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What do I need do have 5.1 surround when playing DVD's?

Discussion in 'Soundblaster Live' started by Jabba, Apr 19, 2004.

  1. Jabba

    Jabba Guest

    Hi all, I have a SBLive Value! card, and a Logitech Z680 set of cards. I
    connect now through 6ch direct aanlog input and I have 5.1 surround sound
    in some of the games I play (well, you know, the ones that actually are
    written for that) .
    I never have surround sound when watching DVD's though. Tried a couple
    of DVD drives, DVD software players, fiddled around withe the player's
    audio options, no luck.The best I can get is sound in 4 speakers, both
    speakers on one side (left, right) outputting the same stereo chanel (left,
    I browsed these two newsgroups and the solution seems to be buying an
    extra digital I/O card, however, that doesn't sound right to me , the card I
    have was advertised as being able to offer surround sound straight out of
    the box, not having to spend more than $50 (the SB card itself doesn't rate
    that much now, three years since I've bought it) for an extra card. The
    digital I/O card seems to be targeted for audio professionals , composing
    and mixing sound.

    A couple of e-mails are mentioning that using the digital only output
    (yellow hole in the back plus the checkbox in Windows) would do the trick
    for true surround sound , and luckily I have found a *mono* minijack to RCA
    coax father cable in a drawer and tried it today.
    I can get digital output but stereo only, not surround.
    Digging further, I found that I might need a *stereo* minijack to RCA
    coax father cable to get the signal for more than two channels. Is this
    correct? What is the right thing to do?

    I also plan to buy an Audigy2 card for another machine. Do I need the
    same kind of gimmicks for that one too?

    Jabba, Apr 19, 2004
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  2. Jabba

    Lenny Guest

    You have two options. Either you get a player that can do "digital
    pass-through"; ie, send the DVD disc's audio in its compressed form out the
    back of your computer through a SPDIF output (SBLive Value has one; the
    yellow connector at the back) and to your external decoder. You need an
    audio cord with a phono-style connector in one end that you connect to the
    Z680's coaxial digital input, and a 3.5mm mono male headphone-style
    connector in the other to stick into your SBLive. There are adaptors
    available that will transform a phono plug to 3.5mm; this is a much
    easier/cheaper solution than trying to find a cable with these two different
    types of connectors mounted on it directly. In PowerDVD, this is
    accomplished by setting "SPDIF" as the speaker environment in the sound
    section of the configuration panel.

    The second option is to let your DVD software decode the audio and use the
    soundcard's analog outputs to send the signals to the speakers. You need to
    make sure the DVD software supports this, I use PowerDVD 5, and it works.
    Note, DTS decoding usually does not come for free, so if you want to enjoy
    these soundtracks it typically requires purchasing an extra audio pack.
    Selecting "6 speakers" as the speaker environment accomplishes this (again,
    using PowerDVD).

    Note, I don't actually recommend PowerDVD, because even though it works NOW,
    I did have some problems initially and their tech support is outsourced to
    India and though very polite, is absolutely HORRIBLE AND USELESS. I might
    just as well not have spent the time to write down my complaints at all, it
    was that much a waste of time. Next time I need to update my DVD software, I
    will look at WinDVD instead.
    You don't need to check that checkbox btw; all it does is disable the
    regular analog outputs, nothing else. :)
    Well, yes and no. :)

    SPDIF is only specified to carry two channels of audio; more will simply not
    fit in the available bandwidth. That's why Dolby Digital and DTS are
    compressed to squeeze more data into the available space. Getting a stereo
    plug will not help you, as this design is a proprietary Creative thing only
    made for some of their own speaker systems. There's no way to input two
    SPDIF audio streams to your Logitech speakers and get them to re-combine the
    audio signal for multichannel sound. Besides, you'd only get four-channel
    audio that way anyway, not full 5.1.
    You need a phono to 3.5mm audio plug to use the SPDIF output, yes. And if
    you buy an Audigy card, buy Audigy2 ZS, nothing else. :) It rocks btw, very
    nice sound and very low CPU consumption also.
    Lenny, Apr 19, 2004
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  3. Jabba

    Jabba Guest

    Whooo-weeee, what a complete answer,
    thanks, Lenny!
    Jabba, Apr 19, 2004
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