5.1 Surround Sound System Setup Issues on Windows 10

  1. Posts : 12
    Windows 10

    5.1 Surround Sound System Setup Issues on Windows 10

    Hey all,

    I know the title isn't super specific, but I've been having trouble overall with setting up my surround sound speakers with my Windows 10 desktop, and I was hoping if anyone could shed some light on the many issues I've encountered.

    I have a Windows 10 desktop with the build in soundcard on my ASUS motherboard. That soundcard has never given me any issues, but unfortunately it doesn't have digital optical output for surround sound. So I recently got a Sound Blaster Pro 5.1 Surround Sound external soundcard. This allows for digital optical output, which I plugged into my Panasonic Blu-Ray Surround System. That's the overall setup.

    However, after installing the Sound Blaster drivers and plugging everything in, I've had mixed performance on whether the sound that is being outputted is truly surround sound.

    The center of the problem is Window's weird recognition of the external soundcard. When I check my playback devices, I expect there to be two options now, either to play through my original soundcard (realtek) or through my new Sound Blaster one. However, there are now 3 options, "Speakers (Realtek)", "Speaker (Sound Blaster)", and "SPDIF-Out (Sound Blaster)".

    I seem to be getting different performance whether I'm on the SB speaker or SB SPDIF options. Originally, I had some weird performance where on one of the options (when playing a surround sound movie) I heard the dialog clear but not the surround background, but on the other I heard the background sound but no dialog. For a long time, just trying to perform the standard "noise" test where there is a sample played from each of the 5.1 speakers was completely failing, and noise was only coming from the left front and the right front.

    However I later checked an option that said "Allow the audio to be also heard from S/PDIF out," which warned me that the output is always in Dolby Digital Live format. I thought this would work, since when I ran the dolby digital output test under "supported formats" in the properties of the SPDIF device, it actually played samples from each of the 5.1 speakers.

    Checking the option worked, and I was successfully finding surround sound play from my speakers... sort of. When I play a movie off a DVD that has surround sound, on VLC Player, I hear the surround sound actively working (not faked, I hear specific noises coming from the peripheral speakers). This has been the only way I've been really able to test surround sound output. I suppose a video game would be a good test too, but I haven't been able to find something that specifically demonstrates taking advantage of surround.

    But, the two options for either the SB Speaker or the SB SPDIF still remain. Sound only really seems to come out of the "Speaker" option, as when I switch to the SPDIF option, it doesn't do anything (as in if I switch from SB Speaker, it keeps playing on the surround speakers, and if I switch from the Realtek speaker, it will still play on that output to my smaller other speakers that are connected still to that soundcard). The weirdest part however is that I can't control the volume of the sound coming out of the 5.1 speakers directly through the windows volume control. Moving the slider doesn't actually change the volume coming out of the speakers at all - even when my computer is "muted" sound will play from the speakers. I find this really odd, because it seems like the "master" volume isn't really a master volume at all anymore.

    When I play music from Spotify, I can still adjust the music volume by changing spotify's volume. Similarly, VLC's volume controls can adjust the volume I hear when I play a movie through the speakers. Of course, I can always adjust the volume using my set top Panasonic box. However, adjusting the "PC's volume" doesn't appear to do anything.

    So overall, I have a few main problems:

    1. Windows volume control doesn't affect volume of Surround Speakers.
    2. I have 2 options to pick from when playing through my Sound Blaster card, and I don't know why.
    3. I'm not quite certain whether I'm actually receiving full surround sound (e.g. I play the Windows Netflix app which is supposed to output in 5.1 surround, but I don't know/can't tell whether it is).

    If anyone has any pointers, or has set up 5.1 on their desktop before, please let me know.

      My Computer

  2. Posts : 19,240
    W11+W11 Developer Insider + Linux

    You should disable Realtek onboard sound in BIOS.
      My Computers

  3. Posts : 12
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    CountMike said:
    You should disable Realtek onboard sound in BIOS.
    Not sure why this would help, but I can try. How would I go about doing this?
      My Computer

  4. Posts : 19,240
    W11+W11 Developer Insider + Linux

    Rneogy said:
    Not sure why this would help, but I can try. How would I go about doing this?
    Well, with a dedicated sound card you don't need built in one at same time, just confuses things. Check your computer/MB manual, there must be something about BIOS and it's settings to do that. Failing to manage that, you can try going to Device Manager and just disable Realtek HD Audio or whatever it's called there. If you uninstall it it, driver would just come back next time you start computer.
      My Computers


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