Newbie needing help with getting surround sound from PC

deastr

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Jan 22, 2020
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I want to get 5.1 surround sound from my PC using my 5.1 home theater system but I couldn't figure out what sound card to buy and what kind of cables, output and inputs to use to connect it to my receiver. I'm kinda lost and I'd appreciate any help.

Here's the backside of my receiver:

receiver_inputs-jpg.jpg



Does this receiver support true 5.1 input? It supports DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD/DigitalPlus/ProLogic II.

What kind of sound card should I buy? (my on-board sound card doesn't support surround sound)

What kind of connection should I use? What output from sound card to what input on receiver using what kind of cable?

I'd appreciate any guidance.
 

IdiotInCharge

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Going to need the model of the receiver, but I do recommend attempting to find the manual based on the model if you can.

The receiver should support basic 5.1 over optical and basic 7.1 over HDMI, and generally speaking, HDMI is the easiest method. Otherwise you'd likely need an ASUS or Creative card that supports Dolby Digital Live!, which is a technology that encodes Windows audio output into the compressed Dolby format that your receiver can then decode and play.
 

DoubleTap

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What kind of sound card should I buy? (my on-board sound card doesn't support surround sound)

What kind of connection should I use? What output from sound card to what input on receiver using what kind of cable?

I'd appreciate any guidance.
You can use optical, but you need a card with an encoder - the new Soundblaster X3 does that, I believe.

You can also use HDMI but it has complications of it's own. If you switch inputs on the receiver, your PC will lose the surround setup and you will have to reconfigure it when you want to use it again - unless you get a hardware or software EDID emulator to make your PC think it's always connected to the receiver. The other issue is that you have to create a second monitor out to use this mode and that presents it's own challenges.
 

deastr

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Jan 22, 2020
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Going to need the model of the receiver, but I do recommend attempting to find the manual based on the model if you can.
Philips HTB5570D/12

Going to need the model of the receiver, but I do recommend attempting to find the manual based on the model if you can.

The receiver should support basic 5.1 over optical and basic 7.1 over HDMI, and generally speaking, HDMI is the easiest method. Otherwise you'd likely need an ASUS or Creative card that supports Dolby Digital Live!, which is a technology that encodes Windows audio output into the compressed Dolby format that your receiver can then decode and play.
You can use optical, but you need a card with an encoder - the new Soundblaster X3 does that, I believe.

You can also use HDMI but it has complications of it's own. If you switch inputs on the receiver, your PC will lose the surround setup and you will have to reconfigure it when you want to use it again - unless you get a hardware or software EDID emulator to make your PC think it's always connected to the receiver. The other issue is that you have to create a second monitor out to use this mode and that presents it's own challenges.
I have a Nvidia 2070. It says it has HDCP 2.2. I tried GPU->HDMI->TV and PC->HDMI->Receiver->HDMI->TV but in both in Window sound output configuration there was option for Stereo only.
 

IdiotInCharge

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PC->HDMI->Receiver->HDMI->TV
If it's actually a TV, this should work. I've done it in the past, though obviously with different components (and far, far older), and gotten 7.1 running through HDMI to a receiver.

At the time, it really was as simple as connecting the HDMI cables, selecting the appropriate output in the Windows Sound Devices list, and playing audio.

I would suggest that the issue may be on the receiver side -- I'd recommend taking a deep breath and rechecking the cabling as well as the menu settings on the receiver.
 

djoye

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Philips HTB5570D/12

I have a Nvidia 2070. It says it has HDCP 2.2. I tried GPU->HDMI->TV and PC->HDMI->Receiver->HDMI->TV but in both in Window sound output configuration there was option for Stereo only.
In the Windows sound settings, where you see the "NVIDIA High Definition Audio" playback device, I assume it says something like "Philips" as the name of the device? When you configure the device, it's only showing stereo as an option?

Open the NVIDIA Control Panel, go to Display -> Set up digital audio -> Click on 'open Windows sound settings...' to get to the Windows Sound settings. If Windows doesn't recognize the Philips HDMI as being able to do more than 8 channels, try updating the Philips software (looks like you can either download it from their site or connect the device to the internet) and try using another HDMI cable, if that doesn't work then maybe it can't do multi-channel PCM. That would be weird. From the Sound control panel, click on Properties -> Supported Formats tab should show the max number of channels the Philips device supports.
 

DoubleTap

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You need to give more details.

AVR model and screenshots of your sound device settings at a minimum.
 

pendragon1

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plug in the hdmi cable(gpu to avr), set you computer to use you videos hdmi for audio. check sound properties to make sure it set to 5.1. done.
if no 5.1 try updating your drivers.
 

deastr

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You need to give more details.

AVR model and screenshots of your sound device settings at a minimum.
If it's actually a TV, this should work. I've done it in the past, though obviously with different components (and far, far older), and gotten 7.1 running through HDMI to a receiver.

At the time, it really was as simple as connecting the HDMI cables, selecting the appropriate output in the Windows Sound Devices list, and playing audio.

I would suggest that the issue may be on the receiver side -- I'd recommend taking a deep breath and rechecking the cabling as well as the menu settings on the receiver.
In the Windows sound settings, where you see the "NVIDIA High Definition Audio" playback device, I assume it says something like "Philips" as the name of the device? When you configure the device, it's only showing stereo as an option?

Open the NVIDIA Control Panel, go to Display -> Set up digital audio -> Click on 'open Windows sound settings...' to get to the Windows Sound settings. If Windows doesn't recognize the Philips HDMI as being able to do more than 8 channels, try updating the Philips software (looks like you can either download it from their site or connect the device to the internet) and try using another HDMI cable, if that doesn't work then maybe it can't do multi-channel PCM. That would be weird. From the Sound control panel, click on Properties -> Supported Formats tab should show the max number of channels the Philips device supports.
Here's my sound settings:

Capture.JPG

My audio output device is displayed as Samsung (my TV). The thing is even I connect GPU->receiver->tv it still displays as Samsung. I wonder if the receiver is passing through the TV as some kind of information or something is wrong with the drivers..
 

djoye

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Here's my sound settings:

My audio output device is displayed as Samsung (my TV). The thing is even I connect GPU->receiver->tv it still displays as Samsung. I wonder if the receiver is passing through the TV as some kind of information or something is wrong with the drivers..
Definitely looks like it's just passing straight through to the TV. When you test the sound, does it come out of the TV or the speakers connected to the receiver?

The manual mentions adjusting the HDMI audio '... output from your TV...'. Maybe try toggling the settings there and seeing if the behavior changes.
upload_2020-1-27_13-55-4.png
 

DoubleTap

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Here's my sound settings:


My audio output device is displayed as Samsung (my TV). The thing is even I connect GPU->receiver->tv it still displays as Samsung. I wonder if the receiver is passing through the TV as some kind of information or something is wrong with the drivers..
1. Some AVRs have a setting where they pass the audio to the TV (this will force stereo) vs just pass the video and use the AVR for surround sound. This is most likely your issue.
2. If you can't find a setting in your AVR, you could try connecting a dummy display or using an EDID emulator (look them up).

You can try this: https://www.amazon.com/Headless-Display-Emulator-Headless-1920x1080-Generation/dp/B06XT1Z9TF/

The issue is that you have to configure a display to hookup the AVR so you have to be careful about ending up with windows or buttons on your ghost display that you can't actually see. Depending on your main display, you may be able to just mirror it (even at different resolutions) - I think you need Win10 to do that though.

This is the real challenge with HDMI audio - what to do with the screen that is required.

A pass through EDID emulator is the way to go - the one I have (Gefen HDMI Detective+) is like $120 now and hard to find. There are other brands on Amazon, but I don't know how well they work:

https://www.amazon.com/EVanlak-Passthrough-Generrtion-Eliminated-Thunderbolt/dp/B07YMTMMH5/

https://www.amazon.com/EDID-Feeder-HDMI-Resolution-Support-1080P/dp/B06ZZWX3YT/

Once you get EDID emulation working, it will do two things for you:

A. It tells the PC to maintain the AVR connection and lets you use other inputs (like a Chromecast or Blu-Ray)
B. It tells the PC that it's connected to an audio device with surround sound.
 

pendragon1

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op, try going control panel>sound> then the advanced tab. see what options you have there.

upload_2020-1-27_16-50-3.png
 

deastr

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Jan 22, 2020
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Definitely looks like it's just passing straight through to the TV. When you test the sound, does it come out of the TV or the speakers connected to the receiver?

The manual mentions adjusting the HDMI audio '... output from your TV...'. Maybe try toggling the settings there and seeing if the behavior changes.
That setting in my AVR says "Auto/Bitstream/Off". I've tried to setting it to Bitstream but I still only get Stereo in Windows sound settings.

1. Some AVRs have a setting where they pass the audio to the TV (this will force stereo) vs just pass the video and use the AVR for surround sound. This is most likely your issue.
2. If you can't find a setting in your AVR, you could try connecting a dummy display or using an EDID emulator (look them up).
Man thank you for all that info but you've completely lost me with that EDID stuff :)

op, try going control panel>sound> then the advanced tab. see what options you have there.
Untitled.png
 

DoubleTap

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Man thank you for all that info but you've completely lost me with that EDID stuff :)
https://www.epiphan.com/blog/what-is-edid-and-why-is-it-important/

If you just look at the pics in that article, they will explain about 75% of what EDID is.

It's how a screen tells a source what it's capable of. "Hello, I'm a monitor that can do 1080P and I support stereo audio" - etc.

The reason people use EDID emulators is because when you go through the hassle of setting up HDMI surround sound and connecting to a receiver/AVR, your PC requires a constant "connection" to that display (and display means whatever is communicating over HDMI - the combination of the receiver and the screen it's attached to)

If you hook it all up on one input, then decide to switch to another input (maybe to use your Xbox on that same display) then the PC loses the connection and disables your surround sound configuration - and it doesn't bring it back when you reselect the PC input on your receiver - you have to reconfigure everything

The other issue is that sometimes the receiver and or the display just send weird or unhelpful information back to your PC - in your case, the EDID info being sent by your receiver (probably passed from the display it's connected to) is telling your PC that it can only do stereo audio - that's it.

An EDID emulator (hardware or software) will make your computer think it is always connected to a display and (assuming it's configured properly) also make your PC think that HDMI connection also supports 5.1 or 7.1 (or whatever).

This removes the inherent fragility of an HDMI surround sound configuration - so you don't lose it
 
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