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If I have surround sound receiver and a pc - do I still need a surround capable sound card? (1 Viewer)

chris2222

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Basically I have an HP elite 8200 PC playing movies through the stereo headphone jack. Will I get surround sound if I hook the stereo sound jack into the Surround receiver to decode the signal?
What I'm saying is, does all the sound information get passed through the stereo jack and then just needs a receiver to decode the signal into 5.1? Or am I thinking about that the wrong way?
 

DaveF

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You'll get stereo expanded to surround speakers -- basically Dolby Pro Logic. That can sound pretty good. But it won't be true 5.1 or 7.2 discrete surround audio.

To get true digital surround sound, you need a computer with HDMI output going to a digital receiver.
 
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Lord Dalek

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^what he said. Only way to get lossless with a HTPC is via a HDMI out. 7.1 soundcards only output via 3.5mm jacks to PC speakers, optical out, or the occassional (and I cannot emphasize this enough OCCASIONAL) digital coaxial out. No PC soundcard can do lossless either.
 
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chris2222

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Hmm, ok, I've been out of this stuff for quite a while so I'm a bit behind the times and a noob at this stuff now. I thought the complete audio signal would pass through and all be included through the stereo jack, where only left and right channels would be heard unless it passes through a surround sound receiver where it would further decode the signal and direct the signal to the proper channels. Am I completely wrong at that?

Does the surround audio sound just get chopped as it goes to the stereo headphone jack? and just output Left and Right stereo sounds?

**edit add** I did read from here https://boomspeaker.com/connect-5-1-speakers-laptop/ that "some powered 5.1 home theater surround systems allow connection using AUX or 3.5mm cables. This will be a connection from you computer's headphone jack. However, keep in mind that 3.5mm cables only carry stereo sound for the left and right channels. As such.. systems using AUX won't get the surround sound effect .. you will get stereo through all speakers."
I guess that answers my question, no 5.1 surround from a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack from the computer.
 
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JohnRice

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Two channel is two channel. Period. If two channels are being output, then the only way to create "surround" is to use matrixing (like Dolby Surround processing) to extract a very primitive sort of surround sound from those two channels. The bottom line, there is no way to magically turn two channel into genuine 5.1 or 7.1 channels. So, to get 5.1 or 7.1, a discreet 5.1 or 7.1 channels need to be output, which these days is usually accomplished with an hdmi connection and proper configuration of the OS.
 

chris2222

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Ok got it.
I couldn't find any sound cards with HDMI outputs. Do I need a graphics card then with HDMI outs? Anyone recommend any internal audio or video cards for 5.1 or dolby atmos sound?
 

JohnRice

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I'm lost in the Windows world, so I can't help you there. I'd think any computer in the last 10 years would have hdmi, though.

Just keep in mind, your source file has to have an actual 5.1, 7.1 or Atmos soundtrack to get real surround. Otherwise, you're back to matrixing two channel. Any online video will almost certainly be two channel, regardless of what it claims to be.
 

John Dirk

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I couldn't find any sound cards with HDMI outputs.
You shouldn't be looking for a sound card but instead a graphics card. These days most have integrated discrete channel audio output capability through the same HDMI port that carries the video.

Here's what I currently run as an example.

 
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chris2222

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Thanks, so yeah maybe I should be looking for a new video card instead. I hook up the video through the monitor super VGA out to the TV, but the only audio out is through the 2 channel stereo headphone jack.

But something like the SoundblasterX G5 wouldn't work because it requires an optical in line from the computer, so if there's no optical out from the computer it can't produce the 5.1 I want.
 

DaveF

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Ok got it.
I couldn't find any sound cards with HDMI outputs. Do I need a graphics card then with HDMI outs? Anyone recommend any internal audio or video cards for 5.1 or dolby atmos sound?
Have "sound cards" been a thing the past ten or 20 years? They were needed in the '80's and '90s when PC's didn't do any sound otherwise.

But these days...every basic PC computer has integrated sound with HDMI out that can send Dolby Digital and DTS and etc. to a receiver. My DIY HTPC from 2016 has the basic integrated Intel Graphics Processor, no extra sound card or graphics card, and I can get digital surround from the HDMI connection. Pretty sure it will do Atmos, but I haven't tried.

I guess I'm out of it on the PC Windows side too as I thought HDMI and further were standard features on all PCs for some years now?
 

DaveF

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chris2222

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I thought display ports didn't carry audio .. I was wrong. Is that what that port is?
1640975411917.png

In that case I'll just go get myself an display port adapter asap!
 

chris2222

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So now begs the question how should I best set it up? (I basically have ancient equipment) the tv I have is 39" 720p or 1080i (yeah I know old - but it works)
The inputs on my old surround system (no subwoofer) is only RCA ( I have a soundbar with HDMI - but it's only 2.1) I thought about splitting the signal to gain the subwoofer from the soundbar and using the old system for rear surround and Front left and rights.

Probably could be done, but perhaps I need to upgrade.
 

John Dirk

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So now begs the question how should I best set it up? (I basically have ancient equipment) the tv I have is 39" 720p or 1080i (yeah I know old - but it works)
The inputs on my old surround system (no subwoofer) is only RCA ( I have a soundbar with HDMI - but it's only 2.1) I thought about splitting the signal to gain the subwoofer from the soundbar and using the old system for rear surround and Front left and rights.

Probably could be done, but perhaps I need to upgrade.
Now that we have the PC side sorted it's time to take a closer look at your receiver but if it truly lacks HDMI then, yes, it's time to upgrade. Remember, you can always look at used or refub gear to maximize value.
 

Lord Dalek

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DaveF

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DisplayPorts do not output audio.
Really? Seems like it can? Maybe PC makers are cheaping out. My five year old PC has HDMI with IGP and no DP so I’m just going from online reading.


 

chris2222

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Display ports support multi channel audio and many advanced audio features, but your drivers have to be updated.
Also 2 channels can carry encoded surround sound (I had to do some digging) as long as the equipment is available to decode it out - how else would VHS tapes carry surround sound when all of the Hi-Fi VHS VCR's only had 2 channel RCA outputs but of course it's just a manipulation of the two channels anyways. Basically Dolby stereo encoded 4 channels into 2 (the extra 2 being center and surround channels) that is delivering 4 channels via a 2 channel carrier, but of course the center is just added L/R channels and -3db reduction and the surround L/R each get 90 degree phase shifted also -3db reduction both ending up being 180 degree phase shifted from each other. So really just a psudo surround sounding sound.

But if I do want true 5.1 surround I'll need the HDMI or optical ports.
 
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JohnRice

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Display ports support multi channel audio and many advanced audio features, but your drivers have to be updated.
Also 2 channels can carry encoded surround sound (I had to do some digging) as long as the equipment is available to decode it out - how else would VHS tapes carry surround sound when all of the Hi-Fi VHS VCR's only had 2 channel RCA outputs but of course it's just a manipulation of the two channels anyways. Basically Dolby stereo encoded 4 channels into 2 (the extra 2 being center and surround channels) that is delivering 4 channels via a 2 channel carrier, but of course the center is just added L/R channels and -3db reduction and the surround L/R each get 90 degree phase shifted also -3db reduction both ending up being 180 degree phase shifted from each other. So really just a psudo surround sounding sound.

But if I do want true 5.1 surround I'll need the HDMI or optical ports.
I actually explained two channel surround sound.
 

Edwin-S

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DP can support audio but, apparently, a lot.of OEMs do not enable audio over DP. Buying a GPU with HDMI support would most likely be the easiest way to get 5.1 or better surround sound from a PC. A receiver with HDMI in and 5.1 or better channels is still needed.
 

Edwin-S

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I expect most OEMs and system integrators think that users using DP are going to hook up multiple monitors and listen to sound over headphones or speakers via the sound card.
 

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