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Audigy SPDIF Digital Out - 5.1 for Creative amps only?

 
 
John Smith
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      05-02-2004, 11:54 PM
Hi,

I'm in the process of getting a new system setup for my partner who is into
surround sound editing.

She's got a new JVC RX-5032V integrated dolby digital amp. From the Audigy 1
card she's got in her current setup, it only sends a PCM Stereo - this using
a minijack to phono cable (coax in on the amp - it also has optical).

I was thinking of getting a new 64bit motherboard with an Audigy2 platinum.
Now the crunch question:

Will the new Audigy 2 cards send a fully 5.1 Dolby Digital encoded signal,
or am I better off getting the Asus NForce2 with soundstorm which I know for
sure supports a real Dolby Digital signal? I've got a Creative/Cambridge
Soundworks DTT3500 for my own system and the Soundstorm sends a DD which my
3500 can link to on the coax input. Conversely the 3500 accepts a full 5.1
signal from the Audigy 1 but it seems like a proprietary hack - as I'm only
getting the stereo with her JVC.

My specific reason for asking is this line on
http://www.soundblaster.com/products..._pro/specs.asp :
"Digital Out for 5.1 support (6-channel SPDIF Output to Creative digital
speakers) "

I've come to be _extremely_ wary of any claims stated on a SoundBlaster
product, as I feel they are highly inaccurate. E.g. my Audigy card was
supposed to be a fully fledged 24 bit card, but it certainly isn't. So
before making the purchase I'd like to check if the above is to be read as
"5.1 support only on Creative digital speakers".

Feedback would be much appreciated.

Thanks,
Jørgen


 
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Lenny
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      05-03-2004, 05:18 PM

> Will the new Audigy 2 cards send a fully 5.1 Dolby Digital encoded signal


Only on stuff that is pre-encoded in DD (such as DVDs); the card cannot do
this in real time.

> Conversely the 3500 accepts a full 5.1
> signal from the Audigy 1 but it seems like a proprietary hack - as I'm

only
> getting the stereo with her JVC.


It is proprietary, yes. Wether it qualifies as a hack I don't know. What
it is is a multiple channel SPDIF output, ie for 5.1, it is three separate
SPDIF stereo outputs just like computer soundcards/speakers do with analog
multichannel outputs.

> I've come to be _extremely_ wary of any claims stated on a SoundBlaster
> product, as I feel they are highly inaccurate.


The Audigy was completely 16-bit with 24-bit DACs, and it was all marketing
lies. The Audigy2/ZS cards are MORE 24-bit than the original Audigy, but DSP
processing is still done at 16-bit precision. Unlike the original Audigy,
they actually can record/playback 24-bit sound though. Still, this is not
likely to cause much issue for most, as the Audigy2 ZS is actually a very
good soundcard from a dynamic range/signal-to-noise ratio standpoint. Better
than the vast majority of PC soundcards, barring any (likely very expensive)
professional solutions.

> before making the purchase I'd like to check if the above is to be read as
> "5.1 support only on Creative digital speakers".


Well, they did state the above, though not in those exact words. But yes,
5.1 support ONLY for Creative speakers if you insist on having a digital
hookup, which really isn't neccessary as the Audigy2 ZS has excellent DACs,
unless you need an unbroken digital chain for editing purposes or such. Just
for listening/gaming etc, I highly doubt it matters.

Also note, Dolby Digital is a lossy compression scheme, so it will f**k with
the sound as it is being compressed in order to fit a 5.1 signal in the
bandwidth intended for a normal 2.0 stereo signal... How much the quality is
degraded will depend on the type of sound, typically it won't be audible
(much) unless one knows what to listen for, but there may well be exceptions
from this rule.

Just be aware of this, if you or your partner intend to go the NForce route.


 
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