So tired of HDMI audio issues. Looking at a refurb receiver with 7.1 analog inputs.

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by DoubleTap, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    My little Marantz NR1501 is really finicky with my new system - I can't tell if it's the receiver or my PC but when I get it hooked up with HDMI audio, it will work for a while, but it does not take much and it stops working. Everything thinks it is still working (no errors) but sound just stops coming out.

    I found a refurb Integra (Onkyo) receiver with a 2yr mfg warranty and both HDMI audio as well as discrete 7.1 audio inputs. I just want to play games in surround and I'm so sick of issues with HDMI, HDCP, Nvidia Surround and having to have an extra monitor or a ghost monitor or whatever. $200 is a good price for a receiver with both types of input.

    I'll run motherboard multi channel to the new receiver for gaming and probably use stereo over optical for just music.

    One of the issues I had with an analog computer speaker system a few years back was that it had very long input cables and any sort of activity on my cell phone would cause pretty significant induction noise. I'm thinking shorter (3ft probably) input cables will prevent or minimize that issue.

    I still can't believe that the HDMI spec does not have some sort of audio only mode that just sends a blanked out video signal.

    Is anyone else just constantly pissed off about how stupidly hard surround audio can be these days?
     
  2. dwd999

    dwd999 [H]Lite

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    Just out of curiousity, is there a reason why surround doesn't work over optical?
     
  3. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    It does in theory. In practice, it sucks:

    1. To get gaming audio in surround over optical, you need either a Dolby Digital Live! or DTS Connect encoder - most motherboards and even sound cards don't do this anymore (because the licensing is like $8 or something)
    2. Assuming you now have your encoder working, you are now limited to 5.1 and it's compressed
    3. So maybe 5.1 compressed is OK, unfortunately, most (all) encoders add significant latency (500ms++) which really is bad for the gaming experience.
     
  4. dwd999

    dwd999 [H]Lite

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    Sorry, I didn't understand that there are latency issues involved. I know that I can download the realtek audio drivers including dolby and dts from third party websites and that they show support for 7.1 but I don' t know anything about compression and latency. This is good learning for me as I will be getting an ASUS270E Strix in the fall. Thanks!
     
  5. Nenu

    Nenu Pick your own.....you deserve it.

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    Yep, compressed audio is a waste of a hifi.
    SPDIF is usually good for stereo but unless you have your back to a wall it shouldnt be used for surround.
     
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  6. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    The Realtek 7.1 support is in the form of four 3.5mm analog jacks. Sub/center, LR Front, LR Surround, LR Rear Surround.

    The problem is what you connect it to. Either you get some crappy computer speakers or - or what? They stopped putting 7.1 analog inputs on everything except really high end receivers about 7-8 years ago.

    I don't need a $1200 receiver to play Battlefield 1, but I don't want to stoop to some plastic piece of junk either but if you want to use those analog jacks, you're stuck with the extreme ends of the audio scale.

    HDMI surround works great - when it works. If you have a single screen system that can use HDMI then you are fine. If you run Nvidia Surround and or SLI or G-Sync then you often can't use HDMI on your main monitors - so you need an extra monitor. An extra monitor so that you can use surround sound. In my case, I've usually been able to use the HDMI connection on one of my Displayport monitors to make it seem like I have that extra screen - but there are all kinds of connection issues you can experience and god help you if you change inputs on your receiver. Your computer thinks you turned off your HDMI monitor and your surround sound. It usually does not just come right back either - you have to reconfigure it when you switch the input back.

    If you want to avoid those headaches, you need an EDID emulator that tells your PC your monitor is always connected (even when it's not). Those are like $100-160. They're worth it.

    HDMI audio is great, but it absolutely requires video information to work. You also run the risk of tripping the content protection which I suspect is what happens with the SLI/Surround problem.

    Years ago, ASUS made an HDMI sound card. I think it just sent blank video (you have to have video, even if it's just blank video) so conceptually, it's been done, but for some reason, Microsoft, Nvidia and AMD won't just add that functionality to their drivers. Maybe they are limited by the HDMI standards board, I have no idea but I do know that trying to run Nvidia Surround and surround sound is far more of a pain in the ass than it has a right to be.
     
  7. dwd999

    dwd999 [H]Lite

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    I checked the Yamaha receiver that I use and it has 5.1 analog inputs but not 7.1. So I guess 5.1 will have to do for now. This is more good learning. Thanks again!
     
  8. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    I ordered the Integra DTR40.2 from A4L - it was originally $199 but today it jumped to $249. I called them and they said it was a pricing error.

    It's fairly old and a factory refurb - it has a 2yr warranty so I had a bit more confidence than some of the local deals I saw on craigslist.

    That's your best deal on a 7.1 receiver/amp with discrete inputs. After that you're looking at around $400+ for a refurb and the $800-900++ for new models.
     
  9. djoye

    djoye 2[H]4U

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    I had been using an Onkyo receiver with direct analog inputs from a Sound Blaster X-Fi for a while and have been wanting to go straight HDMI but my Onkyo TX-SR605 had a faulty HDMI board. That Onkyo had developed another issue with the center channel, so I bought an old Denon AVR-3806 as suggested by a user here and I've never been happier. I initially used the Denon's 7.1 analog inputs, but then found that the Denon acts as a display, so it didn't need any additional tricks to get HDMI audio working, yes, you'll have a phantom monitor in Windows, but I've not had any problems with it although I do disconnect it while upgrading video drivers because I think I had a weird issue once, other than that, it has been good.

    If you're playing games (or watching movies), you'll probably want the speaker volumes and distances to be set properly either from the sound driver's software or from the receiver you're using. With the Sound Blaster card, there is a THX setup for speaker volumes and speaker distance from listener, but that stuff needed to be set manually by the user, which is prone to human error, the Denon has Audyssey, so I let it automatically configure all of those parameters and I've never been happier with how balanced the speakers sound, however, on the Onkyo and the Denon, Audyssey doesn't function on the direct analog inputs. If you're set on using analog, Windows may be able to set levels similarly to how Audyssey does, I've never tested this, but if you go to the properties of your audio output device in the Windows sound settings, under the Enhancements tab, there's a Room Correction option that seems to utilize a microphone, Audyssey uses a mic for its setup; I'm guessing that, for this feature, you'll place the mic where you would typically sit, Windows will playback some sounds, then set audio levels based on what it observed; if that's the case, then go through that process and see how it affects the experience.
     
  10. Fahrenheit

    Fahrenheit [H]Lite

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    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017
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  11. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    Great advice and tips, thanks. I would prefer to use hdmi but I like having analog as a backup. I cant tell if the issues I'm having are problems with my Marantz or related to Nv surround. Could even be both.

    I did a cap repair on the Marantz last year and it worked but it still has glitches very rarely. I want to use it for a 2.1 system in the living room.

    Ordering the display emu right now, that looks like pure genius.
     
  12. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

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    Just remember that analog audio + computer is a pandoras box of trouble. You're very likely to get all sorts of problems.
     
  13. Fahrenheit

    Fahrenheit [H]Lite

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    Analog is the the paragon of ease of use on PCs. It's digital that is a pain in the scrotum
     
  14. capt_cope

    capt_cope Limp Gawd

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    What were your symptoms prior to the cap repair? I've also got a nr1501, but I can NOT use digital inputs for more than a few minutes before I get static, loud pops, and random "glitch" noise instead of audio. I have torn it down, didn't notice any obvious problems on the digital input board, so I buttoned it back up and called it a day. Right now it's just doing service as a stereo amp in my workshop, but I'd love to fix it up and get surround from it. I still think Marantz has some of the best sounding receivers on the market, even if they do seem to crap the bed pretty regularly.
     
  15. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

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    Not so at all. Analog is very suspectible to ground loops and other interference related problems. A computer is a very noisy sound source and many computers PSU:s leak 110/220V to the chassis. This then gets grounded through the analog audio cables to the amplifier. I've seen sparks fly at worst. Digital is immune to those especially when connecting optically. Most if not all problems on the digital side are related to DRM issues for which we can thank the RIAA and MPAA.

    Of course the mains leak will affect also digital connections unless optical is used.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
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  16. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

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    Which interface are you using for the digital connection? Make sure that your sampling rate on your computers side matches the amplifiers normal DA sampling rate.
     
  17. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    It was massive static from all inputs.

    This is the cap I used:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AK0KABE/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    This is how I fixed it:
    http://www.avsforum.com/forum/90-re...m-receiver-owners-thread-12.html#post30445770

    My weird PC centric issues aside, it works perfectly.


    I'm not planning on running analog full time and I might get the HDMI surround working again, but my office is setup for 7.1 and damn if I'm not going to use 7.1

    I'm currently using optical for stereo sound, in part because I've had noise problems in the past.

    If I didn't say it before, I'll say it now - I don't watch TV or movies on my PC. I play games and listen to music. The music side is fine with optical, but gaming surround is broke and for me, that means my PC is broke until it's fixed.
     
  18. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

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    That's possibly because the SP/DIF connection doesn't support PCM surround. You have to have a capable sound card and set it to AC3/DTS mode and have the receiver decode the surround.
     
  19. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    I experienced massive static / rapid popping on several inputs. I think I tried HDMI, Optical and the front 3.5mm - I can't remember but it seemed omnipresent. It recently had a very similar problem and I figured my repair had failed or another cap had died - I shut it off for a few days and then decided to troubleshoot it and it worked 100% normally.


    Surround over optical is not an acceptable solution due to being limited to 5.1 and suffering from significant DDL/DTS encoder latency (and also compression). I also don't have a device that supports encoding but I wouldn't use it if I did, it's just too broken.

    Only HDMI/PCM or discrete analog inputs are acceptable. They both have draw backs and issues but they are not mutually exclusive.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2017
  20. Fahrenheit

    Fahrenheit [H]Lite

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    I can only speak for myself but I've never had any ground loops or interference in any analog connection on my PC. RCA and speaker wire ran right on top of power wire. Never had an issue. Granted I don't buy cheap PSUs
     
  21. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    Yeah, the only "analog" issue I've ever had with sound was when I was using a Dell THX surround system that had super long 5.1 analog input cables - it would pick up my cell phone transmitter and I could hear my incoming calls a few seconds before my phone rang. It was cool the first time, but then it just sucked because it happened a LOT.

    I ran 5.1 analog to an old Onkyo receiver I had until it died and never had any noise or interference issues that I recall.

    I was running a 15ft HDMI cable to my receiver because the PC and receiver and not super close, but based on my earlier experiences, that could be an issue if I go back to analog so I'll move them close together (but not too close...)
     
  22. Fahrenheit

    Fahrenheit [H]Lite

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    If your just passing audio you can get away with long HDMI cords, redmere cables are super thin and long and work for everything besides 4k HDR.
     
  23. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    My home office is 11'x11' - My PC is on the North wall, the receiver is on the middle of the East wall. 15' of HDMI is plenty and nowhere near a problem for HDMI. I do think that could be too long for analog signal cables - the longer the cable, the easier it is to pick up induction noise
     
  24. pippenainteasy

    pippenainteasy Limp Gawd

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    Although regardless of length, HDMI can also pick up electrical noise. In one room of the house, if I use HDMI for video it automatically causes my power amplifier to output a ground loop hum, so I had to switch to optical/tosklink for audio to my processor to get rid of it.
     
  25. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

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    Compression is hardly a problem when using it for gaming sound. Also latency would have to be huge to become a problem. If DTS audio is good enough for you when viewing movies its good enough for your games.
     
  26. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    You might go back and read some of the earlier posts in this thread.

    You're right that compression is not a major problem but being limited to 5.1 is a significant problem and the surround encoder latency for gaming is so bad I consider it unusable for gaming.

    I also said I don't use my surround system for TV or movies but even if I was, you're overlooking something.

    Movies (as far as I know) come with the surround information already encoded on the disc/stream so the only latency is the decoding which is not significant.

    Gaming surround over optical requires a sound card that does Dolby or DTS encoding (and compression) in real time - this is the problem: Every sound card encoder I've tried had latency that I would estimate to be well over 500ms.

    My experience was that you could see a gun fire, recoil and reset and then you would hear the report. You could see a character jump, then come down, then you would hear the jump sound.

    That's game breaking for me and that's why surround over optical is not a good solution for gaming.
     
  27. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

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    Well 500ms is huge latency and would render such devices unusable for all purposes. Nobody would sell devices with such latency so either your configuration was bad, hardware broken or manufacturers were incredibly stupid to even include the optical out.

    There seems to be a common problem with Dolby Digital causing lag but as commonly people report that DTS works lag free. Check that first.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
  28. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    It's a problem on DTS Connect as well - just look at the first page of google when you search for DTS Connect Latency

    I just got the Integra 40.2 and set it up. It looks brand new and it even has that factory new smell when I turned it on and it warmed up.

    I didn't realize when I ordered it, but it actually has 2 HDMI outputs - I have my HDMI input connected to the secondary output but only the primary is active - this lets me switch outputs if I want to use the OSD but the rest of the time, I don't have to worry about the connection to the monitor causing an issue or triggering a disconnect.

    HDMI 7.1 is working great and was really easy to configure. I suspect my Marantz may have more issues than I realized but I'll probably use it to make a 2.1 system for my plasma in the living room.

    Looks like they just bumped the price up again - now it's $299. Overkill for most PC setups but it's versatile and it's still a great price.
     
  29. Luke M

    Luke M Limp Gawd

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    Old AVRs are a steal if you don't need the latest HDMI.
     
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  30. djoye

    djoye 2[H]4U

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    The only time I had hum or buzz from analog was when I was using some ancient, skimpy, 30-foot RCA cables, they had to be at least 20 years old; using some decent RCA cables I bought for car audio eliminated the noise. Ever since I've had my receiver on my computer desk, I've used inexpensive 6-foot 3.5 mm -> RCA cables from monoprice and haven't had any noise.

    Which Denon receiver do you have? I'm wondering if this is common across their receivers over the years.
     
  31. Luke M

    Luke M Limp Gawd

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    Believe it or not, you can get hum problems even without using analog. That's because many AVRs (including expensive models) don't isolate the HDMI inputs from the audio circuitry.
     
  32. capt_cope

    capt_cope Limp Gawd

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    I used optical and HDMI.
    THANK YOU! I've searched for this issue in the past but hadn't stumbled on that post before. I removed cap 1604 last night and soldered on a 100uF cap left over from building a DAC or phono stage (very literally a 5 minute job) and all of a sudden my digital inputs work perfectly. I actually had a nr1607 in my cart at A4L, but it looks like I'll be able to put off upgrading my receiver until I get a 4k tv in the family room.
     
  33. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    That's awesome man! I'm glad it worked for you. I really like the NR units - they're great for small spaces.
     
  34. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    So I'm really happy with this new receiver and then yesterday the volume knob stops working. Remote works just fine but I have the receiver RIGHT next to me so I can use the knob - plus broke is broke.

    Now I have the joy of returning this beast.

    Not sure if I want a refund or an exchange. Since the HDMI surround is working fine, I might exchange it for a later model Yamaha they have that is NIB and the same price (no analog inputs, but that's fine)

    I'm also thinking of getting some better speakers. The Orb Audio Mod 1s are great for gaming and movies but not quite as good for music - although they are not terrible.
     
  35. fmatthew5876

    fmatthew5876 n00bie

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    I would definitely suggest using HDMI from your computer.

    In terms of sound quality, the Digital to Analog conversion will almost certainly be better in the receiver. You're also much less likely to have interference over a single digital HDMI link as you would with 7 or 8 analog cables. I also of course don't need to mention how it simplifies your physical cabling.

    I use hdmi over NVIDIA to my home theater setup and have no problems. The only annoying thing is music stops playing with the machine is idle and the monitor turns off automatically via DPMS.
     
  36. sweets3450

    sweets3450 Limp Gawd

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    hdmi is the best way to go to connect to your computer. sounds like you have a problem with your receiver or you're not using a high speed hdmi cable.
     
  37. rezerekted

    rezerekted 2[H]4U

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    Thought TX-SR605 doesn't do audio over HDMI? I have an SR505 and it doesn't. Came out same time as SR605.

    I used analog from X-Fi to TX-SR505 with no emi issues.
     
  38. djoye

    djoye 2[H]4U

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    TX-SR605 can do audio over HDMI if its HDMI board isn't busted, but it also requires an active display or HDCP emulator on the HDMI video output to trick the receiver into activating the HDMI throughput. I was using the 605 for analog throughput until the center channel started acting up; that receiver hasn't helped my perception of Onkyo.
     
  39. rezerekted

    rezerekted 2[H]4U

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    Looked it up and see it has HDMI 1.3 so you are right. Somehow I was lead to believe mine could not do audio over HDMI so upgraded to a Denon. My Denon crapped out completely and my Onkyo still works fine but use Cambridge Audio 2ch amp.
     
  40. DoubleTap

    DoubleTap [H]ard|Gawd

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    My 2nd Integra DTR-40.2 just experienced the same volume knob failure as the first.

    The Accessories4Less return policy looks pretty brutal when you read it. If you try to return something, you have to pay return shipping charges AND they deduct the actual shipping charges they paid to ship it to you.

    Apparently they can just keep sending you defective units until your 30 days are up and then you're screwed and have to use the mfg warrany.