Need advice

So I finally hooked my computer up to my home theater system. I currently have an Onkyo7.1 system and i want at least 5.1 sound coming from my computer. I have an Asus p5e deluxe mobo with that little sound card it comes with. I have it hooked up through optical but apparently its only stereo and not 5.1
What would be my best option now? Considering my video card doesn't have a HDMI output. What soundcard will get the job done without breaking the bank? Thanks
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  1. The soundblaster 7.1 pci cards start at around $50 at newegg. I don't see any low end cards with hdmi inputs; I suggest you get a different video card or motherboard if you want an hdmi port.
  2. You should be getting surround sound out the SPDIF when playing DVDs. If you aren't, try fiddling with the settings in your driver program and in Windows/Control Panel/Sound, not to mention your receiver.

    Real, not simulated, surround sound from games through the SPDIF is another story. To get that you would need to replace that thingie Asus gave you with a real sound card that encodes Dolby Digital or DTS on the fly. Such cards are designated "Dolby Digital Live" or "DTS Direct". I have a Diamond XtremeSound XS71DDL that cost me about 50 clams at It doesn't have an HDMI output, though.

    What exactly do you want to do with your computer's sound? There's everything from voice to Blu-ray HD audio.

    P.S.--To all mobo makers: Do not bundle a POS sound card that will hog a precious expansion slot, you idiots. On-board means just that in English.
  3. What I really want is quality sound when I watch a movie. I thought about getting a new video card with hdmi but I want to see other options before going that route.
  4. Well, like I said, I think you should already have DVD sound out the SPDIF. Pass-through of Dolby Digital and DTS is the norm; the sound circuits should just send it straight through unchanged. The Onkyo is new enough to accept the signal.
  5. Yes, you should be able to pass through a pre-encoded DD or DTS signal, everything else will be in Stereo PCM.
    Are you trying to play a DVD/Bluray disk from your system or a video file with 5.1 audio?
    If it is a video file, the 5.1 surround is probably not encoded in DD or DTS and can not be passed through.

    If that is the case, you will need a sound card that supports DD Live or DTS Connect.
    This will allow you to encode in real time your 5.1 sound into DD or DTS.
    A good value option would be the ASUS Xonar Ds which supports DTS Connect and optical output through an included adaptor.
    If you want to bitstream Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus or DTS-HD Master Audio you will need a card like the Xonar HDAV1.3 Slim or it's bigger brothers.
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