difference in onboard audio chipsets

xXaNaXx

Gawd
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May 15, 2003
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ok, i'm looking at these 2 motherboards in a side-by-side comparison over at the egg:

1) ASUS M3A78-EM
2) GIGABYTE GA-MA78GM-S2HP

it appears that, other than the number of USB ports on the board, the main difference between the two is the audio chipset used, and i'm just wondering which is better.

1) uses Realtek ALC1200 and 2) uses Realtek ALC889A

anyone know which one is better?

edit:\ btw, i want an audio chipset that will be able to decode all the current audio formats for HD content, and preferably have as much future support as possible, without having to resort to an addon sound card.
 

Dangman

Ninja Editor SuperMod
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The Gigabyte mobo is the better choice out of those two in terms of audio and here's why:
As I said. The only one worth a damn is Gigabyte's board (or very possibly MSI's Diva boards).

The reason being is that if you want to use the HDMI connector you're going to limited to 2.0 audio since the 780G only supports that. Gigabyte gets around this by using a sound chip that does DTS connect/DD 5.1 live which means it will re-encode your TrueHD audio from pristine 7.1 HD goodness into almost as good 5.1 audio over the HDMI port. No other 780G mobo does that which I can't see any damn good reason since we all know the IGP is limited to 2.0 and they still bill it as "an HTPC solution."
 

xXaNaXx

Gawd
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ok, so what happens if i use the DVI port with a DVI --> HDMI adapter? does this problem still exist? i'm guessing not, since DVI is for video only, and will not be transporting any audio streams?
 

xXaNaXx

Gawd
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btw, this system will be for playing network-connected content only that has been ripped to a hard drive (obviously with any encryption removed)....i have a stand-alone HD-DVD & Blu-ray player for playing protected content directly from the disc, so i don't need HDCP playback capability on this PC.
 

CrimandEvil

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Just like Danny already pointed out the only difference is if you are using HDMI out on the board with both audio and video. If you are only using HDMI/DVI out from it then it doesn't really matter.

If you're going to be doing any sort of HD content that uses an HD audio format (DTS MA, TrueHD, etc) it will all have to be decoded in software first and then shot out over analog to your receiver. The only way to get an HD audio format over a digital connection is with HDMI and using the 7.1 LCPM track but, last I remember, the 780G doesn't support this (NV's 9000 series and 8000 series do).
 

CrimandEvil

Dick with a heart of gold
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If Audio is important to you, then the MSI board is a great solution.

Below is the 5.1 amp version. However, they also have a 7.1 Pre Amp version as well. Newegg does not have any at the moment, but it ewiz was carrying it. Have not checked lately though.

MSI Media Live Diva

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130206&Tpk=msi diva
I really wish they had used the 889A (think that's it) like the Gigabyte board for the HDMI connection/audio issue but it looks like an awesome board for analog connection. Still wish it used the 889A though to make it more of an whole package thing.
 

xXaNaXx

Gawd
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oh, i forgot to mention that i want to use the optical SPDIF connector, rather than a copper, analog cable or the copper digital cable.

is the optical SPDIF cable also limited to 2 channel when using DVI video output, or does it support the full 8 channels when connected this way?

sorry, i was at work posting in between phone calls when i wrote my posts earlier, and was nearing the end of a 12-hr shift.

i've read some reviews on the ASUS board that the optical SPDIF output was limited to 2 channels, but (naturally) none of them mention what video connection they were using at the time....and i'm betting it was the HDMI rather than the DVI, but i'd like some confirmation.

if 8 channels over the integrated optical SPDIF is not possible, can anyone recommend an add-on soundcard that does support all the latest HD audio formats over optical?
 

CrimandEvil

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You can't do HD audio formats over spdif.

The best you can do is 5.1 DTS/DD audio. You need a sound card and to go analog out for any HD audio format (unless the onboard sound is capable/good enough to do it, they're perfectly fine for digital audio connections and should be decent enough for an analog connection).
 

Eruditass

Gawd
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it is my understanding that you are not limited to 2 channels with digital with the gigabyte board if you have the right software.

i have this chipset but unfortunately not the software. check with the board and see if it supports dolby digital live then it will come on the cd, or find the software.. and if you find it, shoot me a pm!

i'm not too hard pressed about it, i dont mind using analog cables for surround, but all through hdmi would be quite nice and i could confirm it for you.
 

CrimandEvil

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it is my understanding that you are not limited to 2 channels with digital with the gigabyte board if you have the right software.

i have this chipset but unfortunately not the software. check with the board and see if it supports dolby digital live then it will come on the cd, or find the software.. and if you find it, shoot me a pm!
The audio codec that Asus uses doesn't support this feature. No point in trying even if you did have the extra driver for it.
 

Eruditass

Gawd
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I thought you said you had the Asus, you have the Gigabyte then? You should have the extra driver on the CD or from Gigabyte's site then.
it's not on ny cd and i can't find it on gigabyte's site. i have the audio chipset driver but i was informed i need the licensed DDL driver which I can't find. could you show me a link? there was a vista driver/software on the CD but i have xp.
 

CrimandEvil

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Hmm, weird. Might not work correctly on XP then. Thats what Gigabyte told you?
 

SJetski71

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If Audio is important to you, then the MSI board is a great solution.

Below is the 5.1 amp version. However, they also have a 7.1 Pre Amp version as well. Newegg does not have any at the moment, but it ewiz was carrying it. Have not checked lately though.

MSI Media Live Diva

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130206&Tpk=msi diva
Ahh, the 7.1 doesn't have an amp. Somehow i overlooked that fact, thanks for clarifying :)

In other words those looking for a built-in amp should use the MSI 7411-001 5.1 version.

I still feel that seperate components are often better in the long run. When you inevitably upgrade the MSI 7411 motherboard, you'll end up losing your amp along with it.
 

xXaNaXx

Gawd
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You can't do HD audio formats over spdif.

The best you can do is 5.1 DTS/DD audio. You need a sound card and to go analog out for any HD audio format (unless the onboard sound is capable/good enough to do it, they're perfectly fine for digital audio connections and should be decent enough for an analog connection).
is that just for onboard audio, or all sound adapters? so even an external sound card won't support higher than 5.1DTS/DD over optical SPDIF?

even so, is it true that if i use the DVI connector instead of the HDMI that the optical SPDIF will not be limited to 2-channel, and will output 5.1DTS/DD? if so, that's completely fine with me (for now), as my home theater setup is limited to 5.1 at the moment anyway, and DTS already sounds awesome as it is.....

edit:\ and what about 7.1 (8-channel) audio? is this possible over SPDIF, or is that type of audio the equivalent of HD audio? because i may be upgrading to a new receiver/surround system fairly soon, one that does 7.1, and it would be nice to know if i'd need an additional sound card (or if i would be forced to use analog connections) to enjoy the full 7.1.
 

CrimandEvil

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is that just for onboard audio, or all sound adapters? so even an external sound card won't support higher than 5.1DTS/DD over optical SPDIF?
I said spdif as in the entire technology. Doesn't matter if it's onboard audio or a sound card cause spdif doesn't have enough bandwidth.
even so, is it true that if i use the DVI connector instead of the HDMI that the optical SPDIF will not be limited to 2-channel, and will output 5.1DTS/DD?
You don't get audio over DVI; the 2 channel issue only affects the HDMI out.
edit:\ and what about 7.1 (8-channel) audio? is this possible over SPDIF, or is that type of audio the equivalent of HD audio? because i may be upgrading to a new receiver/surround system fairly soon, one that does 7.1, and it would be nice to know if i'd need an additional sound card (or if i would be forced to use analog connections) to enjoy the full 7.1.
I just said spdif can't do it. You'll need to go analog out.
 

Javabri

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I really wish they had used the 889A (think that's it) like the Gigabyte board for the HDMI connection/audio issue but it looks like an awesome board for analog connection. Still wish it used the 889A though to make it more of an whole package thing.
How is the 889A helping the Gbyte board? If it was going over HDMI, that is all the 780 chipset isn't it?

As for the rest, the only thing the realtek codec is doing on this board is the SPDIF, Mic In and front panel audio. The analogs are all done by the D2 part which is why the SNR and THD specs on this board are much better than anything the realtek stuff could do.

I know 1 cable HDMI is what everyone is shooting for, but I still prefer the analog connections, just feels warmer for the audio. But, audio is sooooo subjective anyway.

Works for me though. I love my set up...using it daily now.

Was even rocking the house this weekend as we started putting up Christmas Decorations.

By the way, saw this review posted else where, pretty nice write up on the MSI platform.

Overall, I can definitely recommend this platform as Windows Vista media PC platform. It will blow away almost anything else except for perhaps custom gaming machines, and it will be easier to use than most alternatives.

The MS-4240 5.1 100-W amplifier card is easy to use. It has screw terminals for 5 pairs of speaker wire, making hookup easy. It is on par with my amp and receivers I have used in the past. Sound quality with this amplifier and motherboard are top notch.

http://electronicdesign.com/Articles/Index.cfm?ArticleID=20164
 

CrimandEvil

Dick with a heart of gold
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Uh, the 780G is limited to two channels of audio over the HDMI port. Gigabyte gets around this by using the 889A which can transcode 7.1 HD audio down to 5.1 DTS audio on the fly and send it down to the HDMI port.

No other 780G mobo can do that.
 
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