Okay I feel I don't know some basics so here it goes.
I am playing Overwatch, or trying to.
I have an Onkyo TX-SR578 with 3 full-size speakers I can use (2 front and 1 big center) and I also have 2 smaller satellites and 1 smaller center available, all of whom are Mordaunt-Short.
Initially I played the game using a sound card configured for 2.0 S/PDIF and my receiver expanded it to a 5.1 scheme in "music" mode, basically just distributing the sound over all speakers. I had no situational awareness; no directions.
But the sound was good enough to play decently, I just couldn't pinpoint directions.
I only had connected: 2x front + 1x surround that I just double connected ;-) that's probably not so good but I connected it to both surround channels. Cause you can bi-amp it so I just connected it twice to different channels ;-). This is thus far the best sound I have had.
The center was actually not connected (in front). This worked in the Onky's "music" mode because the channels were apparently just spread out evenly. In "game" mode I missed a lot of sound because it was sent to the unconnected center. The Onkyo is incapable of disabling the center while the surround channels (speakers) are active.
In other words, it is incapable of giving me a "quad" setup with 2 in front and 2 in back. It has to have a center.
Now this may sound confusing; the Onkyo IS capable of having only ONE surround BACK but not so with the "side" surround channels; so you can have a 6.1 mode as opposed to 7.1, but not a 4.1 mode as opposed to 5.1.
That's why I connected them twice, well anyway.
The sound card is a Club3D Theatron Agrippa DTS 7.1 or something similar; it has Dolby Digital Live. So I tried first to put the S/PDIF to 5.1 DD-Live mode. Or the equivalent DTS. I did not find that the Game would output surround sound that I could detect any positioning in. But I was gonna say something else here: using HDMI the sound is just worse than using the sound card's 5.1. I don't know why, it just is.
But anyway, HDMI is not important yet: I tried all the settings I could find for my 5.1 sound card using S/PDIF and I just couldn't get ANY positional surround sound from the game. The receiver did receive a 5.1 DD signal but it simply had no positional information.
And in fact the game sounded better using 2.0 S/PDIF with the aformentioned Music mode; the receiver doing the expansion to 5.0 minus the center, I mean.
But of course without positional information also. I am sure I am missing something, you know.
Then at some point I started using the HDMI connection of my graphics card. Currently nVidia. Suddenly the positional information was there; I now had actual surround sound from the game. The receiver receives a multi-channel PCM format. And apparently keeps it as is.
Great, but my receiver still needs a center to be connected. So I took the tiny center and put it in a drawer in front of me, pop the drawer out when I need it; and I have something like full 5.1. Or actually 5.0.
Skipping a few things here, I currently have 2 actual surround speakers (4th and 5th channel) so I actually have 5.0 sound, and the sound is horrid. Not only do the different types of speakers not combine well, ..., idk, the sound just hurts my ears. I am not really benefiting from any positional sound yet, and I play just awfully.
Overwatch amplifies enemy sounds and I can't turn that off, and the sounds just disrupt me and the explosions are so loud and so on, but that is beside the point now.
So I turned the HDMI configuration in Windows from 7.1 to 4.0, hoping that I could ignore the center connected in front. 2 front connected and 2 back. So I play the game, and the sound is better (less harsh on my ears) but there are missing sounds, it sounds very muffled. Some voice lines I actually barely hear.
Driving me nuts. Is the game still sending the center channel out? Possibly so. Is Windows spreading that evenly over the 2 front speakers or not?
Of course I can still do the room calibration (of the Onkyo) but that won't make a lot of difference now.
Because there is just a lot of sound that I am not hearing.
So ideally I just would use the 3 big speakers I have (2 front and 1 big center) in a 3.0 setup, but I tried that before as well, and I am just missing sounds. I can put the HDMI in Windows to 3.0. I mean I can put it to 3.0 in Windows. But.
Sounds elude me, I don't hear enough.
Next best option is 4.0 with 2 big front and 2 small satellite. That's basically what I have now, and sounds elude me.
So the real question I have here is:
- does the Windows sound configuration actually spread the sound or not?
- is it to be expected that the center would just be dropped, for instance?
- am I missing something important here?
Please give any suggestions you like. I like to play without headphones.
I would REALLY like to:
- use my 5.1 sound card using its 5.1 S/PDIF connection. Is this possible?