I have the following problem.

I have a 5.1 surround sound system using a Sony AV receiver. This is connected to multiple devices for audio, including my PC. Since the PC is a little bit far away from the AV receiver and there are power cables along the way I decided to connect the PC with an optical cable (SPDIF) to the AV receiver. This works, but unfortunately the driver for the onboard sound card of my mainboard is not capable of using the digital output for surround sound. All I get is stereo. I don't want to use the analog jacks, as they would need to be at least 5m long and run right next to mains power cables. Using the analog jacks would also require 3 cables instead of just one.

So I am looking for a relatively cheap (<100€) sound card for the PC that can be used for at least 5.1 surround sound over optical. This needs to work with Windows 10 and Linux.

Any suggestions?

PS: Please only suggest things available in Europe.

  • What's your onboard sound card - even the most basic realtek these days should be able to cope with 5 or even 7.1. If it has lighpipe it's likely capable of transmitting AAC-encoded 5.1. What might be happening is double decoding. Computer decodes to lightpipe, then amp gets confused by that & interprets as stereo. Set your output, if possible, to "encoded output". VLC should be able to show that parameter even if nothing else can, just to eliminate it as a cause.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 17, 2020 at 7:55
  • I know that the onboard sound chip is capable of 5.1 and even 7.1 surround sound, but due to well known driver problems, the realtek drivers do not allow surround sound on the digital output. This is stupid, but is a well known problem. It can be solved temporarily by installing an older diver manually, because for some reason older versions of the driver had that working. Unfortunately Windows will update drivers on its own every now and then and Windows updates also end up doing a driver update, wich would mean I would have to reinstall the old drivers every time... That is not a solution.
    – XPModder
    Aug 18, 2020 at 12:59
  • OK - so why over optical? Simply because you already have the lightpipe? Why not just run USB the 5m, then you could go analog or digital from there for about $£€ 15 using pretty much anything you can find on eBay, just pick your required socket types.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 18, 2020 at 13:11
  • I have thought about that as well. I am using optical because when I originally set this up, the driver was still working and using optical eliminated the problem with power wires running alongside the audio and I cannot avoid that due to the way the room is layed out and where the outlets are. And now I have the cable already, so why not use it? - For now I bought a cheap HDMI audio extractor off eBay and that way I am using the sound of my graphics card...
    – XPModder
    Aug 19, 2020 at 10:42
  • There's nothing wrong with using lighpipe, especially if you already shelled out for it. I just wanted to avoid having to spend on one if you didn't have to; USB is cheaper. I use s/pdif from my own Mac to a simple $£€ 15 from eBay box myself. The unit powers from USB or any cheap wall-wart. I go to RCAs & into my amp over analogue, just because that's the only spare set of connections on the amp [pick your reasons, they're all valid ;) I'd really give that type of cheap box a go. DACs are all pretty much of a muchness these days, unless you jump into the hundreds for them. [contd…]
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 19, 2020 at 14:42


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