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XBMC outputs DTS or 5.1 to receiver perfectly, but nothing outside of XBMC will (like steam, or...

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Anyone who can help,
I'm hurting here. Here is a quick summary.

I have an ASRock A75M FM1 AMD A75 with an AMD A8-3870K Unlocked Llano 3.0GHz strapped to it. This is inside of a HTPC case. I just built this recently and it has been working great.

I loaded XBMC onto it and it plays encoded content just as I would expect it to. Movies with DTS or 5.1 sound as they should and my receiver lights up the correct encoding when the movie starts.

My setup goes

HTPC (hdmi out on the mobo) -> HDMI Switcher from monoprice -> Yamaha receiver -> Samsung 50in plasma (1080i)

again .. XBMC outputs encoded sound as it should.

so I started to get into playing games on steam via this setup, but now I need steam to output correct sound as well. Metro 2033 and Company of Hero's both support 5.1 but neither cause the receiver to display anything relevant .. just the Pro Logic 2 channel that shows all the time if its not receiving other content. there is no global option for sound output in Steam .. I assume it just leaves it up to the individual games ...

so having said all this .. it would seem as though a game would be able to simply output sound the way that XBMC does .. i'm not sure what XBMC is doing differently, but it appears that its doing actual bitstreaming using the audio device as it should ...

So i've been trying to setup Windows to output sound to my receiver in hopes that it would allow the games to also output in such a format .. but so far its been a complete failure.

When i first installed all the software when i installed windows 7 I had several differnt listings under my audio devices. I had the AMD HDMI audio out, as well as the realtek offerings such as the digital out which is the SPDIF, the speaker out which would be the individual channels on the back of the mobo, etc ...

After trying to fix the audio issue i downloaded the official realtek drivers from their site along with their version of the amd hdmi out drivers as well. I installed both and after rebooting the Realtek manager now had an HDMI option where it didnt before ... so when you click on the little picture of the HDMI port you could fiddle with those settings as well.

I assumed that all of this was too much and would cause conflicts with drivers and devices so I uninstalled everything, rebooted, and then just installed the official Realtek AMD HDMI drivers. Rebooted again and all is well as far as default sound goes. I checked with XBMC and the sound is still sent to the receiver as expected, but testing the speakers and trying the games still doesnt bitstream or output correctly to the receiver.

i read somewhere that going through the speaker setup in windows as 5.1 but unchecking all the additional speakers would cause it to down mix and output correctly.

I tried that i now i do get a center speaker sound when i didnt before but it plays the rear channels out of the front channels, and I get no LFE signal from what I can tell ... its odd that i get the center channel all of sudden by doing that .. it feels like i'm on the right track .. but just not quite there yet ...

i'm not sure what else to try at this point. I've installed the catalyst software but didnt see an option to NOT install any HDMI audio or anything audio releated ... i've gotten a pop up recently from catalyst saying my samsung doesnt support audio out so i'm curious as to why my HTPC is seeing the TV, but not the receiver ...

do i need to research more into the EDID override? I'm skeptical to mess with too much as XBMC is working great .. i dont want to lose good sound in it.

post #2 of 26
you want the audio drivers from amd catalyst.
set the game up for 5.1 and set windows up for 5.1.
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 

So I should start from scratch I assume, right? Remove all audio devices and their software/drivers and reinstall from the latest catalyst suite?

one more question (assuming this works) :

once its complete will my receiver always show 5.1 out from the computer, or will it show the Prologic stereo until it gets a true 5.1 source such as a game?

post #4 of 26
i think it will always show 5.1 pcm
post #5 of 26
Thread Starter 

I have uninstalled everything, downloaded the latest catalyst suite, installed everything rebooted a few times for good measure in between each step ... same results.

the 5.1 speaker test under the audio playback device configuration only plays left and right channel. No visible change in decoded state on the receiver.

XBMC still sends DTS to receiver as it should ... but windows itself is not doing it ...

I did notice that before the catalyst software had a listing for default audio device and when I clicked on it, it stated that the default display didnt have audio options ... or something like that ... now there is NO listing for audio devices in the catalyst software.

the default device is currently AMD HDMI Output when you hover over the speaker icon in the task bar

under device manager I have two listings in sound/video/etc ...
AMD high definition audio device
high definition audio device

the second has M$ drivers associated with it ..dated 11/19/2010

drivers on the AMD HD audio device are AMD's dated 6/11/12

post #6 of 26
both the monoprice switch and the yamaha receiver support 5.1 lpcm?
post #7 of 26
Thread Starter 
the yamaha is an HTR 6130

the monoprice switch has never caused issues before ...

like i said .. XBMC is passing correct audio through to the receiver ... i can fire up spiderman and see the receiver switch over to DTS .. other movies with 5.1 causes the same thing (except it says dolby digitial of course)

so ... if xbmc can do it .. i'm unsure as to why windows and therefore steam cannot ..
post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 
oh .. i forgot to mention .. and this may be important ..

the receiver is HDMI passthrough ... one of the reasons I got the switch was so that I could pump HDMI from devices into the monoprice switch ... and then run a digital coax from the switch to the receiver along with the HDMI .. this allows it to play the 5.1/DTS etc through the receiver instead of passing it to the TV ..
post #9 of 26
ok, so lets go over some digital audio-
the early forms are 2 channel pcm, dts, and dolby digital. These can be transmitted over spdif optical or coaxial. This is basically dvd era stuff.
Now there is multichannel pcm, dts-hd, and truehd. These require hdmi and a receiver support. This is commonly found on bluray. Games will output multichannel pcm usually.

Your receiver only supports the earlier forms of digital audio it seems.
post #10 of 26
Thread Starter 
yes thats an accurate assessment ...

i'm not trying to steam trueHD or anything cutting edge ... just trying to get the HTPC to output 5.1 sound to my receiver the same way that xbmc does ....
post #11 of 26
so, when you play your movie with surround sound, that audio has been encoded such that your receiver can decode it. The game audio gives you no such luxury.

I think you have about 3 options -
1. See if there is any way to enable dolby digital or dts output from the game...this is gonna be pretty unlikely.
2. Buy a sound card that advertises dolby digital live or dts connect. This allows the sound card to convert multichannel pcm to dolby digital or dts in real time for use with optical output.
3. Buy a receiver that has multichannel pcm support. This is the format the game will naturally output when you select 5.1 in game afaik.
post #12 of 26
Thread Starter 
so why does xbmc work correctly?

if i ran an optical from the mobo straight to another line in the receiver and switched to that line could i think get windows to output 5.1?
post #13 of 26
no, because multichannel pcm audio requires hdmi for digital output.
if you have a free pci slot, you can buy an asus xonar ds - this can encode multichannel pcm to dts.
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
so does XBMC work because the content is already encoded properly and the HDMI connection is simply passing the audio through to the receiver?

games are not encoded on the fly to support DTS or dolby 5.1 even if they have option specifying such audio options?

I just assmed that the games would output the same way that XBMC does and thus allow true surround sound ...

there is no way to trick windows into passing 5.1 / DTS to the receiver regardless of what is being played?
post #15 of 26
so, yes, the audio in the movies is already encoded in a legacy surround format, while your games are not.
This is the crux of the problem since you have an old receiver.
post #16 of 26
Thread Starter 
so i could keep everything as is, upgrade the receiver to something that accepts PCM over HDMI and call it a day?

thats obviously not a cheap solution, but i looked up the asus sonas card you mentioned and it only had 1/8inch outs and i'm not trying to add more wires to my setup .. its got enough already ...

another question sorry ...

Would outputting via the optical cable to the receiver do ANYTHING for me? i was thinking that legacy DTS/5.1 can go over optical, right? If thats the case can i utilize the optical out to the receiver ... perhaps bypassing my switcher box all together ...

then i can just change the INPUT on my receiver so its getting HDMI from the HTPC as well as optical from the HTPC mobo ..

There has to be SOME benefit from going with optical out from the mobo since my receiver doesnt support what windows is spitting out over HDMI, right?

sorry for all the questions and thanks 100 times to you for helping me along this far .. i really appreciate it!
post #17 of 26
so, with the xonar ds, it comes with a black plastic adapter that you plug in to the silver port to convert it to an optical out.
so it is one cable for digital audio, and you no longer need the monoprice thing.
post #18 of 26
Thread Starter 
I'l still need the monoprice thing as i have my ps3 hooked through it ... easier to switch channels on it than the receiver ...

no way to make the already present optical output on my mobo produce surround sound on my current mixer?
post #19 of 26
umm, perhaps. DTS connect or dolby digital live are driver features that would allow it, and if you can enable this, that would solve your problem.
what is your motherboard? they should mention if it has this feature.
post #20 of 26
Thread Starter 
ASRock A75M FM1 AMD A75

also keep in mind that if i set it up for 5.1 but disable all the speakers in the configuration then i can get a center channel to fire in the windows speaker test, where as before i couldnt ...
post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 
the mobo in question doesnt do the dolby live or DTS connect i dont think, but it has some THX pro software? I think all it does is "boost" quality though .. i dont think it does any encoding/decoding ...

It just seems like I could utilize the optical out on the mobo with the receiver to get dolby or dts out ...

here is a note from my receivers PDF manual

You can use the digital jacks to input PCM, Dolby Digital and DTS bitstreams. All digital input jacks are compatible with digital signals with up to 96 kHz of sampling frequency.
• This unit handles digital and analog signals independently. Thus audio signals input at the digital jacks are not output at the analog AUDIO OUT (REC) jacks.
post #22 of 26
Thread Starter 
oh .. and like i mentioned earlier .. if i do the 5.1 setup but disable all the speakers under the additional speakers options it will push audio to left, center, and right ... it will play the sound that SHOULD be destined for the rear channels on the front two speakers ..

so it will play the individual channels (excluding the LFE) but only on the front 3 speakers (left center and right)
post #23 of 26
It sounds to me like you're still missing the crux of this. The reason that your receiver can handle movie audio from your pc is that the audio is already encoded in a standard multichannel format that the receiver recognizes (Dolby digital or DTS) and the pc is doing nothing other than passing it without degrading it. PC games on the other hand while they may have multichannel sound, unless you have a particular card which encodes DD (like the solutions above) the SPDIF output is just being used to output 2 channel sound. If your receiver has 5.1 analog inputs, that would get you 'surround' from your games. From memory, the DD live cards and motherboards from a few years ago did not work very well. If your pc and receiver are close, I'd go the analog route
post #24 of 26
Thread Starter 
thanks for your help. I could always go the analog route i guess .. just hate the idea 5 more cables mucking up the space ....

the xonar would do what I want though? It would take ALL sound from the computer and mix it to DTS which I could then output via the optical to the receiver and get it that way?

would that hamper the content that is already encoded? such as my movies via XBMC?

thanks again!
post #25 of 26
im glad you brought that up. okay, so this is gonna be hard to explain. The asus card, if it is anything like the dolby variants i've played with, is like 2 sound cards in one. The dts encoder only accepts multichannel pcm, and the other one acts like a normal spdif.
With xbmc, you want to specify the audio output to the spdif sound card, so it will continue to be able to pass through dts and dolby digital.
Everything else can go through the dts encoder.
post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 
thanks for your help in understanding all of this ... not sure the best way forward to be honest ..

since i get good sound from XBMC for movies which is the main purpose of this HTPC i'll just go with analog to appease the regular sound output for games ...

not sure if i can have both at the same time or not ... depends on what the receiver does i guess.

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AVS › AVS Forum › Video Components › Home Theater Computers › XBMC outputs DTS or 5.1 to receiver perfectly, but nothing outside of XBMC will (like steam, or sound tests via media players, speaker configuration tests, etc)