Dell integrated 5.1 sound isn't really 5.1!!!

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Timon Russo, Aug 16, 2004.

  1. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

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    Help! I can't believe Dell is telling me this but its been 2 months and this is their final answer: even though my Dimension 4600 shipped with integrated 5.1 audio, it is not true 5.1 and will need a dedicated 5.1 sound card to get true, discreet 5.1. The tech. who spent the most time on this case said that their media edition PC has software that takes advantage of the integrated 5.1 audio but the regular 4600 doesn't. It ships with Cyberlink PowerDVD, which says it does not detect a multi-speaker device, and the tech. says I need to purchase the upgraded PowerDVD to enjoy the surround sound. He even admitted it was a bit ridiculous. I really want it for games, but none of my games dedect it either (obviously I tested the ones that I know support 5.1 sound).

    One note: when I run the Dell Diagnostics from the CD-ROM that came with the PC (booting to the CD-ROM drive) and run the sound test, it does play 5.1 discreet tones, so I know that this PC technically does 5.1 sound, I just don't know why none of the software takes advantage of it.

    Anyone have any ideas that these tech. people might not be familiar with?

    Also, whats a good (cheap!) 5.1 sound card ? The Dell tech. guy was happy to connect me to sales so I could get one, but I basically told him to f*ck off.
     
  2. MikeH1

    MikeH1 Screenwriter

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    Yeah I love how many talk highly about having 5.1 speakers for the pc but have no card that supports it. Or better yet, they *think* they have a card (because many cards say 5.1 on them although there is no decoder)that has 5.1

    Dell is shady this way too. They never tell you the full truth...thanks to Dell it will cost me between $600.00 - $700.00 Cdn to upgrade from 512 rambus to 1 Ghz. A little too costly for my tastes.

    Get a sound card with a decoder. Although not cheap, the Audigy 2 Platinum is quite popular.
     
  3. Elijah

    Elijah Supporting Actor

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    First thing to keep in mind when talking to Dell Tech Support: Dont pin your hopes on what they say. They oft do not know what they are talking about, or are at best misleading in thier advice.

    I just recently got my Dell 8300 to output a 5.1 Dolby Digital signal to my reciever. It came with the Soundblaster Live! Value, and has a S/PDIF output. I used a mono audio cable i got from Radio Shack for 5 bucks to connect the two. It is a mini jack on one end and a single RCA Type connector on the other. I plug it into the Digital Coaxial in on my receiver and volia', 5.1 DD. When I called Dell to ask what type of cable i needed (back when i didnt know if it was an optical digital out or not), they instructed me first that I needed to buy special speakers, then that it probobally wouldnt work, and then that they didnt "Support the SPDIF output on the card". They were basically just scrambling to give me something that would make me get off the phone, hopefully feeling like i had been helped, but that wasnt a requirement.

    Now I know you do not have this card and have the integrated audio, HOWEVER, how many outputs does the integrated audio have? Is it the type with 5 or 6 plugs colored Yellow Pink Green Blue and Black, or something like that. I have seen integrated "5.1" audio that has the main output (the one that you normally use for your regular stereo speakers) for Front L&R, the secondary audio out (normally goes unused) for Back L&R, and the third output (usually black, also normally goes unused) for the Sub and Center (one of them is the right channel and the other is the left channel).

    I am not sure that even if you have these that it will work like the ones that I have seen, however it is woth giving it a try and seing what you get. Remember just like with Dell Tech Support, dont pin your hopes on me : )

    ALSO: Go to control panel go to "Sound and Audio Devices", the "Volume" tab, then click on "Advanced" at the bottom, and make sure you have the correct speaker configuration selected.

    Then go into your DVD program selected it to output the DD signal, Play a surround DVD, and then do some tests on the different audio out jacks on the back of your computer. You may find that if you plug your regular stereo speakers into one of the other jacks, you will only get the sound for the back speakers (stereo), or the center in one speaker, and the sub in the other.

    Let me know what you get. I will try it tonight as i also have the Integrated audio on mine (it was just disabled and the ports covered over with these cheesey covers that look like child proof electric socket covers. They did this because i got the sound card and i guess they didnt want me to get confused). I will let you know what i get and if i can get a true 5.1 Signal.

    ONE LAST THING, if this is the case you will have to have analog surround inputs on your reciever as it wont be outputing a bitstream any more.
     
  4. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks guys. Very informative posts.

    Elijah - I am not trying to connect this to my stereo or anything. Just trying to get 5.1 discreet channels of sound from my 4600 and its 5.1 speaker setup. All the cables are connected properly (like you said, I have the black-green-yellow connected to the PC and going to the sub, to which all the other 5 speakers are connected). I know it works, because the Dell Diagnostic tests will play 5.1 discreet tones. The problem is that none of my software recognizes it. No games, DVD software, Windows Media Player, nothing. I have Windows set up for 5.1, and have double checked all the advanced properties of the volume control. The tech. guy confirmed that I was doing everything right, its just that I needed "the right software or a sound card" to get 5.1.

    P.S. The diagnostics didn't initially work either. One tech guy had me do some funky stuff in BIOS (alt-f, alt-b, etc.) to get even that to work. So the PC definately did NOT ship with 5.1 enabled in any case.

    Others have complained about this problem on the Dell forum, but no one seems to have a solution. I can't believe there aren't more people angry about this.
     
  5. Elijah

    Elijah Supporting Actor

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    OH.

    Scratch that then : )
     

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