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Optical vs Analog question (onboard audio)

Last response: in Components
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December 5, 2011 6:42:03 PM

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
December 5, 2011 9:19:34 PM

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.
December 6, 2011 2:48:48 AM

*sigh*

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.
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