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Advice 5.1 Surround Sound Card to AV Amp?

Sofia Marceau

Standard Member
Hiya

I'm a new to HTPC's, and have been using my desktop which currently uses this card:

Auzentech, Inc. Sound Cards. Audio You Can Believe In. World First soundcards for Music, HTPC, and Gaming.

And connected via optical link to my new AV Amp Sony STRADA 2400ES.

I've also got an XBOX360 via HDMI and PS3 via Optical to the same AMP.

Probably a no brainer, because of the soundcard I currently have, the sound via amp to my 5.1 Surround speakers have never sounded right, no matter what setup or reconfiguration I have tried. If I try the same audio (DVD/AVI) say on the PS3 it clearly sounds better.

In short I think it would be worthwhile if I upgrade my sound card, but not sure what would be good and is current out there, as I'm a novice.

The current sound card I have employs both optical and coax outputs, but is there merit on having a card with HDMI?

Sorry if it's all basic rambling, but really would be grateful of a few suggestions and advice.

Many thanks:thumbsup:

Sofia
 

Ste2

Active Member
I have no problem with 5.1 thru optical/toslink to my Denon 1707.

what are you tying to play? do you have AC3 filter?
 

Sofia Marceau

Standard Member
I have no problem with 5.1 thru optical/toslink to my Denon 1707.

what are you tying to play? do you have AC3 filter?

Hiya

Thanks for ur reply.

I'm not sure on the AC Filter, I'm using Jet Audio, and normally install KLITE FULL Codecs for Vid/Audio.

Would that take care of the AC3 requirement?

Many thanks

Sofia
 

Ste2

Active Member
I managed to get AC3 filter working...and recommend it. I dont know whether jetaudio is a comparable product but AC3 filer is widley used and lauded.....It basically manages all your audio see here for more detail AC3Filter | AC3Filter I recommned you read that just to get a basic understanding before you try it...One thing I didnt know is that 'AC3' is actually just another name for 'Dolby Digital' but there you go


...anyway - I am not an expert but I will try to explain (in a rather rambling style and with poor grammer and inglish....!

Back to basics!

1. You need to verify the source file/media that you are trying to play is indeed 5.1 - AC3 filter will help as per this screengrab....

Untitled-1-4.jpg

http://img.brothersoft.com/screenshots/softimage/a/ac3filter-59853-1.jpeg

...here you see that the file is indeed in 5.1 surround (in this case DTS 48000) as AC3 filter is recognising a signal on all 5 channels ........but the AC3 filter is outputting on only 2 channels (reverting to stereo) this (i think!) is because I am not sending it down the spdif (see unchecked box) and there are no other ways to output 5.1 other than SDPIF (at least on most soundcards)

....going on a tangent a little - if the media you are trying to play is in stereo only then only 2 channels will show.... now you can emulate 5.1surround from 2 channel source using AC3 filter OR your AV reciever (if it has that capability)...but...it will never be true 'clean' 5.1 - just a program pulling a 2 channel sound apart and being 'clever' with it..... This may be the strange surround sound you are experiencing with the HTPC?

..........so - after installing AC3 filter take a avi that you believe to be 5.1 or use this AC3 test file:

http://fenopy.com/torrent/AC3+Dolby+digital+5+1ch+Sound+Test+avi/ODU4OTE2

...play it (use WMP) and you will see AC3 filter pop up the bottom right hand of you screen (I am on XP) double click it and you will have the properties screen as posted above.....

make sure the 'Use SPDIF' box on the top of this screen is ticked ALSO go to the 'SPDIF' tab and untick all of the passthrough options (there should be 3:: AC3, DTS and Mpeg Audio)

go back to the WMP and Restart the file playing by double clicking on it in the right hand window (or open it up again from its folder location....)

and then reopen Ac3 filter from the bottom right...

you should now see that AC3 filter is inputting and outputting in 5.1 - now that you see this working with your own eyes - you can be comfortable that a 5.1 signal is being passed to your amp. you will then need to consult your amp manual to make sure that it is correctly detecting the signal and is also set up to outputt correctly

your not done yet!! - a couple of small details....

once you have played a few files and are happy that AC3 filter is reconsing and outputting 5.1 form a few different files the best 'mode' is to then go back to the SPDIF tab and check the 'SPDIF passthrough boxes' - this will ensure that the ac3/dts signal is passed 'unadulterated' through to your amp (if you dont check this then you are subject to the equaliser and options in the AC3 menu - which we dont really need as the amp can handle all that... the amp just wants a pure source otherwise you are doing the job twice, the first-time with likley inferior equipment to your amp(soundcard/CPU) )

When you check the passthough boxes you 'lose' the channel signal indicators on the 'Main' tab (as AC3 filter is just passing on the signal and not even 'reading' or 'thinking' about it) so, from time to time, to check that a file is indeed in 5.1 you can unckect those boxes (just remember to recheck them) and revert to the main screen...

You can also check the input signal under the Decoder info on the main screen - in my screen shot it shows 'DTS 48000' but it it shows, for example PCM 16 2/0 (stereo) then it will be just stereo....

ALSO when you are making changes in AC3 filter - restart the file. the changes may not apply till you do.

and for stereo input signals you can svae 'presets' to output them in 5.1 by playing about you can get a 'decent' sound that suits

phew - sorry that is not going to be easy to read but hopefully it helps a little.

for anything else I sgeest you reas AC3 manual and just play aournd. :smashin:
 
Last edited:

Sofia Marceau

Standard Member
WOW Ste2

That is some response, and I will need a little time to absorb and try out your kind advice and recommendations. It's been very frustrating for me. So much so, that my less than 100 pound Logitech 5.1 speak system sounds miles better than my 5.1 system which cost almost 15 times this!!!

I will give the recommendations ago, and post back my feedback for your interest and to help anyone else in the same predicament.

If anyone is interested or could help further my address is:

[email protected]

Many thanks Ste2:thumbsup:

I managed to get AC3 filter working...and recommend it. I dont know whether jetaudio is a comparable product but AC3 filer is widley used and lauded.....It basically manages all your audio see here for more detail AC3Filter | AC3Filter I recommned you read that just to get a basic understanding before you try it...One thing I didnt know is that 'AC3' is actually just another name for 'Dolby Digital' but there you go


...anyway - I am not an expert but I will try to explain (in a rather rambling style and with poor grammer and inglish....!

Back to basics!

1. You need to verify the source file/media that you are trying to play is indeed 5.1 - AC3 filter will help as per this screengrab....

Untitled-1-4.jpg

http://img.brothersoft.com/screenshots/softimage/a/ac3filter-59853-1.jpeg

...here you see that the file is indeed in 5.1 surround (in this case DTS 48000) as AC3 filter is recognising a signal on all 5 channels ........but the AC3 filter is outputting on only 2 channels (reverting to stereo) this (i think!) is because I am not sending it down the spdif (see unchecked box) and there are no other ways to output 5.1 other than SDPIF (at least on most soundcards)

....going on a tangent a little - if the media you are trying to play is in stereo only then only 2 channels will show.... now you can emulate 5.1surround from 2 channel source using AC3 filter OR your AV reciever (if it has that capability)...but...it will never be true 'clean' 5.1 - just a program pulling a 2 channel sound apart and being 'clever' with it..... This may be the strange surround sound you are experiencing with the HTPC?

..........so - after installing AC3 filter take a avi that you believe to be 5.1 or use this AC3 test file:

http://fenopy.com/torrent/AC3+Dolby+digital+5+1ch+Sound+Test+avi/ODU4OTE2

...play it (use WMP) and you will see AC3 filter pop up the bottom right hand of you screen (I am on XP) double click it and you will have the properties screen as posted above.....

make sure the 'Use SPDIF' box on the top of this screen is ticked ALSO go to the 'SPDIF' tab and untick all of the passthrough options (there should be 3:: AC3, DTS and Mpeg Audio)

go back to the WMP and Restart the file playing by double clicking on it in the right hand window (or open it up again from its folder location....)

and then reopen Ac3 filter from the bottom right...

you should now see that AC3 filter is inputting and outputting in 5.1 - now that you see this working with your own eyes - you can be comfortable that a 5.1 signal is being passed to your amp. you will then need to consult your amp manual to make sure that it is correctly detecting the signal and is also set up to outputt correctly

your not done yet!! - a couple of small details....

once you have played a few files and are happy that AC3 filter is reconsing and outputting 5.1 form a few different files the best 'mode' is to then go back to the SPDIF tab and check the 'SPDIF passthrough boxes' - this will ensure that the ac3/dts signal is passed 'unadulterated' through to your amp (if you dont check this then you are subject to the equaliser and options in the AC3 menu - which we dont really need as the amp can handle all that... the amp just wants a pure source otherwise you are doing the job twice, the first-time with likley inferior equipment to your amp(soundcard/CPU) )

When you check the passthough boxes you 'lose' the channel signal indicators on the 'Main' tab (as AC3 filter is just passing on the signal and not even 'reading' or 'thinking' about it) so, from time to time, to check that a file is indeed in 5.1 you can unckect those boxes (just remember to recheck them) and revert to the main screen...

You can also check the input signal under the Decoder info on the main screen - in my screen shot it shows 'DTS 48000' but it it shows, for example PCM 16 2/0 (stereo) then it will be just stereo....

ALSO when you are making changes in AC3 filter - restart the file. the changes may not apply till you do.

and for stereo input signals you can svae 'presets' to output them in 5.1 by playing about you can get a 'decent' sound that suits

phew - sorry that is not going to be easy to read but hopefully it helps a little.

for anything else I sgeest you reas AC3 manual and just play aournd. :smashin:
 

wolvers

Distinguished Member
Hi Sofia. Is it possible that the HTPC is decoding the AC3 (or DTS) track into 2 channel PCM, as that is as many PCM channels as optical can carry, and then your amp is applying PLII. That would make it sound very different.
 

Sofia Marceau

Standard Member
Hi Wolvers

I think there is a strong possibility that something like this happening. The problem is I've had XP OS for a while, and as people installed all sorts over time. Including audio and video codec packs. (not sure if that would effect this).

I also have a clean copy of WIN 7 on the same PC. But have not setup my sound card.

In terms of a video/audio playing software, would you recommend I stick to Windows Media player, if so, can that play MKV?, which is why I opted for Jet Audio. Or shouldnt matter which software I use.

Sorry for all the questions. :blush:, as with these things everyone has a unique case and setup, and problems to resolve!

Many thanks:thumbsup:

Sofia:

Hi Sofia. Is it possible that the HTPC is decoding the AC3 (or DTS) track into 2 channel PCM, as that is as many PCM channels as optical can carry, and then your amp is applying PLII. That would make it sound very different.
 

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