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Multi-Use PC with HTPC and multiple-Audio

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,526
940
126
I had posted this thread linked here some couple months ago:

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2374970&highlight=

The reason I was testing the water over multiple-audio configurations derived from troubles I had when I transitioned from an analog 5.1 configuration with an old Logitech Z740 (760?) speaker system (and the 3.5mm stereo plugs) to an HDMI-fed configuration between my graphics card and my ONKYO 7.1 AVR -- which in turn provides input to my HDTV via HDMI.

For so very long, I had pretty much left my ONKYO turned on, getting my TV from Media Center -- broadcasts coming in through my SiliconDust HR Prime on my network. And the reason for that?

Caution. When I first hooked up the AVR, I would stumble into configuration-confusion with the onboard HD-Audio feeding the Logitech speakers. Media Center would malfunction in some or another way. So finally, I just turned off the Logitechs and disabled HD-Audio in BIOS.

Now, I've re-enabled the HD-Audio in BIOS, turned on the Logitech speaker system, and discovered that I only need to raise the "Sounds" dialog with "Playback devices" to see which is the default speaker arrangement. As long as the two audio/speaker configurations are configured separately and these configurations are not "confused," I can switch the default back and forth. At this point, I'm only guessing I should avoid raising Media Center until the AVR audio is again set as default and working properly.

My cable provider just recently gave me an offer I cannot refuse: An extra HDMI cable-box -- free for 12 months and $7/mo thereafter. Either way, no (or not much) addition to our bundled cable-internet-telephone monthly billing. I run the new cable-box directly to the TV, which has a 2.1 speaker configuration. I can switch the TV input from one HDMI plug to another.

This enables me to put the AVR on standby for ENERGY-saving and EQUIPMENT longevity. If I want to view TV or Netflix through Media Center, I only need to make the orderly switch from one default audio device to another -- if necessary, restart the computer with the AVR turned "on." Or I can configure the AVR to pass-through the HDMI audio to the TV while the AVR is in standby -- feeding also to the 2.1 speaker set.

I had started looking at freeware with "virtual audio" options that might enable me to fix one or the other audio setup to this or that application, but I think this is the simpler and more reliable solution.

Am I missing something here? Can anyone tell me that there is a "better way" to do this?
 

Automaticman

Member
Sep 3, 2009
176
0
71
To be honest, I don't entirely understand why you want to have both the HDMI audio and analog logitech speakers connected..

On my HTCP, I use HDMI exclusively to an Onkyo receiver and on to the TV. I've found that sometimes if the PC wakes up from sleep with the receiver powered off it will disable the HDMI audio output and move to the next available playback device. I think that this is what you are describing happening?

On my system the first thing I did was disable all other playback devices in the control panel and disable onboard audio in BIOS.

Now, when the pc wakes up and has the audio issue, instead of switching to another device is simply shows no audio devices available. Simply switching HDMI input on the receiver to another input and back to the HTPC and windows recognizes the HDMI audio port and activates it automatically.

Because I'm using HDMI, I can leave the configuration set to 5.1 and the receiver will automatically switch from multichannel LPCM to DD/DTS bitstreaming depending on what content I am watching.
 

poofyhairguy

Lifer
Nov 20, 2005
14,612
315
126
This enables me to put the AVR on standby for ENERGY-saving and EQUIPMENT longevity.
If that is your reason for doing all this it is not worth it. Just run everything through your AV receiver as the tech gods intended and if/when it dies in 15 years the replacement will give you 3D holograms support anyway.
 

Automaticman

Member
Sep 3, 2009
176
0
71
If that is your reason for doing all this it is not worth it. Just run everything through your AV receiver as the tech gods intended and if/when it dies in 15 years the replacement will give you 3D holograms support anyway.

yeah but there is no reason that he should have to leave the receiver on at all times in the first place...
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
14,526
940
126
To be honest, I don't entirely understand why you want to have both the HDMI audio and analog logitech speakers connected..

On my HTCP, I use HDMI exclusively to an Onkyo receiver and on to the TV. I've found that sometimes if the PC wakes up from sleep with the receiver powered off it will disable the HDMI audio output and move to the next available playback device. I think that this is what you are describing happening?

On my system the first thing I did was disable all other playback devices in the control panel and disable onboard audio in BIOS.

Now, when the pc wakes up and has the audio issue, instead of switching to another device is simply shows no audio devices available. Simply switching HDMI input on the receiver to another input and back to the HTPC and windows recognizes the HDMI audio port and activates it automatically.

Because I'm using HDMI, I can leave the configuration set to 5.1 and the receiver will automatically switch from multichannel LPCM to DD/DTS bitstreaming depending on what content I am watching.
That's an interesting phenomenon I hadn't discovered -- great value to your input.

We have a similar setup -- PC->Onkyo->HDTV with the sound-playback recognized as the Onkyo model-code.

I hadn't checked this thread I started for more than a week or two, but the subject matter is still vital.

Some will say I had a "mistaken strategy," although I see other instances in current threads, for instance a college-student who wants Media Center TV and probably uses his computer for all-things-academic. So I settled on a single high-performance computer for "general purpose" including HTPC function -- which seems to be a low-resource background process that never pushes the processor above EIST idle speed.

I've gone through a series of hardware changes since January: replacing a GTX 570 with a GTX 780; replacing my ISRT-accelerated HDD with a standalone SSD. I think what we commonly find is that changing video and HDMI-audio drivers with "updates" can really foul things up. For instance, check the number of complaints in web-forums about the "Video files missing or corrupted -- restart MC or reboot your computer."

It would be nice if I could have both the analog and HDMI 5.1 systems available for different usage on this machine -- at the same time. I looked into something called "VAC" or Virtual Audio Cable as a possible means of connecting sound output devices to specific programs. Apparently, MC always uses the default sound/speaker device. Just experimenting with the possibilities is likely to wreak havoc with the working configuration.

Some forum dialogs I'd read noted that HDMI audio is frequently a problem source when MC behaves "F***y." I saw where someone overcame their problem with it by running a digital-audio cable from their onboard (motherboard) HD audio to the AVR receiver. I have just such a cable of a useable length.

I just finished replacing the May, 2014 NVidia drivers [3d controller, PhysX and other junk] with an earlier version from last year. I'm hoping this will make everything work flawlessly again. Since I only made the retro-driver swap this morning, only time will tell -- maybe over the next 24 hours.

And as to the very useful and illuminating dialog between AutomaticMan and poofyhairguy, that's also interesting and -- yeah-- I don't particularly want to run the AVR as my only source of [all] sounds on the PC. First -- a problem of the speaker orientation: I game while facing away from the TV, so "left is right, and right is left." But that's a minor little nit-pick.

One thing I'd experimented with: the AVR will pass through audio to the HDTV's stereo speakers when the AVR is "asleep" or in "standby." It requires a tweak or two to the Onkyo's own menu system, though. I think -- when I'd experimented with it -- that there was never a hitch with it as long as you followed "certain procedures."

On the matter of power consumption, my LG HDTV has a feature that allows turning off the display, although the program broadcast continues to play through either the AVR or the HDTV speakers.
 

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