HDMI Audio & Video
So for the past two days I was trying to get HDMI audio and video to play nice with my new Denon AVR (Audio Video Receiver). My old Kenwood AVR died so had to get new one.
Model that I got is AVR-790. Brought it home and hooked it up to my Asus Xonar D2X and tested it out. Works great. Than curiosity killed the cat. I already have Blue Ray player and software so I was thinking how can I get lossless audio to my brand spanking new AVR. Off to the search engine to look for the audio cards. Two of them came out as possible candidates. Asus Xonar HDAV1.3 Deluxe and AuzenTech Xf-i Home Theather HD. Read reviews and both come with seals of approval from different web sites. (more on this later) Quick check around and both Fry's and MC had stock.
Went to MC and picked one up against my better judgement. I dealt with Creative APU powered cards before and never had large amount of success. Same thing this time. Failure of epic proportions.
Installed the card hooked everything up installed drivers then AC patch and then went to setup 5.1 channel LPCM sound. No way to set it up. Off to the AuzenTech website for FAQ and there it was answer on how to enable LPCM surround sound. Little bit confusing but manageable. To my surprise it worked until you go to play stereo sound from CD. At that time it switches back to stereo and it stays that way no matter what sound you play after it. Once you start playing BD title it switches there to what ever the sound is set as default. No problems there even when they claim that Dolby or DTS HD audio will not work until you use their bundled software. Then came the time to put the PC to S3 sleep mode. What happens after this is truly astounding.
Upon resume from sleep sound is lost until you switch between audio outputs on the audio card. After this I decided to restart the PC and just try S3 with out using BD player software. Doing this I was thinking that I could narrow down the problem with S3. I hit restart in the shut down menu and after 3 seconds BSOD. At that time my blood pressure started rising rapidly. My wife saw the BSOD and asked me if I was trying to OC the audio card. LOL. That brought my blood pressure down as I was laughing after that. Mind you I did not have purposely inflicted BSOD on this PC in 6 months.
After BSOD restart I decided it is time to try some game audio to see if you can hear any difference and also it would give some time to think about what went wrong with S3. I pop in Crysis WarHead in and guys believe me when I say that it sounds awesome and out of this world when you have it cranked up through the receiver with LPCM sound. I never heard game sound like that. That brought my hopes back up. In the mean time friends called us over for some dinner and chit chat. So off we went and I put the PC in S3 again. After nice night out at the friends house we come back home and I resumed my PC. Same failure again. I proceeded to restart and BSOD again. At that moment I said that is enough and decided that I need to return this card back to MC. Restarted and went to un install the drivers and software through Control panel. Un install was going OK until it started removing drivers. It BSOD on me again. The card was in the PC at that time. I shut it down and I pulled the card out. Restarted and was greeted with THIS COPY OF WINDOWS IS NOT GENUINE message. I canceled that message and booted up completely. Checked Computer properties and it says that copy is genuine. So one problem avoided. Could not take screen capture of that. Un installed the drivers again and shut down. All was good. Installed my D2X again and drivers with it and tested. All was good again until.......
AuzenTech card is out but it left my OS devastated. Check this out.
There is nothing there to update. It comes back negative.
Asus XONAR HDAV 1.3 deluxe 1/3/2010
After epic failure with AuzenTech I decided to try Asus card. However after problems that I encountered day before I decided to dig deeper before buying it. AVS forums was my friend at this time. ASUS originally released this card last year and it was plagued with problems just as AzunTech card is now. Reading through countless pages on AVS forums brought some hope for me. I found out that changes in firmware and hardware were made to fix problems. Armed with knowledge I went to Fry's and checked the card out. It is revision 1.02 of the card and I picked it up. Brought it home and installed it on to my X58 Classified board. Same slot where the AuzenTech card was.
I hit the power button and the message that I got was something like this "CPU has changed and I needed to make changes to BIOS". Great I said. Another POS. After clearing BIOS and setting all things back to where they should be I booted up into the OS. At that time my wife asked me to do something for her and being the good husband that I am I helped her out. I come back and all I saw was blank screen. Moved mouse and nothing happened. Hit power button and shut down. Hit power button to boot and blank screen again. No BIOS post message or nothing. It boots up but no video. I disconnected the video from audio card input and connected as usual DVI to HDMI on my TV. Video shows up with no problem. I started thinking epic failure again. Card has died with less than 30 minutes of running time. Being stubborn that I am I started diagnosing.
I hooked it up as per manufacturers suggested setup again and was greeted with no signal gain. Then I took HDMI out from audio card and hooked it up to my TV again. Success at that time. Good I said. At least card is not dead. Somehow hand shake between audio card and AVR was lost and was not getting back. The permanent fix was change to different HDMI input on the AVR. May be that problem happened because I did not install drivers and monitor timed out when I was helping my wife. Installed drivers and off to setup.
Software for Asus card is lot less complicated then AuzenTech. Couple of clicks and I was running with nice sound. Tested with couple of BD titles and they all work great. S3 works so far. I will see if the problem of lost video between Asus card and AVR happens again in the next couple of days and if it does this card will be returned also.
I will say that Asus had longer time to solve all of their problems and the product works better than AuzenTech however I never had great deal of luck with Creative APU based hardware. Maybe it is that me and Creative are not getting along real well or that they are just as bad as lot of people are saying that they are.
Another thing from beginning of this post. One about "seals of approval". Who do we trust when we are trying to make the purchase of certain hardware for our PC's. There is a list of approvals based on reviews for AuzenTech card and it leads me to believe that some of them are paid reviews to make that particular peace of hardware look good. All I am trying to say is that I am losing my confidence in review sites and that my list of approved review sites is rapidly shrinking down. There are still some review sites that do good job.