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Windows 7: How To Add Optical Digital Audio Output to HP Desktop?

2 Weeks Ago   #1
starvinmarvin

Win 7 Home Premium 64-bit / Win 8.1 Pro 64-bit dual-boot
 
 
How To Add Optical Digital Audio Output to HP Desktop?

Hello, everyone. A friend is using a refurbished HP/Compaq DC7900 Small Form Factor desktop PC. The rear panel has the usual audio line-out stereo mini-jack (10K-ohms, 90dB signal-to-noise ratio) and a VGA monitor output. The cpu is an Intel Core2Duo E8400 3.0GHz, and RAM is 2 x 2GB DDR2-800 (total 4GB).

He's using the PC in his modest home music studio. Input is from a small mixer which he uses for voice, or keyboard and guitar. For monitors he has a pair of Klipsch R-15PM powered speakers which have several input options including RCA line-in jacks that he's currently using. Optical digital, coax digital, and USB inputs are also available.

The speakers are placed a few feet away from his keyboard/mixer and PC. They are connected to the line-out jacks on the PC via a 16-foot mini-jack-to-2xRCA cable. It works OK, and there's no hum or interference problem.

The resulting sound quality is OK but it could be better if he could connect the speakers via optical digital cable (the Klipsch speakers have a decent quality DAC built-in, of course).

So, here's the question. While keeping cost to a minimum is there an add-in sound card with optical output jack that would give the desired improvement? It would need to have a half-height/low profile bracket to fit in the PCI-e X1 slot of the motherboard.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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2 Weeks Ago   #2
Barman58

Windows 10 Pro x64 x3, Ubuntu
 
 

The standard way to go in this situation is an add-on card

I personally use a Xonar DG card which is stated as a gaming card, but does not only work for this, It has a decent control app and quality components, It fits in a standard PCI slot so is a simple install

Xonar DG | Sound Cards | ASUS Global

Obviously you will need to match the card you choose to the slot that you have free and the outlay you wish to make, there are I believe USB to Optical but cannot comment as I have never used them.

There are budget cards that will help the budget, but as always "you get what you pay for"
My System SpecsSystem Spec
2 Weeks Ago   #3
starvinmarvin

Win 7 Home Premium 64-bit / Win 8.1 Pro 64-bit dual-boot
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Barman58 View Post
The standard way to go in this situation is an add-on card

I personally use a Xonar DG card which is stated as a gaming card, but does not only work for this, It has a decent control app and quality components, It fits in a standard PCI slot so is a simple install

Xonar DG | Sound Cards | ASUS Global

Obviously you will need to match the card you choose to the slot that you have free and the outlay you wish to make, there are I believe USB to Optical but cannot comment as I have never used them.

There are budget cards that will help the budget, but as always "you get what you pay for"
Thanks for the suggestion. ASUS' product page specs say that a Low-profile bracket is included as an accessory. This could work for my friend! I've owned several ASUS products over the years and found them to be of generally good quality.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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2 Weeks Ago   #4
Barman58

Windows 10 Pro x64 x3, Ubuntu
 
 

It's normal for the better makers, to make their PCI cards, when it's possible, suitable for both standard and low profile fittings - it's normally just a screw, (or Two), to change over
My System SpecsSystem Spec
2 Weeks Ago   #5
fireberd

Windows 10 64 bit
 
 

I have a recording studio.

Best option is to get a "real" USB connected recording interface unit
PC sound cards make poor recording interface units, even with an outboard mixer. S/N ratio is poor and they have high (poor) latency. Even an add on sound card such as the Xonar.


There are many 2 channel (2 input channels) recording interface units with good latency that won't break the bank. None have S/PDIF/Optical out unless you get into the $400 to $500 range. But with the speakers you are using the line out will more than drive them with full fidelity.

This Focusrite unit is very popular on recording forums:
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 | Sweetwater
My System SpecsSystem Spec
2 Weeks Ago   #6
starvinmarvin

Win 7 Home Premium 64-bit / Win 8.1 Pro 64-bit dual-boot
 
 

I think my friend is monitoring through headphones connected directly to the mixer's headphone jack. the mixer's line-out go to line-in on the PC to be recorded. Playback of the recorded tracks is via the 16-ft. stereo mini-to-RCA so latency shouldn't be an issue. If he's trying to go through the PC for real-time monitoring then, yes, latency will undoubtedly be a huge problem. When i last visited him, his headphones were plugged into the mixer and the speakers' volume control was on MUTE. Although i haven't looked closely at the little mixer i did notice it's red and friend calls it a Scarlet 2i2.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
2 Weeks Ago   #7
fireberd

Windows 10 64 bit
 
 

The 2i2 is a Focusrite and what I linked in my original post.
The typical hookup of a recording interface unit is VIA USB to the PC and then to the recording program. Monitor speakers (in this case the Klipsch) are connected to the analog line outs on the recording interface unit. The internal PC sound card is not used.

Whatever program he is using to record should be pointed to the 2i2 unit as its source. The 2i2 is two channels for recording. The Sweetwater music product page for the 2i2 lists Abelton Live Lite and an introductory version of ProTools as part of the software packge with the unit. Both of these programs will record and playback the 2i2 via the USB connection.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
2 Weeks Ago   #8
starvinmarvin

Win 7 Home Premium 64-bit / Win 8.1 Pro 64-bit dual-boot
 
 

Brilliant - thanks! Maybe if i show him this information he'll connect his speakers to the Focusrite instead of going through the PC. I'm not involved in his recordings, but feel sure he'd appreciate lag-free response.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 How To Add Optical Digital Audio Output to HP Desktop?




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