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Thread: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

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    Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    Hey guys this is going to be a long question so thanks for helping!

    Ok first my setup.

    I have my pc and the soundcard is the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty Champion Series.

    Computer hardware and software at amazing prices, available online from Scan Computers UK

    My amp is ONKYO TXSR605E HOME CINEMA RECEIVER

    ONKYO TXSR605E HOME CINEMA RECEIVER - available from Superfi UK Visit http://www.superfi.co.uk/index.cfm/page/moreinfo.cfm/product_id/3368 for details

    My speakers are the Acoustic Energy Aegis Evo 1 (2 Floor Standers, 2 Rear Speakers, 1 Center and Subwoofer). So 5.1 for short. Here is a link to the speakers in case any info is needed.

    Acoustic Energy Aegis Neo 3

    I have the speakers connected to my pc via this lead (eight RCA connectors)

    </Title> <meta name="keywords" content="mp3 players, mp3 and digital media players, mp3 player portable, creative mp3 player, mp3 player review, mp3 player video, ZEN, MuVo, Xmod, Xdock, SoundBlaster, X-Fi, Live!Cam, Inspire, I-Trigue, GigaWorks" />

    I also have it connected via a Digital lead as well.

    Now im trying to get 5.1 sound but im not able to do it for some reason.

    I would like to get 5.1 in my music too. I know music isnt 5.1 but id like it to do it artificially like my old logitech Z5500's done. But im not able to get 5.1 in my films for some reason.

    Can anyone help me. I would like to use winamp or wmp11 as my media player but if there is a better one then let me know.

    When playing music through winamp it doesnt even use my Sub.

    Also if you have any tips in improving the sound then that would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks guys. Just want to get the best out of my setup as im sure you understand.

    Mark
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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    I think you might need something like power DVD?
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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    Ditch the cable, get an optical or coaxial cable. 1 cable for PC to amp and you have 5.1 sound

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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    I already have it connected via optical with same result

    EDIT - I dont have power dvd g4z. I had it on my laptop and it had a laod of ****e with it which slowed the laptop down (as you can see in my sig i dont have a weak laptop) so i took it off and all problems went away so would like to keep away from it. I use VLC alot now.
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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    Quote Originally Posted by neonplanet40 View Post
    I also have it connected via a Digital lead as well.
    Sorry I missed this bit...

    I would suggest you install AC3 Filter with mpc and tell it to pass through all sound to SPDIF. Or you can tell VLC to pass out audio through SPDIF in settings>preferences>audio>Use S/PDIF when available - make sure that is checked.

    I think the problem you are having is that your sound decoder is converting it to stereo before sending it out the sound card... have you tried the optical output on your onboard sound card? there should be no difference in quality, but it might work more easily

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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    ok i will give that a go sim thanks.

    I havent tried the onboard sound tbh cause id prefer to use the x-fi
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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    Quote Originally Posted by SiM View Post
    Ditch the cable, get an optical or coaxial cable. 1 cable for PC to amp and you have 5.1 sound
    This will ensure you won't ever get 5.1 in anything but films....confused? You will be!

    Its a hard subject to tackle, but i'll try and keep it simple.

    An amp receiving a signal over digital has to be encoded in some way. When you watch a film the audio has been recorded in either Dolby Digital or DTS and will be 5.1
    The amp simply takes this data and decodes it into its individual speakers.
    This is what we call 'pre-encoded' sound. The data is already set out and no additional data needs generating. The data is also compressed.

    With music and games, this is different.
    Take music for example - 2 channels of sound. This can be sent over the digital link no problem, but will only come out as 2 channels when its decoded.
    If you wanted to take the 2 channels and upmix them, that's not particularly hard to do and Creative soundcards have done this for years and years. Heck, my old Live! card could do it

    The same goes for games. Sure, it generates 5.1 sound, but the card can not encode it into a 5.1 stream the amp can understand:

    The issue comes about how to transport this data to the amp. Why not just encode it to Dolby Digital I hear you cry? 2 reasons
    1) Dolby Digital encoding in *realtime* is fairly heavy calculation wise. You need dedicated hardware to do it as far as I know. I would assume the X-fi is powerful enough - which brings us on to the next point
    2) Licensing. To encode the data to Dolby Digital so the amp can read the 5.1 stream requires a licence from Dolby Labs. These are expensive.

    So in short: If you want to encode 5.1 in realtime (so you can use digital out to your amp) you need a card which can support D.I.C.E (off the top of my head I think its Dolby Interactive Content Encoder). The most two well known are the nForce 2 soundstorm (which I'm guessing is out of the question ) and the newer Auzentech cards which have this feature.

    You can not do this with your current card and connect it to the amp over digital to get 5.1 in anything but films / pre-encoded content.

    This lead Creative to make its own standard. Have you ever seen the Cambridge speakers have their own type of digital-in DIN socket that link to all Creative cards? By using their own transport stream to the amp, they don't have to pay royalties to Dolby/DTS. Sadly this can only be found on Cambridge amps are far as I know.
    With these you can happily listen to 5.1 over digital, all the way to the amp

    So in short, you either need to
    1) Get a card that supports DICE
    2) Connect it up via analogue and use Creatives CMMS to upmix everything to 5.1 (which works really well )

    Hope thats clear enough (I might do a more detailed sticky on this as it comes up often )
    Last edited by Agent; 20-03-2008 at 02:08 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    Good post. Thanks for correcting me.

    That really does suck. Would connecting PC with optical for AC3/DTS and also connecting it with a 3.5mm stereo connector to phono input in amp work?
    That way you can let the amp do the upscaling to 5.1 using PLII(x) and the AC3/DTS stuff can go over optical cable.

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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Agent View Post
    This will ensure you won't ever get 5.1 in anything but films....confused? You will be!

    Its a hard subject to tackle, but i'll try and keep it simple.

    An amp receiving a signal over digital has to be encoded in some way. When you watch a film the audio has been recorded in either Dolby Digital or DTS and will be 5.1
    The amp simply takes this data and decodes it into its individual speakers.
    This is what we call 'pre-encoded' sound. The data is already set out and no additional data needs generating. The data is also compressed.

    With music and games, this is different.
    Take music for example - 2 channels of sound. This can be sent over the digital link no problem, but will only come out as 2 channels when its decoded.
    If you wanted to take the 2 channels and upmix them, that's not particularly hard to do and Creative soundcards have done this for years and years. Heck, my old Live! card could do it

    The same goes for games. Sure, it generates 5.1 sound, but the card can not encode it into a 5.1 stream the amp can understand:

    The issue comes about how to transport this data to the amp. Why not just encode it to Dolby Digital I hear you cry? 2 reasons
    1) Dolby Digital encoding in *realtime* is fairly heavy calculation wise. You need dedicated hardware to do it as far as I know. I would assume the X-fi is powerful enough - which brings us on to the next point
    2) Licensing. To encode the data to Dolby Digital so the amp can read the 5.1 stream requires a licence from Dolby Labs. These are expensive.

    So in short: If you want to encode 5.1 in realtime (so you can use digital out to your amp) you need a card which can support D.I.C.E (off the top of my head I think its Dolby Interactive Content Encoder). The most two well known are the nForce 2 soundstorm (which I'm guessing is out of the question ) and the newer Auzentech cards which have this feature.

    You can not do this with your current card and connect it to the amp to get 5.1 in anything but films / pre-encoded content.

    This lead Creative to make its own standard. Have you ever seen the Cambridge speakers have their own type of digital-in DIN socket that link to all Creative cards? By using their own transport stream to the amp, they don't have to pay royalties to Dolby/DTS. Sadly this can only be found on Cambridge amps are far as I know.
    With these you can happily listen to 5.1

    So in short, you either need to
    1) Get a card that supports DICE
    2) Connect it up via analogue and use Creatives CMMS to upmix everything to 5.1 (which works really well )

    Hope thats clear enough (I really should make this a sticky )
    Thanks very much Agent, that was an excellent and informative post

    I think i will buy an auzentech card then!

    Anyone know how much id get for my current card lol

    Nah i think ill try the CMMS first and see what its like. Just wanted to get the cleanest sound i could but i guess to do that i'd need to send it straight to the amp using ASIO plugin or similar and this would be 2 channel stereo. So i guess a compromise has to be made somewhere!

    Many thanks guys!

    Mark
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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    If you mean connect up all the cables to allow 5.1 over analogue, then yep, that would work.
    A lot of amps will require you to change from Optical to Analogue though. I've never seen one do it automatically (I'm not saying they don't exist though )

    As for using prologic2 + digital, its much better to hook all the analogue outputs direct from the card as opposed to using just one and getting the amp to do PL2 on it.
    Sure, PL2 is nice, but what's the point in using it if you can take 5.1 separate, discrete, true channels from the card as opposed to taking what essentially still is a stereo source and getting the amp to use PL2 to make it into "5.1"?
    Its never going to be on the same level as true 5.1 generated from the card.

    Remember, Creative cards can happily decode Dolby Digital. All you would be doing is going Dolby Digital -> Stereo -> PL2 off the Stereo source to make it back into "5.1". Thats a heck of a lot of conversion and plenty of quality loss
    It makes 100x more sense to go Dolby Digital -> Decode to 5.1 -> Amp 5.1 analogue
    You keep the orignal channels intact that way
    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    And by trying to force me to like small pants, they've alienated me.

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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

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

    Uses the X-fi and supports Dolby Digital Live (Thats the DICE thing I was on about ) so that will happily do 5.1 over digital
    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    And by trying to force me to like small pants, they've alienated me.

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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    No... I mean:
    stereo source -> 3.5mm/phono output on sound card -> phono input on amp -> PL2
    and at the same time
    multichannel source -> optical -> amp -> sweet sound with one less set of analogue cables in the chain
    So less cables, better quality?
    Do amps/receivers do stereo -> 5.1 better than sound cards? I would have thought so. They cost more and there are loads of people who may purchase a receiver to play back stereo through a CD player...

    My denon amp can switch between optical and phono automatically (I had to set it up to do this)... Sky goes through phono, when I switch PS2 on it automatically switches to optical
    Last edited by SiM; 20-03-2008 at 02:22 AM.

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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    Quote Originally Posted by SiM View Post
    No... I mean:
    stereo source -> 3.5mm/phono output on sound card -> phono input on amp -> PL2
    and at the same time
    multichannel source -> optical -> amp -> sweet sound with one less set of analogue cables in the chain
    So less cables, better quality?
    Not sure what you mean by less cables changing the quality? If you mean by using digital over analogue then yep, thats the idea

    As for the first one, that purely depends on if you want the soundcard to upmix it or the amp. Thats just preference. I set my creative card to simply mirror the front and back when listening to any 2 channel content

    Quote Originally Posted by SiM View Post
    Do amps/receivers do stereo -> 5.1 better than sound cards? I would have thought so. They cost more and there are loads of people who may purchase a receiver to play back stereo through a CD player...
    It depends on what exactly you're doing with the audio and a large amount of personal preference.
    For example, on a soundcard you can so all the fancy EAX stuff should that float your boat. Then there is the more advanced stuff such as stripping out the vocals in realtime.

    The other point to consider is how exactly you want the audio to be up mixed. As mentioned, I simply mirror front and back, but you can get more advanced than this by looking at the individual frequencies within the audio and separating these into difference channels to create more of a surround sound effect. This is essentially what Pro Logic does.

    As for which does what better? Its all largely BS IMO
    We have soundcards which have more processing power on them than my first 5 computers combined, and amps that have more technologies like Pro-Logic than any human can probably remember.
    Hook it up, see which sounds best to you with some high quality content (Just grab a DVD with a DTS (preferably) or a DD soundtrack on it) and see which you feel sounds the best. Job done


    Quote Originally Posted by SiM View Post
    My denon amp can switch between optical and phono automatically (I had to set it up to do this)... Sky goes through phono, when I switch PS2 on it automatically switches to optical
    Knew there had to be some
    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    And by trying to force me to like small pants, they've alienated me.

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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    Quote Originally Posted by Agent View Post
    Not sure what you mean by less cables changing the quality?
    Well I mean that unless you spend &#163;100s on cables analogue cables are lose quality in the system... So I try to avoid them as much as possible.
    Not too fussed about mixing up stereo amps usually do 5 channel stereo too (similar to what you described, rears mirroring fronts)
    Thanks for the reply again

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    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    Please don't tell me you buy into that "expensive cables are better" crap SiM

    Excluding there construction, Its largely a con

    Audioholics Home Theater Forums - View Single Post - Speakers; When is good enough, enough is a cracking read
    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post
    And by trying to force me to like small pants, they've alienated me.

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      • Q6600
      • Memory:
      • 8GB PC2-6400 OCZ ReaperX + Platinum
      • Storage:
      • 3 x 320gb HD322HJ single platter in Raid 0
      • Graphics card(s):
      • PNY GTX285
      • PSU:
      • Corsair TX650W
      • Case:
      • Antec 1200
      • Monitor(s):
      • 2407-HC

    Re: Need help getting 5.1 from my Amp Please

    Well I do believe that analogue cables lose quality over digital... Is that crap too?

    As for expensive cables, not that I have compared them with other cables, but I do entertain the possibility that there is a difference between most cheapest and expensive cables. I also believe that the difference between reasonable quality cables and expensive cables is probably humanly unmeasurable. I have had cheap cables go funny on me before (e.g. left stops working but right works perfect).

    Well my main point was that analogue cables are lossy, digital are not. So optimal policy is to minimise analogue bits in the chain
    I wrote the £100s bit without thinking properly... but you know what I mean

    I'll read that tomorrow, too much reading for this time...

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