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AFAIK Alsa9 is the *only* way to output AC3 audio on SBlive cards. I had bad experiences until I also purchased the Hoontech DB-3 addon(gives 2xspdif 2xcoax in/out among other things). Using alsa9 you might try:


mplayer -ao alsa9:hw:0,1:surround51 -ac hwac3


Similar for output of 2ch movies:


mplayer -ao alsa9:hw:0,1:dolby -ac hwac3


There are some other filters that can simulate multiple channels from 2ch source(for a 4ch feel) but you can read the manpage for it.
 
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