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Mastering HD PC Audio, Part 2

Following the PC Audio Chain for Blu-Ray Playback

Blu-ray Disc Playback

First and foremost, the PC must be equipped with an internal Blu-ray drive. We ignore the various methods for attaching a Sony PlayStation 3 with Blu-ray player, primarily because it can deliver high-definition audio more reliably and directly to a receiver or pre-amp/preprocessor without requiring a PC link-up. Please note also that USB 2.0 attached Blu-ray players are workable, because the 480 Mbps bandwidth they deliver can handle typical Blu-ray disc bandwidths available today (these top out at around 45 MBps, or 360 Mbps, while the Blu-ray.com FAQ, Item 1.7, indicates that maximum bitrates of 400 Mbps represent the upper end of what this technology can deliver).

Products are now available from an increasing number of vendors, including multiple models from Asus, LITE-ON, LG, NEC, Sony, and others, in a price range from $130 to $350. See Table 1 for some representative examples of these types of devices. This represents a major improvement since the last time we surveyed this field, when we had trouble finding any Blu-ray players that weren’t available primarily or only for OEM buyers, and where support for CD-ROM was mostly absent.

  • audioee
    Ed,

    On page 7, when you talk about the Asus HDAV1.3, you say the output opamps can be swapped and then refer to the Burr-Frown (should be Burr-Brown) PCM1796. The BB PCM1796 is a stereo DAC not an opamp. Someone might get confused and think they can swap the DACs. You should fix this.

    So why doesn't some company bite the bullet and design a solution that has a protected audio path that can work outside of MS PAP, instead of waiting for MS to get their act together on their PAP drivers? This would probably help those of us with XP as well, since PAP appears to be Vista only.



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  • Oddly enough it turns out that mis-spelling is taken directly from the ASUSTek site and it explicitly states that the DAC is replaceable. While rather odd seeming, and clearly incorrect insofar as the spelling of Burr-Brown goes, it is consistent with the press release...
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  • elpresidente2075
    All this to protect from ripping the raw audio/video streams. HDCP is the creator of all the trouble, and still quite easily circumvented by the end user, or the hardcore pirate. HDCP is going to stop NOONE from pirating the works that are being placed on Blu-Ray, and is only serving to frustrate not only customers but the manufacturers of both hardware and software.

    The only benefactors of HDCP are those who are making it, IE Digital Content Protection LLC. and their ilk. Too bad the executives at the MPAA are too focused on screwing their customers to actually work at MAKING money rather than "protecting" a possible future of milking money from old works.
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  • gwolfman
    sorry, double post! :|
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  • gwolfman
    Thanks for part 2. I've been waiting on this for a while.

    "Likewise, the Radeon 4x000 graphics cards appear to promise a fuller melding of 7.1 LPCM and high-definition video in their circuitry through a single HDMI output, but they aren’t due to hit the market until around the same time, perhaps as early as late summer."
    Do you mean Radeon 4x00 / 4000 series? And they're out now.
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  • gwolfman
    Thanks for part 2. I've been waiting on this for a while.

    "Likewise, the Radeon 4x000 graphics cards appear to promise a fuller melding of 7.1 LPCM and high-definition video in their circuitry through a single HDMI output, but they aren’t due to hit the market until around the same time, perhaps as early as late summer."
    Do you mean Radeon 4x00 / 4000 series? And they're out now.
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  • AMD/ATI products from the 2000 series on (excepting the 2900) have all had connectorless input for HDMI sound. No SPDIF cable is required, as is the case for nVidia products. Plug in your 2000, HD 3000, or HD 4000 product, install the drivers, and voila sound at the HDMi interface. SPDIF cable bandwidth is not an issue. Other issues however do exist (as the article points out).
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  • What exactly is wrong with using the analog-outs on your sound card??
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  • Luscious
    This is a great article. I was considering the purchase of an HP s3500t to use as a compact HTPC. The current model allows for a Q9300 CPU, Blu-ray drive, 512MB 9500GS with HDMI out and an ATSC tuner with remote. It's a good-looking, compact, feature-packed box. I'm not too concerned with obtaining digital audio because the analog from the onboard 5.1 is fine and I'm only connecting the built-in speakers on the display. I'm assuming the only thing I need to get BD movies playing with this PC is the right playback software.
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  • Perhaps THG should investigate the quality of the Motherboard amplifiers.

    If the preamp in the PC was as good as the first stage of my Reciever/Amp, then the only downside of using the MB analog outputs would be the number of wires which to me is not a big deal.

    When I asked ASUS Support what the SNR for the P5K MB outputs are, they said they didn't know.

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