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Best external USB 7.1 soumd card for a HTPC

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi people,

 

I intend to get an Intel NUC teeny weenie form factor computer for my HD media files and for my external Bluray drive. I'm gonna use my USB 3 based Multi-bay 8 HDD box to connect to access all my HD movie files and hence have a dedicated HTPC with a small footprint running off the Haswell  based built-in graphics card to drive my TV, 

 

This is gonna be my multiple purpose surfing computer as well and I'm keeping my gaming system separate which is gonna be the one taking the most space beneathmy  desk together with my 2 external drive bays in my small room.

 

Essentially I'm happy with the specs of everything except for the built-in audio. There is no option to fit any cards other than a mPCIe SSD drive but no other cards will fit in there so my only option is to use an externally based sound card.  I've never paid attention to the external sound card devices that can handle 7.1 audio so I have no clue what's out there.  I can come up with a reasonable budget as long as it's not ridiculously priced.  I'm intending to get an Emotiva based system running B&W CM series small speakers.  Currently I'm using a PC with a Creative xifi Titanium driving my Logitec Z5500 5.1 system.

 

Any recommendations for the external USB 7.1 sound card?  Thanks.

post #2 of 9

Is the sort of thing you are looking for?

 

http://www.cypeurope.com/store/store/app/product/AU-11SA

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Not quite, I need something more like a USB to 7.1 analogue output. I don't need to extract the hdmi audio stream.
post #4 of 9

Multi channel interfaces can start to get expensive if you want quality and reliability.

 

There are less expensive (M-Audio for e.g.) units available but this is a nice 8 analogue in and out device.

 

http://www.motu.com/products/motuaudio/ultralite-mk3/body.html

 

Looking at ~$600 though and you don't get the decoding. 
 

Quote:

 

I don't need to extract the hdmi audio stream

 

Are you sure? Where are you going to extract the 7.1 information? If you can do it in your software player then something like the MOTU would be fine. Otherwise you might need both. In which case you start to lose the small size factor. In fact you may well be better off with an AVR, a receiver/decoder or a bigger mobo with 7.1 Dolby on board.

 

There may well be other products I'm unaware of. Be pleased to hear how you get on.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Nope, you're missing the point. I'm not looking for a pro multi-output box. I have a MBox Pro protools system already.

I actually looking for more of a Dolby Digital/DTS 7.1 capable external sound card essentially. Think more hifi.
Creative has an external one but I was looking for something better than that.
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
post #7 of 9

Keep looking then. There must be something. What you want is essentially an upmarket on board soundcard but in a separate box. $100 should do it easy. will need to be USB 2.0 at least to cater for the channel count.

 

To be fair option 1 above is exactly the same thing. Except connected via HDMI instead of USB. In fact it might even be a better option because it will be easier to keep the audio and video in sync. 

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

I'll check it out but I suspect in the end my onboard sound card is still gonna have to do the processing and act as the DAC and just embed the signal in the HDMI output as opposed to the outboard device doing better quality DAC processing.

post #9 of 9
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