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Unique Position - PC350's + Onkyo 7.1 Surround question.

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January 1, 2013 6:01:16 AM

TLDR: Need a soundcard with 7.1 surround + Headphone amp, or can I use 2 sound cards in the same comp (1 for surround / 1 for headset)


Ok,

I posted on here a few days ago asking for a card that would suit my setup. But, I wanted to ask if this would be a better route to go.

Currently I have my Onkyo S5500 7.1 Surround coming out of my onboard spdif port on an Asus P6T motherboard. I love the sound of clear, accurate music/sound/games.

I have already ordered a set of Senn PC360's based on multiple good reviews that I have heard. Ungodly bass is not a huge deal for me, as the sub from my Onkyo setup blows the roof off my house when turned up.

What I am looking for is a card with the ability to send a 7.1 signal, but would also love for it to have a built in headphone amp as well. Does that exist?

The idea that I then thought of was if I went the route of 2 sound cards, or is that even possible. Like Xonar DGX for the Headphones, and Xonar DX 7.1 for the surround?

Can anyone provide insight as to these questions pleeeaase? Would like to have a decent direction in which to go before the Headphones arrive in a week.

Thanks
January 1, 2013 6:27:29 AM

i have an onkyo tx-nr509 connected to my htpc with my warfedale speakers and 12" sub package, what is the 7.1 used for is it like 7.1 from movies or something like that or are you converting or dsp up to 7.1 from a lesser source eg music. if its movies you should be bitstreaming thru your hdmi to get best sound quality eg. dts-ma, dd-hd. dont use the spdif connection, by doing this you it is still getting converted to digital and back to analogue from memory either way its lossy and doesnt support the top quality formats. if its for music i would be letting the amp pull the music over its network connection as data then decode it itself then use onkyo's own dsp's. you should only be using the soundcards amp (analouge output) for headphones only, forget the spdif output its a dead technology! so dont worry about the 7.1 output on the soundcard top quality sound for your amp, sound should go to it as raw data no fancy soundcard required but a nice soundcard is recommended for your earphones because they are analogue and they will have to be driven by something so just worry about them when you are buying the sound card
January 1, 2013 8:18:01 AM

Ok, so I understood about 10% of that. Sorry I am new to all the acronyms you used. I DID get the end part where you said not to really worry about the Soundcard for surround sound.

I think I may have worded it to make it seem like I had a sound card, which I DON'T. The only reason that Spdif is being used is because I assumed that to be the best signal from my motherboard for sound.

Reading on the internet, I saw that the Xonar DGX does not encode true DTS-hd that what I have been hearing is Virtual 5.1 (or 7.1 in my case) from my onboard through spdif. I need a card that can run both encode 7.1 (for my Surround sound) and has a headphone amp to drive the Senn PC350's. I am still trying to find something capable of that, but if someone knows something, lemmi know.

HDMI seems like it would be the best option for the surround sound, just need something with a headphone amp in it too. Thanks! going to try and decipher the other parts of your post now!

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January 1, 2013 9:49:40 AM

aviconus said:
Ok, so I understood about 10% of that. Sorry I am new to all the acronyms you used. I DID get the end part where you said not to really worry about the Soundcard for surround sound.

I think I may have worded it to make it seem like I had a sound card, which I DON'T. The only reason that Spdif is being used is because I assumed that to be the best signal from my motherboard for sound.

Reading on the internet, I saw that the Xonar DGX does not encode true DTS-hd that what I have been hearing is Virtual 5.1 (or 7.1 in my case) from my onboard through spdif. I need a card that can run both encode 7.1 (for my Surround sound) and has a headphone amp to drive the Senn PC350's. I am still trying to find something capable of that, but if someone knows something, lemmi know.

HDMI seems like it would be the best option for the surround sound, just need something with a headphone amp in it too. Thanks! going to try and decipher the other parts of your post now!

nothing you have will every encode dts hd thats something thats done by the movie studios! and if your soundcard encodes something like 'dts connect' its basically just a dsp feed to your amp as a dts signal. what you need to do is decode, you need is a video card that can bitstream audio via hdmi anything from the 5 series amd (ati) (6 if you want bluray 3d) or i think 2 series nvidia personally i have a hd6450 ($30) in my htpc plays bluray 3d and bitstreams any audio you throw at it and obviously the appropriate software that will pass on the dts hd but this only affects bluray movies. i dont know how you have your stuff set up but if your amp is right next to you run your headphones off that, if not get a half decent soundcard for the headphones only and swap between the different sound devices (soundcard->headphones, hdmi sound -> amp use) depending on your needs. i think your amp will dsp 7.1 sound as good as any soundcard will :pt1cable: 
January 1, 2013 11:53:20 AM

When you say "amp" are you refering to the receiver?

As for Video cards, I have a Radeon HD6990 4GB edition, it has 1 x dvi output, and 5 mini-dp ports. I have no idea what this bit streaming is. I will definitely look in to that today. Will that card work if I get a mini-dp to Hdmi adapter? Currently, I am only working off of a CD drive, as I stream most of my movies. I tried to go the Bluray route with an LG internal Bluray drive, but it was defective, and I ended up returning and buy something else with the money. Thank you for clarifying the encoding and decoding, I must have misunderstood something that I read somewhere. I will look into the bitstreaming thing for the meantime since I am not expected to receive the headset until the 7th-10th.
January 1, 2013 12:21:24 PM

aviconus said:
When you say "amp" are you refering to the receiver?

As for Video cards, I have a Radeon HD6990 4GB edition, it has 1 x dvi output, and 5 mini-dp ports. I have no idea what this bit streaming is. I will definitely look in to that today. Will that card work if I get a mini-dp to Hdmi adapter? Currently, I am only working off of a CD drive, as I stream most of my movies. I tried to go the Bluray route with an LG internal Bluray drive, but it was defective, and I ended up returning and buy something else with the money. Thank you for clarifying the encoding and decoding, I must have misunderstood something that I read somewhere. I will look into the bitstreaming thing for the meantime since I am not expected to receive the headset until the 7th-10th.

when I said amp I meant receiver yes. By Bitstreaming i mean sending sound over as raw data, pure unaltered uncompressed etc data which the receiver decodes into the sound.this is less of an issue if your not doing bluray but yeah an active displayport to HDMI should do the trick.
January 1, 2013 12:23:32 PM

Alright, so I looked into bit streaming and it looks like something I can do when I do decide to get a bluray and start watching those on my PC. For the time being I am looking for more of 7.1 gaming/music/video streaming. I guess I could look into just some random 7.1 Sound card for my Surround sound, and just a headphone amp for the headset. Didnt know this was so complicated. Why cant they just make a 7.1 card that has a built in headphone amp too? Is that so hard?

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January 1, 2013 8:20:23 PM
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aviconus said:
Alright, so I looked into bit streaming and it looks like something I can do when I do decide to get a bluray and start watching those on my PC. For the time being I am looking for more of 7.1 gaming/music/video streaming. I guess I could look into just some random 7.1 Sound card for my Surround sound, and just a headphone amp for the headset. Didnt know this was so complicated. Why cant they just make a 7.1 card that has a built in headphone amp too? Is that so hard?

your not listening (reading) there is NO 7.1 music (unless its from bluray, doesnt exist!), streaming unless it is encoded with dolby digital-hd / dts-ma / dts-hd (once again bluray source) im 99.9% sure your streaming wont be, there is NO 7.1 source streaming and even then your have to have the right software configured perfectly to be able to receive these and no vlc and media player wont do these, gaming i havent really gotten into that yet (i prefer a decent set of headphone i find it alot better in my limited use, your senn pc360s are perfect!) but the moral of my story here is there is no 7.1 source (not sure with gaming) what you are hearing from a 7.1 sound card is a DSP or something like prologic II which in idiot terms is just sending the sound to the speakers required and adding reverb and echo based on predefined settings which your receiver is completely capable of doing on its own without a soundcard to do it for it (if your remote is like mine you will have 4 buttons in a row called movie/tv / music / game /stereo, this are your soundfields or DSP's, this is all your soundcard will be doing with the 2 channel source it will more than likely be receiving. do all this via hdmi and if your not wanting the true 7.1 sources dolby digital-hd / dts-ma / dts-hd which your only going to get from bluray more than likely you could probably get away with the spdif connection your using now u only need a decent sound card to power your earphones if they are to be running directly of the soundcard, if your receiver is sitting right next to you plug headphones into that use that to power your earphones! They only time you would need a 7.1 soundcard (which pretty much every motherboard intergrated one is these days) is if you were to be feeding the sound to your receiver over rca cables and if you were thinking about doing that you might as well put a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger right now. :pt1cable: 
January 1, 2013 8:43:16 PM

Best answer selected by aviconus.
January 1, 2013 8:45:41 PM

Awesome! That is a great answer! Thank you for being patient with me, as i'm new to the audio side of PC's! I appreciate everything you have said, and with that I will be getting a dedicated sound card for my headphones alone. When I do get a bluray drive, I will bit stream. Last question, will regular windows/game audio still work through bit streaming if I am not watching a Bluray? Thanks again!
January 2, 2013 1:49:48 AM

aviconus said:
Awesome! That is a great answer! Thank you for being patient with me, as i'm new to the audio side of PC's! I appreciate everything you have said, and with that I will be getting a dedicated sound card for my headphones alone. When I do get a bluray drive, I will bit stream. Last question, will regular windows/game audio still work through bit streaming if I am not watching a Bluray? Thanks again!

yes but you might be changing sound devices around a bit most programs will only allow one sound device to operate at a time
January 2, 2013 2:06:39 AM

I am fine with that. I would only be listening to either the Surround or the headset at any given time. Normally switch back and nforth through "Playback Devices" menu. If that is still how I will be switching over, then I am fine with that. Still need to find a Soundcard with (7.1 with Headphone amp (for the headphones)) not for the surround. Xonar Essence Stx has gotten really good reviews, and people are saying that Asus > Creative right now. Just need to look into that a little more, but atleast now I know what to look for, and don't have to worry about my surround sound anymore.
January 2, 2013 2:48:14 AM

aviconus said:
I am fine with that. I would only be listening to either the Surround or the headset at any given time. Normally switch back and nforth through "Playback Devices" menu. If that is still how I will be switching over, then I am fine with that. Still need to find a Soundcard with (7.1 with Headphone amp (for the headphones)) not for the surround. Xonar Essence Stx has gotten really good reviews, and people are saying that Asus > Creative right now. Just need to look into that a little more, but atleast now I know what to look for, and don't have to worry about my surround sound anymore.

still dont know why your so hell bent on 7.1 soundcard your soundcard has nothing to do with bitstreaming raw data,but good luck to ya
January 2, 2013 4:08:33 AM

7.1 is for Sennheiser PC350 headset alone, Not the Onkyo Receiver. I was under the interpretation that the headset was 7.1, but I think I am beginning to see that it is virtual 7.1. That is the whole reasoning behind most of this. I wanted a Sound Card that could drive the Senn PC350's with a built in Headphone Amp. Then I got sidetracked with everything else that was discussed. Please don't get annoyed due to my ignorance, i'm sorry.

Can a "5.1 Sound card" create a virtual 7.1 output? That is all I am trying to do. I want to get the best bang for my buck, push my headphones sufficently with the RIGHT card.

Completely disregard the card being used for my Receiver and Surround as I will bitstream from the 6990 as discussed (THANKS FOR THAT INFO BTW!! After I get a bluray drive of course.) While I am not using my headphones. Again sorry for the confussion, and continue to help me out, as I am learning so much.

Thanks again Jasont78!
January 3, 2013 4:30:25 AM

aviconus said:
7.1 is for Sennheiser PC350 headset alone, Not the Onkyo Receiver. I was under the interpretation that the headset was 7.1, but I think I am beginning to see that it is virtual 7.1. That is the whole reasoning behind most of this. I wanted a Sound Card that could drive the Senn PC350's with a built in Headphone Amp. Then I got sidetracked with everything else that was discussed. Please don't get annoyed due to my ignorance, i'm sorry.

Can a "5.1 Sound card" create a virtual 7.1 output? That is all I am trying to do. I want to get the best bang for my buck, push my headphones sufficently with the RIGHT card.

Completely disregard the card being used for my Receiver and Surround as I will bitstream from the 6990 as discussed (THANKS FOR THAT INFO BTW!! After I get a bluray drive of course.) While I am not using my headphones. Again sorry for the confussion, and continue to help me out, as I am learning so much.

Thanks again Jasont78!

you want your receiver to create the 7.1 output the input signal coming from the source (on your computer) be it music etc will be 2 channel and if it is otherwise that will be passed down through the hdmi cable anyways and your receiver will detect what that is and automatically switch to that anyways. most movies even bluray are only encoded in 5.1 the receiver figures out what to do with the other speakers on its own, by way of added surround delay etc etc.. for your headphones you could get away with a good 2 channel soundcard not that they exist. the sound from the hdmi cable comes from the videocard nothing to do with your soundcards
January 3, 2013 12:40:34 PM

Got it, so any decent 5.1 Sound card should still be able to create a virtual 7.1, but I likely won't notice a difference from a "7.1 Sound Card" and a "5.1 Sound Card"? And I understood that the HDMI has nothing to do with the headphones. Thanks again for the responses and patience.
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