I have a budget HTPC system. Right now I am letting my Philips 2.1 speaker system mix virtual surround for me (Realtek is set to 5.1 too, and I am connected via RCA 2 channel cable.)
But it occurs to me that I might be downmixing and then upmixing several times before I actually hear anything (thus some pretty funky results.) During movies the same sound is often passed back and forth between the two speakers as if it can't decide what to do with it. In addition some high channels occasionally blast out of balance while I'm playing music.
My old 2.1 Bose speakers didn't do this on the same setup. But these speakers really kick their butt otherwise.
So for a little more direct approach, would it be better to connect to the Philips home theater control unit via digital connector in order to allow more unmolested data to reach it?
The only other solution I can think of would be a new sound card or new speakers. I don't use the Realtek drivers right now (only Windows) because they distort things too much. A receiver seems overkill for my needs.
I watch a lot of 5.1 surround movies/TV, and I listen to a lot of acoustic music (flac, etc.) I almost never use headphones, only speakers, and I'm in a small apartment surrounded by neighbors. My main concern is crystal clear dialog, and gorgeous music at low volumes. These speakers are actually quite nice so I hope I can fix this annoyance.
I'd be up for spending $200 - $250 on new speakers but obviously a receiver is out on this budget. (Thinking Swan Mx10 or M50W?)
Asus P8Z68-V LE
Windows 7 x64
Realtek ALC892 onboardPhilips HTS6500/37 Home theater
2.1 with virtual 5.1
RCA & Coaxial connectors only
Connected via 3.5mm-to-RCA analog now.
Toshiba 32" monitor