[SOLVED] How to connect speakers and receiver to computer?

Aug 27, 2019
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Good afternoon. Firstly, I apologize upfront if this inquiry is posted in the wrong form. Please relocate to appropriate forum if needed.

I recently rebuilt my PC and want to connect a surround sound speaker system and receiver to the computer and have some questions about this setup. I am no expert with computers and home theater equipment but have amateur knowledge.

Background:

I have a SoundBlaster ZXR sound card (with a single optical input and optical output but NO HDMI connectors), a NVidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti video card (with 3 Display Port outputs and 1 HDMI output), a Denon AVR X2300W receiver (two optical inputs, 7 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs) and Definitive Technology 5.1 ProMedia surround sound analog speaker system with subwoofer. Running Win10 Pro x64 v1903 as the computer OS.

To view the receiver setup options on the computer monitor (without having to connect an additional TV just for this task), I connected an HDMI cable between the HDMI input on the monitor to the HDMI/ARC output on the receiver. I went through the standard receiver setup procedure and speaker calibration. Of particular note, I did verify all speakers produced sound, adjusted the audio levels to my liking and verified that the input assignment for the optical inputs were "optical" and for the HDMI inputs were "HDMI".

I connected an optical cable from the optical output of the sound card to the optical input in the receiver (CD in this case). I went to Windows Settings, Sound Options, and selected "Speakers (Soundblaster ZXR)" as the playback device and then selected the optical input device in the receiver (CD in this case) and then selected multi-channel playback. I have sound from all speakers and the subwoofer.

I also connected an HDMI cable from the HDMI output of the video card to the one of the HDMI inputs of the receiver (Media Player in this case). I went to Windows Settings, Sound Options, and selected "Denon AVR (Nvidia Hi Definition Audio)" as the playback device and then selected the HDMI input device in the receiver (Media Player in this case) and then selected multi-channel playback. Again, I have sound from all speakers and the subwoofer. Of particular note is that Windows perceives the Denon Receiver as an additional display.

This setup is more complicated that it should be if the sound card had HDMI connectors as well. In this day and age, it escapes me why Creative still won't add an HDMI port on their sound cards.

Questions:

1. I believe I have the basic connections correct as I have sounds through optical and HDMI connections. Are there any particular tweaks, details, or additional adjustments to optimize the optical and HDMI connections on the receiver and sound card/video card/windows ends of note?

2. Is there any advantage or disadvantage of the optical or HDMI route for sound, or, more succinctly, is one connection better over another? I seem to remember many years ago, for connecting receivers to a PC, use an optical connection for better sound in music/games and use an HDMI connection for better sound in movies. Is this still true?

3. Using the sound card/optical connection for sound, Windows offers actually two Playback Device options: "Speakers (Soundblaster ZXR)" and "Digital Audio (S/PDIF) (Soundblaster ZXR DBPro)" I only get sound from the speakers if the Speakers are selected as the Playback device. I assume this is because the speakers are analog and not digital, correct? Would there be any advantage in converting the analog sound to digital sound? Does the Denon Receiver already perform this conversion? If not, how would I convert and what hardware would I need to use?

Thank you for your help!
 

boju

Champion
Mobo Hdmi audio is via igpu (cpu) and not Realtek. Optical on the mobo belongs to Realtek. Shouldn't need to disable anything as it's easy to toggle between audio devices in Windows.

I prefer Hdmi audio personally. Triple A games in the modern surround sound era usually don't have compressed audio, it's why they're so large. It's different for analog surround systems as each channel is on a separate line and not bundled, ie pc speakers using the green, yellow and back/grey plug.

Regarding your speakers via speaker wire, no, no converter necessary, that is all above board normal. Digital or analog inputs wont affect how your amp sends signals to your speakers.
 

boju

Champion
Only advantage optical has in your case is the sound card and the extra equalising it offers. Beyond that, Hdmi offers HD Dolby/DTS uncompressed audio and is superior in both games and movies.

Optical only supports 2.1 HD audio due to bandwidth constraints with the cable itself. To process more multi channels via optical requires compression, encoding from source and decoding at the receiver. Not that'll you'll hear any different nor do i but uncompressed audio is better which Hdmi has the bandwidth to do.
 
Aug 27, 2019
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Thank you for your reply!

I can easily run audio from either the optical setup or HDMI configuration. It takes a couple of seconds to switch.

I should mention that the motherboard has built-in Realtek sound along with an HDMI output as well. I disabled the Realtek sound card in the BIOS in favor of the Sound Blaster but the HDMI output still works. If I ditch the sound card, should I enable Realtek sound, connect the HDMI output from the motherboard to the HDMI input of the receiver? Or just stick with the GeForce Hi Def sound?

Also, do I need to connect analog-to-digital converters on the receiver (for the analog speakers) even when using the HDMI (or optical for that matter) connections? Or does the receiver do that automatically?

Thanks!



Only advantage optical has in your case is the sound card and the extra equalising it offers. Beyond that, Hdmi offers HD Dolby/DTS uncompressed audio and is superior in both games and movies.

Optical only supports 2.1 HD audio due to bandwidth constraints with the cable itself. To process more multi channels via optical requires compression, encoding from source and decoding at the receiver. Not that'll you'll hear any different nor do i but uncompressed audio is better which Hdmi has the bandwidth to do.
 

boju

Champion
Mobo Hdmi audio is via igpu (cpu) and not Realtek. Optical on the mobo belongs to Realtek. Shouldn't need to disable anything as it's easy to toggle between audio devices in Windows.

I prefer Hdmi audio personally. Triple A games in the modern surround sound era usually don't have compressed audio, it's why they're so large. It's different for analog surround systems as each channel is on a separate line and not bundled, ie pc speakers using the green, yellow and back/grey plug.

Regarding your speakers via speaker wire, no, no converter necessary, that is all above board normal. Digital or analog inputs wont affect how your amp sends signals to your speakers.
 
Aug 27, 2019
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Got it. So it really doesn't matter if I plug the HDMI cable into HDMI connectors on the motherboard or video card, the signals are processed via the GPU, right?

Are there any specific setup, options, configurations or tweaks to Windows and the Receiver I should perform? Anything beyond the standard setup procedures?

I figured that the HDMI connection gives better sound. However, the Creative Labs software, despite horrible driver support, does have lots of configuration options, particularly equalizers and such. Windows has bare bones configuration options. Does NVidia have audio configuration options? I didn't notice anything in their driver/software bundles.

Thanks!



Mobo Hdmi audio is via igpu (cpu) and not Realtek. Optical on the mobo belongs to Realtek. Shouldn't need to disable anything as it's easy to toggle between audio devices in Windows.

I prefer Hdmi audio personally. Triple A games in the modern surround sound era usually don't have compressed audio, it's why they're so large. It's different for analog surround systems as each channel is on a separate line and not bundled, ie pc speakers using the green, yellow and back/grey plug.

Regarding your speakers via speaker wire, no, no converter necessary, that is all above board normal. Digital or analog inputs wont affect how your amp sends signals to your speakers.
 

boju

Champion
Cpu audio via Hdmi may be channel limited as in not complete surround, thats up to your avr to determine.

Gpu Hdmi surround is pretty reliable from experience. In regards to eq, there wouldn't be much of this from the graphics card or media but you'll have eq settings in your avr. In my avr (Yamaha Rx1800) i can set eq for each speaker and also room balance all speakers with an audyssey mic. Your avr should be capable of the same.
 
Aug 27, 2019
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Got it. Ok last question....in the sound card playback devices, what is the difference between Speakers (Soundblaster ZXR)" and "Digital Audio (S/PDIF) (Soundblaster ZXR DBPro) ? I am guessing that the S/PDIF option doesn't work because my speakers are analog but I don't know for sure. That was also why I asked if I needed an Analog-to-Digital converter to take advantage of the Digital Audio options.
 

boju

Champion
Speakers in playback devices enables the analog 3.5mm jacks for pc speakers, same for Realtek. Optical needs an input such as your avr (your adapter so to speak) to complete the signal and out through your speakers connected to the avr. Pc speakers do have similar setups where the subwoofer has an optical input.

Running analog signals from 3.5mm jacks to digital optical or hdmi conversions is costly and a waste of time but it can be done.

I hope i understood your question.
 
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Aug 27, 2019
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Let me clarify...the DefTek speakers are analog and connect into the receiver using standard speaker wire. The optical cable runs from the optical out of the sound card to the optical in of the receiver.

In Windows, Settings, Sound, I have two options for the playback device: "Speakers (Soundblaster ZXR)" and "Digital Audio (S/PDIF) (Soundblaster ZXR DBPro).

Since the speakers are analog, I get sound from "Speakers (Soundblaster ZXR)" playback device and not the digital audio playback device.

The questions are: what if I want digital sound playback from my analog speakers using the optical cable? Do I need to add an analog-to-digital converter or does the receiver do that? AND Other than the speakers being analog or digital, are there any other differences between Speakers (Soundblaster ZXR)" and "Digital Audio (S/PDIF) (Soundblaster ZXR DBPro) playback modes?

I still will probably ditch the sound card but I would like to know for my own information. Does that help now?
 

boju

Champion
Since you're very new to this i can understand the questions. I have answered your last post though, your avr does it all, optical and hdmi. What your avr doesn't have is provisions for 3.5mm jack inputs.

Just so you're not confused here regarding your avr speakers. These speakers, regardless of using speaker wire has no bearing what so ever on the signal the avr receives, be it digital or analog, it does NOT matter. Do you understand now?
 
Aug 27, 2019
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Got it. That clears up any misunderstanding. Other than some minor tweaks in the receiver and software to optimize the sound, everything is setup and I don't have to add any additional accessories nor change any cabling (other than to remove the sound card). Thank you!
 
Aug 27, 2019
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Are there any tutorials/websites/threads anyone can recommend that specifically address all of the steps/tweaks and provide detailed information about connecting speakers/AV receivers to computers? I want to keep as reference so I won't forget all of this information down the road.

Thanks!
 

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