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Old 09-20-2007   #1
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Default 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.
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Old 09-21-2007   #2
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Default Re: Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master HD in Home Theater PCs

It seems you haven't looked everywhere for your HTPC motherboard. Gigabyte makes one that does everything you're looking for, with the exception of it only supporting HDMI 1.2. Here is a link to it, http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/...ProductID=2579
and if the link doesn't work, the model number is: GA-MA69GM-S2H

I know it doesn't say that it will playback Dolby TrueHD, or DTS HD Master audio, but, since those are technically lossy codecs, and this motherboard states that it will pass completely uncompressed audio, it should be able to handle "passing through" of any other codec. Then it would be up to your pre-amp or reciever to do the decoding.

Just my two cents.
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Old 09-21-2007   #3
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Default Re: Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master HD in Home Theater PCs

Looks like a great motherboard. And I'll look into it. However, being HDMI 1.2 it is not able to carry the Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD formats as HDMI 1.3 is needed for that. HDMI 1.2 can be used for Dolby TrueHD but only if it is decoded by the internal player or audio component to LPCM before being sent to the HDMI output or analog 3.5mm outputs. I always rule out the analog outputs due to the amount of cables and the introduction of digital-analog conversion processes. I can deal with the LPCM through HDMI if the motherboard and ALC889A is compatible of that feat. I will look into it further. Thanks for the heads up.

In the end it is still more efficient to just get one of each of the standalone players. But something must be said for an intergrated component that does it all.
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Old 09-21-2007   #4
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Default Re: Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master HD in Home Theater PCs

Actually, you just need any type of HDMI cable, even the old 1.1 stuff.
Straight from the horses mouth, as it were.
http://www.hdmi.org/learningcenter/faq.aspx#q2

So, all we need is to find out if the soundcard on the motherboard can decode the DD-TruHD, and DTS-HD tracks and send them out.
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Old 09-21-2007   #5
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Default Re: Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master HD in Home Theater PCs

Yep, any HDMI version is capable of carry the LPCM audio. I'm just stating verison 1.2 because all the equipment in my system is HDMI 1.2, soon to have a component or 2 with HDMI 1.3.

So, I will research and see is internal blu-ray/hd dvd drives can first of all pass the Dolby True HD and DTS HD formats through the outputs of the drive. If the SATA connection doesn't carry it to the motherboard then the rest of this adventure is moot. I think the internal drives on have SATA and a digital 2-pin output to connect to soundcards. Can't imagine the 2-pin connection carrying the new audio formats.

More and more questions.
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Old 10-08-2007   #6
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Default Re: Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master HD in Home Theater PCs

Quote:
Originally Posted by tigeraudio2007 View Post
Yep, any HDMI version is capable of carry the LPCM audio. I'm just stating verison 1.2 because all the equipment in my system is HDMI 1.2, soon to have a component or 2 with HDMI 1.3.

So, I will research and see is internal blu-ray/hd dvd drives can first of all pass the Dolby True HD and DTS HD formats through the outputs of the drive. If the SATA connection doesn't carry it to the motherboard then the rest of this adventure is moot. I think the internal drives on have SATA and a digital 2-pin output to connect to soundcards. Can't imagine the 2-pin connection carrying the new audio formats.

More and more questions.
I use and like the idea of using a separate media player connected to my PC like the Dlink DSM520

http://www.dlink.com/products/?pid=438

It is a few years old now so still HDMI 1.1

The draw backs, it only plays video files that are stored on the PC. No streaming directly from the internet for video though it will for online music I believe. Also, I tried but can not seem to get it play directly from a something in the DVD drive. If I rip it to the HD, then no problem.

But using this devise lets me play HD content from my PC to my TV and it has optical output for DD sound to my processor. This way my PC can sit in a different room then my home theatre system. Hopefully it will get updated one day to support the newer Dobly and DTS modes as well as HDMI 1.3
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