Realtek S/PDIF Problems

I have been working to consolidate all my digital music into my computer and connect the computer to my home stereo system. This has been going well but for the inability to get the S/PDIF interface working. I've read and re-read all the relevant manuals, updated the drivers (twice) and confirmed that the S/PDIF interface is at least electrically working - the red LED is on.

Here are the particulars. Can anyone comment on what I am missing or need to do?

- OS, Win 7 64-bit
- Computer, Intel DG43NB mobo with Q6600 CPU
- S/PDIF, mobo header with Asus S/PDIF back card - wired red+5, black-ground, brown-S/PDIF
- Audio chip - RealTek ALC888VC
- Drivers, initial setup - Windows audio, upgraded to RealTek using auto update, then upgraded to from RealTek site

- Sony STR-AVDE545
- Digital interface, S/PDIF (2-CD, DVD) and co-axial

- 50' fiber cable

One issue I have is the fact that the stereo operation mode is unclear. The user's manual states that it has two digital modes, an analog mode and an automatic detection mode. It then implies that if no digital signal is detected it will only operate in the analog mode. This is what it is doing - pressing the analog/digital switch does not change modes. I am assuming from this that no digital signal is reaching the stereo, even though the fiber cable is emitting a red light.

My suspicion is with the drivers and the settings for the S/PDIF interface in the computer. I found a RealTek document on line called "RealTek High Definition Audio",[1].pdf, which describes all the various features and settings for an un-named RealTek driver or sound card; the document does not specify what it documents. That document describes a number of screens or panels that enable and control the S/PDIF interface. The controls that come with the RealTek drivers do not mention the S/PDIF interface at all and I suspect that the drivers loaded are either not aware of the S/PDIF interface or do not perform the control of it properly. The controls that come with the RealTek driver do not match the controls in the document noted in a number of areas as well.

I saw a post on line which stated that if the RealTek drivers did not detect a S/PDIF interface they would not present the S/PDIF control panels. I do not know if this is true. How can I confirm that the S/PDIF header and back card are working properly? No smoke can out when I connected up the wires and the red LED is on. What else can be tested?

I have only one yellow exclamation mark in my controls/device manager panel. The one exclamation is for other_devices/simple_communications_controller. I do not know what this is or if it relevant. The error for this is that drivers are not installed. A search for drivers using the update driver box does not find any drivers.

If the drivers and the S/PDIF header/back card won't work, what are my best options with a PCI/PCIe sound card? I would need S/PDIF but since the stereo will doing all the mixing and amplification, I would assume that I don't need a lot of features in the sound card itself. The plan is to have the computer essentially be a very smart CD changer.

Any advise is welcomed.
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More about realtek pdif problems
  1. I have some experience with onboard Realtek HD and Via HD audio using the Optical S/PDIF output. I build PC's for extra cash and before I sell them I typically use it as an HTPC and gaming PC in my living room for a bit. It's hooked up to my fairly cheap Yamaha RX V365 via Optical/TOSLink S/PDIF. With Windows 7 I have found it to be quite simple to get the optical out to work. The optical cable is plugged into my DTV optical input on the back of my AVR, I have two Optical Inputs one is DTV the other shows DVD.

    After installing the Realtek HD audio drivers on your PC and maybe after a reboot, you should have a pinkish/red volume icon in the system tray, mine is right next to the Windows volume icon. You may have to click on the arrow thing to display all the icons in the System tray. I go into Customize and tell it to "Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar" to make it easier. Double-click on red volume icon and the Realtek HD Audio Manager window should appear. You should have tabs along the top of the window for your different Audio output choices. I have Speakers/Headphones/Digital Output and Digital Input. Click on the Digital Output tab and click on Set Default Device, make sure it's grayed out meaning it is set as Default.

    Now all you should have to do is simply change your AVR to the input mode that you have the Optical cable plugged into. For mine I choose TV, since I guess TV and DTV share the same Optical with my AVR, and in the bottom right of the AVR screen it shows PCM and across the way L and R is lit up meaning it's got a signal for Left and Right channels. If I open the Windows Volume and click on the volume lever several times I can hear the Volume ding. If I open a video using VLC player depending on the audio track selected my receiver automatically picks up the signal and will change from PCM to DTS or Dolby Digital and the lights for all the channels it's getting a signal for will be lit. This is all I've had to do to get optical out to work with Windows 7 and my receiver.

    Unfortunately Yamaha didn't make the HDMI's on my receiver to carry audio so I can't just use straight HDMI to my receiver and then to my TV. Even with HDMI hooked up from my PC's discrete video card to my TV I can output PCM, DTS and Dolby Digital to my AVR using the Optical as long as Digital Output is the default device in the Realtek HD Audio Manager. Even if I mouse over the Windows Volume icon it pops up and shows Realtek Digital Output.

    I used the same procedure with a PC I built that came with a VIA Audio chipset but of course using Via's drivers.

    I hope this helps.
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