Lossless audio for my htpc

Hi I have 2 questions (system specs below):

1) What do I need to get lossless audio (either pcm, dts-hd, or dd-hd) when i watch blue rays on my home theater system? Do I need a sound card for this, and if so what would be best. I'd really rather not spend more than $100 on a card if need be.

2) I'm trying to set up my hauppauge 2250 card (the one that doesnt come with the remote) on my computer for use as a dvr. The cable company said i need a set top box to watch HD channels which doesnt surprise me since they make me pay extra for the box. Is this really true? If so, I need a IR-Blaster/receiver to be able to use my Logitech Harmony 300i remote with and for the card to talk with the box. Can someone recommend one? The other thing I'm considering is trying to find a good htpc mini keyboard/mouse like the logitech dinovo mini which looks pretty cool but seems to have had a lot of problems especially considering how expensive it is. Any recommendations?

System specs:

HTPC: e8400 cpu, 4 gig ddr2 ram, radeon 4870 512mb graphics card, LG blu-ray writer/player, dfi lp dk x38 t2rb mobo with onboard alc-885 sound.

audio receive: pioneer vsx-d510 which has 5.1 analogue inputs and optical input but no hdmi. So i know that to get lossless I'll either have to decode it at the source and send over analogue or use dts-hd/dd-hd over optical and let the receiver do it, but I cant figure out if my receiver is capable of dts-hd/dd-hd.

speakers: 5.1 Jamo surround sound speakers with a pair of altec lansing 605b duplex speaker cabinets daisy chained to the 2 front channels.

Thanks for any help
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  1. 1: try using your spdif in pass-thru mode to your receiver.

    2: yes it true. The 2250 can only decode clear hd channels and most cable companies encode theirs. You could add in a card that uses a cablecard (that you rent from the cable company) which would decode their encrypted channels.. if your cable company has them. But they aren't cheap.

    2b: Well you could buy something like this remote that comes with an IR receiver (usb) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16880101008

    but the real trick is making sure its compatible with your Harmony.

    2c: take a look at the lenovo n5901 or newer n5902 (backlit keys and a trackpad instead of the ball)
  2. I did some more research on my receiver and I'm pretty sure it doesn't support the HD sound options so using pass through will only give me regular dolby or dts (which gets embedded in the passthrough mode anyway). So what I really need to know is can my onboard sound decode dts-hd or dolby-hd and if not what is my best sound card option for under $100?
  3. First and formost, the only way to pass lossless audio to/from a receiver requires an HDMI connection; SPDIF is incapable of carrying any lossless formats.

    The only soundcards on the market with native decoding of all the lossless formats are all over $100: ASUS Xonar HDAV 1.3, Auzentech Home Theatre HD, and Creative Titanium HD. Note these all also contain HDMI In/Outs, for receiving/transmitting those formats.

    Based on your description, you best option may be to go with one of the dedicated Home Theatre soundcards , and ditch the receiver.
  4. Right but assuming I did have one of those cards and it decoded the signal, shouldn't I be able to send that signal over the analogue cables to the receiver (which has 6 channel rca inputs) in which case the receiver would just be used as an amp?

    Also, where am I supposed to find these cards? They are listed in the search on newegg but all are discontinued except the creative titanium hd which doesnt say anything about dts-hd or dolby-hd decoding on the info nor does it have hdmi out (not that I can use hdmi out anyway with my equipment unless i want to use my projector for sound :-p). Amazon had the auzentech card for $200 but none of the others.

    Here's the link to the creative card on newegg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829102033 perhaps its the wrong model?
  5. Heres the problem: Why would you decode the signal on a soundcard, and THEN pass it to the receiver? Thats a waste, and degrades audio quality a ton. At that point, you may as well connect directly to the receiver via HDMI.

    I did goof on the Titanium HD; doesn't have HDMI In/Outs (I swear, theres too many soundcards on the market; I can't remember them all!)

    I wasn't able to find the HDAV 1.3 on Amazon, but I found the Auzentech HTHD easily enough: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002NJP6B4/ref=s9_simh_gw_p147_d0_g147_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=06P6RSCEFQPRDSVXWWTJ&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=470938631&pf_rd_i=507846
  6. the reason I wouldnt use hdmi is because my receiver doesn't support it, and I'd rather spend $200 on a sound card than $500 on a receiver and another chunk on a sound card since I don't have hdmi audio output on my htpc yet anyway.
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