DVD SPDIF vs. DVD Analog--Newbie Explanation Please

I have a Pioneer DVR-108 drive which doesn’t have SPDIF…Right now its hooked up to my onboard audio via IDE cable and selected in properties “Enable Digital CD Audio for this CD-Rom Device” I’m Looking to get a SBA2 ZS card and would like to get 5.1 with this dirve. I’m an extreme audio newbie and know absolutely nothing about pc audio. First question…once onboard is disabled and card is installed can you still use IDE cable to get audio? Or must you use an analog cable…? Next question…what is the diffeerence between hooking up a dvd drive via SPDIF or Analog cable…is the sound significantly different to the human ear? Lastly…my RealtekAC97 onboard audio configuration is set for 6 channel mode for 5.1 speaker output. I have a 5.1 speaker system hooked up using all 3 of my onboard card jacks. Am I currently getting true 5.1 audio with my current set-up? And if I am…would getting a SBA2 ZS actually be downgrading my dvd audio quality?

I know these are a lot of questions but any responses would be appreciated…
THX… Newbie looking for Answers…

Onboard audio is digital and so is the digital out put. It’s all the same just some audio cards may prefer the digital only, it’s really a matter of system config than quality to the human hearing since it’s basically the same.

I keep it on IDE as it’s much easier and no extra wire which are a pain to unplug (not good if you swap drives a lot like I do).

The 5.1 is based on your speakers & audio card, as to how you want the audio to be transfered direct onboard or digital output is up to you, they won’t sound any different.

hi, i do not agree 100% with the last quote. It’s far more difficult and technical if u want to have a decent explanation but as far as I’ve tested it out it comes to this:
1/ s/pidf is not only a type of cable/connector but also a bitrate-format: it transports digital data in a sometimes compressed format from the source (f.i. dvd-romdrive or external digital audio input) to the amplifier (either your soundcard or, if your card is capable to, directly forward s/pdif to external audio devices like f.i. a surround amplifier). So you have several steps of hardware to check what’s the best;
2/ s/pdif is 100% digital so not a lot of magnetical disturbance of your pc. However the sound is compressed somehow like a good quality mp3. Analog isn’t compressed at all;
3/ but most of all it depends which part of your system has the best digital/analog-converter: your cd/dvd-romdrive itself, windows or your soundcard? If you have a good quality audio card it’s more likely that you’ll get better audio if you connect your cd/dvd-drive using s/pdif and switch off digital cd-audio in windows media player.

I have an audigy 2zs and it sounds way better using the s/pdif but as you see it’s more a matter of testing things out.



s/p dif is surely digital only (optical), even Toslink is (coaxial).

hi, audio by IDE will still work, this setting depends on windows, not your audiocard. I have an audigy 2zs too and you can easily set this to play 2-channel stereo -> 5.1 channel surround. The only true surround mode however works only if you use a dvd or other surround-recording. Your card needs to be able to decode dts or dolby digital if you wanna connect it using the default jacks at the back of the card, like your onboard board.
s/pdif-connection between dvd-drive and audio card is as far as i know only used for high-quality cd-sound (sounds nicer than standard analog or by ide), not for dvd-video or audio. Dvd exists of files that contain a video- and audiotrack but that audiotrack is purely read by your dvd-player-software.
BTW the sba2 zs is not pro quality but it definatly works better than onboard audio.

100% true, just watch out for interference if you use coaxial. Coaxial needs a cable with a decent coating. Optical has less interference by default because it uses light. Coax however needs less encoding/decoding (quality might be better) so it’s a choice you should make.

I found this thread while trying to work out an issue with my DVR-108 player, and my Soundblaster Audigy 2 card.

Simply put, can’t get 5.1 audio, or anything past 2 front speakers, playing via the DVD player. It appears to be using IDE audio, as I can remove the cable from DVD to SB card, and it still plays. I just noticed this today, have had the player for a long time, and not sure if it ever worked properly. The card definitely works fine, as I can do a speaker test and get audio from all channels.

The DVR has two audio outs…one 4 pin analog, one 2 pin they refer to as an SPDIF…I’m using the 4 pin cable, to the sound card “CD-IN”…

So…is this a windows setting I need to change, or??..when I go into control panel, and audio settings, I tell Windows it is a 5.1 speaker setup, and I would think that would allow of audio in all 5 speakers (realizing, it is not true 5.1), but nada.

Any ideas/solutions/etc?

wait a min… this thread is about cd-audio. Aren’t you confusing things? These cables you’ve been reffering to are only used for compressed pcm (cd-audio), NOT for dvd.
For playing dvd’s you need to have a software dvd-video-player. Your multichannel audio depends on that software + settings of the Audio HQ-icon in your configuration screen (make shure you select “use internal decoder” for dolby digital and dts). For the rest there are surround effects to play stereo audio in surround.

Your prob doesn’t have anything to do with the capabilities of your dvd-player so don’t worry about that part, it’s 100% a software+windows+soundboard-thing.

Also don’t forget to check the settings of your dvd-video-software.

Not getting around with it? Just ask.