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You’ll get better SQ with a cheap preamp DAC. I DO NOT recommend FOSI because they are bad news but you could try this if you dare:
For $50 you'll get Volume, Tone and a headphone tap.
Just make sure you use Amazon or PayPal protection.
Or try APOS if they ever get their site up.
Cleeds, thank you, I'll look at that. I wonder what the sound quality of a split HDMI signal is like.
Fuzztone, thank you. I was looking at the Schitt line of products, but haven't figured out what to put between it and the PC. Maybe an external sound card with USB to the PC and toslink or coax to the DAC/pre
@kythyn the Alienware X51 has USB ports built-in, so getting an integrated amp with USB audio input is probably your easiest and most cost effective solution. Depending on what your subwoofer is, the integrated amp may need to have an extra set of pre-outs (in addition to the speaker binding posts) so you can connect your subwoofer.
I have a friend who went through a few different HDMI splitter devices. They are not all made the same. He finally ended up with a Gefen, which was more expensive but it ended up working the best. The other splitters had signal problems as well as compatibility problems.
The Gefen 1:2 HDMI splitter above is a lot more expensive, but it works. The BHPhoto seems to have one of the better prices on this item.
@kythyn there are many integrated amps with USB input now, so I think it would mostly depend on your budget and if you have any particular preference in sound quality.
If you're looking for something $1000 or less, a couple of Internet-direct options with 30 day trial periods are the Outlaw Audio RR2160 is $1000 and the Emotiva TA-100 is $400.