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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 2013-12-09, 11:21 AM Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
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HTPC Sound Cards

Good day folks.

I thought you guys would have some great advice on sound for HTPC. Please forgive my clumsiness as I try to explain what I'm doing, I thought I knew a bit but it seems I've got much to learn.

So, I've long used my on mother-board sound card with a SPDIF (coax) output plugged into a Sony receiver that provided me DSPs that I was satisfied with for two speaker sound.

I'm testing a pair of Onkyo soundbars that are able to 'read' Dolby Digital input. When I plug my PC's coax out into the thing I assumed that my computer handled decoding every audio format under the sun before pushing it out the Coax output on its on-board sound card, it seems I'm mistaken.

The Onkyo soundbar's processing never 'sees' DD coming in from my PC. I tested some MKV files that use DD or DTS... I get a lot of noise or no sound at all coming through.

Does this mean I'm need of a new soundcard capable of decoding Dolby Digital? What about DTS? Can the soundcard handle downscaling it to a generic DD format? Or will this require some new software to run the video files through? I'm presently using VLC player. I have no special codecs that I know of.

In order to output Dolby Digital and to playback MKV files that may support DTS (that I'll need converted to DD) what do I need that I haven't even thought of yet?

Please let me know what my best options are and thanks for reading my rambling post.
Wayde is offline  
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 2013-12-09, 12:33 PM
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The soundcard is not usually doing any DD decoding during video playback. It normally just passes through the audio that is received from the player.

I believe VLC has some resampling/re-encoding options for the sound so it is possible that you may have it setup to output something that the sound bar does not support, like DTS.

As a quick check, connect the coax to the receiver and make sure that it says "DD" as the input format and then immediately switch it to the sound bar. If it doesn't play, then there may be something else going on.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 2013-12-09, 12:57 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayde View Post
I tested some MKV files that use DD or DTS... I get a lot of noise...
That is usually a sign that your player sends a digital stream that is not recognized as such (aka needing decoding) and is played as PCM...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayde View Post
Please let me know what my best options are...
What OS is your HTPC running?

If it's Windows 7, you need nothing but Matroska splitter to play MKV files with DD, DD+ or DTS soundtracks and mpeg2/4 video.
Leaving it to your Onkyos to decode the audio (WMP will send DD instead of DD+). If it is not Win7 - upgrade to it...

Double-click Sound in control panel and set the proper playback device.
With some sound cards you have to do this using their dedicated app...

Who should do the decoding, how the audio should be transmitted, using amps or AVRs, etc. is audiophile talk.
You can get to it later when the basics are setup and working...
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 2013-12-09, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, this is great info here. I am using Windows 7.

I am going to check my VLC player settings and see what it says.

jvincent - makes perfect sense to me, I should have thought of it that way that the sound card isn't one decoding, it's the receiver.
Wayde is offline  
post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 2013-12-09, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the suggestions.

I am testing this out now that I'm home. VLC media player has a setting in Audio Preferences to "Force Detection of Dolby Digital".

I downloaded some .m2ts files from Dolby that are DD test demos. I play them with VLC and Win Media Player but there is no sound. The Onkyo DD light comes on indicating that it detects the presence of a Dolby Digital signal coming in and must be trying to decode it.

I'm not sure why it won't present sound. I switch to Internet radio or a standard 2-channel audio source and it plays just fine.

Could it be a Windows setting? I'm going to dig through my control panel and see if I don't have something disabled in there as a next step.

Thanks for any clues.

Wayde
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 2013-12-09, 06:15 PM
 
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What motherboard? What soundcard? What outputs? What drivers?

Does the soundcard have its own control panel? What's the default output?

Does stereo to external speakers work? To the soundbar (red/white coax)?

Volume control? Mute button?
four is offline  
post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 2013-12-12, 07:02 AM Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the line of questioning Four.

I have solved it by fiddling with drivers and software players. Asking myself the questions you pose is a good start to troubleshooting.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 2013-12-12, 11:13 AM
 
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I'm glad it helped...
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