Sound Card Needed for Surround Sound?
Hey everyone, for the computer I am currently building I will want to use my gaming headset which supports Dolby surround sound. My question is, will I need a sound card for this to be possible? The motherboard I am ordering is GIGABYTE GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard. I know this has an optical output (which is what I need), just don't know if it'll support surround sound.
If I get a new card it would be this:
If I get a new card it would be this:
You probably need a soundcard. Most Dolby Headsets can only achieve 5.1 is the incoming stream is a Dolby Digital audio stream, and motherboard audio does not have the ability to encode standard 5.1 audio streams to Dolby Digital format. So that means that all non-Dolby Digital audio tracks will output as 2.0. [Normal 5.1 audio tracks are too large for optical to carry].
To encode a standard 5.1 audio stream to 5.1 Dolby Digital, you need a soundcard with Dolby Digital Live support. Cheapest options I can think of are the ASUS Xonar D1/DX [PCI/PCI-E] and HT Omega Striker [PCI]. (The ASUS Xonar DS is DTS only; no Dolby support).
From what i understand, have tried and experimented with, this is what i CAN tell you.
I have a Xonar D1 soundcard. I had it connected to my Yamaha RXV-340 receiver/amp via optical. Watching movies via Power dvd using SPDIF produced the DTS and Dolby Surround sounds in all its glory. Awesome sound. Cinema style!!!
Playing games like Farcry with the sound option in the game menu set to 5.1 had the same result. AWESOME sound with precision placing of sounds generated by the individual speakers. With CRYSIS though i did not get the effect since the game menu does NOT have a 5.1 surround option. I can only describe it as 2 speakers through 5.1 speakers, thus centre, left front and left surround produces left sounds and centre, right front and right surround produces right sounds with my sub barely working.
However since i moved my pc away from the amp i now too have this problem. I am now testing various options and from what i understand now is that a soundcard is crucial for 5.1 surround sound. The soundcard generates a surround environment and reproduces 5.1 surround (6 speakers) via 2 speaker setup like a headset.
It however is not true surround, cause it is generated into 5.1 channels. Basically fitting 6 speakers sound through 2 speakers and with time delays will create the "surround".
Alright so, two types of gaming headsets are available: 3.5mm jack plug and USB. For the 3.5mm jack type you WILL need a soundcard to generate this effect for you. With USB i guess that the headsets will come with software that will then take the place of the soundcard function and will fulfill this task.
I tested this "theory" by purchasing a set of iHop MP3 player earphones($9.99). Plugged into my soundcard and PRESTO i had the 5.1 surround effect. Have not played a game yet.
I have purchased after lllloooonnng thoughts and searching and the "theory" test, a Cyber Snipa 5.1 gaming USB headset($100). This headset has 4 speakers in each earcup which i "hope" will do what my amp did: producing the sounds i want from each individual speaker, thus giving true surround. For dvd's and gaming(provided the game has a 5.1 setting/option)...
After this test will then go for Sharkoon X-Tatic 5.1 headset($180)...
^^ Crysis most definatly supports 5.1 output. You missed the vital point: Optical is INCAPABLE of carrying uncompressed 5.1 audio. Dolby Digital and DTS are the only surround formats that can be carried over optical. Thats why movies output 5.1 [they have Dolby/DTS tracks] and games do not [they do NOT have Dolby/DTS tracks] when using optical.
If you want 5.1 in games using optical, you need a soundcard with either Dolby Digital Live or DTS-C support.
Using analog, Crysis fully supports up to 7.1 nativly. [It will output whatever Windows is set to]
As for most USB headphones, they typically [ok, ALWAYS] virtualize 5.1 output onto a pair of drivers [Dolby Headphone, etc]. Most all soundcard feature Dolby Headphone as a built in feature now, so I almost always avoid surround headsets now.
Thank you for clearing that up. That was one of the problems i could not understand. And funny enough my Xonar D1 does have Dolby Digital Live support. In all honesty I did not know what it was for nor did i try it.
I did move my pc away from the amp and the room it (pc) is in now, is to small for any sound systems like Logitech's X-530 for instance.
Thus my choice for a headset, since Xonar supports Dolby Headphone.
BUT once again in my lack of understanding, i mostly had to read up, search for answers or do tests. I could not understand the single 3.5mm jack connection to the soundcard option NOR the USB connection. To me there should be at least 3 connections to the soundcard to have center, sub, mains and surround.
But i think i kinda understand that now, because the soundcard does the virtualizing.
There still is the two driver vs the 8 driver headset setup that confuses me. I already paid for the Cyber Snipa headset and i am awaiting delivery. Like i mentioned i have to trail and error just about all i do (there is no genuine support locally for questions like these). So spending heaps of money in one go and finding that it was a mistake is to costly. The Snipa (8 drivers) is a USB connection, thus my soundcard will now just be a power consuming add-on with no function. The Sharkoon 5.1 headset (way more expensive and 8 drivers) comes with an optical connection, thus hopefully later, once i can purchase that, i will have use for the soundcard again and i will surely use the Dolby Digital Live option...
Sennheiser's pc333HD, but even more expensive and 2 drivers...