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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 3:13 am 
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Hi

I am a new member and have recently purchased Plogue Bidule with intent to create my 1st conversion. I have a laptop computer (Dell XPS M 1330 to be exact) with a HDMI port. My soundcard for this is a Sigmatel HDMI (High Definition CODEC). I note from reading the post on monitoring live output via the PC that it recommends using a 5.1 soundcard with spam out ports. I don't have this and was wondering whether I can use my existing set-up thru HDMI linked to my Denon receiver. I tried this last night and was getting audio but only 2.0 channels when I was playing a WAV file thru SPEC. If i need to spam a sound card what do others recommend? I would need one that could be used on my laptop as I don't have a desktop pc in a tower-type arrangement. The sound I was getting thru the HDMI sounded somewhat hollow and sort of layered (if that makes sense). Furthermore the DSP load was hovering between 80 and 90% which I figure is sort of high. My laptop is 32 bit (Vista) with 4GB of RAM and Intel Core 2 Duo CPU T9300 @ 2.50 Ghz. Hope this info helps to provide some responses that can give me some insight as to how to monitor the audio on the SPEC settings. Furthermore If i have to get a new soundcard then I would also need to run this off a PC 5.1 speaker set up. I was looking at the Logitec one's and I am curious what others are using for this purpose.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 10:40 am 
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Welcome Woody.

I don't have an HDMI receiver, but I know in the case of SPDIF you can't send more than two channels via PCM. To send more you have to encode them via DTS or Dolby. Some sound cards can do this on the fly, via DTS Interactive or Dolby Live, and that is a good way to monitor SPEC output.

I'm not aware of a (currently available) USB sound card with this feature, so that does leave us with spam sound cards for your laptop. We'll come back to that in a moment.

The "strange" sound you heard was because you were only hearing the front two channels, with the center and rears removed. You can use ZMon to solo different channels so you can hear the different channels through the two speakers that are working.

The dsp load does sound a little high. In my experience anything over 80% is likely to cause glitching/buzzing while live monitoring. Normally we record "offline" so the dsp load is not a problem, but you can always lower your FFT overlap and/or size settings to reduce the DSP load (at the expense of quality). Make sure your buffer size is set to the highest setting (512 in windows). All those settings are in the DSP tab in Plogue preferences.

OK, back to the sound card. For usb sound cards I recommend ESI gigaport HD or ESI U46XL. The U46XL has a nice feature, direct wire, in that you can route sound between programs digitally, so you could route sound from pandora or last.fm to SPEC as an example.

If you can find a (now discontinued) creative dts-610 on ebay or somewhere that will do dts encoding on the fly and you can connect that to your receiver via SPDIF, if your receiver doesn't have spam ins. Even if your receiver does have spam ins this is a good way to go because most receivers don't do ANY processing, such as bass management, speaker time alignment, EQ, etc. when you are using the spam ins.

Regarding PC speakers, most people aren't very happy with the quality, but you'll need to judge for yourself. Some of the powered speakers for home studio/DJ monitoring are better quality, but then you don't have a subwoofer...

I have a set of Logitec THX speakers at the office for listening to surround music, and they're OK for the low volumes I use at work, but tough to do quality conversions with.

Hope that helps.

Z


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2011 1:38 pm 
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Woody, I have five of the following attached to my PC for monitoring and listening. They've done the job just fine for me. Like Zee said, I've got no sub on my PC.

http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/MAudioAV30.html


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 4:24 am 
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Thanks Guys. Some food for thought here. Taking into consideration your comments my preferred option is to utilize my existing home theater speakers, rather than go and purchase 5.1 PC speakers. I state this in context of the sound quality considerations of the above x2 posts (and spam!), but furthermore I know that my HT is the listening environment for the end product, so I would like to be able to tailor the conversion to this romm and take into account the respective degrees/angles of my set-up (which incidentally is 7.1).

Unless anyone can advise me that HDMI can be used via SPEC to transfer the 6 channels to the receiver (I would have thought this possible given that the specifications for HDMI are the ability to transfer in one cable up to 8 channels of digital audio.) I presume the 'catch' here though is that the audio needs to be in the Codecs of DTS or dolby digital, otherwise it goes in PCM whereby it is considered that this can only be sent in 2 channels via SPEC?

This means that the USB sound card option linked with long spam cable runs (my receiver is actually located through a wall in another closet- so I'm talking approx 10 meters worth. Is this possible?.) I note the limitations attached to this in terms of bass management, etc, but I wonder whether these options would be required given SPEC caters for a lot of this stuff anyway?? Comments on this particular issue are welcomed.

I cannot find any DTS-610's on ebay, so on the fly DTS processing doesn't seem a viable option (at least in the short term).

I note that there is one of the sound cards (ESI U46 XL) available for AUD$185, and this appears a good spam for this unit. Correct?

If one accessed last.fm SPEC i am not sure of how this would work as I am under the impression that SPEC can only process WAV and FLAC files. I'm a bit confused on this aspect of functionality.

I'm sure to come up with plenty more questions, so I hope I'm not being a pain in the arse here, but I'm keen to get up and running in the 'community'.

Thanks Woody.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 2:48 pm 
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I'll answer this in sectioins

woody wrote:
Thanks Guys. Some food for thought here. Taking into consideration your comments my preferred option is to utilize my existing home theater speakers, rather than go and purchase 5.1 PC speakers. I state this in context of the sound quality considerations of the above x2 posts (and spam!), but furthermore I know that my HT is the listening environment for the end product, so I would like to be able to tailor the conversion to this romm and take into account the respective degrees/angles of my set-up (which incidentally is 7.1).


Makes sense

Quote:
Unless anyone can advise me that HDMI can be used via SPEC to transfer the 6 channels to the receiver (I would have thought this possible given that the specifications for HDMI are the ability to transfer in one cable up to 8 channels of digital audio.) I presume the 'catch' here though is that the audio needs to be in the Codecs of DTS or dolby digital, otherwise it goes in PCM whereby it is considered that this can only be sent in 2 channels via SPEC?


SPEC outputs 6 channels to an audio driver. Plogue (in which SPEC runs) can use MME, Windows Direct Sound, or ASIO drivers. It's up to the dirver + sound hardware to get it to your HT in a usable format. What you said above is true for SPDIF because SPDIF doesn't have enough bandwidth to send more than two channels unencoded. It can send more channels encoded with DTS or DD.

Not having a HDMI HT, I am less familar about what you can do in terms of unencoded audio but I will look into it.

Quote:
This means that the USB sound card option linked with long spam cable runs (my receiver is actually located through a wall in another closet- so I'm talking approx 10 meters worth. Is this possible?.) I note the limitations attached to this in terms of bass management, etc, but I wonder whether these options would be required given SPEC caters for a lot of this stuff anyway?? Comments on this particular issue are welcomed.

I cannot find any DTS-610's on ebay, so on the fly DTS processing doesn't seem a viable option (at least in the short term).

I note that there is one of the sound cards (ESI U46 XL) available for AUD$185, and this appears a good spam for this unit. Correct?


It's frustrating because I see chipsets for USB + DTS interactive but no current products. So if that is the case (and if we must send more than 2 channels encoded, see above), then yes you would have to go spam.

You can use a bass management, eq, delay, etc. VSTs to make an "HT" group in plogue that you would use for monitoring. I use to do this and can share that with you. It's not as "perfect" as letting your HT do that so that it is exactly the same as during playback however.

Some high end HTs do let you process the spam ins with bass management etc., but most don't because HT's do all their processing in the digital domain an most don't have 6 D to A converters. When you use the spam in you are usually bypassing all the digitial processing. Anyway you should check and see what your HT is capable of.

Pricing for the ESI u46xl seems to be about $178 US in google shopping.

10 meters is a long way to go unbalanced audio. If you decied on this approach you might want to put the sound card in the closet an go the longer distance with USB. Not sure what the distance limit on USB is but I have used it between a camera in a horse trailer and the cab of the hauling truck.

If you're not in a hurry let's do some more reasearch on HDMI etc. first, and you shoudl keep looking for a DTS-610.

Quote:
If one accessed last.fm SPEC i am not sure of how this would work as I am under the impression that SPEC can only process WAV and FLAC files. I'm a bit confused on this aspect of functionality.


With the "direct wire" approach in the ESI u46xl (you are on windows, right?) you could tell last.fm (or windows it self) to use the ESI MME or windows DS driver, and then patch that so it shows up as an input in the ASIO driver. In Plogue/SPEC you use the ESI ASIO duplex audio device, and hook audio deivce input outputs to the 3rd pair of inputs in SPEC's Input Selector, and select "Duplex Iniput".

In short, you don't use the Audio Player.

FYI there are other ways to do this with Virtual Audio software and ASIO4ALL or with multiple sound cards and ASIO4ALL (although that last one means DtoA and A2D before reaching SPEC), but the ESI "Direct wire" approach is easy.

Quote:
I'm sure to come up with plenty more questions, so I hope I'm not being a pain in the arse here, but I'm keen to get up and running in the 'community'.

Thanks Woody.


Now worreis, we're here to help.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:02 pm 
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HDMI can send:

8 channel LPCM, 192 kHz, 24 bit audio capability

Even in the HDMI 1.0 spec. Now it's a question of what your HDMI driver can do. Look for an ASIO dirver, or make sure to tell windows you have 5.1 or 7.1 speakers.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:12 pm 
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Also, you should check and see if telling windows you have 5.1 speakers makes it so you can use the mic jack as and audio out. That would mean you already have 3 stereo spam outs (mic in becomes rear speakers, speaker outs are fronts, and headpone out is center/LFE).


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:46 am 
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Zeerround wrote:
Also, you should check and see if telling windows you have 5.1 speakers makes it so you can use the mic jack as and audio out. That would mean you already have 3 stereo spam outs (mic in becomes rear speakers, speaker outs are fronts, and headpone out is center/LFE).



Hi Z,

You are right here. I note that the jacks at the front can be enabled for this when I open the sound card shortcut. So do I now just spam 3x sets of stereo spam cables and give this a test? Problem still exists though that I would have to run this in my linen closet where the receiver is stationed, until the length of spam cable issue can be sorted out (thankfully it's a very large linen closet.) The idea regarding one long length of USB was a good one in the event I spam a USB soundcard, but this would require stability over this length (which I presume would be better as it is digital) and a retailer that sells such a long run.

Looks like I might be getting quite accustomed with my towels and bedsheets until this issue is sorted out.

I don't know whether the soundcard for the driver for the HDMI sends multichannel audio as it does not give me a configuration for 5.1, whereas the other driver tilted 'Speakers/Headphones' does.

And yes, I'm using windows.

PS: What's an ASIO driver. Here in Australia, ASIO is an acronym for our national spy agency.

Thanks for your time Z


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:39 pm 
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ASIO:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_Stream_Input/Output

15 ft. USB extnesion (could use 2 of these and a regualr cable), assuming that total lenght is not a problem for USB 2.0. See here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_ ... ble_Length

If you want to go that route I would be willing to test it here, with my U46XL, before you spam one.

I think the best solution for your case is the existing spam outs to a dts-610 then SPDIF optical to the closet, so keep watching for one of those.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2011 1:43 pm 
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I see one on ebay now:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Creative-Home-Theat ... 3365c3eaac


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