Stereo-only output over Digital S/PDIF on ASUS Xonar DGX?

I was looking for a sub-$100 soundcard that had both optical S/PDIF out and the standard computer headphone-jack connectors. This is what I ran into:

Seems better than the creative cards I was looking at, but I do have one concern: One of the reviewers commented that you only get 5.1 surround over the PC outputs, and that the optical port for some reason is restricted to 2.0.

This sounds very fishy to me but I have seen crazy choices hardware vendors have made in the past, so I just wanted to be sure if anybody here knew, can you get surround 5.1 output from both?
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More about stereo only output digital pdif asus xonar
  1. SPDIF is limited to three formats:

    2.0 PCM
    5.1 Dolby Digital
    5.1 DTS

    PC's rarely make use of Dolby/DTS formats, due to their lossy nature. As a result, there is no way to transfer 5.1 audio over SPDIF unless the raw 5.1 signal is first converted to either Dolby or DTS format.

    The DG(X), to my knowledge, lacks the software support necessary to convert a 5.1 PCM stream to Dolby/DTS, and is thus limited to 2.1 when using SPDIF, unless the audio is ALREADY in one of those formats (DVD movies are a good example of this).
  2. I see, that's what I was afraid of.

    I was kinda hoping it could since I didn't want to have two separate sets of surround-sound speakers wired up everywhere, one for my TV and one for my PC.

    Basically I want to plug my PC into a receiver meant for home theater and use that for the surround in... well... anything that comes out of my PC. Any idea what would be a good way to do that?

    I could always use my Blu-Ray player for movies, I am more interested in software and music coming out in surround from my PC to a receiver, not so much movies.
  3. Well, higher tier cards, like the DS(X) and DX have the software DTS/Dolby encoding (DS = DTS, DX = Dolby), allowing 5.1 over SPDIF in all cases. Other cards (notably the Auzentech Home Theatre HD) have HDMI Inputs/Outputs, which makes connections a breeze as well.

    So you could spend a little more for the DS/DX and do Soundcard (SPDIF Out) -> Receiver -> Speakers.
  4. The DSX and DS doesn't have optical out though strangely, only the DGX.

    I was looking up what 5.1+ cards there were that support Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect, since I was told that's what I would need.

    And it seems there is a $100 newly-released card called the Sound Blaster Z that supports these as well as has optical inputs and outputs... granted, that's twice the price of the Xonar DGX but pretty much around the price of the Xonar DX anyway.

  5. Quote:
    The DSX and DS doesn't have optical out though strangely, only the DGX.

    They do, but its shared with another port. The DS/DSX share the SPDIF output port with the Rear Speakers output port, and the DX shares the SPDIF out with the Mic Input port. ASUS did this to save space.

    And yes, anything with Dolby Digital Live or DTS:Connect (DTS Neo: PC) would work.
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