Do I need a sound card?

ryfry

Distinguished
Aug 20, 2011
129
0
18,680
Recently my dad gave me a 5.1 sony surround sound system. I hooked everything up and I am only getting sound from the front three speakers and sub. I am hooked up via optical. I looked on the msi website for my mobo and it says it supports up to 7.1 ch surround. I have checked the drivers with the windows driver manager, but am downloading the most recent from the msi website. For the record my mobo is the p67a gd65. Anybody got any ideas why i'm not getting full output? Will I need to get a sound card to utilize the system?
 
Solution
Yes, three speakers from the front only if using spdif and an inexpensive soundcard. If you're lucky, your onboard may support dolby digital live, but it isn't likely. Most Creative options these days have ddlive support, sometimes through a third party paid download. I recommend either analog, tinkering with hdmi, or a dedicated soundcard. I spent too many hours banging my head against a wall trying to get my onboard to play nicely with spdif.

randomkid

Distinguished

If you are watching movies, the optical connection should be able to drive all speakers including the rear. But if you are playing games, many will support the 5.1 surround sound via the analog connection. If your 5.1 Sony surround system do not have the analog ports, then I guess you really need to get a sound card.

Here are similar threads. You might find what you are looking for there:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/54448-6-surround-sound-optical-cable
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/302145-28-wont-play-optical-spdif-output
 

ryfry

Distinguished
Aug 20, 2011
129
0
18,680
i tried watching a movie, streaming video, listening to itunes, and playing games all optical to no avail. I tried to optical cable in both the satellite and tv ports as they are the only optical in ports on the receiver. So analog should work? My receiver has analog ports, but what would be the best way to hook it up to the computer, I really only want sound to be coming from all five speakers. I'm mainly using it to watch netflix and listen to music.
 

randomkid

Distinguished
If your receiver have analog ports, then you can connect it to the motherboards analog ports. From the motherboard, you need to connect to:
1. center/subwoofer
2. left front/right front
3. left rear/ right rear
Your receiver should have the same.
 
I am hooked up via optical

Theres you problem. Optical is limited to three audio formats: Uncompressed Stereo, Dolby Digital, and DTS. Movies typically have a 5.1 Dolby/DTS soundtrack, but games/music do not. As a result, you will be limited to 2.0 over optical.

Most soundcards have the ability to encode to 5.1 in realtime, but whenever possible, you want to connect via analog for the best possible quality.
 

ryfry

Distinguished
Aug 20, 2011
129
0
18,680


I may have gotten my understanding of cables messed up, is analog the red, green, blue, gray, orange, and black stereo sized jacks on the rear io plate of the mobo? I've also heard people call the yellow, white, and red connecters for a tv analog. I checked my receiver for inputs the only inputs are hdmi,optical,digital, and usb.

[edit]
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator

o_O

People usually want to connect over optical for best possible quality since it avoids potential problems with ground loops, EMI/RFI within the computer case, power supply noise passing through power decoupling/regulators, etc.

Since SPDIF is one-way communication, the audio driver needs to be configured with the correct speaker setup.
 


The primary driver of audio quality is the DAC that audio goes through. Unless you are connecting to a $500+ digital receiver, the soundcard output has the best DAC avaliable.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator

A DAC is only as good as the electromagnetic environment it is in and a computer is about as bad as it gets, particularly on-board audio integrated on the motherboard as is the OP's case. On all on-board analog audio I remember ever using, there has always been audible "chirp" or other noises caused by various system activities, sometimes all the way down to trivial stuff like moving the mouse. Using an external DAC removes internal noise sources from the equation.

Unless your optical receiver is extraordinarily bad, it should still fare much better than most $2 audio chips on PC motherboards since even a cheap receiver should still have much cleaner EMI and power environments.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator

Install the drivers for whatever sound chip you have on your motherboard, use the utilities that come with it to set your speaker configuration and it should work. Without the chip-specific drivers/tools, it probably defaults to stereo.
 


Again: SPDIF is incapable of transmitting uncompressed surround audio signals.

A DAC is only as good as the electromagnetic environment it is in and a computer is about as bad as it gets, particularly on-board audio integrated on the motherboard as is the OP's case. On all on-board analog audio I remember ever using, there has always been audible "chirp" or other noises caused by various system activities, sometimes all the way down to trivial stuff like moving the mouse. Using an external DAC removes internal noise sources from the equation.

Which is why most soundcards are EMI shielded now. EMI hasn't been a problem for soundcards in some time.
 

ryfry

Distinguished
Aug 20, 2011
129
0
18,680


When I go into the realtek audio manager I have to set optical as default to use the sound system, but I can't configure the speaker set up for it in the optical tab. Under the speaker tab I can change speaker set up from stereo, quadraphonic, 5.1, and 7.1. but when I try to test it it only comes out my logitech speakers I have hooked up.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator

You might want to re-read the spec. SPDIF can very much do 7.1 with 20bits/channel at 48kHz sampling in plain PCM, the only limitation is the receiver's maximum sync rate.


OP currently has on-board audio and on-board audio on top of usually using cheap HDA CODEC chip is rarely shielded and a PCB layout not necessarily engineered to minimize noise on power/ground planes along audio traces from the CODEC to audio jacks except for a few niche boards but even then, few attempts at Hi-Fi motherboard audio have been successful.
 
You might want to re-read the spec. SPDIF can very much do 7.1 with 20bits/channel at 48kHz sampling in plain PCM, the only limitation is the receiver's maximum sync rate.

Wrong. SPDIF was based around the AES3 data format, which is why its incapable of carrying more then two uncompressed audio channels.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spdif
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AES3

S/PDIF can carry two channels of PCM audio or a multi-channel compressed surround sound format such as Dolby Digital or DTS.

SPDIF is limited to uncompressed stereo (as defined by its parent specification, AES3), and IEC 61937 data streams (MPEG2, AC3 [Dolby Digital] or DTS).

SPDIF is incapable of sending uncompressed, multichannel audio. Period. Hence why soundcards almost always offer encoding to at least one of Dolby or DTS, because its the only way to get multichannel audio out of it.
 

tjs4ever

Honorable
May 17, 2012
132
0
10,710
Have you considered pc to receiver via hdmi and then receiver to monitor/tv via hdmi? If I'm not mistaken, many soundcards can output audio along with video via hdmi. I used to own an external USB soundcard, but I don't think I got proper sound in games when using spdif. I recently gave up on spdif as I was unwilling to spend $100 on a soundcard that supported real time surround encoding over spdif. The best I could accomplish was downloading a codec pack and setting up ffdshow for spdif passthrough. That gave me dolby digital or dts on sources that had it built in (dvds, etc) but only stereo in most other sources, including games. If you buy a dedicated soundcard make sure it supports dolby digital live.
 

ryfry

Distinguished
Aug 20, 2011
129
0
18,680
i tried using hdmi from one of my cards (6870's in cf) and it didnt work or I did something wrong. Ill definately try it again. So if the application isnt using dts or dolby digital it will only come out of the front three speakers and sub? which is what ive been getting.
 

tjs4ever

Honorable
May 17, 2012
132
0
10,710
Yes, three speakers from the front only if using spdif and an inexpensive soundcard. If you're lucky, your onboard may support dolby digital live, but it isn't likely. Most Creative options these days have ddlive support, sometimes through a third party paid download. I recommend either analog, tinkering with hdmi, or a dedicated soundcard. I spent too many hours banging my head against a wall trying to get my onboard to play nicely with spdif.
 
Solution

ryfry

Distinguished
Aug 20, 2011
129
0
18,680
i played around with hdmi and got it to work but i couldn't have b multiple displays going...the receiver doesn't have analog i was mistaken so I'll have to use spdif or digital with a sound card thanks again for all the help!