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Sound through a graphics card.

These 2 questions I'm about to ask are probably stupid, but I just haven't been able to find the answer when searching on google. Anyway I just bought a Geforce 580 graphics card and wanted to hook it up to my home theater system. I want to have it so both the sound and the video are passed through the HDMI cable, and from what I understand the newer nvidia cards can do this. However I am just wondering if this will have any noticeable affect on performance? I can't imagine it would in this day and age, but I don't fully understand how they are able to get sound to pass through the video card. Right now I have a stand alone Creative XiFi xtremegamer sound card that works well, but I'm having to use an SPDIF cable with it; which from what I understand cannot do HD audio formats that you'd find on blu-ray (I want to get a blu-ray drive for my computer sometime this year).

My second question is I am thinking about buying a lower end video card to just do physx. Assuming this card can also handle sound, would it be possible to output sound through this video card even if it was a dedicated physx card? This is more for curiosity's sake as I doubt I'll end up doing that anyway.

Thanks in advance for your help!
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  1. Best answer
    No, i don't think audio pass-through affects actual performance as the actual audio de-coding is done on the CPU/sound card and then simply sent through the graphics card's HDMI output alongside the video signal.

    SP-DIF, from my understanding, outputs to 5.1, HDMI supports up to 7.1. So if you have a 5.1 setup then you have nothing to worry about.

    In regards to buying a dedicated Physx card, don't waste your money, seriously. The 580 is seriously potent and will have no problem on physx, especially if your resolution is 1080.
  2. SPDIF can carry one of three formats:
    2.0 PCM [uncompressed audio]
    5.1 Dolby Digital [possibly 6.1 Dolby Digital EX...]
    5.1 DTS

    Also, its possible that using either onboard or even the GPU passthrough might offer better audio quality, as the ExtremeGamer is REALLY getting on in years now...
  3. Thanks for the replies guys, that definitely helps. The GPU came in last night and everything seems to be working well on it. My AV receiver does show the sound being passed through it as PCM and it does seem to sound slightly better then my old sound card. One thing I am noticing though is that it takes a second or two for the sound to actually kick on when I first start doing something that requires sound. So for example when I do the test tones in windows 7 it plays a little short 2-3 second test sound, and I only hear the last half second of it or so. Or if I open up itunes and play a song the first second or two of sound won't come through. Despite this though the sound does seem to be synced up just fine, it just seems to take a second or two to actually kick on when you first start to play something. But if the sound stops for even a little bit and comes back there is that little 1-2 second delay before it'll come through (even just pausing a internet video and resuming after 20 seconds causes this). This isn't a big thing, just something I noticed, but is there anything I can adjust or something that'll help alleviate this a bit, or is this normal for this type of setup?
  4. I'm honestly not too familiar with sound pass through, perhaps it is something you could contact the vendor or Nvidia about, they may be able to help more.

    Just as a point of interest however, my home theatre setup in my living room involves the use of an AMP/source switcher going out to a sub and 5 satellite speakers, when sound is playing, the same effect happens in that the first second or so will not be heard, but after that it's just fine. So unless it's massively bothering you, and so long as it's working perfectly otherwise, i wouldn't really consider it a point of contention.
  5. That's pretty much how my setup is too. I didn't think it was a big issue, I just wanted to confirm it wasn't a sign of something else. I've only had a home theater system for a couple months now, so I'm still learning the ins and outs of it and everything. Thanks for the help.
  6. I remember hearing someone talk about this once, not too terribly long ago.

    I think it's something like: this feature is to remove the annoying hum/buzz that's produced by the digital to analog conversions by shutting off the signal when there's no sound being produced.

    I want to say it's part of the Nvidia's passthrough, but I honestly wasn't a part of the conversation and don't remember the details. If I catch or remember anything else, I'll be sure to let you know.
  7. Best answer selected by GlutusMaximus86.
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