Soundcards w/ 5.1 Support thru Digital Optical Cable

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by ebednar11, Jan 8, 2010.

  1. ebednar11

    ebednar11 Member

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    Hi all, thanks for taking the time to read and respond.

    I have been using my onboard realtek audio on my EVGA x58 motherboard using PC speakers without a problem. However, I have recently moved my PC into the home theater. The digital optical out from my motherboard only supports 2 channel...which is lame.

    So my question is this: Which PCI soundcards support 5.1 through it's digital optical out?

    Thanks!
     
  2. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    Only cards that have encoders will support 5.1 for gaming.
    Your looking for cards with:
    Dolby Digital Live, DTS-C or both.
    Almost all of the modern soudncards from both Auzentech and ASUS have encoders.
    You can buy a older X-FI X-Music for abotu $40 and add an encoder to it.
     
  3. ebednar11

    ebednar11 Member

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    Thank you for your response. So none of the new Soundblaster cards support 5.1 through optical huh? I was reading on a lot of reviews for each one of their products of people complaining about only 2 channel support for optical out.

    I was looking at Auzentech, ASUS, and another brand by the name of HT Omega, all similar pricing, $250.

    Is HT Omega a decent name brand? Are their drivers solid?

    EDIT: Will these cards give me 5.1 in all the sound I'm doing? Music, movies, gaming?
     
  4. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    Some Creative cards will do 5.1 through S/Pdif connection if you use the encoder software that is available.
    If the card has an encoder then yes it will encode all your audio to 5.1 to send over the S/pdif output -either Coax or Optical.
     

  5. ebucemag

    ebucemag Master Guru

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    Hey Rob could you recommend me a card that offers DTS Connect or DD Live, for a HTPC build of mine? The cheaper the better, thanks.
     
  6. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    See if you can find a used X-fi X-Music, you can usually pick those up for about $40 the encoders are about $4 from Creative and you have both DDL and DTS-C to use.
    This would also give you full EAX/OpenAL routines for digital out also.
     
  7. GenClaymore

    GenClaymore Ancient Guru

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    xonar ds does has dts encoder but not the dd live encoder but is 49.
     
  8. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    DTS-C is prefered over DDL by many as being the better encoder.
     
  9. goodald

    goodald Member Guru

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    If you happen to have an audigy or x-fi soundcard lying around:
    you can add Dolby Digital Live to creative audigy cards for $4.72

    You can add DDL and DTS connect for the same price for x-fi series cards

    http://buy.soundblaster.com/

    Some creative cards come with a free ddl/dts connect activation (my gaming pc's x-fi titanium).

    Auzentech makes versions of creative cards that I believe always come with DDL/DTS included but the cards themselves cost a little extra.

    I will admin that Creative is flaky with driver support. If you happen to end up with a creative card and plan to use WIN7, I recommend using the support pack (repack of creative drivers) instead of the ones directly from their site:
    http://forums.creative.com/t5/Sound-Blaster/SB-X-Fi-Series-Support-Pack-2-0-05-15-2009/m-p/527485

    I had all sorts of issues with my drivers till I used that pack with my first gen X-fi.



    Analog Alternative:
    If your receiver has a multichannel inputs (rca plugs to feed center,L,R,Surround,Sub etc... directly) You can use 3 or 4 mini plug to stereo adapters from your soundcard and feed the 5.1/7.1 directly to your receiver.

    Look on this page for an example:
    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/mce/expert/connect_av.mspx#EYE

    Search for the section: "Connect and configure surround sound for multichannel analog"


    What DDL "gives" you over multi channel analog:
    When you play back material that has surround sound, and you tell windows you have more than 2 speakers, windows directs the audio to the appropriate output channel.

    DDL is basically a convenience of re-encoding those analog 5.1/7.1 channels that your card is able to put out as analog into a digital stream (via coax/toslink). Your receiver can then split the signal back into discrete channels. These 2 extra conversions could potentially lower your sound quality slightly as both dts and ddl are lossy.

    So the choice is....
    - Find a card that has or can be upgraded to use DDL/DTS for one cable (toslink or coaxial)
    - Or use your existing MB soundcard using analog multi by using 3-4 stereo miniplugs (if your receiver has multichannel input).

    I went the DDL route myself as it looks tidy, also I like that my receiver says "Dolby Digital Live" on the screen vs just "Multichannel Direct Input"... sounds fancier.. Plus my htpc is far from the receiver, a single cable was just easier to run. I did use the multi-analog route for a time when the PC was closer and that worked fine as well.


    ***just thought I'd add the info about analog as unless optical/coax is required it's usually a viable option***
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2010
  10. ebednar11

    ebednar11 Member

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    Can anyone comment on the brand, HT Omega? I was going to pull the trigger on a PCI sound card from Newegg.com
     

  11. ebednar11

    ebednar11 Member

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    So I have chosen the HT Omega brand name, either between:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829271003

    -or-

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829271002


    They both are PCI which I need, have optical out supporting DDL and DTS encoding @ 5.1

    Drivers seem to support Win 7 64-bit.

    After the research it seems users who want the DDL and DTS must sacrifice the EAX from Creative. I am fine with that after researching how overrated EAX is.


    I suppose my only concern at this point is the stuttering issues I've read about when using hardware decoding with EAX games.. Is this due to an overutilized CPU or just the card not handling EAX? I'm sure my i7 965 would be more than up to the challenge.
     
  12. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    The point is, if you are going to be using a card for DDL or DTS-C try and find the cheapest one you can as the cards quality of components does not matter.

    Also, most soundcards from other manufactuers will give you support for EAX 1,2...so that is something. As they are open standards and used on basically every card and oboard available.
    Stuttering in decoding and games is as you said, many times the device is not setup properly or the person is using an underpowered system or a card that is straight software with no hardware support for anything, so all the gaming effects and encoding is all done by the CPU add in the game GFX and other factors and you get stuttering.
     
  13. ebednar11

    ebednar11 Member

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    Right-o. Would I miss a feature such as XRAM that the high-end Creative cards offer?
     
  14. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    No...
     
  15. ebednar11

    ebednar11 Member

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    Cool, thanks for all your help Rob
     

  16. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    No problem.
     
  17. ebednar11

    ebednar11 Member

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    Hah, sry I just second guessed myself.

    If I can buy the DDL and DTS encoders for $5.00 from Creative, would you recommend the X-fi Elite Pro (http://us.store.creative.com/XFi-Elite-Pro/M/B000TKDRCE.htm) for $20 more than the HT Omega.

    I do quite a bit of PC gaming, so perhaps that may be the better route?
     
  18. ebednar11

    ebednar11 Member

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    Hmm, nevermind, this card does not support full 5.1 through digital optical output. Shame. That is quite a deal for it.
     
  19. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    The card should support 5.1 through S/Pdif. Unless your talking about the connection type.
    I would also consider down the road, you may decide to change setups later on.
    the E-pro would support games much better.
     
  20. ebednar11

    ebednar11 Member

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    A lot of the reviewers on Newegg.com were stating it only supports 2 channel optical output. Not sure what to believe, I would probably benefit from this card better.
     

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