It seems that one of the biggest struggles we face in the HTPC arena is getting our high definition audio codecs properly passed from our home theater PC to our ears with the absolute best quality possible. Typically this has been done via multi-channel LPCM over an optical connection to an AV receiver. Now that HDMI has come along and allowed us to take better quality video and better quality audio and send them both out across the same cable, there’s a whole new set of options (with their respective issues as well).
Until recently, the HTPC market hasn’t had much to offer in the way of getting video and audio out of a single HDMI cable except for some rather high priced fancy sound cards. And now we have two very strong contenders breaking out into the scene; Intel and AMD/ATI. ATI’s has released their newer 5xxx series GPU’s and Intel has their latest Core i3/i5/i7 series CPU’s with integrated Intel HD GPU on chip. Both of these offerings finally bring us the option to bitstream our HD audio via HDMI alongside our video stream.
In order to help get you up and running a little smoother, Damian over at Media Smart Server has a really great guide detailing how he got his ATI 5670 GPU and Windows 7 HTPC up and running with full bitstreaming support to his AV receiver.