As the title says, I'm looking for a card that'll decode 2 or more incoming surround optical streams on the fly. At the moment I have a Creative PCI-E X-Fi Xtreme Audio and it's pretty much convinced me never to buy Creative again. It was marketed as able to decode a single stream but when I bump the source up from stereo to surround I just get a high pitched noise.
I'm not entirely opposed to the idea of getting 2 cards, however it's not something I want to do if there's a way to do it with 1.
Hooking a PS3 and 360 to my HTPC and its 7.1 system is the goal, and cost isn't much of a limitation.
So, give me your suggestions because I'm coming up with mixed results, some cards say they can decode while comments and reviews show they can't, I've found 1-2 with 2 inputs but only one can be surround... Only Tom's can help now!
I'm not sure I understand what you're trying to do. I can't tell what you mean by "on the fly". There are active TOSLINK switches out there, like this one, that will automatically switch to whichever source is turned on.
Basically I'm looking to plug my PS3 and xbox into my HTPC, have them both set to surround, with the option to have them both outputting to my audio setup simultaneously though I could live with having a switch.
The problem I have with conventional sound cards is that many of them cannot decode the surround signal while on passthrough.
My primary audio output is a Razer Megalodin 7.1 surround system, however what I'm planning on using is an old-school 7.1 system that uses all the 3.5mm ports on my current Creative X-Fi Xtreme Audio.
Also, ps3 and xbox are just two examples, but everything that I have uses DTS-encoded outputs. Not everything is used simultaneously however there are instances where it may happen. I said above that I'm not opposed to using a switch if there's no alternative, but I'd prefer not to.
Upside to having your own place - no parents to annoy, and you can do all the wacky sound jobs you want
No known card decodes the signal coming in the SPDIF at all. There is a revealing thread about this very topic over at AVS. The most likely reason cited is, "it would allow you to make PERFECT digital copies of their media...." Just one more of the many reasons not to get a dedicated proprietary PC speaker system instead of a general-purpose AVR solution.