Author Topic: Best video/sound option for media PC  (Read 3183 times)

Offline Enigma_2k4

Best video/sound option for media PC
« on: May 15, 2011, 10:12:18 AM »
Hey all,

I installed my new AVR last night and WOW! A full thread will follow....

However, I am having difficulties getting my surround sound to work correctly, either thru digital co-ax connections or the analogue inputs.

PC is a Core 2 Duo 2.1 media machine. GFX card is a 9600 GT with a VGA and DVI output. Sound card is a creative X-Fi Extreme Audio. AVR is an Onkyo NR808.

Sound Issues:
1. I cannot get surround sound out of the AVR, all I get is stereo processed into full surround when using the analogue inputs. I've tried each and every single audio processing option. Also, I am fully aware that the analogue inputs are only used when the AVR is set to BD/DVD input (input 1)
2. Same as above but with digital output thru the co-ax cable. When I do sound tests to test Dolby digital capabilities then the surround works perfectly but I get no sound when clicking the sub, centre, or surround speakers in the sound options (ie. they should play a test tone)

Video Issues:
1. I cannot get the AVR or TV to recognize the video output from the PC when using either a DVI to HDMI or VGA to HDMI cable... very strange (same as a previous thread I made about the issue).
2. The AVR has a PC input (VGA cable) but I cannot get any of the inputs to select the VGA input and then transmit thru the HDMI...?

I have scoured the manual completely and followed all relevant instructions all without success.

SO, I was thinking, to solve myself all these issues and hassle, why don't I just get a decent entry level GFX card that can handle HDMI and Audio thru HDMI, then I can big the current GFX card and sound card (which admittedly is crap, the AVR's DAC sounds better). Any suggestions as to what card can do this best for the least amount of bucks?




Offline kamikazi

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2011, 10:40:46 AM »
You are probably just missing a few settings in Windows to be able to get the correct sound output. I think the graphics card you have should be able to support that.

You should check your audio output settings tab in the control panel and make sure its outputting a digital signal and set it to reflect your surround setup (also check that it selects the correct output device if you are trying to output audio via the HDMI port). On your Nvidia graphics card settings you might have to force it to detect the HDMI output or to automatically detect connected devices (I have an ATI card where I had to do this before it would display anything, unfortunately I don't know the equivalent Nvidia settings).

Offline Robert_E

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2011, 12:50:55 PM »
With the analogue cables you should be getting sound on all the surround channels. Check the speaker settings under win7's control panel. I've found that windows overrides the creative control panel when it comes to line-in/mic settings, so it's probably overriding the speaker settings too.

You won't get the test tones to work over the spdif connection, it's only stereo for everything but bitstreamed dolby digital and DTS tracks.

If you want no hassles get a cheap ATI card (5000 series and up) with HDMI out. Works flawlessly and you can get all the speaker channels sent to the AVR (for the non-DD/DTS encoded stuff)
« Last Edit: May 15, 2011, 12:53:37 PM by Robert_E »

Offline Enigma_2k4

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2011, 09:31:21 PM »
With the analogue cables you should be getting sound on all the surround channels. Check the speaker settings under win7's control panel. I've found that windows overrides the creative control panel when it comes to line-in/mic settings, so it's probably overriding the speaker settings too.

You won't get the test tones to work over the spdif connection, it's only stereo for everything but bitstreamed dolby digital and DTS tracks.

If you want no hassles get a cheap ATI card (5000 series and up) with HDMI out. Works flawlessly and you can get all the speaker channels sent to the AVR (for the non-DD/DTS encoded stuff)

Yeah I noticed that before with windooze 7, strange huh! Anyways, I'm not getting any sounds out of the surround inputs, but I will muck around and try whitching inputs/outputs to see if it's the PC not outputting or the AVR not receiving the inputs.

OK, so ATI 5000 series and up, hmmm, that would make life much easier! Don't the Nvidia cards do it too?

Thanks Kamikaze, but my current GFX card doesn't have HDMI out...

Offline Enigma_2k4

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2011, 09:38:15 PM »
OK, some testing later.....

When I connect the Front L+R input on the AVR to the centre/sub and rear L/R outputs of the PC (analogue), then the PC test tones do play thru the front speakers (because of course I connected the PC outputs only to the front L/R input on the AVR. So simply enough, the AVR isn't playing anything received on the surround and centre/sub inputs? It must be some setting somewhere that I have completely missed. Any ideas?

Offline tangmonster

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2011, 09:05:54 AM »
My 2c's

Hi Eginma. For a year or so i used the 5.1 analog outputs from my sound card on my media pc untill I upgraded to a avr setup and started to use the coax.

I can honestly say that the coax option is BY FAR superior in every way.

Stuff like the 10db boost for the .1 channel in movies and surround sound overall is handled just so much better. its much easier (for me anyway) to get balance between speaker volumes also correct using it this way.

If you don't want to spend money on a new graphics card now I would suggest using the coax or optical on your board and let your avr do the dac work.

I use mediaportal btw for all my media centre needs. The fan art and the way it uses thetvdb.org and imdb is just FANTASTICly awesome LOTS of eyecandy.

codec's

on a clean windows install I use ONLY

ffdshow tryouts
Haali media splitter

NOTHING ELSE. With those installed you can play anything. mkv , mp4 , avi subtitles everything.

example of settings so that digital data gets passed through:

http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/833/ffdshow.jpg/

I have never messed with hdmi audio since i have an older rotel so no hdmi audio but honestly i just don't need hdmi audio at this stage.

The ati hd5750 is a great media centre card since it uses very little power, i think it varies between 20 to 78watts or something so it on the limit of not even needing external 12plugs. This means it's nice and quiet. but if i was you i would stick with the current card and fix the digital output on the current sound card.

Offline Enigma_2k4

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2011, 09:50:01 AM »
Hey Tangmonster,

Thanks for all the feedback.

I currently use 7MC with MediaBrowser and it's a winner for me, a whole thread is dedicated to it on my thread here which admittedly I do need to update. Hahaha.

For fanart I use metabrowser which also pulls from imdb (and various other options you can choose). For music I use media monkey for all my art and ID3 tagging requirements.

I've also tried using the co-ax output from my sound card (board doesn;t have co-ax) and I can only get stereo unless I pop in a DVD or do something with dolby digital etc. Most of my movies are recorded with full 5.1 sound but not in the dolby format, so if I do use it this way then I loose on all the surround sound goodness!

Another option is to remove all my codecs and see what impact that has on the sound outputs. I don't really want to do this as I've spent alot of time getting the codecs right, especially getting FLAC files to play and show up in 7MC.

Interestingly enough, my older AVR (Sony HTITB crap) sounded worse on co-ax then the analogue inputs, obviously because the DAC was crap. But the new AVR sounds much nicer on the co-ax. I was of the impression that if I used audio over HDMI then my AVR would still be doing the DAC work. How can I get my PC to output full surround sound all the time using the co-ax?

Offline tangmonster

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2011, 11:18:11 AM »
How can I get my PC to output full surround sound all the time using the co-ax?

Like i said ffdshow and haali media splitter and EVERYTHING plays on windows 7 media player.

if it plays on media player then it WILL work on windows 7 media center and like i said on media portal.

I have spend years with vlc en and codec packs. untill i stumpled upon this simple solution.

it's a bit more tricky if you use 64bit windows though. I use 32bit ultimate 7.

al 5.1 ac3 dts avi's or mkv's everything just works. flac works ,flv works

:)


you could also check under your windows 7 sound settings under spdif you can enable things like dts and other digital formats. might be that those settings is messed up for you.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 11:23:48 AM by tangmonster »

Offline Enigma_2k4

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2011, 12:03:02 PM »
OK, I will give it a bash. Hopefully this then solves my issues. I use Windows 7 Pro 32 bit so should be OK.

I enabled all the supported formats under the windows settings for SPDIF, I guess I just need to fiddle around more.

Anyways, I will post my feedback here.

Offline tangmonster

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2011, 12:19:09 PM »
I hate codecs and the hirarchy system it has that i struggle to get right. graphedit shows whats going on but fixing things are not easy.


I had a problem with aac 5.1 audio files only playing in stereo the other day. some build in windows decoder was messing with ffdshow decoder's aac.


after two days of struggle i got it working ,but sadly I have NO idea what I did. But this problem was ONLY limited to AAC audio file in a mp4 wrapper.


although come to think of it. I remember now i was messing with some other media splitter in the place of haali media splitter. and once i installed haali again all worked fine.

ffdshow:  http://ffdshow-tryout.sourceforge.net/download.php

haali:  http://haali.su/mkv/


Offline Enigma_2k4

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2011, 12:49:04 PM »
Perfect, thanks, I will download them and give it a bash when I get home later.

Offline Tachyon

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2011, 06:49:26 PM »
I ran into the same problem with my first media PC, turns out it was a combination of things.

The "Sound" settings for the specific audio device in control panel was set to 2.0, as was my playback software.

A good experiment can be done with VLC - start playing a movie file which you know has a 5.1 track, select "Audio", then "Audio Device". If 5.1 isn't listed there then it's probably a control panel issue. You can do this on the fly while the movie is playing to ensure your receiver is getting the correct signal.

If it turns out the problem is caused by codecs then I recommend stripping them all out and reinstalling just the bare minimum. Messing around with codec settings can be a real pain - it's much simpler to just nuke the site from orbit and start fresh. 

As for the all-in-one graphics card option, take a look at the Raden HD 6570. It's around R800, has full hardware video decoding as well as an integral HD audio device. I've used the 5570 in several builds with excellent results, and the 6570 just adds to this great pedigree.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 06:56:54 PM by Tachyon »
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music - Aldous Huxley

Offline Enigma_2k4

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2011, 09:58:24 PM »
My options are very different, not DTS or Dolby options for some reason? Also, the mixer button was checked.

Secondly, using SPDIF I cannot get any sound out of my HD movies, only when I switch back to analogue and the upmix the stereo sound do I get anything.

This is frustrating! Dam! I think Tachyon's option of a decent HDMI graphics card will solve most of my woes! I'm downloading VLC and Media player classic now to test, if the surround sound works with them then I know it's a media centre issue....


Offline Enigma_2k4

Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2011, 10:13:23 PM »
OK, VLC and MPC both play thru SPDIF no problems at all but default to 2 channel stereo, changing to 5.1 makes no difference at all.

When in windows control panel and doind the DTS and Dolby sounds tests then the 5.1 plays perfectly, this is the only time I can get this to happen!

Offline Scrat

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Re: Best video/sound option for media PC
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2011, 10:46:10 PM »
Seems there was some beef with Dolby and Creative......

http://achievementhunter.com/forum/viewTopic.php?id=2219484

Not sure if this means it can't be done, but it seems like it.

Also:
http://us.store.creative.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-XFi-Xtreme-Audio/M/B000W7PNZI.htm
and I quote:
"I ordered this sound card for its digital output toslink and claimed compatibility with windows vista. However, this card did not live up to my expectations at all. I had wanted to hook up the sound card to play through my audio receiver and 7.1 speaker setup in the living room. What they fail to tell you, except in the fine print, is that the digital SPDIF outputs only output Dolby 5.1 sound when you are playing DVDs."


Hmmmmm..... scumbag Creative  :D



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