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Difficulty with 5.1 / 7.1 sound [SOLVED]

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October 4, 2012 6:35:59 PM

Specs:

Win 7 64 bit
ASUS X58 with a Realtek ALC 892 on-board sound
Latest Realtek Drivers (downloaded and installed today)
Astro A50 Wireless headset

I cannot seem to get a 5.1 or a 7.1 surround setup working properly. The headset mixamp is plugged in to to the USB and SPDIF on the motherboard. I have tried a couple of different surround sound test files and all seem to indicate that the LFE channel (four) is not working properly, sounds from the front do not work very well - I can hear sides, center and back just fine. I also cannot find a way to select or enable 5.1 or 7.1 anywhere in any panel, Windows, Realtek, or A50. Not in the right-click drop downs in Devices, Playback Devices or the Realtek sound manager.

Any ideas?
October 4, 2012 7:09:33 PM

Well, when using SPDIF, you are limited to just 2.0 audio when not passing Dolby/DTS audio tracks. So that part makes sense. You'd need a soundcard that has Dolby encoding capability (ASUS Xonar D1/DX is the cheapest option I can think of offhand).

Secondly, you should be able to select 5.1 audio via the control panel; right click on "speakers", click properties. (On XP at work, but I believe thats how its done in Vista/7).
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October 4, 2012 7:32:32 PM

I've tested the system with some audio files that are 7.1 and 5.1, so that should have worked. If I select speakers, it goes out to my analog speakers. I can select the A50 headset or the the Realtek optical out as the default communication device. Neither have an option for Dolby.
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October 6, 2012 1:49:05 PM

No other ideas? Bummer...

The only other thing I can think of is that the motherboard specs on Newegg or the ASUS site do not specifically mention DDL features as being available, even though the Realtek site says that the chip is capable.

Information elsewhere seems to indicate that it is up to the manufacturer to pay the Dolby licensing fees in order to "activate" the feature - so the case may be that though the chip and motherboard may be capable, the licensing wasn't paid so the feature is turned "off".

I've ordered an ASUS Xonar 7.1 capable sound card, hopefully that will solve the issue and be capable of upmixing the 5.1/7.1 via optical to the A50 mixamp.

Kind of stupid in a way for such a high-performance motherboard to be lacking a feature important to many people who would use it for gaming and possibly with good headsets or surround sound. My fault for getting it without checking it out thoroughly, if that's the case.
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October 7, 2012 2:24:49 PM

For anybody else with the ASUS X58 and the Realtek ALC892 chip, this is a quote from the ALC892 Datatsheet:

Quote:
Optional Dolby PCEE program, SRS TruSurround HD, SRS Premium Sound, Fortmedia SAM, Creative Host Audio, Synopsis Sonic Focus, DTS Surround Sensation | UltraPC, and DTS Connect Licenses.


The information on the ASUS site and the x58 manual contain ZERO references to Dolby, 7.1 or 5.1 capability. Only references to 8 channel audio.

All this together seems to point only one way - the ASUS X58 Sabertooth comes without Dolby features.

That eliminates the guessing about the chip, now I just need to wait for the other sound card and hope that does the trick.
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October 7, 2012 9:52:31 PM


EDIT: Official word today from ASUS - this board does not support Dolby features, there is no decoder on the optical out.

SOLVED
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October 7, 2012 10:39:50 PM

None of ASUS boards (to my knowledge) enable Dolby Digital Live, because they aren't willing to pay Dolby the licensing fee. The Realtek chip itself is fully capable though.
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October 7, 2012 11:26:48 PM

That's possibly true, some other information that I haven't been able to verify indicates there are variants of the 892 that do not support Dolby. You'd likely not know what chip you have, it will simply say Dolby capable or not on the motherboard's sound specs for the Realtek sound.
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