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Old 01-14-12, 04:41 PM   #1
Mr Bigman
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Default Using Optical Out in HTPC With Xfi.

Kind of curious as to if their is a difference in quality or sound when using optical out
on these sould cards.
http://us.store.creative.com/shared/...1JXLrG4elL.jpg
Or:
http://okidoqui.com/popup_image/pID/618882

The difference is about 100 bucks between the 2 and usually makes a big difference when playing games, but in this case, its for the HTPC. So if i upgrade to the better quality xfi, will it make a difference when using optical audio?
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Old 01-15-12, 11:12 AM   #2
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Default Re: Using Optical Out in HTPC With Xfi.

Eh... looking at the two pics, I can't tell what the difference is between the two sound cards. Are they different brands or what? I would suggest responding back and telling us what the two sound cards are, manufacturer and model.

Having said that, I think both cards have an optical cable out. I suspect both will sound good and if that is what you want then both will suffice. However, the XFi cards generally do a good job at 5.1 sound and will off load more of the mixing from the CPU compared to other sound cards. I'm not sure if that alone is worth $100 though. Ultimately, your wallet combined with the amount of time you spend playing games will make the determination.
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Old 01-15-12, 12:27 PM   #3
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Default Re: Using Optical Out in HTPC With Xfi.

If you're only gonna use pass-through and optical out for movie watching etc, there won't be any difference.
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Old 01-15-12, 02:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: Using Optical Out in HTPC With Xfi.

Optical is better than analog for sure, but optical is old school. Most HTPC builds today use HDMI audio. Almost all modern graphics cards include an audio component in their HDMI output.

I have 3 HTPC's in my house, and for one I just bought a passive cooled Radeon 6450 for $44 and it has HDMI output with bitstreaming support for TrueHD and DTS-MA, as well as high def video acceleration compatible with XBMC and it works great with blu-rays.

I haven't used a sound card in years; they just aren't necessary anymore.
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Old 01-15-12, 10:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: Using Optical Out in HTPC With Xfi.

True, but is the quality of the audio from the HDMI good enough to that of xfi?
You have properties on the XFI you can adjust unlike on the hdmi passthrough.

I use the blue 50 dollar version of the xfi pci-ex with optical, but if i spend the
extra hundred bucks and get the fatality version with the black casing, will the
optical sound better?
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Old 01-15-12, 11:39 PM   #6
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Default Re: Using Optical Out in HTPC With Xfi.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bigman View Post
True, but is the quality of the audio from the HDMI good enough to that of xfi?
You have properties on the XFI you can adjust unlike on the hdmi passthrough.

I use the blue 50 dollar version of the xfi pci-ex with optical, but if i spend the
extra hundred bucks and get the fatality version with the black casing, will the
optical sound better?
From my experience digital is digital, anything else is just equilizer adjusting the db per frequency range. X-Fi likely has the ability to add reverb by why? That's done in the studios for movies.

I've always used on-board. Granted, up until about a year ago I had a rather extreme 5.1 setup and used optical out to my receiver. I say if you're limited to using optical go with the cheaper card.
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Old 01-16-12, 05:15 AM   #7
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Default Re: Using Optical Out in HTPC With Xfi.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bigman View Post
True, but is the quality of the audio from the HDMI good enough to that of xfi?
You have properties on the XFI you can adjust unlike on the hdmi passthrough.

I use the blue 50 dollar version of the xfi pci-ex with optical, but if i spend the
extra hundred bucks and get the fatality version with the black casing, will the
optical sound better?
Ahh... Now I understand what you are asking. The fatality version of XFi adds on-board memory, 64 MB as I recall. The idea was to have a buffer to load sounds into on the board so everything could be processed faster along with providing some other features. Basically,the idea was to do for sound what on-board memory does for video cards.

Problem is, this requires EAX. I don't know of any game that uses EAX anymore. Basically, spending the extra money is a waste as you won't tell a difference when it comes to the $50. Everything is done in software nowadays; optical out will sound fine either way.

Honestly, if you are going by just sound quality then HDMI and Optical are going to be the same. If you are using HDMI out now (such as comming from your video card) and you are happy with it, I wouldn't bother with the sound card. If you are concerned about other items, such as offloading processing onto a sound card to free up resources, then getting the sound card makes sense. In particular, the Creative will mix 5.1 sound fantastically well.

Offloading some items onto the sound card, such as mixing 5.1 sound is one reason why to get a sound card. Another reason is analog sound; the circuitry on the Creative cards is good enough to produce fantastic sound over analog.

If you are using some digital now and happy with it, then I wouldn't bother with teh sound card. If you are not using digital, then grab a sound card but don't spend the extra $50 on the fatility expecting better digital sound. You won't notice a thing.
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Old 01-16-12, 11:42 AM   #8
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Default Re: Using Optical Out in HTPC With Xfi.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bigman View Post
True, but is the quality of the audio from the HDMI good enough to that of xfi?
You have properties on the XFI you can adjust unlike on the hdmi passthrough.

I use the blue 50 dollar version of the xfi pci-ex with optical, but if i spend the
extra hundred bucks and get the fatality version with the black casing, will the
optical sound better?
It will sound the same from the optical, and i bet you it'll sound the same from the analogue outs as well.

A few years ago I decided to pay the extra money as the hardware difference between the xfi fatality (pci version) and my old audigy2 i figured was warranted. Better asio support (very important in music production which I do) and also the front i/o panel which I opted out for with the audigy2 along with the eax5 support for gaming.

Now, if you pop in a dvd/bluray movie the digital sound will not be affected by the sound card at all. Pass-through literary means pass through and the decoding process will be for your sound receiver/tv
There will be no sound quality difference.

My card will do all kinds of up mixing from stereo to surround or adding some filters and reverb in "theater" mode though I do not consider that as an enhancement so I just leave the card in "Audio creation" mode to get away from creatives enhancements when I listen to music.

I think the enhancements work well enough for my music collection and movies but I always notice it in a negative way in the music I have composed and created my self. If i wanted these "enhancements" I would have added them my self directly to the source audio file directly in the daw.
But I think the cheaper x-fi cards also got these optional enhancements yes?
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Old 01-16-12, 01:38 PM   #9
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Default Re: Using Optical Out in HTPC With Xfi.

See the reason i thought maybe to spend some more oney is to get some advanced audio features like THX, or some stuff like the Xfi Crystalizer. And this a six core setup anyway so not wurried about
resources. And i been using the lower priced Xfi for some time now and works great.
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Old 01-16-12, 01:45 PM   #10
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Default Re: Using Optical Out in HTPC With Xfi.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bigman View Post
See the reason i thought maybe to spend some more oney is to get some advanced audio features like THX, or some stuff like the Xfi Crystalizer. And this a six core setup anyway so not wurried about
resources. And i been using the lower priced Xfi for some time now and works great.
It does depend on the source. If you're watching a DVD or BD and are using the optical out Crystalizer wont enhance the audio. Those are pre-determined tracks recorded at the studio. Adding any extra reverb or manipulating the sound with equalizers will only take away from the sound quality. Granted that is in my opinion, yours may differ. It is very much similar to the tone controls on an A/V receiver. When I was a boy most of my friends listened to rap and they loved to turn the Bass all the way up, and the treble all the way down. Sounded like crap to me but to each their own.

If you watched a DVD or BD movie using the optical out on your on-board audio, then went through and watched the movie again this time using the optical out from the most expensive soundcard money could buy- you likely wouldn't be able to discern any difference. It'd sound the same each time you watched it.

If this is stricly, or mostly, for movie play back I'd just rock the on-board audio, or at least ge the cheaper sound card if you must have a sound card.
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Old 01-19-12, 12:06 PM   #11
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Default Re: Using Optical Out in HTPC With Xfi.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Bigman View Post
See the reason i thought maybe to spend some more oney is to get some advanced audio features like THX, or some stuff like the Xfi Crystalizer. And this a six core setup anyway so not wurried about
resources. And i been using the lower priced Xfi for some time now and works great.
Well this is really subjective, personally I'm not a big fan of X-fi Crystallizer.
It's a multiband compressor which boosts the low and high frequency bands a bit.
You can control the amount but not the frequency ranges.
Working with audio for as many years as I have I can tell you there is no such thing as a "one fit all". It'll sound good with some music/applications and not good at all with others.
In my ears it's mostly not good with anything

The marketing at the time was "makes your mp3 files sound better then cd quallity" which is complete bull. It's like taking a low resolution jpg file and boosting the color ranges a bit. It'll still be low resolution and you can't change that.

Popular music player software do have DSP plugins in which you can achieve the same results as the Crystallizer for your music.

THX isn't a feature, it's a standard and a certificate. Kinda how M$ certifies drivers for windows.

You will not have any use of THX standard unless the rest of your audio equipment is also THX certified as it predetermines the levels and frequency ranges of the receiver and speakers as long as they all conform to this (crossover frequency for the LFE for example).
Simply put, if all your audio equipment is THX certified including the speakers, you need not tweak very much to get movies to sound like they were intended to.

I watch my dvd and bluray on my ps3.
The only instance where I use surround on the pc is with gaming using the Dolby Digital Live add-on driver I bought from Creative for 5$ so I can get surround from games via digital out as analogue out isn't an option for me.
As I understand it this is already included on newer full featured Pci-e X-fi cards such as the Fatality (mine is the old Fatality Champion pci, but it has the same hardware features)

The THX panel options and tweaks doesn't even work under these circumstances presumably because it isn't using the analogue outs I think.

Like I mentioned, the main reasons I upgraded from the Audigy 2 to the X-Fi was for better asio support and the front i/o panel.
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