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  1. #1
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    Sound card vs sound from HDMI of graphics card?

    Hi!

    I'm wondering, is there any benifit in sound quality, or FPS in having a dedicated sounds card, as compared to use the sound from the HDMI out, out of my HD6870 sound card?

    Also, I've been wondering something that might seem kind of stupid. When you have a dedicated sound card, does it mean that you have 2 sets of connections on the back ( motherboard + soundcard)?

  2. #2
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    Are you speaking of digital sound? If so, you won't be able to tell the difference.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thideras View Post
    Are you speaking of digital sound? If so, you won't be able to tell the difference.
    I don't really know what digital would mean in these circumstances. Isn't all sound digital coming from a motherboard, soundcard or simular? Analog sound (I'm a musician) for me is tube amplifiers, old mixing desks etc

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by thideras View Post
    Are you speaking of digital sound? If so, you won't be able to tell the difference.
    There will be a difference, it depends which component further down the chain is better at converting the digital signal to analog. To the OP...try them both, and use which you think sounds better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Barton View Post
    There will be a difference, it depends which component further down the chain is better at converting the digital signal to analog. To the OP...try them both, and use which you think sounds better.
    I know there is *a* difference, but it isn't going to be substantial. I really doubt they will notice.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thideras View Post
    I know there is *a* difference, but it isn't going to be substantial. I really doubt they will notice.
    It depends on how good the rest of his system is. If he has a resolving system, the differences will be readily apparent. Everything in the signal chain has an effect on the sound. For instance, the DAC in my Squeezebox is inferior to whats in my MHDT Havana....very easily discernable. A night and day difference, if you will.

    EDIT: Im referring to running analog out with onboard sound vs HDMI to a receiver. Just to avoid any confusion.

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    The audio chipset on your graphics card (whether Radeon or nVidia) is "Intel HDA" (usually Realtek, but might by Cirrus, CMedia, or others), which is probably the same chipset your motherboard has, if it has onboard audio. A discrete sound card definitely could be better, with the appropriate DAC components, but the GPU is probably better quality than most $10 sound cards.
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  8. #8
    The HD6870 has its own integrated sound chip, not sure by what company, but I would imagine it's very similar to onboard audio. Nevertheless, the sound should be very similar to that of your motherboard or any sound card. The good news is that HDMI audio channel is a digital signal, therefore, no changes have been made. In other words, it's the same as using an optical cable to hook up to your tv/receiver, which is pretty darn good.

    As mentioned, the overall sound quality will be dependent on the piece of equipment you connect the HDMI cable to, the rest of the equipment you may/may not have attached to it, and your speakers or headphones (obviously). I would refrain from buying an extra sound card.

  9. #9
    but , digital sounds isnt the same all the way around. There are many compressions going on on most everything were playing now days.
    If it was "byte for byte" perfection similar all the way around, or sent down the HDMI in 30 different compressed codecs then it would be the same, but it aint.

    Almost everything including games is some form of compressed or highly compressed sounds that are decoded then sent out digital lines more decompressed.

    onboard audio devices rely on the cpu to do most of any work that gets done to the data.
    the plug-in cards are supposed to be doing a lot of the work themselves, even if the audio out of that device is also a uncompressed or less compressed digital signal (like optical or spdif).

    there are very few signals for audio that are not compressed, when we went from analog to digital they just found one more way to destroy the signal :-) by the time it gets back to analog, which speakers are even via digital amps, it was digital, but not the same signal at all.

    somewhere in there these signals digital or not are being decompressed, any HARDware that Actually assists in the decompression, or the altering of the sounds the various ways, can potentially take the load of doing that off of other parts of the computer.
    that doesnt even include the Decoding of the signals when splitting them out for various dolby dts thx and all that stuff, which is one more round of processing the data.
    .
    Last edited by Psycogeec; 10-27-10 at 05:53 PM.

  10. #10
    I thought about mentioning the codecs used to transcode* the audio source, but that doesn't have any effect on the digital signal itself. Regardless, whether you output a transcoded mp3 or flac or whatever to the audio controller, that signal--no matter how good or bad it is--will be in a digital form and will not be changed again until the D/A conversion process. My point was to show that the audio controller itself isn't at fault for poor sound quality or any loss in quality, so buying a new sound card wouldn't help.

    But you can do things like using the LAME codec for playing mp3's, or use a lossless format. I'm not a fan of mp3's, as I'm a purist, but sometimes it's the only way I can obtain certain types of 'rare' music. But yes, your're right--playing compressed music will result in sub-par audio. What was removed during the compression process is gone forever, but at least we can listen our sub-par audio signals as best we can!

    /me step on soapbox
    I don't know why mp3's are used anymore. One of my Flac directories has 656 albums and is only 230 GB. I have many more I haven't moved over (I'm lazy). With terabyte drives at $50, there's no more "I don't have eough space" excuse. Stupid cell phones and i-things.
    /me step off soapbox


    *I use transcode as a general term for encoding and decoding of the bitstream source material.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by PicodeGallo View Post
    /me step on soapbox
    I don't know why mp3's are used anymore. One of my Flac directories has 656 albums and is only 230 GB. I have many more I haven't moved over (I'm lazy). With terabyte drives at $50, there's no more "I don't have eough space" excuse. Stupid cell phones and i-things.
    /me step off soapbox
    I'm jealous. My Gen5.5 iPod Video 80GB only has 15GB of FLAC (41 discs) on it. It's getting a bit flaky, too... I hope I can find another old one in good condition on eBay; Apple is stupidly and insanely evil towards anybody who wants to use decent codecs and firmware on their hardware...
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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by PicodeGallo View Post
    I thought about mentioning the codecs used to transcode* the audio source, but that doesn't have any effect on the digital signal itself. .
    and my question would be how much of THAT work is done actually BY the dedicated plug-in sound cards?
    (as the OP was comparing whatever they slopped onto the video cards to a dedicated HARD card)

    i know my sound card processes the dolby and dts and will do various processing for sending out to more speakers , , Mostly for the analog.
    and
    i know that onboards (VS dedicated) any processing that i did with them, like Equalising , took a lot more CPU, seemed to use a lot more of the computers pathways.

    but i have always hated onboards, and usually put some HARDware in there, and i DONT often use Digital outputs or post dolby recievers and stuff.

    Does a HARDware sound card do any of the codec processing? we know that creative does something creative with EAX 3D sounds, but does the decompression still occur via the CPU?

    we can pretty much assume that the first implementation of digital sounds out of a video card are bare minimum, and probably rely much on "software" processing.
    Last edited by Psycogeec; 10-27-10 at 07:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Psycogeec View Post
    we can pretty much assume that the first implementation of digital sounds out of a video card are bare minimum, and probably rely much on "software" processing.
    If you've got analog output connected to your sound card, then DAC is done on the card. If you've got digital cables connected to another device (TV via HDMI, amp via optical, whatever) then decoding is done on that device.

    The only processing the chipset on your GPU is doing is packing the digital stream into the protocol for HDMI. The actual DAC is done on the other end by your amp or TV.
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  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by petteyg359 View Post
    If you've got analog output connected to your sound card, then DAC is done on the card. If you've got digital cables connected to another device (TV via HDMI, amp via optical, whatever) then decoding is done on that device.

    The only processing the chipset on your GPU is doing is packing the digital stream into the protocol for HDMI. The actual DAC is done on the other end by your amp or TV.
    right but what does the decompressing of the codecs ?
    does creative driver junk move the decompression work to the creative card, or is that all done still via the cpu and software?
    We pretty much know what does the mixing and post processing after it is decompressed, and a hard card is very usefull when doing lots of the less nessisary processing like equalising.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Psycogeec View Post
    right but what does the decompressing of the codecs ?
    does creative driver junk move the decompression work to the creative card, or is that all done still via the cpu and software?\
    CODEC = COmpressorDECompressor
    They're algorithms like zip, rar, ace, lzma, etc. (if you were insane, you could decide to use lossy mp3 to compress your backup copy of family photos ) If you've got an appropriate hardware accelerator (several exist for encryption algorithms, I don't know of any for compression), then the driver would send it to the hardware. Otherwise, its done by your CPU. I don't know what the "APU" on X-Fi really does, other than EAX.

    The OP asked if the GPU's sound over HDMI would be better than a discrete card. If he's got a $1500 amp on the other end of that HDMI cable, then it probably would. If it's just a TV (no external amp) with cheap built-in speakers, but has an analog input alongside the HDMI, then a discrete sound card probably has better DAC hardware than the TV, and would sound better (though the cheap crap speakers might negate most of that).

    EDIT: Emphasis added since comprehension is lacking in this thread
    Last edited by petteyg359; 10-27-10 at 10:05 PM.
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    digital sound is still digital sound, regardless if its a $300 sound card using toshlink or spdf vs video cards digital HDMI output. they will both sound the same even if its a high end system, the DAC is going to play more of a role in SQ then using a SC-toshlink/spdf vs VC-HDMI. as the chipset that sends the signal can not effect a digital sound stream, since the stream is all in 1's and 0's. this isnt like using a full analog signal path, where even the type of volume control you use can effect the sound you get at the speakers.

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  17. #17
    I am just here to learn, and there is info suggesting that a SPDIF can carry many sorts of signals even compressed, and same with HDMI
    and the type of signal for V3 also can be a lossy compression scheme.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extende...ification_data
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S/PDIF

    everyone keeps insisting that were at perfect Zeros and Ones at this point, and IMO there are always tricks going on behind the scenes, limitations, and rates that are common, and things have to be converted more than we see.
    i just dont believe :-)

    no doubt that certain standards are used and adopted, but take even a simple DV signal it is not a 44.1k CD signal, it is some 48K type, and therin to get that 'perfect" data thing going there is already a major conversion occuring to do something as simple as going from CD to DV (meaning SD-DV) .

    i am not sugesting that one loss is better than another, just that were living with Tons of compressions and cross conversions of the data, and we already know about the worst of them

    can HDMI really carry
    1 = Linear Pulse Code Modulation (LPCM)
    2 = AC-3
    3 = MPEG1 (Layers 1 and 2)
    4 = MP3
    5 = MPEG2
    6 = AAC
    7 = DTS
    8 = ATRAC
    0, 15: Reserved
    9 = One-bit audio aka SACD
    10 = DD+
    11 = DTS-HD
    12 = MLP/Dolby TrueHD
    13 = DST Audio
    14 = Microsoft WMA Pro
    bit 2..0: number of channels minus 1 (i.e. 000 = 1 channel; 001 = 2 channels; 111 =
    8 channels)


    And after reading all the stuff about it, where is the one piece of data i was looking for, what is the COMMON used frequency and Bits even?
    Last edited by Psycogeec; 10-27-10 at 10:51 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by petteyg359 View Post
    The OP asked if the GPU's sound over HDMI would be better than a discrete card. If he's got a $1500 amp on the other end of that HDMI cable, then it probably would. If it's just a TV (no external amp) with cheap built-in speakers, but has an analog input alongside the HDMI, then a discrete sound card probably has better DAC hardware than the TV, and would sound better (though the cheap crap speakers might negate most of that).

    EDIT: Emphasis added since comprehension is lacking in this thread
    Wow, this thread really went it's own way

    I have pretty good speakers on the other end, so I will probably get that sound card (the other way would be to connect the speakers to the audio out of my monitor). Can one turn of the sound processing in the HD6870 graphics card to gain some FPS, or is that impossible?

    Cheers!
    Nick

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    Quote Originally Posted by flukather View Post
    Wow, this thread really went it's own way

    I have pretty good speakers on the other end, so I will probably get that sound card (the other way would be to connect the speakers to the audio out of my monitor). Can one turn of the sound processing in the HD6870 graphics card to gain some FPS, or is that impossible?

    Cheers!
    Nick
    It only does sound if you've told Windows (or Linux, or whatever operating system you're using) to use it for sound. If you're sound control panel doesn't say "Radeon HDMI" or similar, then it isn't doing sound.
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    Quote Originally Posted by petteyg359 View Post
    It only does sound if you've told Windows (or Linux, or whatever operating system you're using) to use it for sound. If you're sound control panel doesn't say "Radeon HDMI" or similar, then it isn't doing sound.
    Ok, then I'm all good Got myself a ASUS Xonar DX on the shopping list. Thanks everyone for all the help!

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