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  1. #1
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    5.1 surround sound out of a computer?

    Forgive my audio jonginess. I just hooked a cheapo Vista box up to my a/v receiver. Works great for playing movies, but I only get stereo sound. Should I be able to get 5.1 out of the computer? It has a Realtek control panel applet that implies as much, but when I try to test all 6 speakers via the applet only the front two respond.

    The connection from the computer to the receiver is via a plain old stereo output jack; looking on wikipedia it sounds like they can cram all 7 signals into the two wires but I'm dubious. Do I need to get a sound card with a digital output?

    If anyone has a link to a good tutorial it would be great. I tried teh Googles but there was too much and I got confused.
    Last edited by Patches; 02-23-2009 at 09:19 AM. Reason: typos

  2. #2
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    i was getting 5.1 sounds out of my computer about 12 years ago
    all you need is a way to get that digital signal from your computer to your 5.1 receiver...so as you say, you just need a digital out....either coax or optical or whatever it is now.

    in my case, i was using a soundblaster live sound card, with the add-on expansion card that had an SPDIF coax out and a cambridge soundworks desktop theater speaker system.

  3. #3
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    Most sound chips can be configured to output 5.1 via SP/DIF (that's digital audio in computer land). Then you just need the right cable.
    If you have a problem & think that someone else is going to solve it for you then you have two problems.

  4. #4
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    You should be using a digital coaxial or optical SPDIF output from your sound card to your receiver. If you're using the standard 3.5mm audio jack you're only getting analog audio. Pick up a cheap cable from from Monoprice.com and you should be good to go as long as your sound card and receiver both support it.
    I think that the human mind is unique among all other forms of life in that it can spontaneously create unique thoughts and provide unique behaviors. Instead of rewarding that uniqueness we, for some reason probably because of cultural and social necessity, we chastise unique behavior and reward conformity.

  5. #5
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    Post a picture of the back of your computer...

    I'm assuming if you have an onboard realtek, you'll have a bunch of 1/8" jacks... Green, orange, and black, and maybe 1 more...

    Basically you have to run 3 cables from your computer to your receiver, 2 channels per cable... 6 channels total.

    If you have a newer onboard set-up, you might be able to run an optical or coax from your computer to your receiver...

    Posting a picture would be helpful.

  6. #6
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    Thanks guys, that makes sense. I think I need a new sound card - the back of my computer has three stereo jacks - line-out, headphone-out, and mic-in. Assuming the mic-in can be used as an output, I could use the three jacks to output 6 analog channels.

    A/V receiver doesn't give me that option though - I can choose between two RCA jacks, an optical input, or coaxial digital input.

    So, my guess is I need to get a sound card with either an optical or coaxial digital output. Does that sound right, and if so, any suggestions?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patches View Post
    Thanks guys, that makes sense. I think I need a new sound card - the back of my computer has three stereo jacks - line-out, headphone-out, and mic-in. Assuming the mic-in can be used as an output, I could use the three jacks to output 6 analog channels.

    A/V receiver doesn't give me that option though - I can choose between two RCA jacks, an optical input, or coaxial digital input.

    So, my guess is I need to get a sound card with either an optical or coaxial digital output. Does that sound right, and if so, any suggestions?
    ^ Yep, pretty much. Are you looking for something AWESOME, or just something that'll work with 5.1?

    For something on the cheaper side...
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16829102023
    would work...

  8. #8
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    Trigger pulled, thanks KaLiStO.

  9. #9
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    I see you have already purchased one, but something to try is some of the earlier 5.1 sound cards really needed 2 plugs to the speakers. One was the standard stereo plug that you use now and only got 1 of the stereo sets working off of. The other is usually redirected from the 3rd audit jack port that is usually color coded blue and is another jack on some systems (the green one is standard speakers you tried already and the 2nd on is microphone in jack in red or pink color coding).

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by RShea View Post
    I see you have already purchased one, but something to try is some of the earlier 5.1 sound cards really needed 2 plugs to the speakers. One was the standard stereo plug that you use now and only got 1 of the stereo sets working off of. The other is usually redirected from the 3rd audit jack port that is usually color coded blue and is another jack on some systems (the green one is standard speakers you tried already and the 2nd on is microphone in jack in red or pink color coding).
    ^ You actually need 3 plugs for analog 5.1...

    1 jack... front left/front right
    1 jack... surround left/surround right
    1 jack... centre/sub

    That said, a digital card with optical out will just transmit the digital data to the receiver, and the receiver will do the digital -> analog conversion, instead of your audio card. Assuming you have a 1/2 decent receiver, it'll most likely do this conversion better than your audio card.

    You ideally want to transfer digital over cable instead of analog, then too many other factors come into play when it comes to quality.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    9
    instead of getting a sound card....just get an adapter and hook it up to a cheap surround sound receiver....thats what i did...i took the volume control cord (which had the small plug that goes into the computer, and then converted to an RCA plug)....it works great...

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