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Jan 17, 2016

HDMI vs USB DAC output from HTPC

Hello,
I've got a SoundTouch 130 setup and running.All is great. 
I currently have a HTPC which has two Audio Output options.First option is via HDMI cable which is connected to BOSE Console in the AUX HDMI port.
Second option is the HTPC have a high quality USB DAC (AudioEngine D1) output in the form of RCA cable (Red&White) which can be plug into the BOSE Console RCA input and HDMI from HTPC straight to TV without going through the BOSE Console.
The question is which option is recommended from BOSE in terms of getting the most audio quality out for SoundTouch130? Will the dedicated USB DAC from the HTPC give a better sound quality vs the simplicity of everything through HDMI cable? Wasnt sure if the BOSE Console have a built in DAC ?
Thanks,
Alvin
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Sep 11, 2014

Re: HDMI vs USB DAC output from HTPC

Hi Alvin,
The current HDMI setup is definitely what we would recommend here for the best quality from your home theater content. Mostly due to the fact that:

  • ​The SoundTouch 130 system cannot receive audio via a USB connection.
  • Analog RCA connection (red/white) will necessarily downgrade your home theater audio to a stereo connection.  Some of your content may be playing in 5.1, or 7.1 formats that cannot be sent effectively over an analog connection. 

The Console is definitely using it's internal DAC to decode and play back whatever digital audio format is sent across the HDMI connection. Keeping things simple is your best bet in in this case.
Thank you.

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Jan 17, 2016

Re: HDMI vs USB DAC output from HTPC

Thank you George. 
I've tested couple of scenarios with the AudioEngine D1 USB DAC vs HDMI from my HTPC to Bose Console. The end results agrees with what was suggested:
- Using the external USB DAC, it gets me great stereo sound for playing songs. However, sacrifices are made for my movies as it didnt come through as Dolby or DTS 5.1 instead just showing LPCM 2.0 on the console. That is a major drawback from using the DAC for audio output from my HTPC.
- With the HDMI out from HTPC to the Bose console, I have been able to get my movies running on Dolby/DTS 5.1 and the console shows that. I also have to set my player to output in bit stream and let Bose does its job.
- With the HDMI audio, I'm running the latest INTEL HD AUDIO (Intel Graphic 6000), which I have to say the technology have matured enough when output it as digital to Bose and let Bose performs the Digital to Analogue conversion. Agreed that my ear cannot differentiate any major differences between the quality of the USB DAC vs the HDMI output. The HDMI played the songs as good as the USB DAC and in some context, its a lot cleaner sound.
-I have also set my audio player to use WASAPI and ASIO. That itself helps with the HDMI audio output to the Bose. 
Overall, happy with the current configuration of my SoundTouch 130. 
Thanks for the input George.
Cheers,
Alvin
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Jul 14, 2015

Re: HDMI vs USB DAC output from HTPC

Hi Alvin,
I am happy to hear George was able to help and you are satisfied with the audio quality using the HDMI digital audio option.
Best Regards
Shawn