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Old 01-17-2013, 11:59 AM   #1
k37an
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Default Laptop to Receiver without HDMI [Help!!]

(My first post)

Hi,

I am a newbie and starting to setup my home theater. I want to know how to connect my laptop which doesnt have an hdmi out to Onkyo HT S3500 and still get all 5 speakers to work (currently if I connect a Y cable L/R it produces only 2.1 sound and not 5.1) ?

Any help is appreciated.

HT - (http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-HT-S3500.../dp/B0077V88V8)

Thanks,
K37an
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:29 PM   #2
jtvang125
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You can try a 5.1 usb sound card.
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Old 01-17-2013, 04:41 PM   #3
s44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtvang125 View Post
You can try a 5.1 usb sound card.
It will work, except...

If all you want is to play back movies and shows already surround encoded in DD or DTS, then just get a card with a digital coax/optical/mini-optical output and connect that to the back of the AVR. Heck, it's possible your laptop has one of those built in! (Macbooks have a hidden mini-optical, or used to anyway.)

If you want to do 5.1 gaming or the like, you'll need a card that supports real-time encoding *into* DD or DTS. That's called "Dolby Digital Live" (DDL) or "DTS Connect" (DTSC). It's very *un*likely your laptop has that built in. I believe the $40 Xonar U3 is your cheapest option for that (it only has DDL, though -- getting the superior DTSC would be more expensive, if it exists at all).

With some receivers you could just plug in 5.1 analog, but your low-end HTIB receiver doesn't have that option.

Last edited by s44; 01-17-2013 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 01-17-2013, 06:48 PM   #4
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usb video card with hdmi and audio passthrough?

something like this. Just a random search, not endorsing the product.

http://www.cooldrives.com/index.php/...apter-dvi.html
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Last edited by sdifox; 01-17-2013 at 06:50 PM.
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Old 01-17-2013, 07:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s44 View Post
It will work, except...

If all you want is to play back movies and shows already surround encoded in DD or DTS, then just get a card with a digital coax/optical/mini-optical output and connect that to the back of the AVR. Heck, it's possible your laptop has one of those built in! (Macbooks have a hidden mini-optical, or used to anyway.)

If you want to do 5.1 gaming or the like, you'll need a card that supports real-time encoding *into* DD or DTS. That's called "Dolby Digital Live" (DDL) or "DTS Connect" (DTSC). It's very *un*likely your laptop has that built in. I believe the $40 Xonar U3 is your cheapest option for that (it only has DDL, though -- getting the superior DTSC would be more expensive, if it exists at all).

With some receivers you could just plug in 5.1 analog, but your low-end HTIB receiver doesn't have that option.
My 2007/08 Macbook has optical out on the headphone jack. Just plug that in to your receiver.

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Old 01-17-2013, 10:20 PM   #6
k37an
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So I have mac with optical output built in support (from system prefs-)

S/PDIF Optical Digital Audio Input:
Connection: Combination Input

S/PDIF Optical Digital Audio Output:
Connection: Combination Output

So will connecting the optical out from mac play 5.1 surround in receiver?

Also, for other laptops which don't have an optical out, will something like this help: http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Sound.../dp/B0044DEDCA. I can connect this via usb to my other laptop and optical cabel from this sound card to receiver..

I just want to be extra sure before buying something like this..
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:14 PM   #7
s44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k37an View Post
So I have mac with optical output built in support (from system prefs-)

S/PDIF Optical Digital Audio Input:
Connection: Combination Input

S/PDIF Optical Digital Audio Output:
Connection: Combination Output

So will connecting the optical out from mac play 5.1 surround in receiver?
Yes, for video content only. (No games etc.) Also, you'll want to buy a cable like this.

Quote:
Also, for other laptops which don't have an optical out, will something like this help: http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Sound.../dp/B0044DEDCA.
Yeah, but that's way too much. If you're not gaming (and you probably shouldn't try on any machine old enough not to have HDMI), pretty much any USB audio card will do.
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Old 01-17-2013, 11:56 PM   #8
k37an
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Thanks a ton s44 It was really helpful.

I am planning to buy xbox/ps in a couple of months, so probably the one link i gave would be a good option.

Also I am curious what becomes different when i connect the optical cable (like you pasted) to receiver and a Y RCA cable to receiver, that in optical-cable case it plays 5.1 surround sound and other case it doesn't ?

My laptop isn't too old - http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-15/pd (this one im thinking of attaching permanently to HT). Please advise if the sound card mentioned before will cause any issue with this?

Once again, help appreciated.

Thanks,
k37an
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Old 01-18-2013, 07:51 AM   #9
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I think it's not relevant in the OP's case but some receivers (such as mine) have analog 7.1 inputs so it should run surround fine with pairs of Y adapters. Optical/coax doesn't work because it will only support stereo uncompressed digital sound. HDMI can usually run more than two uncompressed channels.
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Old 01-18-2013, 01:07 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k37an View Post
Thanks a ton s44 It was really helpful.

I am planning to buy xbox/ps in a couple of months, so probably the one link i gave would be a good option.

Also I am curious what becomes different when i connect the optical cable (like you pasted) to receiver and a Y RCA cable to receiver, that in optical-cable case it plays 5.1 surround sound and other case it doesn't ?

My laptop isn't too old - http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-15/pd (this one im thinking of attaching permanently to HT). Please advise if the sound card mentioned before will cause any issue with this?
The RCA stereo cables run an analog line-level version of the exact signal the amp/speakers should output. The optical cable (or digital coax, if you use it) runs a digital signal encoded into either Dolby Digital (DD) or Digital Theater Sound (DTS) -- which are codecs for 5.1 (lossily compressed) audio. (DTS, though not used as much, has more bandwidth for theoretically less-lossy compression.) Optical can also carry uncompressed 2.0, but that doesn't help you.

One issue I discussed is that laptops and a lot of sound cards can't encode into DD or DTS on the fly. (DD-Live and DTS-Connect are the feature names saying they can.) Fortunately most DVDs, all HDTV, and some streaming movies have DD/DTS-encoded audio tracks built in.

However, the *best* audio carrier is actually HDMI, which can carry a 5.1 or 7.1 digital signal *without encoding or compression* (optical doesn't have the bandwidth to do that). However, the only movies that are encoded with lossless 5.1 or 7.1 are Blu-Ray or Blu-Ray rips, and any laptop with a Blu-Ray drive should have HDMI out anyway. Surround gaming *is* a useful HDMI audio use though, which is why the PS3 has it...

As for audio cards, I'd buy the $40 Asus one *I* linked, or a $30 Behringer UA202 or something even cheaper from China... $60 on a Creative card is overkill; you might as well save the money for a new laptop with HDMI.

Last edited by s44; 01-18-2013 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:24 PM   #11
k37an
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Default Still not working

Hi,

I bought http://www.amazon.com/Cables-Go-2701...o+mini+toslink as per recommendation, connected my mac and receiver but still no 5.1

Any ideas? s44?

Thanks,
K37an
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Old 02-02-2013, 06:01 PM   #12
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We need more information, what video files are you trying to play back and get 5.1 sound on? Keep in mind that the majority of online content is not 5.1 so using something like Netflix isn't going to provide 5.1 unless you're using something like an XBox or PS3 which Netflix sends Dolby Digital audio for some of their videos for.
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Old 02-03-2013, 03:48 AM   #13
k37an
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Default Trying to play Spotify/Youtube

Hi,

I was trying to play music from Spotify. Also I tried the Dolby 5.1 test from youtube. Both are playing 2.1 and not 5.1. Tried to play with several settings in HT but no luck...Should I try playing anything else?!
In this case too will I need sound card? In previous discussion I was suggested only to buy optical cable in case of mac?

Thanks,
k37an
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:16 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by k37an View Post
Hi,

I was trying to play music from Spotify. Also I tried the Dolby 5.1 test from youtube. Both are playing 2.1 and not 5.1. Tried to play with several settings in HT but no luck...Should I try playing anything else?!
In this case too will I need sound card? In previous discussion I was suggested only to buy optical cable in case of mac?

Thanks,
k37an
did you try playing a dvd movie?
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Old 02-03-2013, 09:48 PM   #15
k37an
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I tried playing .avi, .mkv movies from Mac using Vlc Player, but not real dvds.
If you take a look at previous thread, I was suggested to buy toslink-to-min toslink cable for mac - which I plugged in in my Onkyo receiver. It doesnt play 5.1 (or even 3.1), it just plays 2.1
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