HTPC surround sound issues

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HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 8:56 am

So, I just set up my HTPC, connected it to my TV via HDMI and then connected my TV to my receiver with an optical out and realized that I'm not getting 5.1 surround. The best I can do is Pro Logic II which is okay, but not great. I'm trying to figure out the best value solution to this issue and could use some expert help!

As I understand it, my HDTV will not transmit a 5.1 signal to my receiver even though my computer is connected via HDMI to the TV. I forgot where I read this, but the post said something like an HDTV won’t output 5.1 sound unless it is using its internal tuners. Is this true?

Anyways…

Here's what I have:

Motherboard on HTPC - Biostar with 6 channel Realtek ALC662. All of my PCI slots are open except small one I use for my cable card tuner.

Receiver - Sony str-k790 The receiver does not have HDMI in or out.

Older Samsung HDTV – I believe it is an LN46 series. I bought it in 2007. It is a 46inch LCD 1080p (at work so I can’t check).

Possible solutions -

First and cheapest (if it would work) would be to use 3 sets of stereo RCA cables. I like this solution since it would involve only 3 really cheap cables. Thing is, I don't know if my receiver will accept them for surround sound. On the back of the receiver are 6 holes where I can insert the RCA cables, but they go to 3 different things - CD player, TV and SAT (see page 17 of the receiver's manual). At this point I have reached the limit of my technical knowledge for this solution. I don't know if my receiver could accept those 6 inputs and output decent surround sound, and if it could, I don't know what combination of buttons to hit to get that result. Can anyone tell if this would work?

Second is to buy a sound card with an optical out, something like a SYBA SD-PEX63034 7.1 Channels 24-bit 48KHz PCI Express x1. Can't actually find another one with an optical out at a reasonable price. This one doesn’t seem great, but at least workable.

The third possible solution is a Monoprice 4X1 HDMI Switcher w/ Toslink & Digital Coaxial Port (Rev.2) w/ 3D support. I don’t like this solution as much because I just don’t want another adapter or box out there. That said, if it will work better than the other options, I’d go for it.

Any comments, ideas or other solutions? Thanks everyone!
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:46 am

Make sure 5.1 is selected in the HTPC/Windows Sound Control Panel.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:50 am

REXP5421 wrote:Make sure 5.1 is selected in the HTPC/Windows Sound Control Panel.
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Are you referring to this?

Can't select that at all. Only option is stereo as far as I remember. I'll run through it again tonight to triple check.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:36 am

I'm going through a similar situation after my MSI Diva 5.1 board died on me. I replaced it with a Gigabyte GA-880GA (Realtek ALC892 audio) and added a Sony DE595 receiver that is hooked to the HTPC via a digital SPDIF cable. I had to wade thru the Realtek tray icon playback menu options to find a checkbox for Dolby Pro Logic II support, and after fiddling with that, I was then able to select 5.1 for my output.

Even then, tweaking the center channel to sound proper for both music and movies was a lot more than I bargained for. I know I put 3 hours into the setup from start to finish, and to say its finished would be a lie. My rear sats are louder than I'd expected, and the HTPC remote (a classic MS Media Center remote) does not do coarse volume adjustment - from a low of '0' to a high of '50' in WMC is maybe a 20% volume change. I have to use the Sony receiver's remote to do any grand scale volume changes.

Good luck with it, as I got in over my head in a hurry with this setup. I still don't know for sure that I have it all set up properly, but the sound stage is incredible coming from a 3.1 setup that I had previously (did not have the rear sats hooked up).

Edit: Make sure you have the latest Realtek drivers for your setup as well, as I have seen this cause missing menu options.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:27 pm

As I understand it, my HDTV will not transmit a 5.1 signal to my receiver even though my computer is connected via HDMI to the TV. I forgot where I read this, but the post said something like an HDTV won’t output 5.1 sound unless it is using its internal tuners. Is this true?


I think so. I had the same problem with my Samsung TV:

HTPC--------------Samsung TV----------------Receiver
All using HDMI and all working with HD-CEC (anynet+) bi-directional control.

When connecting a PC to a TV, the TV Speakers become the active playback device, and it therefore requests (and passes on) a 2.0 stereo signal. I had two options:
  1. Make do with pseudo-surround using ProLogicII upsampled from stereo, but keep the HD-CEC control that let me control everything with one remote
  2. Use a SPDIF from my PC directly to the receiver, but say goodbye to the inter-device communication and remote-sharing

I tried the SPDIF cable for a while but got annoyed with juggling two remotes and having to change inputs on both TV and receiver each time I switched from Television to Console to HTPC and back. Pseudo-surround is fine for most things, but I'm not that fussy ;)
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:09 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
As I understand it, my HDTV will not transmit a 5.1 signal to my receiver even though my computer is connected via HDMI to the TV. I forgot where I read this, but the post said something like an HDTV won’t output 5.1 sound unless it is using its internal tuners. Is this true?


I think so. I had the same problem with my Samsung TV:

HTPC--------------Samsung TV----------------Receiver
All using HDMI and all working with HD-CEC (anynet+) bi-directional control.

When connecting a PC to a TV, the TV Speakers become the active playback device, and it therefore requests (and passes on) a 2.0 stereo signal. I had two options:
  1. Make do with pseudo-surround using ProLogicII upsampled from stereo, but keep the HD-CEC control that let me control everything with one remote
  2. Use a SPDIF from my PC directly to the receiver, but say goodbye to the inter-device communication and remote-sharing

I tried the SPDIF cable for a while but got annoyed with juggling two remotes and having to change inputs on both TV and receiver each time I switched from Television to Console to HTPC and back. Pseudo-surround is fine for most things, but I'm not that fussy ;)


I'm not even sure my receiver will accept an SPDIF cable and my motherboard definitely doesn't have one of those connections.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:05 pm

Are you sure your motherboard doesn't have an S/PDIF connection (either optical - toslink - or coaxial)? If the motherboard has onboard sound and is less than half a dozen years old, it should.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:14 pm

cynan wrote:Are you sure your motherboard doesn't have an S/PDIF connection (either optical - toslink - or coaxial)? If the motherboard has onboard sound and is less than half a dozen years old, it should.


Would be great if it had optical.

I only see analog inputs (green, pink and blue) - that's why I was thinking about option 1 in my OP. I just don't know if my receiver will know what to do with all those connection.

Guess this is what I get for buying a cheaper MoBo. Seems like I may have to spend the money I saved on the MoBo getting a sound solution together.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:26 pm

southrncomfortjm wrote:Guess this is what I get for buying a cheaper MoBo. Seems like I may have to spend the money I saved on the MoBo getting a sound solution together.


That's why I passed on that board when I bought my Gigabyte 2 weeks ago. I had that Biostar and an Asus 880 board as other choices, but eliminated the Biostar due to no S/PDIF.

After reading Crispy's post, I am thinking that my receiver is using the pseudo surround using the Pro logic II hardware, upsampling from the stereo source to 5.1.
This audio stuff really taxes my brain ... its such a convoluted mess of acronyms and audio techno-babble ... I have a headache now.

To add to my woes, I used to be able to play music from WMP, pause it, then watch a movie on the old Diva board. With the new setup, if I pause my WMP tunes and fire up a DVD, WMP will
spit an error that the audio source was interrupted and playback was closed. It will not stream multiple audio paths via S/PDIF.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:13 pm

southrncomfortjm wrote:Guess this is what I get for buying a cheaper MoBo. Seems like I may have to spend the money I saved on the MoBo getting a sound solution together.


I think you called it.
This is probably your cheapest reputable TOSLink-enabled card.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:19 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:
southrncomfortjm wrote:Guess this is what I get for buying a cheaper MoBo. Seems like I may have to spend the money I saved on the MoBo getting a sound solution together.

I think you called it.
This is probably your cheapest reputable TOSLink-enabled card.

Unfortunately it appears that his motherboard also lacks PCI slots. He will need to get a TOSLink-capable card with a PCIe interface, or a USB-to-TOSLink adapter (yuck).
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:28 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Chrispy_ wrote:
southrncomfortjm wrote:Guess this is what I get for buying a cheaper MoBo. Seems like I may have to spend the money I saved on the MoBo getting a sound solution together.

I think you called it.
This is probably your cheapest reputable TOSLink-enabled card.

Unfortunately it appears that his motherboard also lacks PCI slots. He will need to get a TOSLink card with a PCIe interface, or a USB-to-TOSLink adapter (yuck).


Doh!

You know what. For $60 you can just get a decent H77 motherboard with a TOSLink port on it already ;)

Also, looking back at Xonars (which normally review well) there's a whole bunch of user reviews complaining of 5.1 issues over TOSLink actually. It's amazing how something like a simple "freebie" Realtek codec on your board can do so many things right. I have to give them credit, they've enticed me to ditch discrete soundcards these past few years....
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:45 pm

You know, I had a blast putting my comptuer together, but i don't think I'm up for doing it all over again so soon, though that motherboard looks pretty sweet.

What's the issue with the USB to TOS adapter? I'm not sure what "virtual" 5.1 is, but that sounds something like Pro-Logic.

Does anyone know if option 1 that I listed in the OP would work? That's more of a receiver rather than computer question, but I'm hoping someone can tell me. That would be the easiest and cheapest, but also cabl-iest, option.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:29 pm

southrncomfortjm wrote:You know, I had a blast putting my comptuer together, but i don't think I'm up for doing it all over again so soon, though that motherboard looks pretty sweet.

What's the issue with the USB to TOS adapter? I'm not sure what "virtual" 5.1 is, but that sounds something like Pro-Logic.

Does anyone know if option 1 that I listed in the OP would work? That's more of a receiver rather than computer question, but I'm hoping someone can tell me. That would be the easiest and cheapest, but also cabl-iest, option.


That option is a no-go, as your receiver does not have analog surround inputs, only stereo. It mentions Dolby, but not in 5.1, though DTS gets a nod. The only thing I can confirm from the manual is that it will take a DTS signal, which I believe is a minimum of 5.1. Anything Dolby less than 5.1 is 'virtual', including all things that say 'Pro Logic'.

The sure bet is to get something that encodes DTS. Most Creative products allow you to do this, though you may have to pay for a license separately on their site for the cheaper products. Expensive Xonars do this as well.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:34 pm

Sorry for being late to the thread. I meant to respond sooner.

I have read your other thread when you built the HTPC. It was a clear example in which had you told us you are using such an old receiver, we would not have ok'ed the choice of motherboard. But what's done is done.

The choice of a discrete sound card now lies in your requirements. I can break it down in 2 progressive areas:
1. "Bitstreaming" DD/DTS-encoded sound from your media files and optical media. Most decent media player software should contain this option to allow direct transmission of DD/DTS-encoded sound data over S/PDIF. If your requirement ends here, then even the cheapo SYBA card that you link should be sufficient. Since you are taking the sound data "directly" from the media files/discs, the computer has very little to do/mess with the sound. Decoding happens at the receiver and you should get your surround sound while playing those files/discs.
2. All sound, including normal Windows and game sounds, to be transmitted in DD/DTS encoded format for the receiver. Normal Window sounds is usually stereo, game sounds are pretty much multichannel without fancy DD/DTS encoding. A discrete sound card with Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect (the DTS Interactive part) is what you need and it costs more of course. You will need something like a Creative or the more expensive Xonar's.

I am going to venture a guess that you need #1 more than #2, but these are your options.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:45 pm

Flying Fox wrote:Sorry for being late to the thread. I meant to respond sooner.

I have read your other thread when you built the HTPC. It was a clear example in which had you told us you are using such an old receiver, we would not have ok'ed the choice of motherboard. But what's done is done.

The choice of a discrete sound card now lies in your requirements. I can break it down in 2 progressive areas:
1. "Bitstreaming" DD/DTS-encoded sound from your media files and optical media. Most decent media player software should contain this option to allow direct transmission of DD/DTS-encoded sound data over S/PDIF. If your requirement ends here, then even the cheapo SYBA card that you link should be sufficient. Since you are taking the sound data "directly" from the media files/discs, the computer has very little to do/mess with the sound. Decoding happens at the receiver and you should get your surround sound while playing those files/discs.
2. All sound, including normal Windows and game sounds, to be transmitted in DD/DTS encoded format for the receiver. Normal Window sounds is usually stereo, game sounds are pretty much multichannel without fancy DD/DTS encoding. A discrete sound card with Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect (the DTS Interactive part) is what you need and it costs more of course. You will need something like a Creative or the more expensive Xonar's.

I am going to venture a guess that you need #1 more than #2, but these are your options.


Ancient technology comes back to bite me! Don't get the wrong idea, I never blamed anyone but myself for choosing the parts I chose (which I 99% love - heck I'm even enjoying the Intel Integrated Graphics), which then led to this issue. Mostly came from ignorance - why *wouldn't* my TV send the surround sound signal from my computer on to my receiver? Lame limitation if I ever heard of one.

I've moved on from this issue and decided to just live with Pro-Logic II for now (first world problem for sure). In the future, I will probably upgrade my surround sound system for the living room and move the existing system to my man cave where I can directly connect my Xbox to the receiver for 5.1.

So, if I understand it correctly, when I change receivers, all I have to do is get one that will accept the RCA cables for surround sound right? That will provide actual 5.1?

As always, thanks for the help fellas!
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:01 pm

southrncomfortjm wrote:*wouldn't* my TV send the surround sound signal from my computer on to my receiver? Lame limitation if I ever heard of one.
Because your TV is not a receiver/hub for all your sounds. Actually this limitation is quite common. It is on my 46" Panasonic plasma, though they are not crystal clear on that point in the manual. I had to read that one fine print on some page multiple times to get it stick to my head. Most likely the problem with that is the licensing costs to implement decoding logic (in the case of the TV speakers being used for DD/DTS-encoded data), no idea on by-passing.

southrncomfortjm wrote:I've moved on from this issue and decided to just live with Pro-Logic II for now (first world problem for sure). In the future, I will probably upgrade my surround sound system for the living room and move the existing system to my man cave where I can directly connect my Xbox to the receiver for 5.1.
What's the spec on that surround sound system. What receiver/hub unit does it use? What kind of input the receiver/hub can take will determine your options.

southrncomfortjm wrote:So, if I understand it correctly, when I change receivers, all I have to do is get one that will accept the RCA cables for surround sound right? That will provide actual 5.1?
It also depends on the 2 areas that I listed above. By doing all RCA cables, it means decoding happens on the computer. You don't get that DD/DTS logo light up on your receiver. Actually a relatively new receiver that can take 5.1/7.1 analog input is getting less common and is now kind of in the realm of higher end models (you may find older ones with those however). It is mostly about HDMI or S/PDIF nowadays. Your board has HDMI, which means you can send audio along that HDMI cable to a newish receiver. That will be the simplest. However, the onboard audio does not do DDL or DTS Interactive so you will still need a discrete sound card for #2.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:27 pm

just brew it! wrote:Unfortunately it appears that his motherboard also lacks PCI slots. He will need to get a TOSLink-capable card with a PCIe interface, or a USB-to-TOSLink adapter (yuck).


That's funny that you find USB to S/PDIF so unappealing, seeing as how you can find audiophile USB --> S/PDIF/BNC adapters approaching $1000 - hence they must be desirable enough for some. The purest way to get audiophile sound from your Macbook Pro... Lol.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:27 pm

I don't know that I would rule out a USB -> TOSLINK adapter - I don't have any to recommend (the Turtle Beach linked earlier seems fine), but for HTPC duties -- passing on DTS/Dolby signal it's essentially only a conduit for a digital signal. Assuming the drivers aren't terrible and make everything unstable, it should provide the same quality of onboard or discrete soundcards for that kind of application. It won't, however, encode game surround sound into Dolby or DTS, but it would pass stereo PCM, which is the situation you find yourself now with your current setup. I honestly can't recommend a Xonar for you. I have one collecting dust and I'm using the built in realtec on my new rig because it just works - the drivers are decent, the front ports work, it remembers settings. I wish I could say the same for the Xonar I have (I think it's the DS) but I can't. I think it has an optical adapter for the digital out, but unfortunately it's a PCI card so I can't sell it to you for cheap :)

Strangely enough your board appears to support IR, COM, and a Printer port but doesn't seem to have a SPDIF port on it. Strange.

Outside of upgrading your mobo to something that includes optical out (don't write it off just yet), an HDMI capable receiver or at least a receiver that would accept multi-channel analog input would be another good solution. Unless you were given a receiver with the multichannel analog though, I wouldn't spend money on a receiver that didn't have HDMI integrated in it in which case you should use that anyways.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:46 pm

I wouldn't rule out the USB --> Toslink adapter either. I would think it would have a minimal impact, if any, on detectable degradation of audio quality. For most folks, digital is digital: If it works, it works. Right now, it seems like the best option to get 5.1 digital audio to your receiver for minimal out of pocket. If you can find one for ~$30 or less, like that one linked to at Newegg above, then go for it. Unless you really want a fancier PCIe soundcard, the next best option is to replace your motherboard (for one with S/PDIF)
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:39 pm

Asus has a USB Xonar that does optical out- and can encode DD5.1. ~$40. You get to deal with their drivers, which aren't fun, but I've used one positively to encode (and pass) 5.1 to a capable receiver.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:46 am

Here's the USB Xonar referenced http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Xonar-Sound- ... =Xonar+USB

However while I was finding that I also found this http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Soundbla ... =pd_cp_e_1 which, dare I say, might have better drivers and only costs $5 more. The fact that I just typed out that a creative sound card might have better drivers than anything is a pretty sad reflection on the state of asus's drivers, and I have no experience with the card but it seems to have plenty of positive amazon reviews.

So, is $45 worth it to you to get surround sound from your brand new HTPC? It would be for me - if for no other reason than the ability to have the center channel dialogue level be adjustable rather than mixed in with the left/right at whatever level the computer and/or tv deemed appropriate (I realize there are probably ways to adjust that before it leaves the pc, but I think you get my point). Maybe ask for it for Christmas - or get it for yourself!
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:23 am

Okay, so you've all movitvated me to address this issue now since I really do want true 5.1. I need this solution to work for movies through 5.1 speakers, not headphones. I don't play games on this computer so I don't need to worry about how the adapter works for games. I would also like to use an optical cable for connecting to my receiver since that it what I have available.

I like the Asus USB Xonar. I just want to be sure that my receiver will be able to use that to output 5.1. I don't know what Dolbly Digital Virtual Speaker, Live or anything else listed on the Asus spec page means really. This may be an obvious question, but will DTS work at all since it is not listed?

I also like the Creative USB Adapter, I just have the same questions as the Xonar above based on the specs. I think I like this option best, though I am concerned by the statement "DTS & Dolby Digital Decoding via free PowerDVD Download" on the amazon page. What does that mean? Can I only get DTS/Dobly surround sound using PowerDVD?

The Turtle Beach option seems decent, I am just concerned by the "virtual" tag being thrown around with it. That sounds a lot like Pro Logic II.

Price doesn't matter between the three as long as I'm getting the one that works, or should work, better.

Basically, my questions is really only - which of these options gives me true 5.1 surround sound?

Thanks everyone for taking the time to help!
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/Asus 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/MSI 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
southrncomfortjm
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:54 am

How do you get your TV programming? Cable, satellite, antenna, etc?
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:57 am

cjcerny wrote:How do you get your TV programming? Cable, satellite, antenna, etc?


Its cable tv through my HTPC's Ceton InfiniTV 4 cablecard tuner.
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/Asus 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/MSI 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:01 am

The most elegant and simple solution would be to purchase a new receiver with HDMI inputs and outputs. You'll pull your hair out if you try to go about this any other way.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:13 am

cjcerny wrote:The most elegant and simple solution would be to purchase a new receiver with HDMI inputs and outputs. You'll pull your hair out if you try to go about this any other way.


I agree, but elegant and simple = 3 to 10 times the cost.

This Onkyo HT-S3500 5.1-Channel Home Theater Speaker/Receiver Package or Denon DHT-1513BA Total 650 Watt 5.1 Channel Home Theater System with Boston Acoustics Premium Speaker System would probably do the trick and also free up my current surround sound system for use with my Xbox in my man cave.

Maybe wife will spring for that for my birthday haha.
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/Asus 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/MSI 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:28 am

Sure...new receiver with HDMI inputs and a HDMI output probably at least $200.

If you can't go that way, the problem breaks down into two seperate issues. One, you have to add a optical output to your PC in the least expensive way possible. Two, you have to decide what software you want to use to send data over that optical output. Win 7 will send Dolby Digital soundtracks from Media Center recordings over the optical output natively. If the show you've recorded is in 5.1, 5.1 will be sent to your receiver. If the show you've recorded is in 2.0, 2.0 will be sent to your receiver. Media Player will send the Dolby Digital soundtrack from DVDs over the optical output natively. Again, no upconversion--what is on the DVD, either 5.1 or 2.0, is what gets sent to your receiver. If you want DTS soundtracks to be sent from DVDs to your receiver, you will need to use different playback software, like Power DVD, that has been enabled/unlocked to send DTS soundtracks. If you are playing CDs, a 2.0 PCM track will be sent by Media Player over the optical output to your receiver.
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:33 am

cjcerny wrote:Sure...new receiver with HDMI inputs and a HDMI output probably at least $200.

If you can't go that way, the problem breaks down into two seperate issues. One, you have to add a optical output to your PC in the least expensive way possible. Two, you have to decide what software you want to use to send data over that optical output. Win 7 will send Dolby Digital soundtracks from Media Center recordings over the optical output natively. If the show you've recorded is in 5.1, 5.1 will be sent to your receiver. If the show you've recorded is in 2.0, 2.0 will be sent to your receiver. Media Player will send the Dolby Digital soundtrack from DVDs over the optical output natively. Again, no upconversion--what is on the DVD, either 5.1 or 2.0, is what gets sent to your receiver. If you want DTS soundtracks to be sent from DVDs to your receiver, you will need to use different playback software, like Power DVD, that has been enabled/unlocked to send DTS soundtracks. If you are playing CDs, a 2.0 PCM track will be sent by Media Player over the optical output to your receiver.


Would all that still be an issue with the Creative USB adapter? Or does that encode/decode by itself?
Gaming: i5-3570k/Z77 Extreme4/212 Evo/Corsair 500R/16GB Ballstix Tact 1600 CL8/Asus 7850 2GB/840 250gb, EVO 500gb, SG 3tb/Tachyon 550w/Win7

HTPC: i3 3225/H77/8gb g.skill 1.25v/1+2TB HDD/Asus BR/MSI 7850 2gb/Silverstone GD05B/Antec 380w/InfiniTV 4/Win7
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Re: HTPC surround sound issues

Postposted on Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:12 am

No experience with that device, unfortunately. Plenty of experience with either on-board or add-in optical. Doesn't have to be a fancy soundcard, just something that has optical. Xonar DG, which is $20, works well for what you intend to use it for.
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