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How to get HD audio


kiwi2000
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Hello

 

I have been struggling for a quite a while to get high resolution audio from my PC to my AV gear. See my previous posts from many moons ago.

I learned something today that the video card which outputs HDMI audio to my AV receiver is limited to 16 bits and 48Khz. The speaker output through the mini plug output on the PC however is allowed up to 24 bit and 192Khz.

Question, is not this backwards? Did we not evolve to digital connections to get higher resolution sound than analog could provide? Why is the analog output so much higher than the HDMI output on the PC? How do others access high resolution audio from PC to A/V receiver, via HDMI or through the mini output jack? I can confirm that the maximum output had been reached as my receiver displays the incoming digital signal via HDMI as 16 bit 48 PCM from audio rating up to 24bit 192, when I used a miniplug to RCA adapter to RCA input on my receiver the receiver display changed to analog input 2.0 with no further information. So I have no idea what is being output through the minijack via the RCA inputs although I did set the maximum output to 24 bit 192.

 

Is this how people access these high resolution files? I thought the only way would be through HDMI like for DTS master, etc.

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Your PC mini Jack is sending analog obviously, so there's an onboard DAC chip capable of 24/192. Decoding on that should be set to auto so as to not needlessly or harmfully up sample audio from a cheap chip and all the related PC system noises that go with it.

 

Your decision depends on use. If you're using the PC for multichannel video playback, then replace the video card with a more capable processor and HDMI interface. If 2 channel audio is your use, then a USB external DAC is the way to go........UNLESS......you have a subwoofer on your AVR which you'll want an all digital path and then back to the updated video card/HDMI.

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I believe that HDMI was intended primarily for video use. High res, 2 channel audio, was probably not the main priority, or even considered, by the developers of the format. For audio, the popular choices are a self contained unit, like an SACD or DVD-A player, or a high res DAC fed by USB or a high quality USB converter.

 

One thing I would suggest, since you don't list your system, is to make sure whatever gear you have can take advantage of the extra resolution that the new formats provide. CD done right can easily outperform high res done at a minimum standard. A lot of people found that out, myself included, when we all went out and bought mass market players to try SACD's. Our high end CD players easily outperformed them. Take your time and listen to as much equipment as you can. Its more important to get it right, than to just get it.

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Most PC HDMI these days goes up to 192k/24 PCM. Bottom line is that your gear is just out of date.

 

I have used it from both integrated graphics 4000 on an Intel I7 CPU about 3 years old and also from a more recent AMD GPU's HDMI output without problems. Don't know if it is still true, but NVidia handled only 44,48, 96, 192, but not 88 and 176. The latter two are better for DSD - PCM conversion and also uprezzing of 44k, as they are integer multiples. So, I went with AMD.

 

It is very hard to find PC HDMI specs online for GPUs, etc. I wound up going to a PC store and checking the sound properties in Windows to figure this out. But, that was tricky, because the sampling rates would only be displayed if HDMI was connected to a device that supported the resolutions, although some monitors in the store seemingly did, while some did not.

 

I no longer use HDMI/prepro in favor of USB into my DAC for audio. The latter connection handles up to 384k PCM or up to DSD256 with up to 8 channels in my setup. Many of my friends still use HDMI into a prepro for Mch audio and video. I still use HDMI for video from my PC.

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Is this how people access these high resolution files? I thought the only way would be through HDMI like for DTS master, etc.

 

If you have a spare PCI-E slot, you could also consider using a decent soundcard, which will give the possibility of not just a higher quality decoded analogue output, but export by Toslink that is better than directly from the motherboard, or a good quality coax SPDIF output.

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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My equipment list;

 

JVC RS-40 projector

Da-Lite 96 inch Cinema-Vision fixed screen with Pro trim

Marantz AV-8801 processor

Aragon 8008 2 channel amplifier

Emotiva XPR-5 amplifier

Thorens TD 160B MK2 turntable

SME series 3 tone arm

Audio Technica AT150MLX VM Cartridge

Klipsch RF-7, RC-64 ii, RS-35, KSW-12

SVS PB 13 Ultra subwoofer

OPPO 103 DVD Blu ray player

Gateway PVR system with 1 TB expander

Furman Elite 15 PF I Linear filtering power source

Rotel RQ 970BX phono pre amp

2 Darbee vision visual presence enhancers

Luxman 4 channel amplifier for multi zone playback

Hafler Equalizer for zone use

Dell desk top computer running windows 7 with ASUS HD 5450 graphic card with HDMI output

Lutron Maestro dimmers

GIK acoustic wall treatments 244 and 242 models

Buffalo IR repeater model 350 and IR flashers IR-E1 for home control of audio zones and PVR

Ultra Link cable and wire

 

I am only considering two channel audio playback and would like the ease of a single HDMI connection. The PC HDMI card is new possibly not configured properly? The A/V receiver does not have a USB input but the Oppo does. So another option is output from the front USB of the PC to the input on the Oppo?

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"So another option is output from the front USB of the PC to the input on the Oppo?"

 

A lot of people do it that way. Since you already have the components, try it and see how it sounds.

 

Well I purchased the mini to RCA jack today, I do not have a usb connector. Is this type of connection method going to use the analog output of the PC? Like I said I have been at this for a while, years actually if anyone cares to look up my past posts. I am close but I said that 5 years ago as well and appear to be in about the same spot now as I was then. If I connect via USB will I be able to see the incoming signal or will it simply show analog 2.0?

 

What is the best recommendation for connection to be able to see the incoming signal type FLAC or whatever and the bit information 24 bit 192 etc? I have sent an email to ASUS for clarification on the output of their product.

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I am only considering two channel audio playback and would like the ease of a single HDMI connection. The PC HDMI card is new possibly not configured properly? The A/V receiver does not have a USB input but the Oppo does. So another option is output from the front USB of the PC to the input on the Oppo?

 

The Oppo 103 will further improve with a USB Regen in line with the USB input, but it's best to use a direct motherboard USB port if possible, due to the additional internal cable for the front USB ports.

With the Regen you don't need to see the +5V from the computer in the cable either, and it can be isolated at the end of the cable, or by insulating the +5V contact of the PC's USB port. ( I have an Oppo 103)

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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I believe that HDMI was intended primarily for video use. High res, 2 channel audio, was probably not the main priority, or even considered, by the developers of the format.
Number of channels aside, HDMI has been capable of CD or better quality from the beginning and capable of multichannel (and stereo) SACD since v1.2. I have been playing stereo (and multichannel) DSD and 24/192 PCM from PCs and Macs via HDMI for years. There are alternatives and preferences, of course, but it is likely that it would suit the uses of the OP.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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My equipment list;

Marantz AV-8801 processor

 

OPPO 103 DVD Blu ray player

 

Dell desk top computer running windows 7 with ASUS HD 5450 graphic card with HDMI output

 

I am only considering two channel audio playback and would like the ease of a single HDMI connection. The PC HDMI card is new possibly not configured properly? The A/V receiver does not have a USB input but the Oppo does. So another option is output from the front USB of the PC to the input on the Oppo?

 

I have recently used the 8801 fed with HDMI from a PC or a MacMini for HD audio including DSD. What program are you using to send the signal to the HDMI? WMP?

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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"Well I purchased the mini to RCA jack today, I do not have a usb connector. Is this type of connection method going to use the analog output of the PC?"

 

Yes. You'll be using whatever DAC your motherboard or sound card has built in. Personally, this is the last way that I would want to it. I think you'll get much better results using the PC as a transport only.

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Number of channels aside, HDMI has been capable of CD or better quality from the beginning and capable of multichannel (and stereo) SACD since v1.2. I have been playing stereo (and multichannel) DSD and 24/192 PCM from PCs and Macs via HDMI for years. There are alternatives and preferences, of course, but it is likely that it would suit the uses of the OP.

 

I didn't say is can't be done this way. I was just pointing out that there are other, more popular options.

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Originally posted by Kal Rubinson I have recently used the 8801 fed with HDMI from a PC or a MacMini for HD audio including DSD. What program are you using to send the signal to the HDMI? WMP?

 

I first tried an ethernet cable directly to the 8801 using the built in media server and it was very slow and tedious and I do believe it played anything higher than MP3 quality sound. I am now using Kodi which is capable of high resolution output but I have found as stated that the new graphics card on the PC has a 16 48 limit via HDMI. What are you using to the 8801 and how is it connected to enable HD audio?

 

Do you see the actual file type and size when selecting information on the 8801 such as Flac, WMA, WAV 192 24, or do you see PCM 48 on the 8801 display screen as I do? Tell me how you input the PC signal and I can copy it.

 

Which method is better USB out to the Oppo and HDMI to the OPPO for audio video or add a sound card or? As stated I am basically still at the same place I was 5 years ago just with a slicker interface but no real improvement in sound quality. I have the files and they are nicely organized and easily accessible but I am not bale to access better than CD quality. I actually preferred the previous Marantz 8003 for ease of use.

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I would install an inexpensive AMD graphics card with HDMI out for under $100. No need to go crazy. Also, the graphics card must be compatible with your PC supply capacity limits. A smaller, cheaper card will require less of the power supply while still providing hi Rez audio. See my post above as to why AMD and not NVidia.

 

That is the best way I think to get best sound into your Marantz at all sampling rates up to 192K. Alternatively, just get a new PC. I have seen laptops costing under $500 capable of hi Rez audio via HDMI via built-in Intel integrated graphics 4000 or above, which is good, even for video quality.

 

HDMI will be in the digital domain, so your Marantz will be the processor and DAC. The DAC in the Marantz is quite good, better than the Oppo 103 (but not the 105). An HDMI digital connection to the Marantz also allows you to use bass management for a sub(s) and Audyssey EQ in the Marantz, plus other digital processing features.

 

I think the other alternatives suggested - a PC sound card, Toslink optical - all have limitations or inferior sound. USB into the Marantz might be a second choice, though it is limited to stereo, in case you think of upgrading to Mch someday.

 

I do not think USB from a PC will work into the Oppo. That must come directly from a thumb or hard drive, I believe. Plus, bypassing the Marantz's sophisticated digital processing in that way would seem foolish, given what you have invested in it.

 

PS- note that Audyssey in the Marantz if used limits and downrezzes the sampling rate to 48k. But, if turned off, the Marantz handles up to 192k or DSD.

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I do not think USB from a PC will work into the Oppo. That must come directly from a thumb or hard drive, I believe.

 

That is correct for the 103, but not the 105.My main listening room is in a different room to my PC and I need to use the USB memory stick into my Oppo 103, but with the Regen for best results both at recording/ripping and playback .

 

How a Digital Audio file sounds, or a Digital Video file looks, is governed to a large extent by the Power Supply area. All that Identical Checksums gives is the possibility of REGENERATING the file to close to that of the original file.

PROFILE UPDATED 13-11-2020

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I would install an inexpensive AMD graphics card with HDMI out for under $100. No need to go crazy. Also, the graphics card must be compatible with your PC supply capacity limits. A smaller, cheaper card will require less of the power supply while still providing hi Rez audio. See my post above as to why AMD and not NVidia.

 

That is the best way I think to get best sound into your Marantz at all sampling rates up to 192K. Alternatively, just get a new PC. I have seen laptops costing under $500 capable of hi Rez audio via HDMI via built-in Intel integrated graphics 4000 or above, which is good, even for video quality.......................................................................................................

As usual, Carl beats me to it. Amen.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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Agreed, around here, but I suspect that there are more folks out in the world using HDMI and it doesn't suck.

 

That could very well be the case. But to be clear, I never said HDMI sucked. I was just presenting other options.

 

I just had a another thought about HDMI. Can you use HDMI for audio only, and a different connection for video, like DVI? Maybe keeping the audio and video separate will sound better.

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That could very well be the case. But to be clear, I never said HDMI sucked. I was just presenting other options.
I understand that and I was not directing my shouting at you but at the many who will not entertain it at all.

 

I just had a another thought about HDMI. Can you use HDMI for audio only, and a different connection for video, like DVI? Maybe keeping the audio and video separate will sound better.
Not possible. HDMI transmission requires a video signal, even if it is a blank blue screen. I have a Sony XA5400ES which has HDMI audio output with such a blue screen and it is pretty good.

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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Because I study Marantz... From their UD7007 User Manual :

Playing high-quality audio (Pure direct function)

This enables you to play high quality audio by stopping the video signal, etc., output, and outputting the high quality analog audio signal.

 

marantz-ud7007-balanced.jpg

 

Press PURE [button on its remote].

The Pure Direct mode changes each time

 

AV Pure Direct (AV P.Direct)

The HDMI OUT MONITOR(VIDEO) connector outputs only video signals.

The HDMI OUT AMP(AUDIO) connector stops video signals and outputs audio signals.

 

Pure Direct 1

This turns off the HDMI output and display. And the FL OFF indicator lights red.

 

Pure Direct 2

This turns off the HDMI output.

 

Off

This turns off the pure direct function.

 

I just had a another thought about HDMI. Can you use HDMI for audio only, and a different connection for video, like DVI? Maybe keeping the audio and video separate will sound better.

 

«

an accurate picture

Sono pessimista con l'intelligenza,

 

ma ottimista per la volontà.

severe loudspeaker alignment »

 

 

 

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I would install an inexpensive AMD graphics card with HDMI out for under $100. No need to go crazy. Also, the graphics card must be compatible with your PC supply capacity limits. A smaller, cheaper card will require less of the power supply while still providing hi Rez audio. See my post above as to why AMD and not NVidia.

 

Thank you for the replies I will look into these cards more. I have just found out that the graphic card I installed is not capable of HD video either. I am wondering if my 10 year old PC is capable of crunching on these upgrades? And how much these upgrades will cost in comparison to like stated a newer machine.

 

Also that my media player of choice Kodi is not authorized by Tidal so it is restricted to high quality 320 playback not 1400 HiFi. Live and learn I suppose.

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Thank you for the replies I will look into these cards more. I have just found out that the graphic card I installed is not capable of HD video either. I am wondering if my 10 year old PC is capable of crunching on these upgrades? And how much these upgrades will cost in comparison to like stated a newer machine.

 

Also that my media player of choice Kodi is not authorized by Tidal so it is restricted to high quality 320 playback not 1400 HiFi. Live and learn I suppose.

 

I would not advise using a 10-year old PC for anything. So, if that is your starting point, best not to attempt a GPU upgrade. Put the money toward a new PC instead. Chances are it will support hi rez via HDMI out of the box, but steer clear of one with NVidia graphics, unless you can be assured it also supports 88/176k.

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