Not wanting to be incomplete, I’ve heard from a few readers and would like to add a couple of additional ways to enjoy surround music files. By the way, I have added Laurence Juber’s “Mosaic” track to the FTP site so that you can check out an award-winning 5.1 surround as you work your way through the different methods.
7. Most current computer video cards include and HDMI output. And despite the claims of some audiophiles that there are sonic differences between HDMI cables of varying grades (I promise to do a reverse polarity check on the digital data through different grades of HDMI cables to establish without a doubt whether the quality of the HDMI cable can change the fidelity of the sound), I have no concerns about the transmission of my ones and zeros through reasonable quality cables as long as the length of the run is short and the data stream is reclocked at the receiving end…assuring that any jitter created or passed along will be removed or virtually eliminated. So we can connect the HDMI output from our HTPC to an A/V Receiver, which will convert the audio to analog at the appropriate sample rate and word length through its DACs. If you want the video to continue to your plasma screen, daisy chain the HDMI monitor output to your video monitor.
This method is not unlike the method I described some months ago for getting high-resolution digital audio streams out of Blu-ray or DVD players without the downconversion mandated by the RIAA (you can read about this problem and the solution by clicking here). Basically, we used an audio “de-embedder” to peel out the high-resolution audio from the HDMI stream at full res. The S/P DIF or optical TOSLink outputs force the audio down to 48 kHz/16-bits.
So here’s the illustration for this connection:
8. A couple of readers suggested using a network audio server (NAS) to send the surround music files (usually FLAC due to bandwidth) via Ethernet. This is a more challenging setup but once you’ve got it sorted out, you can have surround sound delivered to more than one surround sound setup. You’ll need to set up a server using DNLA or UPnP to connect the server (and its very large and fast hard drive) to you Oppo or other Ethernet connectible device.
I have a network at the studio to serve audio (and video) to all of the workstations in the facility. It takes some serious chops to get everything talking to each other and access to a talented IT guy, but it does offer strategic advantages over the other methods.
Take a look:
Obviously, there are a lot of details left to actually make one of these methods function. But I think this is a great way to start. And by the way, the various types will handle standard stereo as well as surround.
I’ll get into some details in a future post and also talk about where to find surround music for downloading.