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Thread: Optical car audio

  1. #1
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    Optical car audio

    Hi,

    I'm looking to install a sound system in my DSM using my laptop. I have a Sound Blaster Audigy ZS2 PCMCIA sound interface with some seriously bad *** software. It has optical support via a toslink termination, or 7.1 analog via multiple minijacks.

    The issue I've been having with it is DTS support. First I tried connecting it to my Panasonic AV receiver in my house (SA-HT05), and I only receive 2-channel stereo thoughput. I called Creative up and they said it won't pass surround sound through the optical jack? This doesn't seem correct. The guy changed his answers a few times, so I was wondering if anyone has any experience with this peripheral. However, it does the same with 5.1 analog. The tech on the line said that has to so with the way the sound is decoded, and it won't connect correctly to a surround receiver. This is very strange. If this is the case, I'd need 3 amps or receivers to use this card for what it was intended.

    If possible, I would like to install it in my ride as a digital setup, rather than analog. Any advice?

  2. #2
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    reading the reviews on newegg, i read about alot of people having issues with only getting a stereo signal out of the toslink(for different cards), so i think that is the way it is for certain models, and for all the amps, you will need to use the analog outs.

  3. #3
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    First off, what type of media are you trying to play? If you are playing media that was originally recorded in 2-channel then you will only get 2-channel out. Likewise, if was recorded in 5.1 dts, then you will get 5.1 dts out, mostly dvds can perform this.
    Secondly, make sure that your output is set to 5.1. Double check through your sound card software, your media playing software, and your operating system's software that they are set to spdif or 5.1 output. Also make sure the dvd language is set to 5.1 dts, or dolby.
    And if you wanted to run optical out there are a few DAC (digital to analog converters) you can use. I personally use the alpine PXA-H701 with RUX-C701. Check out the Car Audio FAQ for more info.
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    I was planning on using the system for mp3 and flac files, maybe a few dvds as well. I namely wanted to use the optical connection to clean up the noise on the lines. However, it seems like it's much more trouble than its worth. The Creative software doesn't allow me to select analog or digital source (the option is greyed out--unavailable) no matter what I plug in. When I plug in the toslink, it shows me as having a 2 channel stereo system when I have 5.1 surround in my house.

    Should probably just stick to good amps, bandpass filters, and high end speakers. It seems like much less work and cash for good sound.

  5. #5
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    im lost... but it seems that you want to usetoslink to output to your system? You should be able to use dd/dts passthrough but the as mentioned before you would need the proper equipment to decode it.is per say.. in your house.. the receiver ddecodes it.. in the vehiclee the amps cannot. and even if you use the soundcard outs.. then i wouldneed to be decoded previously before output by your pc. A cheaper alternative listed above is the alpine PXA-H501 . i had this unit back in 2000 and it worked very well in decoding toslink. But remember.. Sometimes there are alot of settings needed to output 5.1 other than just the soundcard software, and not all files can be output.. in that case you would be left with only stereo out.

  6. #6
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    I have a Toshiba NB205 Netbook with a USB to PCMCIA adapter for the sound card that I'm using. The center console was replaced with a switch board for engine controls, and the netbook runs the engine management. I wanted to use optical sound to clean up the line noise, while being able to take the netbook with me so some scumbag doesn't have a reason to smash into my windows. There's currently no place to put a head unit. I have a 1kw on board power inverter to run 120volt equipment in my car.

    However if worse comes to worse, the Audigy has a DTS simulation engine where it can take stereo and simulate surround sound with it, but as far as I know, it only works on the analog phone jack side of the card. I wouldn't mind stashing a home theater receiver somewhere. Any idea on that? The Panasonic one in my house apparently (SA-HT05) won't decode surround, despite being surround sound setup. Unless I'm ****in' something up, which could be the case.

    Other than the computer, sound card, and cables, I haven't bought any amps, receivers or speakers yet. I do have an old Fosgate 500x Punch laying around from back in the day, but other than that, I'm open to purchases.

  7. #7
    Constant Bitrate BassBinDevil's Avatar
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    There's some compact Dolby Digital decoders made for use with computer speakers, plus some intended for car use. They both tend to be overpriced on eBay if you can find them. I did score a Panasonic car decoder for $25 locally, though. With great amounts of luck you may also find something suitable in the bargain bin at a local computer or car stereo store.

    There is the Creative Extigy, which supposedly can operate standalone as a DD decoder (maybe not DTS). And decoders that were intended as upgrades to (or bundled with) "digital ready" home theater receivers. They're a lot less bulky than an entire receiver. Examples: Technics SH-AC300 (DD only) and SH-AC500D (DD & DTS). Marantz, Denon, Sony made similar boxes, but as far as I know, only Technics had one with DTS. [Well, except for high-end processors, which you aren't likely to come across unless you frequent yard or estate sales in Beverly Hills. Or check the used shelves at high-end home theater dealers.]

  8. #8
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    Also remember, optical (or RCA) digital output (TOSLINK) is COMPRESSED before it's passed-thru...some hardware will pass 2 channel without compression thru TOSLINK, but 5.1 and 7.1 must be compressed...
    With quality, properly routed (and grounded), minimally sheilded interconnects, noise shouldn't be an issue with a car PC...

  9. #9
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    I thought this was going to be cake :/

    I probably should just stick to some quality analog equipment and be happy.

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