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Using my onboard soundcard to decode Xbox SPDIF?

Last response: in Components
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July 28, 2009 4:27:14 PM

I've seen variants on this question but I don't think I've seen this exact one so apologies if I'm repeating.

I'm trying to use my computer as a 5.1 receiver, mostly because a long time ago I bought an analog 5.1 Soundworks speaker system that doesn't accept digital-in (so only computers can output to it). I have a Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD4P motherboard with Realtek ALC889A decoder; I also went and bought the special SPDIF-in bracket.

I've hooked up my PS2 and XBox, and so far it can decode stereo input fine. Does anyone have any idea if/how it can support 5.1 SPDIF input?

Thanks in advance for your help!!!
July 31, 2009 2:10:24 PM

So I wrote to Realtek, and here is their response. I am going to stop chasing this particular rainbow, suck it up, and buy a receiver. (or... the <a href="http://www.silentpcreview.com/AMD_Maui">AMD Maui</a>)

Dear Sir,
ALC889 can not decode AC3 stream.
You need an AMP/receiver/AC3 decoder.

Best regards,
PC-Tech
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July 31, 2009 5:34:23 PM

Yep. 5.1 can only be transmitted over Spdif in a A3C (Dolby Digital) or DTS stream, due to bandwith limitations. Most soundcards can at least decode Dolby Digital (most can also decode DTS), as do most recievers. But no onboard chipsets I know of allow decoding of DD/DTS signals, so you are limited to 2.0 over Spdif.

Best solution would be a soundcard with a Dolby Digital decoder included. Make sure it also supports a digital input. I believe both the Auzentech Forte and ASUS Xonar D2/D2X should suit your needs. Alternativly, you could get a digital reciever, but those would almost certainly cost more.
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July 31, 2009 5:58:11 PM

I previously had the Audigy 2 ZA Platinum, but it had enough of a delay in the decoding that it was essentially worthless, at least for movies and games.

The annoying thing is that spec sheets rarely reveal whether a chipset can decode DTS over SPDIF-in. Thanks for the tips on Auzentech / Asus options.

If bandwidth limits transmission of A3C/DTS, what's the preferred transfer protocol?
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