw; the HT Omega Striker and ASUS Xonar D1/DX basically rule at the sub-$100 price range. Both use simmilar C-media chipsets, so it comes down to feature sets really. All of these have Coax/Optical inputs [The ASUS cards use coax, but come with coax/optical converters] and will suit your purposes.
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February 3, 2010 11:05:10 AM

The D1 and Dx only have optical output ;) 
Otherwise they would also be excelent choices.
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