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Surround Sound

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February 22, 2006 1:25:28 PM

I have a Creative Sound Blaster Live! sound card with a digital out plug. If I plug in a external surround sound device will it work? The external surround sound thing is for a TV, so it has two RCA plugs in the back and a standard headphone jack. Should I tell the computer to output in 5.1 using the digital out or the standard audio out? Thanks.

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February 22, 2006 5:41:52 PM

On the tv, if your talking about a red rca plug and a white rca plug, then the computer should be set to ouput in 2 channel.
If its an actual digital input then I am not sure if the digital out is compatible. Have heard that they arent. Only with the digital computer speakers. But I may be wrong.
February 22, 2006 6:44:46 PM

i personally have tried outputing 2 digital connections: 1) 1 coaxial cable connected to the orange (digital) port on my audigy and 2) coaxial connected to onboard audio coaxial, they both gave out (digital) stereo content where i know it can be 5.1 (my dvd decoder card used to do it) this is not a PC speaker set however, it is connected to a A/V reciever so i think what you said about the PC speakers is right.

Ara
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February 23, 2006 12:45:40 PM

I tried using both the regular sound out and the digital out. It worked using the regular audio out, but the two front speakers were louder than the back two and center. I set the computer to 5.1 in control panel, but in Creative's Control Panel (I thinks its called "Audio HQ") it would only let me set it to four speakers, not 5.1. Also when I pressed "Test" in Audio HQ the front speakers would work, but the back wouldn't do anything. I guess unless anyone can give me some pointers I'll have to go back to my 2.1 speakers.
February 23, 2006 1:10:50 PM

how many mini stereo jacks do you have exactly? can you give me a URL (preferably on the creative website) to exactly which card you have please? because i'm thinking that you may not have support for 5.1, the only way i got mine working was to use 3 pairs of RCA cable connected to my amplifiers 6 channel input (a little warning to everyone, if you can't redirect (which i managed to do with software) ur bass and you only have sattelite front speakers, then you won't hear much bass)

If your only going for one or two pairs of RCA cable, then i think your going for pro logic or cmss 3d or something like that (there are so many 'upmixing'/'3d' 'surround sound' programs it's hard not to beleive them)

i can't think of anything else just now without knowing specifically what card you have (cos if i remember correctly there are many sound blaster lives)

Ara
February 23, 2006 1:48:23 PM

The only way to get true surround sound output through a digital connector on a sound card is by sending it as a Dolby Digital or DTS stream -- there's no way to get uncompressed surround sound signals through a digital cable (I think the bandwidth is insufficient, but at the very least, there's no standard that allows it). Thus, if you enable digital output on your sound card and set it to 2 channels, you should get sound, but it won't be 5.1. To respond to allegations that PC digital output is incompatible with home theater hardware, this is untrue. If you're watching a movie with a surround sound track, you should be able to set your player software to a pass-through mode where it sends the full 5.1 sound through the digital output. In other arenas, well, most sound cards don't encode to DD on the fly, so you're stuck with stereo in games if you use the digital output.

What this means is that the ONLY way to get true surround sound in games is to connect via analog audio cables. You'll need to use all 3 mini stereo jacks on your sound card (I'm assuming the card does support 5.1 in the first place), so that means 6 RCA plugs on the other end. Ara's warning about bass is more or less correct as well. My receiver (Yamaha HTR-5790, a reasonably high-end model) automatically redirects bass received in any channel to my subwoofer, but I believe many other receivers won't do this, especially for the 6 channel analog input. You'll probably need to force the computer to do the redirection.

After re-reading your post, it appears that you have a surround sound system intended for TV use, with only two RCA plugs. One telltale sign of these systems is when the inputs are on the same box that plays DVDs. I installed one of these for a friend once and didn't believe my eyes, because there's absolutely no way to get surround sound to the system from a PC (except in the aforementioned case when you're watching a movie in surround sound). When you used your regular audio output, the sound you heard from the rear speakers would have been a cheap upmix trick performed by the speaker system, which would explain the low volume in the rear speakers. My advice is to return your crippled "5.1" system and build one from components using a real home theater receiver. Either that, or you may be able to find a prepackaged system with 6 channel analog inputs.

-Brian
February 23, 2006 4:40:30 PM

If everyone could hold on for a few hours, until I get home, I'll post what card it is and the specifics for the surround sound box. The card I have may not be 5.1 compliant, but I think it is. I don't remember all the colors of the jacks on the back, but I think there is standard green, black, yellow, red, and I think two light blues. Don't hold me to that yet. I'll find out exactly what it is and post later tonight. Thanks.
February 24, 2006 12:48:20 PM

OK, here's the card: Creative SoundBlaster Live! Model CT4780 EMU10K1-SFF. For jacks there's 1 yellow, 1 blue, 1 green, and 1 black. The surround sound box is a 3M STV Digital 6. I looked on creative's site and downloaded the product manual for this card. It doesn’t look like the card supports 5.1 surround sound. It does say you can use the regular audio out to go to regular speakers and the black (Rear Out) jack also for regular speakers. It says that both of these jacks can go to a external amplifier. If anyone is interested here is the manual: PDF Manual Hope that link works. Thanks for the help, but surround sound probably won't work with this card. Sorry.
-Erick
February 24, 2006 1:25:23 PM

Feedbrian is correct, you need a surround sound receiver to process the signal as well as 5 speakers and preffarbly a subwoofer attached to the receiver. A few weeks ago someone posted a how to from the Creative web site for what you need to do if you're going to run your sound card through a surround sound receiver. Check out Creative support, sorry, I don't remember exactly where it is, but it is excellent.
February 24, 2006 2:12:17 PM

So if I set the computer to stereo (like the TV) and certain programs can output a 5.1 signal (like certain TV shows) and I run the audio out to the surround sound receiver it will come out as surround sound? I will try to find that Creative how-to.
February 24, 2006 2:36:19 PM

Should if you have your settings the way the Creative instructions say. If I remeber correctly, there is only one setting in the Creative software that will do this. I'd start with Craetive's FAQ
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