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Soundcard vs GPU audio for home theater


vikingking

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hi

 

Will i gain any audio quality or function by getting a dedicated sound card for my system.

If so what sound card do you recommend price is no issue.

 

I game and watch video on the system and want the best sound i can get out of my system.

 

I am using nvidia gtx 970 hdmi to avr . is this better than using mobo's realtek hd port?

 

setup is

asus maximus hero vii

sony str-dh540

evga gtx 970

Pioneer SP-PK52FS 5.1 Home Theater Speaker Package

panasonic 55vt50

 

Thanks

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the gtx 970 is a pretty nice card and i would think they paid a lot of attention of the details to ensure the video is high quality. the card passes hdmi audio -- i wouldn't think a dedicated sound card would buy you that much.

main rig:  simaudio moon mind 2 > chord dave > parasound jc-5 > kef reference 1
second rig:  simaudio moon mind 2 > chord qutest > luxman sq-n150 > klipsch heresy 1
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the gtx 970 is a pretty nice card and i would think they paid a lot of attention of the details to ensure the video is high quality. the card passes hdmi audio -- i wouldn't think a dedicated sound card would buy you that much.

 

Don't know if it is still true, but I rejected NVidia GPUs over a year ago for HDMI output because they did not support 88 or 176k audio. I went with AMD instead because they do, in addition to 44, 48, 96 and 192k.

 

In general, I think it best to stay with integer multiples of the source resolution. So, if upconverting 44k or converting DSD to PCM, I prefer using 88/176k sampling rates. I have done only limited listening comparisons, so it really may be more of a mental thing. But, I felt there was an improvement. That is provided your receiver can support those sampling rates.

 

I am using an AMD R9 270. HDMI audio output was good, and video quality essentially perfect with JRiver/MadVR into an Integra prepro. I switched my audio to USB/Exasound e28 DAC, though, which is way better.

 

Also, consider Dirac Live EQ in the PC. It is much better than the Audyssey MultEQ XT/32 I was using. But, it lacks bass management. I do the sub xovers in JRiver.

 

Also, I suspect HDMI into your receiver will sound better than RealTek.

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Don't know if it is still true, but I rejected NVidia GPUs over a year ago for HDMI output because they did not support 88 or 176k audio. I went with AMD instead because they do, in addition to 44, 48, 96 and 192k.

 

My nvidia cards from a few years ago support all the usual rates from 32kHz to 192kHz.

 

In general, I think it best to stay with integer multiples of the source resolution. So, if upconverting 44k or converting DSD to PCM, I prefer using 88/176k sampling rates. I have done only limited listening comparisons, so it really may be more of a mental thing. But, I felt there was an improvement. That is provided your receiver can support those sampling rates.

 

There is no mathematical reason, but I agree simple multiples feel like they should be better.

 

Also, I suspect HDMI into your receiver will sound better than RealTek.

 

Realtek is about as low as you can go.

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My nvidia cards from a few years ago support all the usual rates from 32kHz to 192kHz.

 

 

Possibly, you are correct in current models, which is why I hedged. One would think that a simple lookup of their GPU specs online would provide a simple answer to the question of supported audio sampling rates, but it does not. It is anything but that in favor of detailed and often esoteric video specs. I had the same problem in early 2014, but I found the answer buried elsewhere or in Windows sound read outs from actual HDMI hookups at a computer store. As of then, NVidia specifically did NOT support 88/176k, whereas AMD and even Intel Integrated Graphics did via HDMI.

 

A major part of the problem is that sophisticated GPUs are sold primarily to gamers on the basis of only graphics performance. Games use primarily analog audio. So, support for digital audio is not very important to those guys. It is further complicated by the fact that PC audio cards are increasingly rare in favor of HDMI out from the GPU or Realtek from the mother board.

 

I will say that my AMD GPU offered improved video performance over Intel Integrated 4000 Graphics. With hi rez rips, audio via HDMI was slightly improved by either one vs. HDMI from an Oppo player.

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Possibly, you are correct in current models, which is why I hedged. One would think that a simple lookup of their GPU specs online would provide a simple answer to the question of supported audio sampling rates, but it does not. It is anything but that in favor of detailed and often esoteric video specs. I had the same problem in early 2014, but I found the answer buried elsewhere or in Windows sound read outs from actual HDMI hookups at a computer store. As of then, NVidia specifically did NOT support 88/176k, whereas AMD and even Intel Integrated Graphics did via HDMI.

 

I'm not saying you're wrong, just adding what information I have. I know nvidia reworked the audio routing in their cards a few years ago, before which it was indeed not very well supported, and is the reason I got new ones when I did.

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thanks for all the info .

 

mine doesn't appear to support 176k sampling rate .

sorry but this is all new to me ,so should i leave it on 192k for games and vids?

or does the sample rate only apply to recording new data?

 

Video on DVD and Bluray always has audio at a multiple of 48kHz, and this is the most common in general. I can't say for sure about games, but I suspect they also prefer 48kHz multiples. 88.2kHz and 176.4kHz are pretty much exclusively used for high-quality music.

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thanks for all the info .

 

mine doesn't appear to support 176k sampling rate .

sorry but this is all new to me ,so should i leave it on 192k for games and vids?

or does the sample rate only apply to recording new data?

 

I would experiment to see if one sampling rate sounds better than another. In my experience, a higher uprezzed sampling rate does not automatically sound better. I prefer on the fly conversion of DSD64/dsf files to 88k PCM vs. 176k myself on my system.

 

Not to complicate matters, but you could also possibly bitstream hi rez Dolby THD or DTS HDMA from Blu-Ray directly to your receiver via HDMI, assuming it can handle those. I believe that the NVidia cards handle that.

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