I was experiencing some issues with my sound not working after resuming my PC from sleep mode and it has not improved so I recently made the switch to using on-board audio (was using SB X-Fi Fatal1ty). I use a Sony 5.1 Home theater receiver to output my sound and am trying to figure out the best method to connect it to my PC. My 2 options are optical or multi-channel (analog). From what I've read, it seems that optical offers better sound quality but I will lose true 5.1 surround sound (just upmixes stereo into all 5 channels) whereas I can get real surround sound using the multi-channel inputs. I mainly game and listen to music/movies and would like to get some advice on which method I should use. I am not an audiophile by any means, though I would like to get the best possible sound quality/surround sound with the setup I currently have. Any help is sincerely appreciated. Thanks.
Using Win 7 (64-bit), Motherboard - ASUS M4A89GTD PRO/USB3
If your onboard sound is able to output Dolby Pro Logic II (called Virtual Surround by some control panels) then you can have surround over optical/digital coax. The surround channels get matrixed into the two channels then a Dolby pro Logic receiver detects the hidden/matrixed channels and decodes them. Not as good as true 5.1 but close. Or you can encode everything as Dolby Digital, DTS, or WMA Pro over the optical/digital coax cable if your onboard supports it.
Digital over SPDIF is horrible, because the audio has to be compressed to holy hell to fit within SPDIF's tight bandwidth constraints. Nevermind the soundcard probably has a higher Digital to Analog converter then the Receiver...
There is zero reason to bother with a soundcard if you aren't going to use it.