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How to get true 5.1 Surround Sound with PC?

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  • Product
Last response: in Home Audio
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January 4, 2011 11:25:41 PM

Hey everyone, I'm having some confusion over trying to get true Dolby Digital Surround sound out of my new 5.1 Sony HT-SS370 speakers. I'm using the HT to connect both my pc and my xbox360 S. I'm using a computer monitor for my video, not a HDTV. My motherboard uses onboard Realtek HD Audio Manager and has onboard 7.1 capability (though I am not using pc speakers).

My motherboard (Asus M4A89GTD Pro/Usb3 Am3 890Gx):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

My Video Card (ASUS EN9600GT GeForce 9600 GT 512MB) :
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

My HT (Sony HT-SS370 1000w black):
http://www.amazon.com/Sony-HT-SS370-Surround-Theater-Sy...

My monitor (Asus VH232H 23''):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



Currently, I have my xbox plugged into the receiver via hdmi,
my pc audio through the mobo's S/PDIF out via optical to the receiver optical in,
my pc video through the video card to the monitor via dvi/dvi,
and HDMI from my receiver output to the monitor.

While using my pc, I only get 5.1 sound while using the A.F.D. Multi sound field. Any other sound field, such as Pro Logic, PL II Movies, PL II Music, Movie Discs, etc etc, produces only 2.1. However, the 5.1 sound on the A.F.D Multi sound field is just stereo sound being playing by all 5 surround speakers. So my problem is trying to get my pc to play true 5.1 surround sound.

I am great with computers but not very tech savvy with cabling. I've read many forums about 5.1 audio problems, but most of them deal with HDTVs, or never deal with a pc. The ones that do deal with a pc talk about having to connect the video card audio to the motherboard before being able to get 5.1 sound if the video card isn't newer and doesn't have an HDMI port.

So, to start a question off, if I wanted the simple way of getting true surround sound, would I just have to purchase a newer video card (plan on doing it anyway) and run an HDMI cable from the video card to the receiver's HDMI input, and then just have to switch the receiver's source input?

If it isn't as simple as doing that, what else do I have to do?

Another question. If I didn't buy a new video card, how would I use my 9600gt (which only has DVI and S-Video ports) to get true surround sound from my pc?

I have a friend's Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS, model # SB0350, but it does not look like any of the ones I can find, either through image search or at creative's site. All it has are six 3.5mm color coded jacks for up to 7.1 sound, but instead of a white colored jack, it is orange and doubles as digital out in the forum of mini jack (3.5mm). I've read forums about using the digital out port to achieve 5.1 surround but had to use an adapter or special cable to change the output from 3.5mm jack. I really have no idea about any of it and never had to use a sound card with previous systems or now because my mobo is great and has the onboard HD audio and 7.1 capability. So, another question. If I didn't get a new video card and if using the 9600gt to plug into the mobo isn't what I need to do, what would I need to do with this sound card, or any other sound card for that matter, to get the surround sound?

I know I have a lot of questions, and I really wish I could just find a simple answer. I can't find a single simple solution from anywhere over the internet that makes sense to me, without having to just post questions myself. It's probably a very simple thing I need to do (such as just buying a new video card with hdmi and using that), but I need need to hear all the options and if I'm right or wrong on my assumptions.

Thanks guys, hope to hear back soon. I'll provide any other info needed. Love Tom's Hardware forums :)  Peace and Love!

P.S. I don't really know if this is the absolute correct sub-forum to post this question in, but the Home Theater forum doesn't have and categories for PC use.

More about : true surround sound

January 5, 2011 1:35:30 PM

You should be able to get full 5.1 audio out from your onboard.

You need to first update the drivers for the onboard sound, otherwise it can only do 2.1 output. After you have done that, you need to go into windows sound devices and set Digital Output(Optical) as your default sound device and set that to 5.1 output.
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January 5, 2011 3:50:33 PM

See, I've already done that. I have the 12/30/10 Realtek HD audio drivers for Win 7 64-bit, and I already have optical output as default.

It still doesn't play in true 5.1 surround sound. The center speaker doesn't play anything at all, while the other four speakers are just a spread of left+right audio.
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January 7, 2011 4:51:40 AM

You are playing a 5.1 sound sorce?

Stuff like music, streamed videos, and pirated DVDs is only 2.1, so the middle speaker isn't suppose to play anything.

I would try a video game or a blu-ray movie. Remember to set your receiver to Direct Sound and not the dolby algorithms.
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May 20, 2012 5:22:39 PM

If I understand your situation, you should be able to get this to work.

The Realtek Azalia HD Soundcard supports Dolby Digital Live, which means is converts surround sound audio to Dolby 5.1 in real time and will output that via SPDIF Optical.


By default, the Realtek card outputs stereo over optical, so you have to enable Dolby Digital Live via the Realtek Audio Manager program. In your tray, go to Realtek Audio Manager > Digital Output (Optical) > Default Format > click the big Dolby Digital Live button under Default format.
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