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Need a mothboard for HDMI audio with 7.1 sound


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#1
tha_toadman

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Hey everyone,

I'm looking up to upgrade an existing setup I have and I need the following 2 things: (1) an Intel LGA1155 ATX motherboard (preferrably Asus or GB) that will support 7.1 audio via HDMI and (2) as a backup solution, a video card that will pass HDMI audio as well. The video card does not need to be a $300 gaming card. I just want something that will pass FullHD resolution to a screen and preferably fanless if possible. As for the board's sound, I would like something in the Realtek 8xx realm for compatibility.

Does anyone have any good recommendations?

Thanks!

#2
Mr.D.

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So here is the big question: are you running the HDMI output to a receiver that is capable of 7.1? I believe the HDMI Spec provides for 8 channels of raw PCM data, so any system bought new should comply with this spec (HDMI 1.3 or greater)

Same goes for the video card. Don't forget that when you are dealing with HDMI out, you are using the sound chip on the GPU, not your motherboard or even a nice discrete sound processor. Only time you'll use either of those is if you use the sound jacks on the MB or Sound Card.

If all you are looking for is multi-channel LPCM output, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio for BluRay protected audio playback, then any motherboard or mid grade video card made in the last 18 months will be just fine. Just make sure you Receiver can handle 7.1 - there are still a lot of them being sold that are only 5.1 - which isn't bad by any means. BUT then the problem becomes whether or not that receiver system supports audio passthrough. Older (pre HDMI 1.3) systems may only pass the video.

So - if you want 7.1 - just make sure you buy something new(ish) on all sides and you should be good to go.

Hope this helps some on your quest!

#3
tha_toadman

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Thanks Mr D!

My priority for this build is 7.1 audio. My receiver is only a few years old but supports the HDMI 1.3 spec. It supports TrueHD and MasterAudio so I should be fine. I'm trying to keep everything HDMI if possible.

I went ahead and bought a motherboard but I'm not sure what I'll do about the video. I might be able to get by with the HD4000 graphics for now. I will say though that I didn't know about HDMI audio from the video card until your post. If that's the case, I might just reuse my 9600GT if I can manage to get HDMI audio working off the of the motherboard. My fallback then would be the HD4000.

Does that sound like a good idea or are there certain cards I should investigate for the HDMI audio?

#4
Mr.D.

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So the problem you have with the 9600GT is that there is no HDMI... only DVI. So if you were to connect that output to your receiver (assuming your receiver has either a DVI input or you have an adapter) you have no audio. You can't just pull the audio from the HDMI output of your computer (well, maybe you can, but it would be a lot more complicated than what we're trying to do here), connect it to your receiver and sync that audio up with the video from the DVI port. The issues with this being: the GPU is gonna over-ride your on-board HDMI = no data at all from the Intel HD400, audio or video. When the discrete graphics card is working, and you have no HDMI on that card, the sound processing would revert back to the on-board sound. This is where the pass-thru comes in. Will your receiver accept an audio source that is separate from that DVI signal, and in turn pass it thru to your speakers or TV? My guess is no, because if your receiver has a DVI port, its looking only for the video signal. It may have an S/PDIF port or coax digital audio port associated with it, but probably not. And my biggest reason for thinking this wouldn't work is because I am gonna take a guess and say that you are hooking up the DVI output of the computer, thru a DVI-to-HDMI adapter, to you receiver. In this case, there would almost assuredly not be the option to pass-thru the audio from another source, because you stated that your receiver is HDMI 1.3 compliant, which means that its expecting the audio signal to come thru the HDMI cable.

WHEW!!

What this means is that your best bet is to use the Intel HD400 graphics. Remember, this graphics option is processor dependent, not motherboard dependent. Gotta make sure the CPU you are getting has the GPU built in.

I ran this way for a while, until I put my components into my G5 case. I tried using a left angle (270°) HDMI adapter because I don't want to cut my G5 case. Turns out that stupid $1.99 monoprice adapter was interfering with the HDCP signal and was wigging my system out. So I chose to buy an ATi 6770 GPU rather than cut my case. I bought this card for 70 bucks. Pretty good deal, and I bought it a few months later so I could spread some of the cost out.

I hope I explained that OK... feel free to ask for more clarification.

#5
Mr.D.

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and for those interested parties that wanna TRY to get the sound off the HDMI signal without interfering, check out this article. Its geared toward sniffing out the HDCP but could most likely be re-engineered to siphon the sound off as well. This is some next level stuff here, so fair warning.

#6
tha_toadman

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Mr. D,

Thanks so much for your input. I should have specified earlier that the 9600GT does have a HDMI port on it. So I'm taking it that it will have HDMI audio pass-through. I was reading up on it on this the following link -- http://www.pcstats.c...?articleID=2384. It sounds like I'll need a SP/DIF jumper though to achieve this.

As a side note, I will be getting a HD4000 capable processor as a backup solution for the graphics.

Will your receiver accept an audio source that is separate from that DVI signal, and in turn pass it thru to your speakers or TV?


Yes, it currently does now. I have an optical out to the receiver and then video is DVI-to-HDMI from the 9600GT to the receiver. My understanding of the drawback is that the bandwidth for the optical link is only 6 channel (5.1) and i'm looking for 8 channel (7.1). If I can get pass-through working on the 9600GT then I may get somewhere.

#7
Mr.D.

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S/PDIF is just Linear PCM - that means Stereo. You can encode that signal for DolbyDigital or DTS, but then the receiver is doing the decoding - hence the potential for lag between the audio and video source - the audio has to be processed two times more than the video does.

The specs for that card straight from nVidia show only dual DVI links. Yes, technically HDMI and DVI-D are electrically compatible but the big difference here is the sound processing. Since DVI does not include sound in the signal, I am not sure that any version of that card will have a sound processor on it. The HDMI can carry audio, but it is only SPDIF audio... which along with DRM (which in this case the DRM is HDCP) is the limitation as to 2 channel LPCM or 5.1 DD/DTS not the passthrough + HDMI itself. The jumper that you mention, and after looking at your link, means that the sound will be coming from the onboard sound or a dedicated sound card that has an SPDIF 2 pin connector. You then run that jumper wire from the MB (or sound card) to the video card. Because this card is just passing the audio along and not processing it, that is where the Linear PCM comes into play.

As far as I can tell from what I understand of your components, you'll only get 7.1 audio from the HD4000 iGPU - never from your 9600GT. In fact, the GT wouldn't even be real 5.1 - it would be processed 5.1. Think of it as back in the days of Dolby ProLogic. It was a good way to fake surround without the dedicated channels. Similar concept here. Only two Linear PCM streams here so the signal has to be encoded.

SPDIF is limited in its capabilities. It sure is neat to have a fiber optic cable running from one thing to another, but you get a far better experience with an HDMI 1.3 or better source, cable, and receiver.

It all depends on what you really, really want. Is this potentially going to be a HTPC? then just stick with the iGPU. Do you want to do some mildly intensive graphic stuff on this rig? run some combo of your existing card and the onboard iGPU (gotta love Virtux). Want a one stop solution for more intensive graphics and 7.1 audio - buy a new GPU. I got mine for 70 bucks, its two generations old, and still blows away the HD4000.

Hope this helped some more - keep the questions coming if you need to!

#8
tha_toadman

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Is this potentially going to be a HTPC?


Yes, it is. I'm most likely going to do what you recommended here and just use the new board + iGPU and then ditch the 9600GT. I'll work to get HDMI audio out from the main board.

Do you want to do some mildly intensive graphic stuff on this rig?


No, none whatsoever. I think the HD4000 should be sufficient. Sometime down the road I may upgrade the GPU.

#9
Mr.D.

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the ATi 5770/6770 is a pretty good upgrade down the road... both WTT and I use them and have good luck with them.

So have you decided on the motherboard yet? With this being a potential HTPC setup, what kind of case?

#10
tha_toadman

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Yeah I have. I went ahead and purchased a GA-Z77X-UD5H-WIFI board. I'm upgrading an existing build so this is will be going into my Silverstone LC-13-B case. For the CPU, I'm committing to the i7-3770S so once the funds are in place, the fun begins!

#11
Mr.D.

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Great board from what I hear! and I'm all in favor of reusing components to save some scratch - and a good call on the 3770s. If you don't plan on overclocking, no need for the K.

#12
WhatTheTech

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Great board from what I hear! and I'm all in favor of reusing components to save some scratch - and a good call on the 3770s. If you don't plan on overclocking, no need for the K.


Nice post!

Seriously, the 5/6 Series Radeon is a dream if you get the right one! My Vapor-X 5770 has always been plug and play with every install - it's nice having a card to troubleshoot, as I can always know that a kernel panic is not 5770-related (and it never is) :D

#13
tha_toadman

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Well my update to share is that I have the build up-and-running but it sounds like I'll need more configuring in order to get HDMI audio out of this board.





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