Computers continue to astound me with how unfriendly they are ever since I decided to hook up my PC to my home theater. It’s surprising to find that many of the things I’ve come to expect as a standard, isn’t the case at all.
Take 5.1 surround sound support over S/PDIF digital optical for example.
Did you know that if your audio chip doesn’t support Dolby Digital Live encoding, most computer games won’t output 5.1 surround sound to your receiver via optical? You can hook up a 5.1 PC analog speaker set, but not to your receiver. Why? Because most of your computer games do not output in Dolby Digital format and the receiver just doesn’t understand it.
Fortunately there is Dolby Digital Live which converts all the PC audio into a Dolby Digital signal for the receiver. It makes sense, but it’s still a bit of an eye opener for me since I just assumed it would work in this day and age. Fortunately, for me Dolby Digital Live was included with my Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3 motherboard.
So remember: if you plan to hook up your computer to your home theater system via S/PDIF digital optical, get a motherboard (or audio solution) that supports Dolby Digital Live. Even though I didn’t plan on using S/PDIF, I had to fall back on it due to the issues I was having with HDMI.
I lucked out, but not everyone can be so fortunately, so I hope this helps.