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Carputer and sound channels

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  • Carputer and sound channels

    Hello all,
    I'm hoping to get feed back on this and get some ideas on ways to do what I want to achieve. I've been working on my carputer project off and on for a few months. I keep going on the fence about what board and OS I want to use. I really would like to use Android because of google maps integration, voice command integration and other things that make it a lot more convenient than linux. However one of the major drawbacks is I cannot figure out a way to keep surround audio. I want to hear the proper sounds on the proper channels and be able to fade / balance etc. in the OS. If the output was only 2 channels which is what most seem limited to, I could get left and right balance in the OS, but front / back fading would require external components, or an external equalizer. Then when you put my subwoofers into the equation there would be no way to control sub output in the OS, that too would require external control (on amp settings etc). Most android devices are capable of outputing multi-channel surround sound through HDMI, but I can't find any method for converting that into something usable in a 4 channel amp for the regular speakers, and then 2 preouts for my subs.

    Are there any devices that can break out the audio channels on an HDMI? Or are there any other solutions?

    This is why I've been on the fence about the OS, if I go with linux I can simply plug in a USB 5.1 channel sound card and have audio jacks for front rear and sub / center speakers, making it easy. But I'm not sure if an android based PC would support such a sound card or not? There are three things I'm considering right now using for the main board, an android mini pc that I found preloaded with android 4.0, google apps, and google market. It's not the fastest thing around and might be a little underpowered but the thing is Tiny (fits in the palm of your hand). A pandaboard ES, very nice small computer system with a 1.2 ghz dual core cortex-A10 processor. There are android 4.0 distros for the board, as well as linux distros so I could go with either OS on this board, and the videos I've seen of either OS running on the board are very smooth. Or a mini itx atom 520d board that I have. This last one would be the most powerful, more power than I need for a carputer really, and so would also draw the most power, and use the most space. It would also be pretty much linux or windows only since the x86 builds of android aren't very usable right now imo.

    I'm most likely going to end up going with the Pandaboard as my main board since it keeps my options on OS open, and also has headers on board for an LCD and camera, making it really easy to integrate those directly onto the board. Beagleboard XM is a similar board that I was considering but the Pandaboard seems a little more powerful.

    Thanks for any suggestions!

    EDIT: I think I may have found an answer to my sound channels dilemma while waiting on the moderator to approve this post.

    What you guys think, would this do the trick for what I want?
    What I'm not sure on it is how the outs work. It has a selector switch but it seems like you have to have that switch set to the correct type. For example this line:
    HDMI Out x 1 for Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD Master Audio.
    I wonder if that means the HDMI out will only function if the audio format on the hdmi line is in one of those formats. I mean I can get around that by using an HDMI splitter to make sure I still have video to send to the monitor, but I don't know if there is a way to force HDMI audio from the OS to be in say 5.1ch mode instead of dolby truehd so that I can use the 5.1 channel 3.5mm jacks to get the sound instead of the optical. Optical seems nearly as problematic to feed into an amp as HDMI is.

    EDIT 2: I guess it also depends on the devices HDMI capabilities. Just looking on my PC it looks like the HDMI out on my video card only supports 2 channels of sound anyway... blah! I thought HDMI standard was at least 5.1 channels lol. Guess I'll have to take that into account also when selecting my hardware.
    Last edited by steven6282; 08-12-2012, 10:49 PM.