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Old Jan 14, 2021, 05:27 PM   #1
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OverclockN'
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Now that the display is figured out, I'm moving on to improving the audio. Before I made this office, my PC in the other room had a full home theater system with atmos. I miss it.

I don't expect to get the same kind of speaker setup and quality due to size/space limitations, but something better than what I'm using now would be great. I'm not interested in using headphones.

I'm currently using a Logitech G506 5.1 system, and only using 2.1 at the moment. Sound card is an Audigy Zx. I had the rears set up on some stands I made, but I just couldn't get a decent surround effect in anything no matter how much I tweaked it. Not a clue why...but I'm open to options. My guess is that the sound card simply isn't able to decode current game/movie surround. Just a guess, but it's possible something isn't set up right. Also, the sub in this setup lacks any real low end.

So, I've been looking for a decent sized speakers that all sound similar and won't have any issues together. Been reading some reviews on both of these:

Klipsch Quintet IV

Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack

I'd pair them with a Denon receiver. Not terribly sure how to get audio to it either. Simply running HDMI would be great (which I did in the other room), but there really aren't many receivers yet that do HDMI2.1 (I'd lose 120Hz/VRR). The ones that do are very expensive. I can do SPDIF out from the sound card, and it claims it will not do any decoding and just pass it through...but I've never actually done that.

Any thoughts/advice/recommendations on 5.1 audio for PC/PC Gaming use?
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Old Jan 14, 2021, 05:54 PM   #2
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Some games require a little extra work to get multi-channel working properly

Decent resource on that front is http://satsun.org/audio/
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Old Jan 14, 2021, 05:57 PM   #3
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Thanks, I'll take a look.

It was dead simple in the other room, literally didn't do a thing. It just...worked. But that was piping audio straight through the HDMI to the reciever and letting it recieve the audio and do all the decoding. Now with the sound card in the way...it's not working.
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Old Jan 14, 2021, 06:41 PM   #4
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My current setup is...

Schiit Audio Modius DAC + Asgard 3 Amp + Edifier R1850DB Speakers + Dayton Audio 10" Sub. Superb audio for desktop. Yes, I know it's not 5.1, but even watching movies on my setup sounds amazing. You might want to consider a simple 2.1 setup, you can get some awesome sounding setups.
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 06:27 AM   #5
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spdif is good enough for pc gaming(or 6 channel analog even)

For movies even if you set windows to 5.1/7.1 etc you still need the proper filters setup for decoding the audio stream.(I use lav)

I output via hdmi to the tv and use spdif to my old denon receiver for pc audio
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 10:42 AM   #6
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If you had the speakers hooked up with SPDIF (optical cable), it's possible you were only outputting stereo sound. Your sound card has to put out Dolby Digital Live or DTS in order to transmit 5.1 via optical cable. (If you were using wired connections I don't know why it wasn't working for you, maybe the speakers were set too low, or your speaker settings in Windows wasn't set properly?)

Using DDL/DTS with optical output is basically the best option for a 5.1 setup. You can also use HDMI, but if you do windows treats the AV receiver as an extra monitor which adds some annoyances that are best avoided if possible (icons/windows sometimes end up on the "second monitor" which you can't see).

Your motherboard can likely put out DDL or DTS via the onboard Realtek Audio, provided you download the hacked AAF Optimus Sound drivers (Be aware that the more recent versions don't output 5.1 sound properly, at least on my boards--frankly I think they are bugged--so I've had to stick to version 6.0.8960.1).

Then all you need is a sub and four speakers. With a PC you're always sitting centered in front of the monitor, so my suggestion is to skip the center speaker. The receiver can just split the sound between the left and right speakers to create a phantom center (basically, if you hear sound equally from both left and right it is indistinguishable from hearing it from in front of you). With a computer setup, a phantom center which will sound no worse than having an actual center, and in my experience it may actually sound better.

Why would a phantom center sound better? Well, it's because it's hard to actually place a decent center speaker properly in front of your monitor. You're limited to super small size so it doesn't get in the way, and you still have to put it either above or below the monitor, so it will not be at the same height as left and right. Also, frankly you're just paying for an extra speaker that does nothing for you. The only reason you need a center channel for a home theater setup is because a phantom center only works perfectly in the sweet spot between the left and right speakers, so people sitting off center don't get the best experience. But on a computer you're always in the sweet spot, so it's unnecessary.

For my personal setup I'm running two Polk Signature S15s in the front, two pairs of Signature S10s for surround and rear surround, and an SVS SB1000. However, that's an over $1000 setup just for the speakers/sub.

I am a big proponent of the Polk Signature line, since they sound quite good, while not being overly expensive (they go on sale from time to time at a pretty substantial discount). The Signature S10s are also quite compact which makes them a good option for computer speakers (they also have a keyhole jack for wall mounting). So for a more economical setup I'd probably suggest two pairs of Signature S10sp and a Monoprice 12 Inch sub. The Monoprice sub is not the best in the world, but it's decent enough for a computer gaming setup, and it's hard to beat its price of less than $100. It can only play down to about 40 Hz, whereas the more expensive subs can go lower than that, but for gaming and even movies it's not really necessary.

Rear surround is not really necessary for decent surround sound either, and it adds the extra hassle of having to use HDMI output because optical can only carry 5.1 sound, so I'd suggest just skipping rear surround too. I decided to go all out for my setup, but truthfully the two extra speakers don't change the experience all that much.

There are certainly other speakers you can consider, including ones that are less expensive, but which will still be a step up from standard "tin can" computer speakers. It all depends on how much you're willing to spend, and how much you value sound quality. I can only personally vouch for the speakers above, since I've heard them myself.
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 10:49 AM   #7
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I had these speakers in this office set up via 1/8" wired connection for all three connections (fronts, rears, center/sub). I tried calibrating via exact measured position through the Soundblaster software, and also adjusted specific speaker levels per speaker. I cranked the rears, for example, for testing. I tried all of that. I never had the center connected at all, since my TV is still on my desk. So I had the plug pulled and calibrated accordingly. When testing each channel for sound via the 5.1 test through windows AND in my Soundblaster software, every speaker worked as it should. I just couldn't get very good 5.1 in games. It was always super quiet (even when I jacked the dB per rear to unreasonable levbels, or no sound at all. It's not a connection or calibration issue. It's possible there is a setting I didn't have correct in the Soundblaster software for proper decoding. I tried all of the options after reading through the manual on how they all work and what they are for...with no real difference.


As far as external receiver goes, I had great experiences with HDMI. In my previous room, running HDMI to my Denon receiver for audio/video, it worked perfectly. Windows showed my receiver as the sound source, and never had any strange "extra monitor" behavior. It worked flawlessly and sounded absolutely amazing. Assassin's Creed Origins and Far Cry 5 had great 5.1, and Resident Evil 2 even added Atmos...which was intense as hell listening to MrX stomp on my ceiling and open doors above me, along with the occasional creak and groan. So I may just go this route again if I can't get this basic speaker set working with the sound card. I found a few Denon recievers that do HDMI2.1 and VRR...so I'm leaning that route. It's just more expensive.


Here are a couple of the screens from the SoundBlaster utility, for reference. I've currently gone back to 2.1.





Quote:
Rear surround is not really necessary for decent surround sound either, and it adds the extra hassle of having to use HDMI output because optical can only carry 5.1 sound, so I'd suggest just skipping rear surround too. I decided to go all out for my setup, but truthfully the two extra speakers don't change the experience all that much.
We may not be on the same page here. I think we're having a difference of me just saying rears for anything but the fronts, where you're probably referencing specific Dolby standards on speaker placement and thinking I'm running 7.1 with front, sides, rear. This is 5.1 and I'm calling my rears anything that's not in the front.
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 04:30 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by OverclockN' View Post
I had these speakers in this office set up via 1/8" wired connection for all three connections (fronts, rears, center/sub). I tried calibrating via exact measured position through the Soundblaster software, and also adjusted specific speaker levels per speaker. I cranked the rears, for example, for testing. I tried all of that. I never had the center connected at all, since my TV is still on my desk. So I had the plug pulled and calibrated accordingly. When testing each channel for sound via the 5.1 test through windows AND in my Soundblaster software, every speaker worked as it should. I just couldn't get very good 5.1 in games. It was always super quiet (even when I jacked the dB per rear to unreasonable levbels, or no sound at all. It's not a connection or calibration issue. It's possible there is a setting I didn't have correct in the Soundblaster software for proper decoding. I tried all of the options after reading through the manual on how they all work and what they are for...with no real difference.


As far as external receiver goes, I had great experiences with HDMI. In my previous room, running HDMI to my Denon receiver for audio/video, it worked perfectly. Windows showed my receiver as the sound source, and never had any strange "extra monitor" behavior. It worked flawlessly and sounded absolutely amazing. Assassin's Creed Origins and Far Cry 5 had great 5.1, and Resident Evil 2 even added Atmos...which was intense as hell listening to MrX stomp on my ceiling and open doors above me, along with the occasional creak and groan. So I may just go this route again if I can't get this basic speaker set working with the sound card. I found a few Denon recievers that do HDMI2.1 and VRR...so I'm leaning that route. It's just more expensive.


Here are a couple of the screens from the SoundBlaster utility, for reference. I've currently gone back to 2.1.







We may not be on the same page here. I think we're having a difference of me just saying rears for anything but the fronts, where you're probably referencing specific Dolby standards on speaker placement and thinking I'm running 7.1 with front, sides, rear. This is 5.1 and I'm calling my rears anything that's not in the front.
you have no choice but to use hdmi if u want 7.1 and/or atmos

spdif is limited to 5.1 and 1.5mbps bitrate
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 04:54 PM   #9
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and when setup to 5.1, does windows show it as 5.1? And do all the sound tests make the other speakers kick out some sound?
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 05:17 PM   #10
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Guys, I'm using 5.1

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Originally Posted by OverclockN' View Post
I'm currently using a Logitech G506 5.1 system, and only using 2.1 at the moment.

Any thoughts/advice/recommendations on 5.1 audio for PC/PC Gaming use?
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I just couldn't get very good 5.1 in games.


This is 5.1 and I'm calling my rears anything that's not in the front.
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 05:20 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trunks0 View Post
and when setup to 5.1, does windows show it as 5.1? And do all the sound tests make the other speakers kick out some sound?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OverclockN' View Post
When testing each channel for sound via the 5.1 test through windows AND in my Soundblaster software, every speaker worked as it should. I just couldn't get very good 5.1 in games.
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 05:21 PM   #12
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Hhmmm, any game in particular?
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 05:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trunks0 View Post
Hhmmm, any game in particular?
Right now I've been testing with Assassin's Creed: Odyssey. Since Origins worked so well in the other room, I thought it would be a good baseline being basically the same game. I haven't tried any other game.

I'll do some more testing over the long weekend, but either it was super quiet (with sound levels for rears jacked up significantly) or I had no rear sound at all. I've done so many settings at this point that I can't remember what I used for the Cinematic tab I showed in the photos.

I'm pretty sure either the sound card isn't decoding the audio properly, or at all.
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 07:11 PM   #14
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Could just be the game. Shouldn't be a decoding issue, as you wouldn't be using DD or DTS if your using the cards analog outputs.

Quick googling found another person only getting 3.1 out of that game. Rear channels in-active.
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 07:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
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Could just be the game. Shouldn't be a decoding issue, as you wouldn't be using DD or DTS if your using the cards analog outputs.

Quick googling found another person only getting 3.1 out of that game. Rear channels in-active.
I'll check the card settings again and play around with it this weekend. Also, I'll reinstall AC Origins and test that game. Will try Resident Evil 2 as well, since I know it worked on that. In fact, that game was amazing in surround (+atmos).

Thanks for looking into it.
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 07:46 PM   #16
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Yeah that sounds like it could be a game issue. I'd try another game and see if you have better results.

It looks like your sound card should be capable of outputting 5.1 sound, so it should just work.

However my experience with Creative drivers has not been the greatest. On my Sound Blaster X3 DDL was basically unusable because it wouldn't maintain a constant signal and there was a long delay before it kicked in. I did have better luck with older Creative cards. But if it turns out it's really not working, you could try the modded Realtek drivers and see if you have better luck.
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 07:49 PM   #17
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Gotcha, thanks.

I actually wouldn't be opposed to a different sound card recommendation as well. From things people have actually used with 5.1 that is. I've never been overly fond of this sound card and only installed it to get rid of the audio popping I had with the onboard Realtek. This Audigy Zx is very bass heavy and it's nothing special.
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 08:07 PM   #18
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The new Creative sound cards are great for a gaming experience, but for a pure DAC, the ASUS Xonar with the UniXonar (3rd party driver that adds a lot of good stuff) driver is one of the best sounding cards I ever had. I switched to the Creative AE-5 because my Xonar was pretty old and I wanted something with a built-in amp and a more gaming focused experience. The creative cards really do a lot of stuff right when it comes to gaming, and the amp/DAC combo on their newer cards is really, really good.

I stopped using my Schiit Magni 2 Uber (external amp) for my headphones and just plug directly into the sound-card now. This is obviously less of an issue with speakers, but the DAC is top-notch on the newer cards. If you don't like what the Creative card does to the sound, you can run it in Direct Mode which turns off all the EQ and sound profiles; it's just pure conversion at that point.
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Old Jan 15, 2021, 09:28 PM   #19
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Essence Stx II for sound card.
Can't help you on speakers. Sorry. Exclusively headphone user for the most part. Unless you want advice on speaker monitors... I could help you with that.
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Old Jan 16, 2021, 06:54 AM   #20
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Could just be the game. Shouldn't be a decoding issue, as you wouldn't be using DD or DTS if your using the cards analog outputs.

Quick googling found another person only getting 3.1 out of that game. Rear channels in-active.
actually 6ch analog has enough bw to do truehd or dts:ma and should decode properly

have you tried that overclockn?
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Old Jan 17, 2021, 01:28 AM   #21
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The biggest problem if you go analogue is your receiver has to have inputs for them, which most do not. They used to be more common, but now only really high end receivers have discrete 7.1 input.
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