Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master HD in Home Theater PCs
If you're like me, then you may have this slight interest in intergrated your home theater with a Home Theater PC. Being able to combine your music, video, and image collection, with web ability and home automation, could be a lot of fun and useful.
However, there is 1 MAJOR problem with all home theater pcs, whether built by yourself or purchased from a manufacturer. No HTPC supports Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master HD and video via a single HDMI connection. With the inevitability of Blu-ray and/or HD DVD, these formats are a necessity.
There are sound cards that are capable of 7.1 audio. I have had one sitting in my unused PC for 5 years. And there are some super, heavy-duty graphics cards out there that fully support 1080p. However, there is no way to merge the 2 together to allow output via 1 single HDMI cable to your receiver.
It isn't necessary to have audio and video merged into 1 card in a HTPC. In fact, it isn't preferable as it would cause a nightmare in cooling versus quietness. What would be acceptable would be a separate sound card that can process the new audio formats from your internal blu-ray/HD DVD drive. Then to have that sound card map the audio to the graphics card where it can be merged into one data stream via an onboard processor. That merged stream can then be output via a single HDMI cable connected to an HDMI 1.3 port on the graphics card.
Until the ability to output these new audio formats from an HTPC is available, HTPCs are completely useless to me. I built a simple PC to use as a music server. It can also be further worked on to incorporate DVD storage, automation, etc. Being a standard desktop though, the fan noise can be a little overwhelming if just humming in the background. And I don't keep the computer running 24/7 just to have music ready at the push of a button. It is easier to take my Macbook Pro and connect it to my system via DVI-HDMI adapter and mini-Toslink.