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Creative X-Fi surround 5.1 external sound card Help?

Last response: in Home Audio
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August 13, 2009 7:41:04 AM

Hey Guys -

Im new here so be kind...Not sure if this is the right area to post... sorry if im wrong

I just got a creative X-Fi surround 5.1 external sound card... I have logitech's Z5500 5.1 speaker set....

Im using the Toslink...But its only doing 2 channel out (although it incorporating 4 speakers and the bass though...

Is this vista's problem? can this be fixed to do dolby surround 5.1 or better? If so, how?

What would be better for music sound quality... 6 channel direct (six 3.5mm plugs) or a toslink cable?

Ive got the z-5500 hub on the optical (toslink) input...and on the stereo X2 effect (theres others, but dont sound as good)

thanks guys... I treied going to creative forums... but no one answers ever


EDIT: in the creative sound player (mediasource), under settings.. it says...
SOUND PLAYBACK DEVICE
SPDIF-OUT (2-SB X-FI SURROUND 5.1)

MIDI PLAYBACK DEVICE
MICORSOFT GS WAVETABLE SYNTH


EDIT2: IN WINDOWS SPEAKER ICON (IN CONTROL PANEL)... i SET SPDIF OUTPUT THE DEFAULT (i just wanted to add this info for you guys)
August 13, 2009 12:07:22 PM

Spdif/Toslink outputs a 2.0 PCM signal by default (due to either bandwith or lack of a spec for uncompressed 5.1). As a result, the only way to get 5.1 using a toslink connection is to encode the signal using either Dolby Digital Live or DTS-Connect. Hence why *most* soundcards offer DDL for free (And sometime DTS-C).

In your case, you Z5500's are fully capable of decoding a DD/DTS stream, so no problems there. As long as the card supports it, you just set the output type to Dolby Digital Live or DTS-Connect, and any 5.1 source file will play back as 5.1 on your speakers. If your card doesn't support it, I don't think theres much you can do...

*Note, if you play a 2.0 source, you still need to use Dolby Pro Logic to upmix the signal from 2.0 -> 5.1. I think the Z5500's have a Pro Logic Encoder though...
August 13, 2009 12:32:06 PM

thanks gamerk316

So If im connecting the creative sound card to my z-5500 hub vai toslink, i should still get 5.1... cause its just using 4 speakers and the bass right now... im not sure how to do this exaclty...

I have my z-5500 hub on the optical input and effect is stereo X2... How do I do this... I am so very confused???
Or am I stuff with 4.1 stereo X2 durin gmusic playback of mp3/flac

thanks
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August 13, 2009 8:01:03 PM
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You're getting 4 channels right now because of the Stereo X2 effect. The stereo X2 effect takes a 2.0 signal, mutes the center speaker, and transmits the L/R signals to each L/R speaker. Do not use this setting with a 5.1 output; only use this for stereo sources.

Back to business: toslink connections can really only transmit one of three things:
1: Uncompressed 2.0 PCM audio
2: 5.1 Dolby Digital Signals
3: 5.1 DTS signals

The only way to get more then a 2.0 signal out of a toslink connection is for the output to be encoded in Dolby/DTS formats (which are compressed enough to be carried over the connection).

Hence why DDL/DTS-C are so imporatant: They take whatever is being outputed and compress the signal in realtime into standard 5.1 Dolby/DTS signals, which can then be decoded at the end of the line (in this case, you're Z5500's).

Unfortunatly, the USB X-fi can't encode a non-dolby/DTS signal, so it does not appear you will get 5.1 over digital unless the source audio is already encoded. (In this case, movies that use Dolby/DTS will carry the existing signal to your Z5500's, but audio that is not encoded in Dolby/DTS will transmit as 2.0).

If all else fails, you could use the analog connections to hook the Z5500's to your USB X-fi. You lose some quality, but get 5.1 regardless.
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