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Sharkoon xTatic 5.1 + Creative SoundBlaster X-FI PRO

Last response: in Windows 7
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January 14, 2013 7:11:38 PM

Hello, I have a problem setting up my surround sound system. It is driving me nuts.

Basically I bought the Sharkoon Xtatic 5.1 surround heaset:
http://www.amazon.com/Sharkoon-X-Tatic-Surround-Not-Mac...

I also bought a compatible sound card so I can hear true 5.1 surround sound:
http://us.store.creative.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-XFi...

Here's where the weirdness begins:

OPTION A: The sound card offers the option to connect via Optical cable (digital). The result is a not so good voice and Windows treats the sound as if it was stereo. Setting it as 5.1 by clicking Configure from Playback devices does not help because when testing, only the front right, and front left speakers respond to sound tests.

OPTION B: I was like screw Optical cable if it doesn't want to work, let's connect via the good old Analog jacks. I connect SUB (ORANGE), REAR (BLACK) in their matching jacks in the sound card. The sound card has separated jacks for right and left so the last cable (FRONT - GREEN) is separated by the (provided with the Soundblaster Sound Card) cable to left and right.

now when I test the sound via Option B, All speakers respond to the Windows sound test except for the rear left.

I've spent a respectable amount of money (things are more expensive here) to get true surround sound and I either don't know how to set it up or something's wrong with my computer.

Help?
a b $ Windows 7
January 14, 2013 7:18:25 PM

Could the cable you are connect the rear channel with be a mono cable? If it's a 1/8 to 1/8 connect the rear speakers with only 1 cable, it has to be a stereo cable.

The fact you are getting everything but the rear left almost says to me it's exactly that.
January 14, 2013 7:40:48 PM

getochkn said:
Could the cable you are connect the rear channel with be a mono cable? If it's a 1/8 to 1/8 connect the rear speakers with only 1 cable, it has to be a stereo cable.

The fact you are getting everything but the rear left almost says to me it's exactly that.


Thank you for your reply, I really appreciate it. I am not sure I understand you, can you please elaborate?

I added two pictures to better explain myself and hopefully increase the chance of being helped.

http://i46.tinypic.com/t5gjsx.jpg (A)

http://i48.tinypic.com/sbu991.jpg (B)
Related resources
a b $ Windows 7
January 14, 2013 7:59:15 PM

soundblaster said:
Hello, I have a problem setting up my surround sound system. It is driving me nuts.

Basically I bought the Sharkoon Xtatic 5.1 surround heaset:
http://www.amazon.com/Sharkoon-X-Tatic-Surround-Not-Mac...

I also bought a compatible sound card so I can hear true 5.1 surround sound:
http://us.store.creative.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-XFi...

Here's where the weirdness begins:

OPTION A: The sound card offers the option to connect via Optical cable (digital). The result is a not so good voice and Windows treats the sound as if it was stereo. Setting it as 5.1 by clicking Configure from Playback devices does not help because when testing, only the front right, and front left speakers respond to sound tests.

OPTION B: I was like screw Optical cable if it doesn't want to work, let's connect via the good old Analog jacks. I connect SUB (ORANGE), REAR (BLACK) in their matching jacks in the sound card. The sound card has separated jacks for right and left so the last cable (FRONT - GREEN) is separated by the (provided with the Soundblaster Sound Card) cable to left and right.

now when I test the sound via Option B, All speakers respond to the Windows sound test except for the rear left.

I've spent a respectable amount of money (things are more expensive here) to get true surround sound and I either don't know how to set it up or something's wrong with my computer.

Help?


I have a nearly identical setup to what you have. I just have a Creative Labs X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro card instead.

There is no benefit at all to using the Dolby Digital Decoder that comes with the X-Tactic Digital headphones if your audio source has multi-channel analog outputs instead. The optical connector is only useful for connecting to a game console such as the XBox 360 or PS3 which often have only stereo or optical. Your sound card has the necessary 3.5mm analog jacks, and the X-Tactic Digital headphones come with the appropriate adapter so use those instead. My DD Decoder has been sitting in my drawer for over a year.

The reason for this is that optical audio uses the S/PDIF encoding scheme which only supports up to two discrete data channels. These can either be digital stereo (Left/Right channel), or single channel compressed bitstreams such as Dolby Digital / DTS. S/PDIF has no support for LPCM (raw audio) or multichannel bitstreams such as AAC.

Games process sound on the fly which always generates LPCM signals which are sent to discrete speakers individually without any sort of compression or encoding. It's simply not necessary on PC.

Sometimes you may run across a cutscene, or watch a movie that has an audio source that's already been encoded in DD/DTS. If this is the case, you can configure the sound card to pass this through to the decoder over S/PDIF rather than decode it on the computer and send it via multi-channel. However, there's no 'free' way to capture multi-channel audio and convert it into a DD/DTS bitstream. The only way to do this is with software from Creative called Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect. These programs require a compatible sound card (I'm not sure if yours qualifies) and will effectively 'replace' your speakers as far as applications are concerned. The multichannel audio that would normally be sent as LPCM will be converted into a bitstream and sent as DD to your decoder which then decodes it back into LPCM for playback through your headphones. Sounds kinda messy huh?

It's best to simply forgo using the decoder completely.

EDIT: You will have to configure the speakers in your Windows audio panel to get the rear speakers working. They default to 2.0 / 2.1, you need to set it to 5.1.

Right click on the sound icon and open up "playback devices". Scroll down to "Speakers" and right click. Select "configure speakers" and follow the prompts. Select "5.1 surround". Select "center", "rear" and "subwoofer" as optional speakers and deselect all "full range speakers". That should get the analog jacks working properly.

Best solution

a b $ Windows 7
January 14, 2013 8:02:43 PM
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Does look like a stereo plug. do you have an older set of headphones or speakers, plug them into the REAR jack of the sound card and then do the sound test. Leave everything plugged in, since it seems to be working. If you get the left and right read audio out of the old speakers or headphones, then the trouble lies in between the cable and the headphones. If it doesn't, then it's something else. Easiest way I can think of to tell though.

Can try swapping the rear and plugs as well on the soundcard to see if that switches around and if you both rear channels.
January 14, 2013 8:03:04 PM

Pinhedd said:
I have a nearly identical setup to what you have. I just have a Creative Labs X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro card instead.

There is no benefit at all to using the Dolby Digital Decoder that comes with the X-Tactic Digital headphones if your audio source has multi-channel analog outputs instead. The optical connector is only useful for connecting to a game console such as the XBox 360 or PS3 which often have only stereo or optical. Your sound card has the necessary 3.5mm analog jacks, and the X-Tactic Digital headphones come with the appropriate adapter so use those instead. My DD Decoder has been sitting in my drawer for over a year.

The reason for this is that optical audio uses the S/PDIF encoding scheme which only supports up to two discrete data channels. These can either be digital stereo (Left/Right channel), or single channel compressed bitstreams such as Dolby Digital / DTS. S/PDIF has no support for LPCM (raw audio) or multichannel bitstreams such as AAC.

Games process sound on the fly which always generates LPCM signals which are sent to discrete speakers individually without any sort of compression or encoding. It's simply not necessary on PC.

Sometimes you may run across a cutscene, or watch a movie that has an audio source that's already been encoded in DD/DTS. If this is the case, you can configure the sound card to pass this through to the decoder over S/PDIF rather than decode it on the computer and send it via multi-channel. However, there's no 'free' way to capture multi-channel audio and convert it into a DD/DTS bitstream. The only way to do this is with software from Creative called Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect. These programs require a compatible sound card (I'm not sure if yours qualifies) and will effectively 'replace' your speakers as far as applications are concerned. The multichannel audio that would normally be sent as LPCM will be converted into a bitstream and sent as DD to your decoder which then decodes it back into LPCM for playback through your headphones. Sounds kinda messy huh?

It's best to simply forgo using the decoder completely.


Thanks for the information. I did bypass the SCU and the result is that the rear-left channel is not working.

http://i48.tinypic.com/sbu991.jpg
January 14, 2013 8:06:44 PM

getochkn said:
Does look like a stereo plug. do you have an older set of headphones or speakers, plug them into the REAR jack of the sound card and then do the sound test. Leave everything plugged in, since it seems to be working. If you get the left and right read audio out of the old speakers or headphones, then the trouble lies in between the cable and the headphones. If it doesn't, then it's something else. Easiest way I can think of to tell though.

Can try swapping the rear and plugs as well on the soundcard to see if that switches around and if you both rear channels.


Thanks. I did like you said, the old headphones work whenever I click Rear left and Rear right.

Where do we go from here?

[message edited about front left not working, it does work - my mistake]
a b $ Windows 7
January 14, 2013 8:07:14 PM

soundblaster said:
Thanks for the information. I did bypass the SCU and the result is that the rear-left channel is not working.

http://i48.tinypic.com/sbu991.jpg


I edited my post above to include instructions to setup the speaker configuration properly. I'll include it here for reference as well.

You will have to configure the speakers in your Windows audio panel to get the rear speakers working. They default to 2.0 / 2.1, you need to set it to 5.1.

Right click on the sound icon and open up "playback devices". Scroll down to "Speakers" and right click. Select "configure speakers" and follow the prompts. Select "5.1 surround". Select "center", "rear" and "subwoofer" as optional speakers and deselect all "full range speakers". That should get the analog jacks working properly.
a b $ Windows 7
January 14, 2013 8:21:07 PM

soundblaster said:
Thanks. I did like you said, the old headphones work whenever I click Rear left and Rear right.

Where do we go from here?

[message edited about front left not working, it does work - my mistake]



So hook it back up the way it was, and then reverse the green plug and the black plug on the sound card box, so the front and rear speakers are reversed and run the test again. See if the "front" work (rear channel really), then you'll know if its the cable or the headphones since we determine the sound card outputs properly with another device plugged in for the rear channel.
January 14, 2013 8:26:53 PM

getochkn said:
So hook it back up the way it was, and then reverse the green plug and the black plug on the sound card box, so the front and rear speakers are reversed and run the test again. See if the "front" work (rear channel really), then you'll know if its the cable or the headphones since we determine the sound card outputs properly with another device plugged in for the rear channel.


Front left is dead now, it seems that it's the cable then? Good to know all drivers in the speakers work.

What's this cable called anyway? is it a lost cause or can I somehow still make it work without having to buy a new cable? (maybe fix the cable somehow?)

http://i47.tinypic.com/33043tj.jpg
a b $ Windows 7
January 14, 2013 9:10:52 PM

soundblaster said:
Front left is dead now, it seems that it's the cable then? Good to know all drivers in the speakers work.

What's this cable called anyway? is it a lost cause or can I somehow still make it work without having to buy a new cable? (maybe fix the cable somehow?)

http://i47.tinypic.com/33043tj.jpg



You only need to replace the black cable, it should be cheap. Few bucks at most electronics places or my local dollar store sells them for a $1. It's 1/8" STEREO to 1/8" STEREO plug.

Glad a little bit of diagnostic approach helped pin it down though, rather than tell you how to setup 5.1 sound on your card, when reading the thread it's obvious everything was working but 1 speaker, so 5.1 was setup already :p 
January 14, 2013 9:14:32 PM

getochkn said:
You only need to replace the black cable, it should be cheap. Few bucks at most electronics places or my local dollar store sells them for a $1. It's 1/8" STEREO to 1/8" STEREO plug.

Glad a little bit of diagnostic approach helped pin it down though, rather than tell you how to setup 5.1 sound on your card, when reading the thread it's obvious everything was working but 1 speaker, so 5.1 was setup already :p 


Thanks. How can I replace the black cable only? The headphones have a 9 pin analog (http://img.zdnet.com/techDirectory/_VIDPORT.JPG, right part) and the black cable is part of a converter that comes with the headphones which I have no idea what it's called or where to find it. See image in my last post.

I hope (even wish) I am misunderstanding you and it's simpler than I think :) 
January 14, 2013 9:19:42 PM

Seeing as we basically figured this out (it's the cable not the headphones) and any other replies will not be about the problem per-se, I have voted you best answer.

I really, sincerely and genuinely thank you for your help.

Thanks you Pinhedd for the lovely information too, I will make sure I get the right cables and skip the horrible SCU.
January 14, 2013 9:20:28 PM

Best answer selected by soundblaster.
a b $ Windows 7
January 14, 2013 9:27:28 PM

It's all part of one cable assembly? Best thing is to buy another black cable only and zip tie to the cable assembly and plug in both ends. Problem with trying to fix a cable is finding where the break is and it's hard to determine that, so you end up clipping the ends and testing with a multimeter to see and end up with a shorter cable.
January 14, 2013 9:34:09 PM

What do you mean tie to the cable assembly? cut the headof the old black and put the new instead?

A better picture for my current cable: http://www.legitreviews.com/images/reviews/1525/sharkoo...

I have a new problem it seems. I am using the Optical output now, and playing Battlefield 3. When I lower the volume of all channels and keep the rear only, the right rear is much more prominent than the left rear.

How can this be explained?!
a b $ Windows 7
January 14, 2013 9:58:50 PM

soundblaster said:
What do you mean tie to the cable assembly? cut the headof the old black and put the new instead?

A better picture for my current cable: http://www.legitreviews.com/images/reviews/1525/sharkoo...

I have a new problem it seems. I am using the Optical output now, and playing Battlefield 3. When I lower the volume of all channels and keep the rear only, the right rear is much more prominent than the left rear.

How can this be explained?!



Ah, I didn't realize it was like that. lol. I hate things with an adapter like that, makes fixing or replacing a pain. lol. Maybe contact them or see if they can replace it.

As for the optical part and the rear speaker, looking at the manual it seems you can adjust each speaker according for time delay but not the speaker itself. That part I don't know as my optical experience has only been with digital audio equipment.
January 15, 2013 2:01:45 PM

getochkn said:
Ah, I didn't realize it was like that. lol. I hate things with an adapter like that, makes fixing or replacing a pain. lol. Maybe contact them or see if they can replace it.

As for the optical part and the rear speaker, looking at the manual it seems you can adjust each speaker according for time delay but not the speaker itself. That part I don't know as my optical experience has only been with digital audio equipment.


I think I missed something, terribly. When I put the rear plug in the front jack and said the front left was dead, it was really the rear left.

And the Optical cable as well does not have sound coming out of rear left.

I guess this can ONLY mean that my rear-left channel is dead on the headset itself, right? I should be getting it replaced.
a b $ Windows 7
January 15, 2013 2:41:08 PM

Ya sounds like if swapping the cables, and doing the optical, you only don't get rear left, it's the headphones itself. At least when call or email for support to get it replaced, you can give them all the diagnostic stuff and say what you've tried already and pinned it down to rear left.
January 15, 2013 5:34:17 PM

I've sent them an email explaining everything, I hope they reply. My retialer I got the sharkoons from has no more stock, which means It may take weeks to ship another one, damn what a frustrating feeling. I have to go back to stone age headphoens until I get this situation sorted.

Thanks again for your help.
!