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Audio Output: SPDIF for a new monitor?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by risingTide, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. risingTide

    risingTide Private E-2


    I'm spec-ing out a new monitor...and I think I have it narrowed down to two choices. Both have HDMI/DVD-D/D-Sub connections and integrated speakers (which I know are probably crap and I'd have to disable and bypass).

    However, one has Audio Output: SPDIF and the other does not. What would one use that for?? Is that the only way to get around the monitor's integrated speakers and use other speakers?

    Many thanks!
  2. plodr

    plodr Major Geek Extraordinaire

  3. Digerati

    Digerati MajorGeek

    SPDIF has been around since the early 80s - since the beginnings of CDs.

    Unfortunately, you did not tell us anything about your current hardware, specifically your current graphics solution and that is critical to give to a complete answer. We need to know your current audio solution too.

    Understand that most computers output audio via a sound card (or on-board sound). But with the introduction of HDMI connections on monitors and graphics cards (and on-board too), and with some monitors having built in speakers, the capability is there to have a single HDMI cable carry both video and audio to the monitor - IF that is supported by the computer's current graphics solution.

    Understand too that there is no difference in the digital video carried by HDMI and DVI. The ONLY difference is HDMI also has the capability to carry 5.1 audio. That does not mean it does carry audio. In fact, for most computers, it does not because that is carried via the sound card where the audio is fed to the sound card's output connections used to feed standard computer speakers.

    Note that HDMI is migrating to computers from the home theater world. And since TV makers are making computer monitors, and more and more computers are used in HT environments, and the video data signal is exactly the same as DVI, and HDMI connectors are smaller, it makes no sense to support two connection formats. So DVI is fading out, causing these confusions over getting audio to the speakers.

    Since monitor speakers will NEVER offer full range audio, that monitor is (conveniently - well, you are paying for it) offering a method to take the digital audio from the HDMI and feeding it via SPDIF to an external amplifier and speakers. But in order for that to happen, the audio must first get to your graphics card and that is NOT going to happen unless you manually connect the audio to the graphics card internally.
  4. risingTide

    risingTide Private E-2

    Excellent information.

    As far as my current configuration goes...well, its open. That is, I'm rebuilding my machine and am going to buy a new mobo, monitor, and graphics card so I can really do whatever I want. I can't imagine not getting a good enough graphics card to take advantage of all the newest technologies (HDMI, etc.) so let's assume I'm okay there.

    Now, what would one use the SPDIF audio output for on the monitor? What is the purpose of having it there?

  5. Digerati

    Digerati MajorGeek

    "Good enough" is not the right term. As I noted above, the digital signal is exactly the same with DVI and HDMI so the video will be just as good either way. And since most users don't integrate their PCs into a home theater system, many cards, by design, don't support audio and that is not a sign of quality, one way or another.

    Also noted above,
  6. risingTide

    risingTide Private E-2

    Sorry for my lack of precision in my terminology...I understand what you mean though. Thanks.

    Also sorry I didn't read your first post carefully enough. So, this SPDIF out on the monitor is only offering a convenience feature? Not having this SPDIF out wouldn't eliminate me from being able to feed the HDMI digital audio directly from my capable graphics card / sound card to external speakers? Or would it?
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2010
  7. Digerati

    Digerati MajorGeek


    Not at all. In fact, if you are using external speakers, there would be no reason to run audio through your video card. Therefore you would connect your audio just as normally done for years - from the sound card to the speakers (or amplifier that then powers the speakers).
  8. risingTide

    risingTide Private E-2

    Excellent answer...this is what I was suspecting/hoping for.

    Many thanks! :)
  9. Digerati

    Digerati MajorGeek

    You're welcome.

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