I watch a lot of videos I download on bit torrent as well as those I record off my PC TV tuner. I am not a gamer, but would love to improve my audio anyway for the videos I watch. I was told getting a soundcard would improve my audio. But can that work under my present arrangement? My arrangement is I have a mechanical switch for my video card to a 75 foot equalized HDMI cable that winds up at my television HDMI input jack. When I want to watch a video on my big-screen television I throw the switch to switch from my monitor by my computer to the television on the other end of the house. So I soundcard outputs strictly on the soundcard or can you direct them to HDMI outputs whether they be on a video card or motherboard?
Doing a search on the forum for an answer to this question I get answers that come very very close to the one I want to know. So let me ask very very specifically. Under Windows 7, were I to get a soundcard, could I right-click on the desktop to get a personalized icon I could click and then left click on sound to bring up another interface which gives me tabs on top to choose playback device and under playback device right-click on one of the playback devices to bring up properties and on that property see output of a HDMI output which is not on the back of the soundcard but either on the motherboard or video card? I just wanted the be that specific because I have not found the other answers here satisfying.
I just so happen to have been playing around with switching between the audio output on my geforce gtx 580 (via hdmi), and my X-fi titanium (via 7.1 direct).
I don't think there's anyway to get the x-fi to output hdmi. I've not seen a sound card that outputs hdmi.
As far as quality goes, the x-fi sounds better than the hdmi. It's not cleaner, but the sound card does let me tweak things a little more to my liking. I do think I could get the same effect if I played with my receiver (a harman kardon avr 1600), but it's easier to do on the card.
It's actually very painless to swap between the two in windows 7. All I had to do was go to the control panel, open the sound menu, and set whatever device I wanted to use as "default." I didn't have to uninstall any drivers, remove any hardware, or even reboot.
I was playing around because I wanted to see which sounded better, the video card or the sound card, and also to see if hdmi was a viable replacement for 7.1 direct.
In the end, I stuck with 7.1 direct and the soundcard. In the very best world, either sound cards would have hdmi output, or video cards would allow more tweaking of their sound device.
Another big problem for me is that the video card doesn't have an input jack, so I can't use it with a microphone for games.