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Windows 7's Fatal 5.1 Issue

Last response: in Components
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February 11, 2010 3:13:44 AM

I've ran into a pretty terrible issue and believe the cause is Windows 7 itself. I've checked through just about every site and thread looking for a good fix on this and there doesn't appear to be any.

I am working with:

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 OS
Auzentech X-Fi Forte 7.1 sound card
Logitech Z-5300 5.1 speakers/analog connection

The issue is that 'true' 5.1 sound will not play through all of the speakers of my 5.1 setup. Only certain speakers get used, depending on how I have them hooked up to the Forte. Basically it's only using 2.1 rather than 5.1. When I first installed my Forte, I was having no issues until I installed a few Windows Updates - after I restarted, 3 speakers were not working. No issues through Headphones, those work and sound great.

I am using MediaMonkey and WMP as my main test programs, as they used to work before without issue so I see no reason not to. Playing high quality MP3s'. Games and DVD movies work through all 5 speakers, but that's about it. The speaker test in the control panel has all speakers giving the properly sound locations and all speakers respond correctly when I hit 'Test'. That's the thing that really gets me.

I've done A LOT of troubleshooting, here's what I've tried to basically limit it to being a Win 7 jack assignment/configuration issue:

1) Checked connections on back of the card and speakers several times.

2) Reinstalled sound card drivers several times/played with settings in control panel/device manager.

3) Re-inserted sound card a few times.

4) Installed my old Creative SB Audigy card and hooked it up. Ran into the exact same issue.

5) Re-formatted entire PC - installed sound card drivers - same issue.

6) Everything IS configured properly.

What the ____ can you do more than that?! I went to the extreme on this issue and even that didn't work. I'd say this basically limits it down to being something to do with Windows 7.

I can't figure out why it was working when I first installed my sound card, and for about 2 weeks after that it was fine. All of the sudden, they stop working. I can use CMSS in X-Fi(or Matrix Mode on the speakers) to run 5.1 'Stereo' sound - which is basically the sound of 2 speakers playing through 5. This is not the same as True 5.1 and the sound quality is terrible. Even running 2.1 is better than that, but I bought a 5.1 system so I could use it, not have it look pretty.

Here are some threads where other people have ran into the same issue, with no apparent resolution:

http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en-US/w7musi...

http://social.answers.microsoft.com/Forums/en/w7music/t...

I'm just wondering what I could do next...why is this not resolved? I am almost 100% sure this is something to do with Windows 7. I will go to great lengths to prove that, even installing Windows XP as a test. Hasn't anyone tried to get Full 5.1 from their Z-5300's and Z-5500's etc...? I know it's just not me. Any advanced users out there have an idea? The basics aren't going to work on this issue.

More about : windows fatal issue

a b $ Windows 7
February 11, 2010 10:37:01 AM

Could you clarify this for me?
From what I read, it sounds like you ARE getting 5.1 surround in movies and games.
You are NOT getting it when listening to music.
Is this correct?

If so, this is 110% normal.
The vast majority of music is only recorded in Stereo.
You can not naively output sound to channels that where not recorded.

My guess is that CMSS was actually enabled from the start, then disabled after an update...
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February 11, 2010 12:12:45 PM

Well, I'm quite sure music was playing in 5.1 with CMSS completely off. It does work with CMSS settings on, but it sounds terrible compared to how it sounded before. I put in a DVD(Dark Knight) and used WMP to play it. It seemed to be putting out 5.1. I will install Bioshock 2 tonight to ensure that 5.1 is indeed working in games. I just could have swore to god I didn't have CMSS on when playing through speakers, and was still getting 5.1. The quality of CMSS is terrible compared to before also.
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a b $ Windows 7
February 11, 2010 2:14:23 PM

..if the source material is stereo, then the output will also be stereo. If the source is 5.1, than Win 7 plays it back in 5.1, etc... The "Issue" is that Windows 7 does not convert/upmix the source from stereo to 5.1 or 7.1.

If it is that important to you, the best/easiest thing to do is use an optical output into a stereo receiver which does upmix and conversion.
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February 11, 2010 2:33:26 PM

I am starting to see this as being correct, though I will definetly test more tonight. Thanks for the replies guys!
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February 11, 2010 6:04:04 PM

Unless you were listening to DVD-A, DTS discs, or multichannel flac, you were not getting 5.1 music.
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February 11, 2010 6:54:23 PM

Well if that is true, that really sucks! Makes me think getting 5.1 was a stupid decision. At least it works in games I guess. I usually watch my movies on my PS3 so it doesn't apply for that.
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February 11, 2010 7:28:16 PM

IDK what 5.1 system you have but i used to have a logitech 5.1 system and on the controls for it was a matrix button which will activate all the speakers.
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February 11, 2010 8:17:18 PM

Well, I do have that but it makes it sound pretty bad. I also tried CMSS, does the same thing but with more settings and still sounds bad. 2.1 is the best sounding but I'm damn sure my sound was better than this and I wouldn't noticed that all 5 speakers weren't working before. I never played around with any CMSS settings before either. Just really weird.
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a b $ Windows 7
February 12, 2010 8:07:43 AM

I would take Logitech's 'Matrix Sound' over Creative's CMSS any day.
Just sounds so much better (to me)....

Don't sweat the lack of 5.1 music to much metalweenis.
Music sounds best when played back just how it was recorded.
Upscaling it to 5.1 is always going to compromise some quality.
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February 12, 2010 12:00:25 PM

Yeah I see that now. I guess it sounds good enough through stereo...Games sound great in 5.1 though.
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a b $ Windows 7
February 12, 2010 4:53:10 PM

keep in mind if/when you move to HD material (movies), the 5.1 would be worth it

also, having a 5.1 setup myself, i prefer to listen to the music in stereo, i find the up scaling messes with the quality to much (i am talking both Creatives and Logitechs)

though my 5.1 system (Logitech Z5500) does something called stereo x2, it takes th musc and plays it on the rear speakers as well
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