New Dell with integrated 5.1 sound NOT DISCREET?

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Timon Russo, Jun 4, 2004.

  1. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 10, 2000
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    It seems as if sound comes from all 5 speakers equally when I play DVDs. I just got the PC yesterday, and the only thing I did was change the speaker setup from 2 to 6 (5.1) in the Sound part of Control Panel (Windows XP). I emailed Dell tech support and the guy told me I need a dedicated 5.1 sound card to get discreet channels (and that I should call their sales dept). Is that right? What the heck is the point of getting 5.1 sound integrated, and matching 5.1 speakers if it isn't discreet? Can someone tell me what I am doing wrong?
     
  2. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 1999
    Messages:
    3,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    Which model Dell? What do you mean by "integrated"? The Speakers setup page from the control panel seems to show every possible speaker combination, whether or not your sound card has specific support for it. (Yes, that does seem like bad UI, doesn't it?)

    If Dell sold you 5.1 speakers to go with a computer that doesn't have 5.1 sound, that's not quite right. But maybe some people want to do it that way and add their own 5.1 sound card themselves?
     
  3. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 10, 2000
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    "Integrated" means I opted for no sound card. I didn't really think I needed one, considering they are now apparently offering 5.1 on the motherboard. And I got the basic Dell 5.1 speaker set with the PC. Everything is connected properly. It's a Dimension 4600, btw. The audio selection I made was called "Integrated 5.1 Channel Audio".
     
  4. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2000
    Messages:
    4,611
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hmmm, does your Dell have a digital audio output? Normally you would tell your DVD player to use the SP/DIF digital passthrough, going straight to your HT receiver with built-in DD5.1/DTS decoding. But if you need the PC to decode to a set of so-called "5.1" computer speakers, that may not be an option for you.
     
  5. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 10, 2000
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    I attached the 5.1 speakers as the instructions said. There are 5 jacks that make up the integrated sound: line in, mic in, surround out, center/LFE out, and line out. The wires are color coded, and go to the subwoofer; all the speakers attach thru the sub. There is no digital out, I guess. I triple checked everything and am playing Monsters Inc. right now just to be sure I'm not crazy. Voices come from all channels equally. There are 2-channel effects, so it is at least "stereo". Any other ideaS?
     
  6. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 1999
    Messages:
    3,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    Checking the Dell website, it says you get a S/PDIF connection with the 4600C, but the integrated audio does have Dolby Digital support. If that is true, then it is supposed to decode the 5.1 digital signal into analog. So check your DVD player software -- what is it? -- and make sure the audio settings see the integrated audio chipset.
     
  7. Christian Behrens

    Christian Behrens Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2000
    Messages:
    713
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    Real Name:
    Christian Behrens
    Also make sure that your DVD playback software is capable of outputting 5.1 sound and that it is enabled.

    -Christian
     
  8. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 10, 2000
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've been using CyberLink PowerDVD, and in the Configuration menu, there is an Audio tab. In the Audio Output section, I had selected "6 Speaker Output (5.1)" and that's what didn't seem to be discreet. The other options are "4 Speaker", "2 Speaker" and "Headphone". There is a section below that called Audio Mode, and it only gives me options when I select "2 Speaker" mode, and then the choices in this second section are "Stereo" and "Dolby Surround". Seems like I should have it set to "6 Speaker Output (5.1)" though, right?

    I took a look at Windows Media Player, and I don't see any similar settings, or I would have tried that.
     
  9. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 1999
    Messages:
    3,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    In the Configuration dialog, at the bottom of the Information page, I have:

    Multispeakers Audio Device : C-Media CMI8738/C3DX (in use)
    SPDIF Output Device : C-Media CMI8738/C3DX (not in use)

    when using 4 or 6 Speaker output. Making changes to the number of speakers in the Control Panel dialog then has the expected effects. You might check if the integrated sound is supported.
     
  10. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 10, 2000
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ken -

    Those lines in my Information tab for PowerDVD say "Not Detected". I selected "5.1 Surround Sound Speakers" in control panel early on in the process, because I realized it had defaulted to 2 speaker mode. And PowerDVD knows that, because it shows that I have selected what it calls "6SPK".

    I don't know how to find out what kind of chipset my motherboard has, so I couldn't check the PowerDVD site to see if I'm compatible. But I appreciate all the help!
     
  11. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 1999
    Messages:
    3,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    If PowerDVD does not detect your audio device, you're basically out of luck. Maybe it's new and they'll pick it up in a later version. Dell sometimes includes a customized version of DVD software; it's odd that the system has 5.1 sound hardware, but doesn't provide a DVD player that can use it.

    Regardless, you should know how to get to the Device Manager, for all kinds of troubleshooting. You can find general info here, although I generally use the key combination Windows-Break (Pause/Break is usually the last key on the right in the top row) to open the System Properties dialog, because you don't have to find something to click on.

    The sound hardware is under "Sound, video and game controllers", usually mixed in among a bunch of codecs and drivers.
     
  12. SteveCop

    SteveCop Agent

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2000
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't know if this info will answer your questions. It's from one of the moderators in the Dell Dimension audio support forum. The comments refer to a 8300, but may apply to your 4600 as well:

    "To ensure that the integrated 5.1 sound is configured properly for 5.1 speakers, follow these steps:

    Click Start, then Control Panel.
    Open Sound, Speech, and Audio Devices, if available.
    Open Sounds and Audio Devices.
    Click the Advanced button under Speaker settings.
    Verify that Speaker setup is set to 5.1 surround sound speakers.


    The integrated audio chipset on the Dimension 8300 has a feature that allows stereo signals, such as from audio CDs, which would normally be played only from the front two speakers, to be "upmixed" into 5.1 channel stereo, so that all speakers are playing the sound.

    Sound will not be heard from all speakers while using a 2 channel sound source. To hear sound from all speakers ensure upmix (spread) option is enabled.

    Perform the following steps to enable 2 channel to 6 channel sound (spread) :

    Double-click the speaker icon in the task tray (by the clock) to open the Volume Control.
    Click Options.
    Click Advanced Controls to check the box if there is no checkmark.
    Locate the volume control slider labeled FRONT and click the Advanced button below it.

    If the FRONT volume control slider is not available, click Options, then choose Properties, and check the box labeled Front in the list at the bottom.


    Ensure that the option 1. 6ch -> 2ch (downmix) is unchecked, and that the option 2. 2ch -> 6ch (spread) is selected. This will provide sound to all speakers even when there is only a 2 channel sound source.
    Click Close, and close the Volume Control.

    For true 5.1 sound where each speaker has its own sound channel (normally only available playing a DVD) both options 1. 6ch -> 2ch (downmix) and 2. 2ch -> 6ch (spread) should be unchecked."

    Regards,
    Steve
     
  13. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 10, 2000
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    SteveCop - thanks! That is really useful info, as I found both boxes had been checked by default. I unchecked them, and lo and behold - still no discreet sound. In fact, no activity in the surround speakers at all. I spent a couple of hours with tech support on Friday and the guy is stumped, so he is sending a new set of speakers. They should be here today. I am about 10% confident that will fix the problem. I can get sound from the surrounds when I do the 2 channel to 6 spread, so everything seems to be cabled okay, its just that the DVDs don't seem to be putting out 5.1 sound. I've used Private Ryan (and even made sure to select 5.1 from the menu) and Star Wars Ep2. I did the THX optimizer test also. Tech support had me re-install drivers and PowerDVD. Same problem. What else could it be?
     
  14. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2000
    Messages:
    4,611
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ugh, that sucks. Do your speakers hook up to the analog outputs of your PC? Or maybe it uses a DIN plug (kind of looks like an svideo cable plug), which takes two digital audio signals and combines them for 4.1 (two lines, each one PCM stereo)? This might not work if your motherboard doesn't have 2 digital stereo outputs.

    I hate it when these so-called 5.1 computer speakers cheat and use analog inputs, or combine two digital stereo outputs...the quality usually sucks, and are hardly ever compatible with your sound card.
     
  15. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 1999
    Messages:
    3,301
    Likes Received:
    0
    He's using analog connections:
    I'd say the odds are lower than that. The speakers aren't doing any decoding, and you can get sound from them, so they work fine.

    Did the PowerDVD come with the system? If so, ask the tech why those two lines in the Information page say "Not Detected". If not, I'm guessing the system came with some DVD software. Does that work? If not, get the tech to upgrade your system so that it does work, or get your money back. It's bogus to sell a system with a DVD drive, "integrated 5.1 sound", and 5.1 speakers, and not have them work.
     
  16. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 10, 2000
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree that it's bogus. I checked out the Dell support forums and found some similar messages. I am starting to think they might actually be selling 5.1 audio that isn't actually 5.1 - although the tech. support guy insists it should be discreet. The next suggestion he had for me was to reinstall XP, then if that doesn't fix it, he'll replace the motherboard. I think both he and I know that this won't fix it, but he is at a loss. I told him about the similar messages on the Dell forums, but it didn't seem to concern him too much.

    FYI, the problem is the same in Windows Media player, which is the only other DVD playing software I have tried. I figured I'd have some new options in my games, but they don't seem to detect the surround sound either (Call of Duty, for instance).

    I told the guy I might reinstall XP (I usually do when I buy a new computer anyway so I can start fresh), and that I'd call him to let him know if that fixed the problem or not. In the meantime, I await a response to my message on the Dell forums.

    Of course, the replacement speakers did nothing.

    Thanks everyone for your continued interest!
     
  17. Timon Russo

    Timon Russo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 10, 2000
    Messages:
    213
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree that it's bogus. I checked out the Dell support forums and found some similar messages. I am starting to think they might actually be selling 5.1 audio that isn't actually 5.1 - although the tech. support guy insists it should be discreet. The next suggestion he had for me was to reinstall XP, then if that doesn't fix it, he'll replace the motherboard. I think both he and I know that this won't fix it, but he is at a loss. I told him about the similar messages on the Dell forums, but it didn't seem to concern him too much.

    FYI, the problem is the same in Windows Media player, which is the only other DVD playing software I have tried. I figured I'd have some new options in my games, but they don't seem to detect the surround sound either (Call of Duty, for instance).

    I told the guy I might reinstall XP (I usually do when I buy a new computer anyway so I can start fresh), and that I'd call him to let him know if that fixed the problem or not. In the meantime, I await a response to my message on the Dell forums.

    Of course, the replacement speakers did nothing.

    Thanks everyone for your continued interest!
     

Share This Page