Need help with getting 5.1 sound from Z906 + Asus Xonar Essence STX

amittalkin

Limp Gawd
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Hi,

I need help with setting up 5.1 on my Z906 with Asus Xonar Essence STX over TOSLINK cable.
I am getting 5.1 output with DTS encoded movies, but when it comes to 5.1 games, it just play on 2.1 even if I configure games to 5.1 in game settings. I have also set S/PDIF output to "Dolby Digital Live" in Xonar panel along with speakers set to 6 numbers.Other than that I have to select "Stereo" modes from Z906 console. There are 4 modes according to Z906 manual.

3D mode - which emulates 2 channel audio to 5.1 and plays as 5.1 surround on all speakers regardless of channel.means all speakers play at same time which I don't want as I want native 5.1 from game.
4.1 mode - Plays 2 channel on 4 speakers
2.1 mode - basically stock mode.
NO Effect MODE - Now this is where i m getting frustrated at. I can't actually select it...If I press button to select modes from console, it only cycles through 1st 3 modes, 3d,4.1 and 2.1. I don;t want want any of these modes and want to play sound coming out of PC as it is, like in my case I want 5.1. But this stupid console only allows me to select 3d,4.1 or 2.1
While it works fine when playing DTS encoded 5.1 . When I play DTS file, that Orange "Decode" light on console lights up and Stereo selection's light goes off, it works fine. It just dont work with games.

Any help here? I am tired of this thing already.
 
Last edited:

djoye

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Certain media and most movies already have a Dolby/DTS audio track, that then gets sent to and decoded by the Z906. Your PC needs to have software like Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect so that it can encode game's audio to be sent over TOSLINK and decoded by the Z906. Alternately, you could use the 3.5mm connections on the Z906, connect them to your PC if it has 5.1 3.5mm outputs on it; you don't need DDL or DTSC for that.
 

amittalkin

Limp Gawd
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My Xonar Essence STX has capability of decoding DTS and Dolby Digital Live isn't it what You are saying?
 

djoye

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My Xonar Essence STX has capability of decoding DTS and Dolby Digital Live isn't it what You are saying?
For games you need to ENCODE the audio stream coming from the game if you want to sent it 5.1 over TOSLINK. Games just output audio based on the Windows speaker settings, you'll need to compress/encode that audio so it can go over TOSLINK.

Looks like your card as Dolby Digital Live (https://www.asus.com/us/Sound-Cards/Xonar_Essence_STX/specifications/). Somewhere in the sound card's software you should be able to enable Dolby Digital Live, I assume this will then show the decode light on the console when enabled. Also ensure the speaker config in the Windows speaker settings is 5.1. Games will see that Windows speaker setting and output 5.1, Dolby Digital Live will then encode that into a Dolby 5.1 stream and send it out over TOSLINK.

Here's the manual: https://dlcdnets.asus.com/pub/ASUS/Audio_Card/Xonar_Essence_STX/E11126_Xonar_Essence_STX_UM_V3_WEB.pdf
Go to page 19 (24/49 in Chrome PDF reader). That explains how to enable Dolby Digital Live.
 

amittalkin

Limp Gawd
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For games you need to ENCODE the audio stream coming from the game if you want to sent it 5.1 over TOSLINK. Games just output audio based on the Windows speaker settings, you'll need to compress/encode that audio so it can go over TOSLINK.

Looks like your card as Dolby Digital Live (https://www.asus.com/us/Sound-Cards/Xonar_Essence_STX/specifications/). Somewhere in the sound card's software you should be able to enable Dolby Digital Live, I assume this will then show the decode light on the console when enabled. Also ensure the speaker config in the Windows speaker settings is 5.1. Games will see that Windows speaker setting and output 5.1, Dolby Digital Live will then encode that into a Dolby 5.1 stream and send it out over TOSLINK.

Here's the manual: https://dlcdnets.asus.com/pub/ASUS/Audio_Card/Xonar_Essence_STX/E11126_Xonar_Essence_STX_UM_V3_WEB.pdf
Go to page 19 (24/49 in Chrome PDF reader). That explains how to enable Dolby Digital Live.
I have already enabled "Dolby Digital Live" as I mentioned in original post.
upload_2020-1-23_23-4-45.png


I sitll dont get surround on my Z906 when playing games. It thinks that it is stereo sound even if I select 5.1 in any games or in any 5.1 test files i found on web.
 

djoye

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I'm having trouble reading at the moment.

Did you go to the Windows sound control panel and set your speaker config to 5.1 as well? There might be two different audio output devices, one for 'speakers' for your card and one for SPDIF/TOSLINK. Ensure both of those are set to 5.1 in the Windows settings if possible. Sometimes the card's software will control that (the 'audio channel' setting in your picture, I assume), sometimes it won't. Most games look at the Windows sound control panel setting to determine how they'll output audio, if they see a stereo device, they'll output stereo. I'd ensure both the STX 'speakers' and SPDIF/TOSLINK devices are set as 5.1 speakers in the Windows sound control panel. If you can't set the SPDIF/TOSLINK to 5.1, ensure the speakers device is set as the default audio device. Games should hopefully see that 5.1 device, output to it, the audio card should then hopefully encode that to Dolby, and send it out the TOSLINK.
 

amittalkin

Limp Gawd
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I checked all sound settings...It has been set to 5.1 in analog mode as well. And as You suggested, I checked S/PDIF setting, it only shows it as 2 channel. I can't configure it to 5.1 , that configure option is greyed out.
upload_2020-1-24_0-33-54.jpeg


However, regardless of that setting, i m getting 5.1 output when playing dts encoded movie file and orange "decode" light comes up when playing DTS encoded movie.
upload_2020-1-24_0-34-32.jpeg


When I play games or any non DTS 5.1 audio, like a 5.1 test file from internet, that decode light goes off and 2.1 stereo light comes up, which indicated that it sends only 2 channel audio regardless of content.
in short, it works fine with DTS contents but somehow only plays 2 channel with non dts.
 

djoye

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Games see the SPDIF as the default device and output stereo based on that list you're showing there. Try setting the Xonar speakers as the default audio output device and see if it still outputs audio through SPDIF. Also see if anything changes in Xonar Audio Center; hopefully it leaves DDL enabled and simultaneously streams that DDL over SPDIF. If you can't set Xonar speakers as the default AND get the Xonar to direct encoded 5.1 audio out of the SPDIF, you'll never get games to output encoded 5.1 over the SPDIF.

Edit:
Went further into the manual and it looks like that 'audio channels' setting in Xonar Audio Center should be telling games that you have 5.1 speakers. I don't know how old this card is, but seeing as the manual keeps mentioning Vista then I'd wager that this feature has become broken over time. Regardless, I stand by what I previously said. Set the Windows device to Xonar speakers @ 5.1 and see if the Xonar will simultaneously output to SPDIF. Also, find the Xonar Control Panel executable and try to set its compatibility mode to Windows Vista to see if that'll change its behavior.
 
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IdiotInCharge

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Some of the BS associated with these encoders is starting to come back (I abandoned them years ago for a reason) -- the basic flow is that you use a multi-channel audio device provided by the Xonar drivers as your output target for Windows and applications, and the Xonar software redirects that to the encoder, which then streams it out SP/DIF.

As you've already seen, if you direct a stream to SP/DIF in Windows, it skips the encoder and sends the audio as-is. Pre-encoded streams (movies) are forwarded untouched while unencoded streams are sent as stereo PCM.
 

amittalkin

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Games see the SPDIF as the default device and output stereo based on that list you're showing there. Try setting the Xonar speakers as the default audio output device and see if it still outputs audio through SPDIF. Also see if anything changes in Xonar Audio Center; hopefully it leaves DDL enabled and simultaneously streams that DDL over SPDIF. If you can't set Xonar speakers as the default AND get the Xonar to direct encoded 5.1 audio out of the SPDIF, you'll never get games to output encoded 5.1 over the SPDIF.

Edit:
Went further into the manual and it looks like that 'audio channels' setting in Xonar Audio Center should be telling games that you have 5.1 speakers. I don't know how old this card is, but seeing as the manual keeps mentioning Vista then I'd wager that this feature has become broken over time. Regardless, I stand by what I previously said. Set the Windows device to Xonar speakers @ 5.1 and see if the Xonar will simultaneously output to SPDIF. Also, find the Xonar Control Panel executable and try to set its compatibility mode to Windows Vista to see if that'll change its behavior.
You know what, this actually solved the problem!!!! I switched default device to "ASUS Xonar Essence STX Audio Device" from "S/PDIF" and now I receive 5.1 sound through games and non DTS 5.1 audio over my TOSLINK!!! I can see now "Decode" light is being ON permanently on my Z906 console.Thanks for Your help man, otherwise I would have given up on this already...haha.
But it is stupid though, they should have put more instructions in their manual .
 

djoye

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You know what, this actually solved the problem!!!! I switched default device to "ASUS Xonar Essence STX Audio Device" from "S/PDIF" and now I receive 5.1 sound through games and non DTS 5.1 audio over my TOSLINK!!! I can see now "Decode" light is being ON permanently on my Z906 console.Thanks for Your help man, otherwise I would have given up on this already...haha.
But it is stupid though, they should have put more instructions in their manual .
No problem, glad it's resolved. There's often some simple but inconspicuous solution to these problems.

Definitely something that should've been covered in the manual, but maybe the Xonar software had more control in XP, such as being able to switch default audio devices.
 

IdiotInCharge

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The implementation of these encoders is just a bit janky, for whatever reason (I'm sure there's plenty of blame to go around).

Basically, if a DDL / DTS Connect 'audio device' were present in your Sound Devices list, it'd be much simpler as no opaque 'routing' would be required.
 

MavericK

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Yeah, I don't have a Xonar card but using a SBZ and the same speakers, I have to enable the DDL or DTS Connect stuff in the Creative control panel, then set it to Speakers (not S/PDIF). Then it will do all the encoding and decoding through the optical connection.

I keep hearing that just using analog output can be better for audio quality, but I've always had issues getting non-DTS/DD content to play properly in multi-channel using analog.
 

B00nie

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Toslink supports only uncompressed stereo. For 5.1 you have to use a compressed digital format such as DTS. Analog / uncompressed 5.1 won't play through S/PDIF as it lacks the bandwith for that. It's kinda sad that devices still use an interface that was specced in the stone ages.
 

D-EJ915

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Yeah, I don't have a Xonar card but using a SBZ and the same speakers, I have to enable the DDL or DTS Connect stuff in the Creative control panel, then set it to Speakers (not S/PDIF). Then it will do all the encoding and decoding through the optical connection.

I keep hearing that just using analog output can be better for audio quality, but I've always had issues getting non-DTS/DD content to play properly in multi-channel using analog.
If I remember correctly you won't get uncompressed surround output from a bluray unless you use HDMI as it lacks HDCP so you'd be stuck to using DD/DTS encoded streams anyway so it shouldn't really make a difference if you use optical or analog unless your DAC is horrible on your receiver.
 

DoubleTap

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Why not just plug the 3.5mm jacks into the motherboard and skip the encoder / compression / latency? Most modern motherboards do a pretty good job with multi channel from their internal sound cards. I was surprised at how good mine was.
 
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