HTPC HDMI Audio Output: Incorrect Format - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 04-25-2013, 06:42 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a full desktop and I hope to get proper audio output format. This is defined as the following:

  • 2.0 source file should show on receiver as 2/0/.0
  • DTS or Dolby source file should show on receiver as DTS 3/2/.1 or Dolby 3/2/.1,
  • 5.1 source file should show on receiver as PCM 3/2/.1

My receiver is a Marantz SR6007. My media players are either VLC or MPC-HC. With MPC-HC i have recently set up MadVR/LAVfilter/XY-Sfilter. I also use Musicbee for audio.

Current symptoms:

  • DTS/Dolby source files show up as DTS 3/2/.1 or Dolby 3/2/.1 (Correct. Required disabling MPC-HC internal audio stuff)
  • 5.1 source files show up as PCM 3/2/.1
  • 2.0 source files show up as 3/2/.1, with center and rear channels not playing (INCORRECT)

As you can see, the 5.1 native format stuff is fine but 2.0/stereo only gets sent as a 5.1 stream. All the channels that arent left/right are just padded on there with blank tracks. Musicbee, when using WASAPI mode, can get the correct audio output. but if I have, say, a stereo video source, it still tries to be sent as 3/2/.1.

Another problem: I am unable to get stereo to play as pure stereo without forcing the receiver to stereo mode. When it receives a stereo signal, it receives it as a 5.1 signal and if it is in auto mode, it will matrix the signal to proper 5.1.

So far, my only option has been to use Optical/Spdif with DTS-interactive on my dedicated sound card. I would, however, like to have HDMI audio working correctly if possible. For now it is not a huge deal, but I just want the proper source file format to be showing up on the receiver rather than any weird windows voodoo happening to the sound.

AFAIK there is no wasapi mode for vlc or MPC-hc. It is also horribly annoying that i need to use wasapi mode with my dedicated music player (musicbee) in order to make it play a proper stereo signal without that signal being upmixed to 5.1 by my receiver.
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post #2 of 19 Old 04-25-2013, 07:33 AM
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Sounds like you've set your Windows Playback device Speaker Setup to 5.1 Audio Channels instead of Stereo. Then set the decoders for 5.1 audio. 2.0 audio will play as Stereo and 5.1 audio will bitstream.

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post #3 of 19 Old 04-25-2013, 07:37 AM - Thread Starter
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You're right, i have windows set to "I have 5.1 speakers attached". This is largely because of gaming and such.

There's 2 kinds of 5.1 though. There's the DTS/Dolby kind which is already encapsulated in a nice format, and theres the 5.1 FLAC or 5.1 AAC type, which has 6 individual channels.

If I set windows up as stereo, it will bitstream both?

What about gaming? This is a desktop computer hooked into a home theater system. If my windows output device is set to 2.0, wont all my games be in native 2.0? Games generally look at whatever your sound device speaker configuration is and automatically output that specific format. How do i tell a game that I have a 5.1 speaker system if my windows setup is set to stereo? Do i have to keep flip flopping back and forth?
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post #4 of 19 Old 04-25-2013, 05:57 PM
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"5.1 speakers" is the right choice if your sound system is 5.1. The channel count in Windows speaker settings won't affect bitstreaming compressed audio (DD, DTS, DD+, DTS-HD HR, TrueHD, DTS-HD MA). It only affects LPCM audio streams (from LPCM sources or decoded from compressed audio formats such as FLAC, MP3, AAC).

A problem is when you play stereo sources (e.g. music WAV = PCM, FLAC, MP3), Windows Audio Engine expands stereo to 5.1 with silent surround. Using WASAPI exclusive mode is a solution, that bypasses Windows Audio Engine. Many software music players implement WASAPI exclusive mode. For DirectShow media players, you can use ReClock.

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post #5 of 19 Old 04-25-2013, 06:00 PM - Thread Starter
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what other ways are there to bypass windows audio engine? For music its fine but theres a lot of downloaded tv/anime content, along with stuff like youtube videos, that are natively in 2.0 that get expanded.

My receiver seems to be taking that silent surround thing and rematrixing it to 5.1. I get sound out of my surrounds when im not supposed to.
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post #6 of 19 Old 04-25-2013, 06:07 PM
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Not all players support WASAPI exclusive mode. Flash Player won't. But if
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerys64 View Post

My receiver seems to be taking that silent surround thing and rematrixing it to 5.1.

then what's your problem?

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post #7 of 19 Old 04-25-2013, 06:10 PM - Thread Starter
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To be perfectly clear: If i have stereo sound, i want it to only show up as a stereo 2/0/.0 stream. Not a 5.1 3/2/.1 stream.

My current setup, if I use HDMI audio, makes stereo get upmixed to 5.1. IE there should be nothing on the center or rear channels and there is stuff on the center/rear channels. Sometimes its music, other times its silence.

I just want the receiver to be receiving the proper stream. For stereo, 2/0/.0. For 5.1 flac/aac, PCM 3/2/.1. For 5.1 DTS or DD, DTS 3/2/.1 or DD 3/2/.1. At best, i've only gotten the latter ones to work. I havent gotten the stereo stuff to work.
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post #8 of 19 Old 04-25-2013, 06:22 PM
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Neither Flash Player nor games supports WASAPI exclusive mode. So there is no simple solution. You can create shortcuts to switch between stereo and 5.1 (e.g. by using AutoHotkey).

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post #9 of 19 Old 04-25-2013, 10:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerys64 View Post

AFAIK there is no wasapi mode for vlc or MPC-hc. It is also horribly annoying that i need to use wasapi mode with my dedicated music player (musicbee) in order to make it play a proper stereo signal without that signal being upmixed to 5.1 by my receiver.
If you use ReClock as your audio renderer (which requires you to decode Dolby/DTS to PCM in the PC) you can output WASAPI Exclusive, and have it switch the speaker output to match the signal. (e.g. 5.1 with a 5.1 source, 2.0 with a stereo source)
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post #10 of 19 Old 04-26-2013, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
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The entire point of the receiver is to decode audio and be an amplifier. I am ok with the auto hotkey workaround as that is basically what I have to do right now with my sound card. I keep my xonar dsx set to 6 speakers. Then when km listening to stereo sources I keep spdif set to pcm mode and when I have multichannel I set it to dts connect. Dts and dolby bitstream regardless of setting.

I can see having an autohotkey script that does switching between windows 5.1 and windows 2.0. I don't like the PC decoding dts and dolby thing though. Kind of invalidates the point of the receiver.

I find it hard to believe that there is no 0 interaction method for this. If a blue ray player an accomplish this task so easily, and a set top box can too, why can't windows?
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post #11 of 19 Old 04-26-2013, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerys64 View Post

I find it hard to believe that there is no 0 interaction method for this. If a blue ray player an accomplish this task so easily, and a set top box can too, why can't windows?

Because Windows isn't a set top box OS, it's a PC OS designed for running on a PC or a laptop with some PC speakers connected on a desk, not for being the heart of a home theater.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do,
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post #12 of 19 Old 04-26-2013, 09:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerys64 View Post

The entire point of the receiver is to decode audio and be an amplifier.
There's no difference between multichannel PCM and Dolby/DTS HD. Your receiver is just doing the exact same thing as soon as it receives the signal.
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Originally Posted by Nerys64 View Post

I find it hard to believe that there is no 0 interaction method for this.
There is. Decode HD audio to PCM and use ReClock as your renderer. JRiver Media Center can probably be configured to do it while bitstreaming too, though I can't understand why someone would want to bitstream audio from a PC due to the problems it causes.

edit; In fact Reclock might be able to do this without requiring you to decode to PCM, but then you lose the main reason for using ReClock in the first place: fixing the problem of PCs having separate video/audio clocks.
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post #13 of 19 Old 04-26-2013, 10:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by stanger89 View Post

Because Windows isn't a set top box OS, it's a PC OS designed for running on a PC or a laptop with some PC speakers connected on a desk, not for being the heart of a home theater.

I think this statement is largely incorrect. Windows is used in many different situations. You may say "windows is not designed to run inside cars" but that happens on a multitude of entertainment units and data loggers. PC's are able to play dvd, blu-ray, games, and audio. These present a multitude of formats and listening configurations. It is not fair to lump all computers into some 2.0 30 dollar logitech speaker category given what a computer is capable of. At the end of the day, a computer is what is responsible for creating most of the AV data we consume anyways. What you are saying is a gross generalization that refers to the most commonly used configuration for end users. And most of us on this forum are not end users.

My PC is meant to be a device that can do everything. It may not play a blu-ray as seamlessly as the embedded customized software/hardware combo of a blu ray player but it is entirely capable of getting just the same amount of performance and even the crappiest of laptops is capable of at least proper playback.

I'm not trying to invent some new method of home theater stuff here. I have a single device that fits all of my needs. Yours may be different, but in a tiny little room I have space for this one-size-fits-all device and dont want to waste thousands of dollars fiddling with various pieces of equipment that each accomplish exactly one task.

Also, all of the att set top boxes and brighthouse boxes run a customized version of windows.
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There's no difference between multichannel PCM and Dolby/DTS HD. Your receiver is just doing the exact same thing as soon as it receives the signal.
There is. Decode HD audio to PCM and use ReClock as your renderer. JRiver Media Center can probably be configured to do it while bitstreaming too, though I can't understand why someone would want to bitstream audio from a PC due to the problems it causes.

edit; In fact Reclock might be able to do this without requiring you to decode to PCM, but then you lose the main reason for using ReClock in the first place: fixing the problem of PCs having separate video/audio clocks.

I didnt know that was the purpose of reclock. I guess something is better than nothing. I'll give the reclock thing another go. I think ReClock can do pass-through of dts/dolby streams and do a regular PCM decode of whatever other 5.1 file you send to it. but if the purpose of reclock is to make things all happen on a singular clock, It does kind of make more sense to decode in software on PC and then send pure PCM data over.

I'll try reclock and see if it is possible to make VLC and other software send a 2/0/.0 stream, along with the regular 5.1 stuff. Currently my sound card is working for everything so I have that as a fall back. And currently HDMI audio either works perfectly for 2.0 or it works perfectly for 5.1, but never both thus far.

Thanks for the advice and the insight into the point of reclock. I'll try to mess with the audio settings only at first, and later mess with video settings according to the sticky in posted in this thread.

Musicbee can do wasapi playback anyways so tahts not too big of a deal. Its mostly annoying for 2.0 AAC audio in my .mkv files.
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post #14 of 19 Old 04-26-2013, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerys64 View Post

I think this statement is largely incorrect. Windows is used in many different situations. You may say "windows is not designed to run inside cars" but that happens on a multitude of entertainment units and data loggers. PC's are able to play dvd, blu-ray, games, and audio. These present a multitude of formats and listening configurations. It is not fair to lump all computers into some 2.0 30 dollar logitech speaker category given what a computer is capable of. At the end of the day, a computer is what is responsible for creating most of the AV data we consume anyways.

1) There's a big difference between something bespoke for a particular purpose, and something that is able to do something.

2) I didn't lump all computers into anything, I made a comment on the target market of Windows. Look at where 99% of Windows licenses/PCs are deployed, they're deployed in enterprises (where you're lucky if you get a 2.0 system), schools, home offices, etc. The percentage deployed in HTs or connected to TVs as primary entertainment devices is infinitesimally small.

3) (Most of) the things you mention that are embedded and run Windows run Windows Embedded or Windows CE, not desktop Windows. Yes there are similarities but there are also significant differences.
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What you are saying is a gross generalization that refers to the most commonly used configuration for end users. And most of us on this forum are not end users.

It is, and it's the perspective that Microsoft and the PC industry have. PCs overwhelmingly aren't used for serious media playback, they're used for work, development, surfing the internet, etc. This means that Microsoft has essentially no interest in making things like automatic audio format switching working.
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My PC is meant to be a device that can do everything. It may not play a blu-ray as seamlessly as the embedded customized software/hardware combo of a blu ray player but it is entirely capable of getting just the same amount of performance and even the crappiest of laptops is capable of at least proper playback.

This is exactly my point, the difference between being designed to do something and being able to do something. If Windows were designed to playing media, it would play things as seamlessly other dedicated devices. It would automatically switch output formats (audio and video) to match source formats, the audio/video clock would be tied together, the video output would be locked to the input, etc.
Quote:
I'm not trying to invent some new method of home theater stuff here. I have a single device that fits all of my needs. Yours may be different, but in a tiny little room I have space for this one-size-fits-all device and dont want to waste thousands of dollars fiddling with various pieces of equipment that each accomplish exactly one task.

Essentially you could say that everyone here is trying to "invent" a new method. Look I'm not knocking your system or anyone else's system. But I see it a lot here that people wonder why things don't work as smoothly or seamlessly, or well. They seem to forget that the HTPC market is an infinitesimally small portion of the overall PC market, and on top of that we, with HTPCs, are essentially system integrators.
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Also, all of the att set top boxes and brighthouse boxes run a customized version of windows.

It's probably about as close to running Windows as the Xbox 360 is. But again, we're back to my point about being bespoke. Mediaroom is designed for being a media hub, something that Windows 7, 8, XP, etc are not. Oh, and MS has sold Mediaroom, and basically abandoned Windows Media Center. That should make clear where Microsoft's priorities for media playback are.

See what an anamorphoscopic lens can do,
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post #15 of 19 Old 04-26-2013, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
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While I can agree with what you say given the extra detail you have provided, your comment is still largely unhelpful. I have a subset of hardware and equipment to work with and you have not proposed a solution apart from "thats just the way it is, deal with it". And that is not how i do things because it is extraordinarily unproductive. I will either find the correct hardware/software configuration, find a different software only configuration, or find a hardware only configuration that enables me to accomplish my goal. That is the inherent beauty of computers, IMO: Where there is a will, there is a way. Just because it wasnt designed specifically to play back all kinds of audio files doesnt mean there isnt a very good and easy way to do so. I am convinced that some method or the other works, and the previously stated AutoHotkey method is actually one of the closest-to-ideal solutions ive heard so far.

Another is to set the HDMI configuration to PCM 2.0 and simply test it with 5.1 files to see what happens. And of course the reclock version. I dont understand the finer points of bitstream and clock synchronization mechanisms as I have no idea how a bitstream is sent (or at what rate) and what rate the receiving device, but what Chronoptimist said makes sense and upon further investigation I may consider that, as it is a very easy way to accomplish my ultimate goal.

Thanks for your input though. Any advice is appreciated, though I will not simply accept things the way they are.
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post #16 of 19 Old 04-26-2013, 02:54 PM
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I guess wasapi or asio would solve this issue.
iirc, you can't change vlc's audio renderer, but you can for mpc hc.
reclock can get you wasapi for pcm, so you will always get the right speaker count.

but if your receiver is gonna matrix stereo audio anyway, maybe you are best off with the padded 5.1?
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post #17 of 19 Old 10-18-2013, 08:07 AM
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I recently started a thread with a similar question at http://www.avsforum.com/t/1495316/which-media-players-reconfigure-hdmi-to-match-number-of-source-channels

So far I've learned that XBMC can easily be configured to use WASAPI. It then generates the correct stereo output to an HDMI device configured as 7.1.

Foobar2000 requires a plugin.

At least one post on VLC's web forum impiles that VLC can do it, too, but I haven't figured out how, yet.

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post #18 of 19 Old 10-18-2013, 01:38 PM
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Why don't you just set Windows to 2.0 and let your player bitstream the audio out untouched?
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post #19 of 19 Old 10-18-2013, 02:47 PM
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Because I also want to be able to play 5.1 surround sound files.

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