Anyone give up on PC Surround sound and just go stereo? Any regrets?

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by DoubleTap, May 14, 2019.

  1. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    I prefer surround sound to headphones for gaming and I have a really nice 7.1 system in my office.

    The problem is I can rarely use it.

    1. I almost never watch TV/Movies in here
    2. I don't always want to let everyone know I'm gaming with speakers
    3. A lot of games don't have good surround sound support. By a lot, I mean a few.
    4. The whole HDMI audio connection is always a hassle.
    5. I don't want my little kids hearing the discord conversation in games.

    For me, the best surround sound games are Overwatch and Guild Wars 2 (and Battlefield, but I don't love the last two versions) but I don't play them that much.

    I don't really prefer headphones, but I find myself using them more and more.

    I'm wondering if it's time to take it down, sell off the parts and roll the cash into a pair of LS50s (for music mostly)

    Current speakers:

    KEF Q100 L/R
    KEF Q200c C
    JBL Arena B15 (side and rear surrounds)

    Even though it's hard to use, there just isn't anything quite like hearing things clearly in your surround channels - it really puts you in the game...
     
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  2. criccio

    criccio Fully Equipped

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    For my PC, absolutely. No "pc" specific surround solutions with their cheap plastic speakers is going to ultimately sound better than a good set of stereo speakers.

    Personally I like powered monitors like my Swan M200MKIII's. I had the MKII's previously.
     
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  3. chockomonkey

    chockomonkey [H]ardForum Junkie

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    It is really sad how few games do a good job at surround. I bought a sound card and a nice pair of cans with because I wanted more immersion in far cry 3 only to find out that they did a poor job of the audio. You can literally hear people through the ground. >< Anyway, I'm curious what others will say about their experience with surround.
     
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  4. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    Not sure if you read the whole post, but these are decent mid-fi speakers... Brand new, this system would have been north of $2k
     
  5. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Gawd

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    Generally I only care about surround sound with AAA single player games (which are mostly console exclusives these days, and even if they are multiplatform, the audio is always of higher quality on console version), to enjoy the experience of the ambient sound and the orchestra score that the creator's crafted. I generally don't care for it when it's for multiplayer games, such as e-sports, shooters, or card games or whatever, mainly because the sound experience is of dubious quality.

    So I guess the answer is no, on PC it's generally not important, due to game type and/or PC game audio being of poor quality generally due to Windows API and compressed audio, consoles have uncompressed audio and a superior sound API.
     
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  6. ellover009

    ellover009 [H]ard|Gawd

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    i'm about to do that. I started with an S750, while I had it I went from 7.1 to 5.1 there just wasn't space to space them out enough, doesn't help that Microsoft killed the sound card with one of the windows releases. Since the S750 is dead, I ordered some JBL 306P MKII, wondered if I should have gone with the 308, but might be on the larger size. I'll know between Thursday and Friday. But I've been open to the idea for a few years.
     
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  7. OliverQueen

    OliverQueen n00b

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    Since getting a decent set of headphones that are comfortable to wear for long periods, I haven't used my speakers at all! As I play games when the rest of the family are in bed asleep or watching TV in a different room, I don't disturb them & they don't disturb me now (by raising volume because they can hear me & vice versa until we cannot bear the volume anymore lol). A decent set of powered monitors are OTT IMHO for playing games when the sound they produce is going to be no better than a good set of headphones in reality. Just my 2 Cents though/
     
  8. bigddybn

    bigddybn [H]ardness Supreme

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    A decent pair of headphones with the Atmos plugin is all I need. I couldn't do better for 10x the money and I can crank it without caring what anyone else is doing.
     
  9. Nenu

    Nenu [H]ardened

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    For music yes, stupid money spent on an external DAC (Holo Audio Spring Level3 with uprated Singxer SU-1), great stereo amp (Emotiva XPA-2), wonderful sub (BK Monolith good to 15Hz) and built my speakers (3 way, 10" Kevlar TL bass, magnesium mid and ribbon tweeter).
    I went for a few years without surround but ultimately true surround music is very good and movies in stereo sorely miss the extra channels.
    So I bought a pretty good Denon atmos AV amp (X4400H) to get the full goodies with 7.4.1 channels.
    I switch between the stereo DAC and AV system on the back of the front channel amp, it is used for both stereo and surround.
    I love my setup :D

    For when I cant blast sound I built the Bottlehead Mainline headphone Valve amp and got some Meze Empyrean phones to go with it.
    The amp is hooked directly to the stereo DAC.
    Simply awesome!

    I use the speakers more than the headphones, there is no substitute for feeling sub bass through my seat and body.
    The Empyrean phones are a serious challenge to meet for detail though, the speakers get probably 90% of the way there.
    Both are so incredibly good I dont really care about the detail difference.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  10. chockomonkey

    chockomonkey [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Atmos plugin? Is this something which you install into your sound driver or something?
     
  11. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    I don't play a lot of single player games, but in Guild Wars 2, the ambient sound is incredible. In Overwatch, the surround sound is near ideal for locating enemies around you.

    I'm not sure what you mean by compressed - do you mean the source audio is compressed because it's not getting compressed over HDMI...

    Even with the degredation of sound cards, it's still pretty easy to find a discrete 7.1 source - at least the S750 can direct connect and not have to deal with HDMI - sucks that those units are getting old now and starting to fail - these kinds of solutions don't really exist anymore. I always wondered why someone didn't make a little 7.1 digital amp with RCA inputs for the PC surround market to replace the main unit on systems like these.

    I don't mind headphones for gaming or listening to podcasts and books. I just don't prefer them for music and it's not a sound quality thing, it's just the experience is so different.

    What's a good source for music in surround sound? I agree it could be interesting.

    I appreciate the input from everyone. I know headphones are popular and the go-to solution when people ask for advice, but I'll never love them.

    I've forced my AVR to stereo mode and I'm going to just keep it there for a while and see if I mind. So far, I don't.

    I can't help but think I might just like the idea of surround sound more than I like surround sound.

    It's hard to let go of your ideals....
     
  12. Nenu

    Nenu [H]ardened

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    The highest quality DAC device is the Oppo 205 Blu Ray player and acts as a pre-amp as well. You will need a power amp to use it.
    It can take PC in via HDMI and can play almost any video/audio without a PC as well, from SPDIF, USB hard drive/pen (USB 3.0), Network and from your PC over HDMI. I had one, they are very good but the sound was a little too laid back for me (as a high end DAC).
    It also plays UHD Blu Ray disks and SACDs.
    Next is the Oppo 203, then the Oppo 105.
    The Oppo 203 is a lower quality DAC version of the Oppo 205.
    The Oppo 105 can play HD Blu Ray disks and SACDs.


    The Oppo 105 is around the same sound quality as the newer Oppo 203 but has the advantage of many internet apps and dual HDMI in/out so you can use it as an HDMI switch as well. The 20x series have no apps and can only take 1 HDMI in feed.
    It is USB 2.0 which is enough for practically all Blu Ray movies at full bit rate played over USB.
    I had 2 Oppo 105s, they are really cool and sound good.

    All Oppo players onboard DACs do not support Atmos, the output is 7.1 max for analogue.
    They can feed the HDMI signal to another processor for Atmos but you lose the use of the quality DACs in the Oppo so you will need an expensive processor to match one of these players.
    Unfortunately Oppo have caved and dont produce Blu Ray players any more so you will need to buy second hand.
    I dont know of any other BD players that can match the quality.


    Next best thing is to get a decent AV amplifier and use your PC as the source. You can plug USB hard drives in for audio but most wont do video in this way.
    The quality ranges from poor to excellent but you pay through the nose for that.

    Last years Denons are going for much lower prices and are practically the same as this years that have raised prices.
    I bought the X4400H and love it.
    You get a ton more features than the Oppos and Atmos output as well.
    The power amps are built in, mine has 9 amplifier channels and can support another 2 channels with an external amp!
    It has received some HDMI 2.1 updates (despite being HDMI 2.0b), eARC and auto low latency mode.
    The lag is so low I feed my PCs video signal through it with no issues at all, as if I was connected direct to the TV.

    Theres a lot more to be said, I have brain fog today.
    Ask anything you like.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
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  13. VIC-20

    VIC-20 Gawd

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    Pretty sure HDMI from an nVidia card is just a terribly bland sounding onboard Realtek. It never seems to sound good to me no matter the amp or speakers. HDMI from an onboard Intel 4 Series i5 I tried last night seemed to be far better for some reason, but not amazing.

    I like surround in games, but cannot achieve the sound quality of a good stereo setup.

    I gave my Q100s away. They can sound good, but seem to be extremely picky about amps to get the most out of them. To me, they sounded absolutely magical on my Sansui AU-222. Awful on others I tried. (Denon X1400H, Yamaha RX-V781, Sony STR-6050, Sony STR-6120, Marantz 2238)

    LS50s might be more forgiving being a far different cabinet and design. I have only heard them on the crap AVRs in a Visions store, so I have no personal idea.

    A perfect match of speakers to an amp/receiver in stereo can be audio nirvana and I have no problem recommending that setup. It can just take a lot of experimenting to get it the way you personally like it.
     
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  14. VIC-20

    VIC-20 Gawd

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    You aren't kidding about the Oppo, measurements are fantastic. Gain is insane (4 Volts!)

    https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...measurements-of-oppo-udp-205-uhd-player.3660/

    Topping D10, D30, D50, DX3 Pro seem to be fantastic budget options.

    I personally haven't heard a Denon X4400H. I bought a X1400H for 90% off and thought it was awful and sold it immediately. Denon 435R sounded incredible! But transformer blew up. Denon AVR-S920? 930? Buddy just got one and its decent, but no 435R.

    I had a Marantz 2238 that sounded awesome as a preamp, but not great using its own amp. Gave that away and I'm now using a Marantz 2252 and Sony TA-3650. Wow! Both sound better than any new stuff I have tried.

    Everyone has a different ear, but a good DAC + good vintage amp/receiver + efficient speakers that go down to 35Hz range works great for me :)
     
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  15. mvmiller12

    mvmiller12 Gawd

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    I don't have anything particularly special, equipment-wise, but...

    My audio system is a Philips 5.1 Dolby Digital receiver and speaker system, currently connected via optical. It came with decent speakers, though I did replace the sub with a more powerful unit. I bought it at Walmart around 15-20 years ago, in the early days of boxed home theater sound systems (and before they started selling junk - I purchased a different system from them a few years later at about the same price for a different rig and it was sharply inferior in every way). When I went from my Asus Prime B350-Plus mainboard to my Crosshair VI, I lost PCI slots, and thus lost the ability to use my Auzentech X-Meridian 7.1 soundcard. The X-Meridian featured Dolby Digital Live encoding, meaning Windows sound (when the X-Meridian "Speakers" device was set up as 5.1, and DDL was enabled in the sound card control panel) was fed to the receiver as a 5.1 signal and the surround in everything was glorious.

    The on-board sound from the Crosshair VI, however, wasn't good. I could only get surround sound in movies, and even then, only after using hacked drivers and SPDIF pass-through in Kodi. Music sounded flat and was limited to the front L/R speakers. Games were noticeably just flat stereo, and I felt this particularly strongly in Smite. The sound experience is a big part of my enjoyment using my computer, and the enjoyment wasn't really there anymore...

    So, I got an Asus Xonar U3 USB stick for audio. It wasn't terribly expensive, but it is the only reasonably priced device I could find that would definitively bring back DDL AND featured Windows 10 compatibility. The difference is night-and-day in favor of the Xonar U3 and surround sound over the built-in sound and stereo. My surround in games was back and music sounded great again. The happy was back.
     
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  16. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    I know enough about Oppo to know it's outside of my comfort zone in terms of price...

    When you mention surround music, are you just talking about using one of the DSP upmix settings to play through all your speakers?

    My understanding is that HDMI should be basically the same whether it's from Nvidia or Intel - it's 8ch PCM. Realtek has the image it has because the onboard DACs are what they are, but my system is using the DAC in my AVR.

    If you have additional info on the difference, I'm interested to hear more.

    I'm glad you got a solution working. I played around with DDL about 5 years ago and found the encoder latency to be too much and somewhat immersion breaking.

    There are 3 ways of doing surround sound on the PC and they all have issues:

    1. Optical needs and encoder, is compressed, limited to 5.1 and can have latency issues.
    2. Discrete (3.5mm) Analog is usually limited to lower end speaker systems and can have noise issues.
    3. HDMI requires a video signal that is not always gamer friendly (second monitor, ghost monitor, etc). You can also have issues with EDID compatibility and losing the connection to your receiver and having to reconfigure everything.

    It's a shame that there isn't a decent USB option on AVRs or an audio only HDMI option that just sends a black burst / blank screen.
     
  17. mvmiller12

    mvmiller12 Gawd

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    Personally, I'd be happy if they just came up with an updated Optical standard that supported uncompressed multi-channel audio (and perhaps even raw Atmos). Frankly, I'm surprised this hasn't been done already. Theoretically, all that would need to happen is to push additional light frequencies down the cable.
     
  18. VIC-20

    VIC-20 Gawd

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    It should be. HDMI must have some specifications for what the codec / driver does as it reads data from the source and then sends it to the DAC. I've just noticed PC audio over HDMI from an nVidia card sounds quiet and very flat versus a XBox One or Bluray player with the same content out to the very same receiver. Maybe I'm crazy. But maybe not all codecs are equal.
     
  19. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    All this stuff about DACs...

    If a DAC sounds good, it's not working right. It should be transparent. Amps are a little different and should be matched to the rest of the analog stage per listener preference.


    To the OP: stereo headphones, and I mean good, comfortable, relatively neutral without too much bass or treble, with good imaging and separation, are what will give you the best overall experience for most PC uses to include gaming. My go-to recommendation here is the Massdrop x Sennheiser HD6XX, but there are many.

    For speakers, you're not going to really improve on a decent 2.0 or 2.1 set, depending on environment. You can do 'surround', but it's very difficult to do well, and very difficult to do acceptably without also being bulky and intrusive.

    Bandwidth isn't there, and if it were, it'd be an entirely new interconnect standard. Basically it'd be too niche to be worth doing, though it's far from infeasible. Perhaps better would be a USB to HDMI DAC with a 'phantom' video signal, or perhaps without one, whatever would allow a receiver to use the signal without dicking with operating system desktop layouts.
     
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  20. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    It's eight-channel PCM unless a codec like those from Dolby or DTS are passed. Given that most of these codecs are eight channels or less, you don't gain anything and may lose fidelity due to compression, depending on the codec and content. Generally, if you need 7.1 or less, passing one of those codecs only makes sense if your receiver is then doing room corrections and so on.

    With PCM, there is no 'codec'; it's basically eight wav channels being streamed uncompressed. Not that that affects the point.

    What does make a difference is the processing on each end. Audio from an Nvidia card is actually audio from the application, driver, and operating system. This is the same on an Xbox or Bluray player, which means that each may be different because each may be doing some form of processing before the streams are sent to the receiver. Further, these streams may then be processed differently by the receiver on the other end based on a number of variables including the input(s) used.

    Better / worse in your experience may or may not correlate to more or less correct with respect to the audio as mastered. If you have an issue with the audio coming from a PC, change it. You can get Atmos as well as third-party tools to do various types of processing on your audio before it is sent to the GPU to be streamed across HDMI.
     
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  21. grifter_66

    grifter_66 Gawd

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    I've been using HDMI out from my nVidia cards to my receivers for as long as I can remember (15 years or so) and while it was a little rough in the very beginning it sounds absolutely incredible for movies and most games now.

    If you're streaming PCM via HDMI your PC audio should be pretty much identical to console audio if the developers did their jobs right. What you are likely hearing on the console side of things is compressed audio being processed using either Dolby Digital or DTS. Both formats have a specific sound signature and tend to accentuate certain frequencies. While PCM me seem like the better choice on paper that may not always be the case in practice depending on the environment, the game and your personal taste. There are games where I actually prefer the lower fidelity of compressed audio because the way it's processed accentuate certain sounds and seems to fit better for that game.

    Right now I'm playing Rage 2 on the PC. The first hour of the game sucks on pretty much all accounts but once you get into the open world everything improves drastically, especially the audio. This game sounds amazing. Granted, I'm listening on a system that's more than most people have but the game is taking full advantage of it.
     
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  22. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    I see this comment a lot and while you're not wrong, It's not clear to me what your assumptions or expectations are. Stereo is easy to hook up and you can still have a good music/gaming/movie experience with stereo, but

    As configured, my system handles music as a 2.1 system and games as a 7.1 system. It's transparent and i don't have to do anything. My LCR speakers are on stands, my surround speakers are wal mounted, (all the cables are in cable track) and for immersive gaming sound, it's great - I don't think it could be significantly improved in terms of gaming surround, but the complexity and requirements in relation to the benefit I get from it are out of wack.



    Maybe I'll check that out. It's been a while since gaming audio really impressed me.
     
  23. Nenu

    Nenu [H]ardened

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    There are surround mixes on CD, SACD, DVDA, DVD Music Video, Blu Ray Audio (BDA), Blu Ray Music video and there may be some surround audio streams.
    Places like HDtracks.co.uk have some for download.
     
  24. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    That's generally what I'm getting at- though if you're going for just stereo, you can move the speakers more to the side and angle them inward a bit- I have to do this due to too many monitors!- and the imaging and separation can improve to the point that adding speakers to the sides or behind does very little.
     
  25. Nenu

    Nenu [H]ardened

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    HDMI doesnt use a codec, it doesnt have a DAC. Its is only a transport.
    I think you know this, just making sure :)

    My experience with all my Oppo players in terms of quality via an input source is the following, based on my Oppo 105, 105D, 205, and my brothers opinion on his Oppo 105 and 205.
    This is of course at the same bitrate.
    ie If a higher bitrate is available on USB that is not available on optical then USB may sound better.
    We drew this conclusion with high quality amplifiers and speakers. With different equipment you may have another preference or not care for the difference.

    1st Disk or Optical
    2nd USB
    3rd HDMI

    Disk/Optical is smoother, a very slightly easier listen.
    USB is a very close second.
    HDMI is worse by a larger margin but is still good. It can sound a little brash in comparison.

    For stereo music we played from a USB drive or direct USB from PC as that is what we preferred.
    I played over the network for a while, this was at least as good as USB.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  26. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Something to consider: a higher bitrate should not sound better. Anything higher than CD should be indistinguishable, however, differences in masters, processing, and DAC and analog stages absolutely can make a difference. Mastering differences can be huge, and I believe that this is most of what people are experiencing when they find that they prefer a higher bit-rate source. If the same master was available at CD sampling, given the same processing in the chain, there should be no difference in output signal. Not just not discernable by a trained ear, but literally immeasurable.

    At a certain point, differences in equipment exist because individuals prefer some distortions over others. When talking about PC audio, in my opinion most are best served by getting the most neutral setup with the least noise that suits their budget and environment, and doing any personal adjustments on the software side.
     
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  27. Nenu

    Nenu [H]ardened

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    It can sound better for many reasons.
    The main in this is you can hear into the recording better, detail is refined, easier to pick out.
    I agree mastering can ruin a recording. We tested different bitrates from the same source.
    You are assuming the pulse timing and quality is the same for all connection methods.
    I'm an electronic engineer who was quite a skeptic until I heard the difference for myself.
    Some people can hear it, some cant or dont care. Our Dad doesnt have a clue.
     
  28. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Yes I am, and I'm quite happy to be corrected ;)
     
  29. Nenu

    Nenu [H]ardened

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    Its worth mentioning the bass is sometimes a lot better on 5.1 mixes.
    But not all, some surround mixes are pants.

    For example Hotel California SACD.
    The 5.1 subwoofer channel adds superb depth to the bassline compared to the stereo mix.
    This albums 5.1 also plays very well downmixed to stereo.
    I use Foobars DSP Manager with the built in "downmix channels to stereo" when I want the higher quality of my stereo DAC.

    An example of where it goes wrong:
    Frankie goes to Hollywood SACD I much prefer the stereo mix.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  30. VIC-20

    VIC-20 Gawd

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    I know that HDMI is just carrying data. But the DAC at the receiver can’t play the MP3, mp4, wav, whatever directly. The software player on the computer must be reading/uncompressing files and sending data to the HD audio driver so it can be sent via packets over HDMI to a receiver that has the DAC to go back to analog and be amplified.

    So I don’t think the HDMI (transport) itself is doing anything. But I’m thinking there is a difference between software players or HD audio drivers and standalone players. I just doesn’t sound the same to me. But maybe I’m imagining things.
     
  31. Nenu

    Nenu [H]ardened

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    I agree with you HDMI does sound worse should your equipment and hearing be good enough to notice.

    There is more interference on the digital signal because HDMI has a lot of parallel connections carrying data.
    Even though they are shielded some EM still gets through. Not enough to cause a failure of the signal but enough for our ears to notice the pulse timing is being affected.
    Pulse timing is critical for best sound quality.
    EM Interference mis-shapes the pulses changing the strength of the clock signal leading edge which causes the time it is detected to vary. Each clock signal latches in the next piece of audio data.
    In theory errors shouldnt happen because the clock should be recovered after passing through a buffer, but enough EM noise has a negative effect regardless.
    Also if a clock pulse goes missing (ie it wasnt detected in time), the DAC will interpolate when it thinks the pulse should happen and will interpolate what the audio data should be. This is extremely hard to perfect. If this is happening a lot (and is not enough to cause failure/sound breakup) the system will still work but wont sound near its best.
    Another problem can be corruption of the audio data. If there is enough noise to sometimes corrupt the clock signal, then there is enough noise to corrupt audio data that does get clocked in. If a CRC check on a bunch of data that has been clocked in fails, then all of it will need to interpolated (or there may be a sound breakup). Whether or not the CRC check happens, it will reduce sound quality.

    The Oppo 205 has 2 HDMI outs, one for video, the other dedicated for audio. It cannot pass video.
    The audio signal is passed to an external processor/DAC as purely as possible (within Oppos budget constraints).
    This is to get the very best audio quality from extremely high end systems.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2019
  32. rezerekted

    rezerekted 2[H]4U

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    What's this plugin you speak of? Plugin for foobar or what?

    p.s. OK, found it, it is for Win10 only so no good to me because I still use Win8.1 and will until it is no longer supported.

    https://www.howtogeek.com/309853/how-to-use-dolby-atmos-surround-sound-on-windows-10/
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2019
  33. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Razer has an app that provides 7.1 downmixing with adjustable processing as well that's quite cheap. I've used it in the past to get surround processing for headphones as well as a software EQ, before outputting the signal to my DAC through the motherboard optical output.
     
  34. Dan_D

    Dan_D [H]ardOCP Motherboard Editor

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    I don't care about surround sound speakers these days. I only use them on my PC for streaming shows and listening to music. If I want to game, I generally use 7.1 headphones.
     
  35. mvmiller12

    mvmiller12 Gawd

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    I worked in a call center for nearly a decade. I really can't stand having anything clamped to my head for any real length of time, but that's me. I really only use headphones when multiplayer gaming AND using Discord, so as that the other players aren't bombarded by my speakers.
     
    lostin3d, xmadror and DoubleTap like this.
  36. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    My Xonar U7 MkII can simulate 7.1 over headphones. It's OK, but all of the schemes I've tried seem less effective than just stereo for locating people in FPS games.
     
  37. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Jun 13, 2003
    This is really variable from game to game; essentially, when selecting 'headphones' in games with great sound, the surround 'mix' and HRTF functions are being done in game and there's really nothing else left to do. What good game sound can produce, through the same process as ASUS's software and others, may be superior to having the game output a 7.1 mix and then having some other software do the 7.1 downmix to stereo with HRTF for headphones.

    For games that aren't great at sound (or just HRTF), having them output 7.1 may be better.

    Luckily, you don't really have to do much here. You can have your ASUS software (and it is software, whether you load that as a package on the operating system or it runs on the device itself) downmix 7.1 with HRTF, while it will generally leave a stereo mix unmolested.
     
  38. Domingo

    Domingo Skip My Posts

    Messages:
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    I've been using an AVR and either a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker array with my PC for years. HDMI 2.0 has made it almost completely painless. I just set my AVR to auto-decode everything and set the speaker array within Windows. Games and video content that use surround codecs swap over to Dolby/DTS/etc. automatically.
     
  39. xmadror

    xmadror Gawd

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    I've used many vintage receivers/speakers with a dac or a sound card for ~20 years.
    I had a 5.1 system at one point that was set up pretty well but I never really liked it as much as a good stereo system.

    After many "upgrades" I'm now using a schiit bifrost (dac) --> technics su-c01 (preamp) --> Harman Kardon Citation 16 serie A (underrated at 150W rms) --> kef 105.2.

    I also have no desire to test a new 5/7.1 system. Stereo is all I need!
    When gaming, if I want to get a better sense of "positional audio" I'll use headphone (hd6xx) with no added software to upmix.
     
  40. Majinhoju

    Majinhoju [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
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    Apr 12, 2008
    I cut down from a 7.1 to stereo a while back. Keep mind I was just running a budget Logitech x540 with an additional pair of stereo speakers (to bump 5.1 to 7.1). I never ran a true "good" speaker setup and don't plan too (i don't want the neighbors to complain, haha).
    When I want good immersive audio, I just use my 598SE headphones. Games with good sound design sound amazing on these and also sound surround.