5.1 Sound from PC games through s/pdif - out of luck? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 19 Old 10-21-2014, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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5.1 Sound from PC games through s/pdif - out of luck?

Hello.

I finally decided to buy the Monoprice HDMI switch and test it out, per my post here.

I was having a grand time passing the Dolby Digital signal from my Cable/DVR box HDMI, through the switch, and from there to my AVR using a coax connection, since the receiver is old and does not support HDMI.

The pain started when I wanted to try out my PC games, which were a big motivation for doing this. I would only get 2 channels, regardless of how I set up audio playback in Windows 7's control panel. I'm getting the audio from my PC through the AMD R9 280's HDMI connector.

I've been on the "internets" quite a bit today and realized that as long as the computer's output is set to LPCM, the best I'll be able to get to my AVR through coax or optical is 2 channels, since that is all that s/pdif supports.

Is there any way to configure the HDMI output of my video card to Dolby Digital or DTS so that I can get 5.1 channel sound from my games?

Thanks!

Manolo
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post #2 of 19 Old 10-21-2014, 11:50 AM
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The only way to get 5.1 sound from a game is to use HDMI from the PC to the AVR.
since your avr only has spdif input, you will only get 2 channel pcm.


It is not possible to convert the games 5.1 PCM to DD or DTS before it leaves the PC.

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post #3 of 19 Old 10-21-2014, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shark007 View Post
The only way to get 5.1 sound from a game is to use HDMI from the PC to the AVR.
since your avr only has spdif input, you will only get 2 channel pcm.


It is not possible to convert the games 5.1 PCM to DD or DTS before it leaves the PC.
Silly me.
I'll have to decide whether to return this and think about an updated AVR or just keep gaming on stereo and use 5.1 for movies from BlueRay player, etc.

Thanks.

Manolo
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post #4 of 19 Old 10-21-2014, 12:20 PM
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Buy a sound card with Dolby Digital Live or DTS: Connect.
A Sound Blaster Z OEM ($80 on Amazon) offers both.
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post #5 of 19 Old 10-21-2014, 12:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronoptimist View Post
Buy a sound card with Dolby Digital Live or DTS: Connect.
A Sound Blaster Z OEM ($80 on Amazon) offers both.
I hear the encoded audio from these cards tends not to be great. At $80 + $36 from the switcher, a new cheap AVR is starting to look appealing...

Thanks for the suggestion, though.

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post #6 of 19 Old 10-21-2014, 01:31 PM
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Well it's the only way you'll get 5.1 over an optical connection. Can't you return the switch and just use optical from the sound card to the AVR?
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post #7 of 19 Old 10-21-2014, 01:42 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm considering returning the switch, in which case I would just settle back to 2-channel. The trouble is that the computer is in a different room from the TV I use to play. Also, my integrated sound card does not have have spdif and if it did, it would still be 2-channel output, since that connection does not support 5.1 LPCM.

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post #8 of 19 Old 10-21-2014, 03:01 PM
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I can't comment on the encoding quality since it's not a feature that I use.
I find it hard to imagine that neither Dolby or DTS can build a decent hardware encoder though, or that it wouldn't still be better than stereo.

Last edited by Chronoptimist; 10-21-2014 at 03:04 PM.
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post #9 of 19 Old 10-22-2014, 12:22 PM
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It's kind of a kludge, but you could buy J-River Media Center and use it's WDM driver. J-River has the ability to encode to Dolby Digital and output to any sound device.

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post #10 of 19 Old 10-22-2014, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronoptimist View Post
I can't comment on the encoding quality since it's not a feature that I use.
I find it hard to imagine that neither Dolby or DTS can build a decent hardware encoder though, or that it wouldn't still be better than stereo.

The problem is both DD and DTS are lossy compressions. So no matter what you do, you always lost quality. But I seriously doubt it is that critical for game sound effects.


However, these hardware has very limited market because mass market has shifted to HDMI for audio and no longer need this DD or DTS encoding. It's cheaper and without the loss of quality.
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post #11 of 19 Old 10-22-2014, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by millst View Post
It's kind of a kludge, but you could buy J-River Media Center and use it's WDM driver. J-River has the ability to encode to Dolby Digital and output to any sound device.

-tm
so you're saying that Jriver is capable of capturing the pcm audio from a game, convert it to DD and then send it out via spdif? Wow, that is pretty special indeed. Or, more likely, you just didnt bother to read the 1st post.

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post #12 of 19 Old 10-22-2014, 01:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shark007 View Post
so you're saying that Jriver is capable of capturing the pcm audio from a game, convert it to DD and then send it out via spdif? Wow, that is pretty special indeed. Or, more likely, you just didnt bother to read the 1st post.
Yes, I read the post and that's exactly what it does. Special, indeed. Maybe you should do some research before replying.

OP, they offer a 30-day free trial so nothing to lose other than your time. There will be some added latency due to the data shuffling and encoding, which could be an issue.

-tm
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post #13 of 19 Old 10-22-2014, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
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I'd like to thank everybody for your input.

I've decided to update my audio system a bit by getting a new cheap receiver. I'm mostly interested in keeping prize down without sacrificing too much sound quality and I'm not too interested in all the frills.

I've zeroed in on the Onkyo TX-SR313 5.1 channel a/v receiver, which can be had for cheap refurbished here.

It was a close call between that and the Denon AVR-E200, which they also sell refurbished, but I'm leaning towards the Onkyo because it can play MP3 files natively from a USB port which I find quite convenient, plus it features ARC which will be useful when I watch Netflix movies from my TV's app, since all 4 HDMI inputs will be taken over by Chromecast, gaming PC, Blu-ray player, and DVR cable box.

Opinions on those AVR choices are welcome too.

Manolo
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post #14 of 19 Old 10-22-2014, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by millst View Post
Yes, I read the post and that's exactly what it does. Special, indeed. Maybe you should do some research before replying.
-tm
good to know. I would not have expected a player being capable of doing that.
Research? Ok, in that case, just use FFDshow; its free and can do the same thing.

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post #15 of 19 Old 10-22-2014, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by millst View Post
It's kind of a kludge, but you could buy J-River Media Center and use it's WDM driver. J-River has the ability to encode to Dolby Digital and output to any sound device.
Too much latency for games.

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Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post
The problem is both DD and DTS are lossy compressions. So no matter what you do, you always lost quality. But I seriously doubt it is that critical for game sound effects.
Of course, but if your options are uncompressed stereo, or compressed 5.1, and you own a 5.1 setup, which would you prefer?

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Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post
However, these hardware has very limited market because mass market has shifted to HDMI for audio and no longer need this DD or DTS encoding. It's cheaper and without the loss of quality.
Adding an $80 sound card is generally a lot cheaper than replacing an AVR - especially if the old one was a higher-end model.
There might even be cheaper options, but I think the SBZ is the cheapest card which offers both Dolby/DTS encoding.
ASUS have cheaper cards which only offer Dolby Digital Live, but their drivers are terrible.

I would personally prefer to avoid HDMI for audio wherever possible, since HDMI is constantly outdated, requiring AVR upgrades to support things like Deep Color, 3D, 4K, Dolby Atmos etc.
Connect the analog output from a good Sound Card/DAC to the input of an AVR, and you no longer have to worry about it.

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Originally Posted by Shark007 View Post
good to know. I would not have expected a player being capable of doing that.
Research? Ok, in that case, just use FFDshow; its free and can do the same thing.
They just released a driver which acts as a virtual sound card, to capture audio from anything running on the computer and process it in their audio engine - which includes Dolby Digital encoding.

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Originally Posted by TheManuel View Post
I've decided to update my audio system a bit by getting a new cheap receiver. I'm mostly interested in keeping prize down without sacrificing too much sound quality and I'm not too interested in all the frills.
I've zeroed in on the Onkyo TX-SR313 5.1 channel a/v receiver, which can be had for cheap refurbished here.
It was a close call between that and the Denon AVR-E200, which they also sell refurbished, but I'm leaning towards the Onkyo because it can play MP3 files natively from a USB port which I find quite convenient, plus it features ARC which will be useful when I watch Netflix movies from my TV's app, since all 4 HDMI inputs will be taken over by Chromecast, gaming PC, Blu-ray player, and DVR cable box.
That is incredibly cheap. If it's $80 for a sound card, or $130 for a new AVR, I'd say you're making the right decision.
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post #16 of 19 Old 10-22-2014, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronoptimist View Post
Adding an $80 sound card is generally a lot cheaper than replacing an AVR - especially if the old one was a higher-end model.
There might even be cheaper options, but I think the SBZ is the cheapest card which offers both Dolby/DTS encoding.
ASUS have cheaper cards which only offer Dolby Digital Live, but their drivers are terrible.

Most ppl who invested in a surround setup and AVR don't simply use HTPC alone. An updated HDMI receiver can benefit BD and other playbacks.

Quote:
I would personally prefer to avoid HDMI for audio wherever possible, since HDMI is constantly outdated, requiring AVR upgrades to support things like Deep Color, 3D, 4K, Dolby Atmos etc.
Connect the analog output from a good Sound Card/DAC to the input of an AVR, and you no longer have to worry about it.
You also lose the ever so popular room correction and other features. And the DAC on a decent AVR typically outpace the cheap DAC used by sound cards. But that's just personal preferences. But none of the reasons you listed are realistic road blocks. Majority of us can like without any of those extras as they offer no real value.
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post #17 of 19 Old 10-22-2014, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post
Most ppl who invested in a surround setup and AVR don't simply use HTPC alone. An updated HDMI receiver can benefit BD and other playbacks.
There is no advantage to using an AVR on the video side of things.
Ideally they will do nothing, many will do harm.

As I said, if the difference is only $130 vs $80, an AVR makes sense. If it's $80 vs $800 for a higher-end AVR, then you have to wonder whether it's worth it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxbat121 View Post
You also lose the ever so popular room correction and other features. And the DAC on a decent AVR typically outpace the cheap DAC used by sound cards. But that's just personal preferences. But none of the reasons you listed are realistic road blocks. Majority of us can like without any of those extras as they offer no real value.
You can do room correction on the PC. There are cheap/free utilities for this which will give results that are at least comparable to most AVRs. Acourate is better than the majority of hardware-based room correction, and while it is expensive, it's far less expensive than hardware devices which are comparable.
If you have an older high-end AVR which has an awesome amplification stage, but is limited to optical/coax as a digital input, it's certainly worth buying a multichannel DAC or sound card instead of replacing the entire device. DAC technology has improved a lot, and even a cheaper device like an $80 sound card has a good chance of performing better than the digital side of an older AVR.
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post #18 of 19 Old 10-23-2014, 12:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronoptimist View Post
Too much latency for games.

They just released a driver which acts as a virtual sound card, to capture audio from anything running on the computer and process it in their audio engine - which includes Dolby Digital encoding.
Have you tried it? I don't see much, but I'm not much of a gamer either. It's definitely going to be YMMV due to hardware differences. To add, ffdshow doesn't do anything like what J-River is providing.

As far as the Denon vs Onkyo, I'd be a little leery of older Onkyos since the company has admitted to some HDMI failures. I don't know if that particular model is affected, but it would be wise to do some research in the Receiver area before purchasing.

-tm
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post #19 of 19 Old 10-23-2014, 05:00 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by millst View Post
Have you tried it? I don't see much, but I'm not much of a gamer either. It's definitely going to be YMMV due to hardware differences. To add, ffdshow doesn't do anything like what J-River is providing.

As far as the Denon vs Onkyo, I'd be a little leery of older Onkyos since the company has admitted to some HDMI failures. I don't know if that particular model is affected, but it would be wise to do some research in the Receiver area before purchasing.

-tm
Thanks for the warning. After reading a bit on it, it looks like the problem is associated with older units than the one I'm considering but it's good knowledge to have in case things go south with it. I could not find similar complains about this particular model, although it is fairly recent so it could simply be a matter of time.

At any rate, I think I'll chance it.

Manolo
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