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Astro A50 and Asus Xonar DX: The Confusion

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December 19, 2012 2:43:25 AM

Hello Tom's hardware,

I've been doing some research about buying a gaming headset with 5.1/7.1 surround sound. I have come so far to chose the Astro A50 Wireless Gaming Headset, but the headset requires a sound card which supports Dolby Digital Live. So, I chose the Asus Xonar DX (I did read some reviews, and this sound card is the best bang for your buck). After set the system up, I've been messing around with the setting on the Xonar DX Audio Center, and I am getting confused. So here I am asking some questions to clear things up a little bit. Here are my questions:

1. How does the MixAmp work exactly? The audio comes through the optical cable to the MixAmp, and the MixAmp do all the sound processing? Or the sound card does that, then comes the MixAmp?

2. If I choose 8 channel which means 7.1 surround sound, but I don't press the Dolby Headphone button on the MixAmp, what kind of sound am I hearing?

3. If I choose 2 channel which means stereo to listen to music, then I press the Dolby button on the MixAmp, what kind of sound am I hearing?

4. When I choose the PCM setting, are all the sound stereo? (Doesn't matter if the Dolby button on or off)

5. What is the best setting for playing video games, watching movies, and listen to music when using my combo? (I know I just need this question answered for the best setting, but I want to learn more about those audio thingy so :D )

I know there are some very idiotic questions here, but I am completely new to this stuff. Please forgive me :) 

Thank you very much, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
December 19, 2012 9:12:09 AM

This also confuses me..... If it is wireless then the 5.1 or 7.1 decoding must be in the headset..pre-sets and volume also in headset....? sound card to optical cable to Mix Amp which then hooks into your device via USB, which is all the power it requires to the air then to headset?
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December 19, 2012 8:57:04 PM

dsventimiglia said:
This also confuses me..... If it is wireless then the 5.1 or 7.1 decoding must be in the headset..pre-sets and volume also in headset....? sound card to optical cable to Mix Amp which then hooks into your device via USB, which is all the power it requires to the air then to headset?


From what I know, the MixAmp will transfer the audio to the headset via wireless signal. But I don't know if the MixAmp processes the audio signal or the sound card does that. And the which setting override each other? Setting on the sound card? or setting on the MixAmp.
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Related resources
December 19, 2012 10:49:47 PM

When you start to play music or a DVD on your computer, the computer sends a signal to a transmitter. The transmitter then converts the signal into one similar to that of an FM radio--it's broadcast on a specific frequency to avoid interference from other objects. The signal is broadcast in a circular radius within the specified range, so any device that can pick up that kind of signal will pick up the sound from the computer. The speakers themselves have little receivers built into them that decode the signal into standard audio information for playing. The entire process happens in real time, so there's no delay between the time you hit "Play" on your computer to the time you hear sound coming from your speakers.

So if i understand this right... for the Astro A50 you need to spend $ on a sound card wich only is used to trasfer sound to the mixamp wich changes it to fm trasmiting it to the headset and the decode the signal into standard audio information O-o WTF

Read more: How Do Wireless Speakers Work? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how-does_4909765_wireless-speakers-...
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December 20, 2012 9:39:48 PM

Yeah kind of, but how the sound processing works? By the way, how does the channel setting on the Sonar Audio Center affect the sound? As I play a mp3 music file, if I choose 2 channels, the volume is kinda small, then I set to 6,8 channels the volume goes up pretty loud. What does that setting do anyway?
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December 20, 2012 11:47:18 PM

The number of channels the sound card supports is also important. Surround sound cards are available in 5.1 or 6.1 configurations, and 7.1 cards are also available. The .1 of these numbers indicates the subwoofer channel. This channel is used for low-frequency sounds and the first number tells you how many satellite speakers can be placed around the listening area.

http://stevesummerhill.com/other_stuff/technology/sonar...
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April 5, 2013 10:58:54 AM

BUMP I have the same exact questions with my a50 headset and the xonar dx. And no one here REALLY answered the question.

I decided to order the A50 Astro Headset, and I know the Headset is capable of "TRUE SURROUND SOUND", but my question is HOW ?

For an Xbox or a PS3, I believe the correct way to get true Surround sound would be to output the sound from the Console using an OPTICAL cable correct ? (spdif)

As for PC TRUE surround sound (for movies and gaming), would the same hold true ??? (optical out?) I have a Xonar DX soundcard.

I know this is tech stuff, but REALLY important to me. In Short: HOW does one get TRUE surround sound (for PC 5.1 movies and gaming situations) to work inside the A50 HEadset ???

Dont give us the un-precise crap (like "u need a card that supports multi channel..." we know that, and the xonar DX supports multi channel...)
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Best solution

April 9, 2013 5:24:31 AM

Quote:
1. How does the MixAmp work exactly? The audio comes through the optical cable to the MixAmp, and the MixAmp do all the sound processing? Or the sound card does that, then comes the MixAmp?


When you connect via digital, the device you are connecting to (in this case, the Mixamp) does the majority of the audio processing, specifically, the conversion from digital to analog. That device, and not the soundcard, will be the main driver of audio quality. You get the benefits of whatever software enhancements are done through the soundcards driver layer, but you don't get any benefit from the soundcards hardware.

Quote:
2. If I choose 8 channel which means 7.1 surround sound, but I don't press the Dolby Headphone button on the MixAmp, what kind of sound am I hearing?


You would be getting a 7.1 signal.

Note that SPDIF can only carry uncompressed stereo, Dolby, or DTS audio streams, so unless you enable Dolby Digital Live, you'll be limited to just stereo due to bandwidth limitations.

Quote:
3. If I choose 2 channel which means stereo to listen to music, then I press the Dolby button on the MixAmp, what kind of sound am I hearing?


Stereo.

To answer the unasked third question, if you set 8 channel audio and enable Dolby Headphone, you get a stereo signal that gives the illusion of being a 7.1 surround signal (virtualized surround). It does a very good job in my opinion though.

Quote:
4. When I choose the PCM setting, are all the sound stereo? (Doesn't matter if the Dolby button on or off)


This setting is just for SPDIF. Any compressed audio formats will be uncompressed, so when using SPDIF, you will ALWAYS get stereo output.

Quote:
5. What is the best setting for playing video games, watching movies, and listen to music when using my combo? (I know I just need this question answered for the best setting, but I want to learn more about those audio thingy so )


Depends. I use Dolby Headphone, so my settings are typically 8 channel with Dolby Headphone.
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