Please provid guidance on PC Sound Configuration

I have bitten-off on a new PC that is purposely a Photography-first machine, but I've tried to configure it in a way that will support at least a glimpse of HTPC capability.

Intel i7-920 Quad Core Processor (2.66 GHz)
Creative Sound Blaster Titanium Sound Card (24-bit, 96kHz output to 7.1)
1 GB ATI Radeon HD 4650 Video Card (DVI, HDMI, VGA)

Please give me some guidance on how to best set this up. Anyone with specific soundcard experience would be tremendously helpful.


Nice box -

I am a Mac guy so take my comments with a large grain of whatever and search this and Audio Asylum for important info

So you know, IMHO and in the wisdom of posters over the past 3-4 years, huge goodness is achieved by giving up the real time transport - most of the caca goes away at that point

since that cannot possibly be enough:

#1 - the goal is to not decode the audio in the PC cabinet - too much noise and unfiltered hash

SO step 1 is to get a USB or SPDIF feed from the computer so you can do your decode (D>A) downstream on a unit with its own power supply etc

ALSO if you think you are going to be serious about this, get a dedicated hard drive for your audio files, and back it up now and again (simply a better way to organize a high value orchestra

#2) you want to do the DA in a DAC - if you have one start with that - otherwise pick a price point, do a bunch of research, hold your nose and jump in

Key choices are NOS (non oversampling) meaning it comes back at the redbook standard of of 16 bit, 44.1 as opposed to a over-sampling DAC which gives you higher numbers by digitally interpolating the original Redbool files. Definitely a matter of taste. What makes it tricky is that some CDs sound better rezzed up and some do not...

Note that this is different from a DAC that can handle high-rez formats you might buy (now or later) in their higher format (usually 24/96)

#3) The software you use to rip (suck the digital files off the CD and on to your hard drive) is critical. In PC world, most people seem to favor EAC which is a free application from Germany. Some learning curve but if you surf around a bit you can easily get a recipe. BasIcally you want to rip at a low speed with full error correction on

COROLLARY tyou want to rip your files in a "lossless" format - typically FLAC. FLAC offers considerable advantages over WAV, especially when it comes to assigning metadata to each file (eg phot, date recorded, composed by) and conserving 30-40% hard drive space.

If you are convinced that the whole world is conspiring to wreck your fun you should probably rip in WAV - just be advised that the files will be 2x larger and that WAV is not very good with metadata

There are some other choices around the design of the DAC, some have buffered tube output stages and some do not. If you love tubes and either your pre or your mains are tube units it is probably a moot point

Figure all this out, report back and we'll give you the kingdom


Thanks for the benefit of your wisdom. I can see an external DAC (probably an entirely new HT pre-amp) in my future. For now, I am going to tinker with the myriad settings available on this titanium soundcard (in the middle of downloading latest firmware/software as I type)and will bear in mind your other points as I dive in.

Thanks again...amazed that there were not more posts on this topic.

I would suggest you opt for the LynxStudio audio card ; PCI or PCIe. It has all the pro and consumer digital outputs on it, and will also convert D to A itself. for a DAC, Look at the berkeley audio DAC or the new Bryston.

Both will do Redbook CD as well as high res. tracks you may download in the future.

When you rip your CDs stick with WAV, dont use any CODECs. Even Flac can cause issues with some decoders.

If you are using X-Fi Titanium, in the Creative Control Panel, set mode to recording, enable bit-perfect playback, disable any XMS3D surround settings, make sure speakers are set to speakers even if you are using headphones.

If you play games, you will want to return to game mode before you launch your games or you will be missing EAX effects.
Thank you for the additional information. So far, I must say that the Titanium card...even without setting to bit-perfect...holds a slight advantage over the DA conversion being perfomed by my old NAD T770 (single 16-bit Burr-Brown). The resolution is finer in symbols and "S" least that's what I'me hearing. The convenience factor is nice as well.

Now having issues with Blu-Ray Playback in this so-called Blu-Ray ready PC. We'll get there...