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[How To] 5.1 Surround Sound


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#1
consolation

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I noticed that a lot of people new to OS X have a problem setting up multichannel out/in. So, below is a cut and paste from another thread where we discussed this. This is all prior art, not the dark secret of the Templars but, hopefully it'll help someone out. For your pleasure... I give you : The Surround Sound How -To.
/*Now with 95% Recycled Information and Colour Plates*/

To set up surround sound on OSX requires the use Audio MIDI Setup.app that should be in your utilities folder. In it, hit command-shift-a to open up aggregate device editor (or selected it from the menu). You need to create a new aggregate device then in the structure box assign all the outs to it. It doesn't matter if they are head phones etc, we will fix it up later. The annoying thing is that sometimes an in socket may have become an out.

Once you have an aggregate device, in the main Audio Midi Setup screen select it in the "Properties For" bob, hit configure speakers. Select Multichannel and 5.1 surround. Strictly speaking it can be any set up you have going; 7.1, 8.1 etc. That's the beauty of this app - got 5.1 but want 7.1; buy a USB dongle and add its stereo out to your new device. The next bit is fairly self explanatory; if you click on the speaker button it will send some white noise to it - you assign which channel is being used with the bobs. Hopefully you end up with all your speakers working and assigned to correct channels. Click apply and done. Now Set the aggregate device as Default Output and voilá; multichannel sound. After setting up multichannel, don't forget to set up the stereo sound as well. Otherwise you might find that music comes out of pretty odd speakers. :)

In an ideal universe.... YMMV. It works well with some equipment - less so with other. The keyboard volume control often ceases to work (volume control in apps, eg. VLC, iTunes works fine). AFAIK, this works more smoothly with USB (eg HK's iSub) and digital outs than it does with analogue.

In the Aggregate device editor you can drag the sound outs up and down, this means that, for example, you can have FL&FR on streams 1&2 -I do not know if it has any impact beyond aesthetics. Make sure all channels are set to same bit & sample rates. You can make ad-hoc multichannel using a couple of $5 USB sound dongles, make sure you have the clock set to build-in audio to avoid channels going out of sync. Oh, you can rename your device by clicking on it.

The most powerful function of this tool is the ability to create an aggregate INPUT device. (e.g. join up line-in and mic-in and you have a 4 channel multi track recorder) You can then select your new aggregate device as a sound source in Logic or GarageBand. (Works w/ protools & Cubase too). Want to add more channels - you are only limited by the number of your firewire and USB ports. (Well.... I made a monster 24 channel beast on my old powerbook; recording 24 tracks chocked the laptop HD promptly (or the CPU, it was a 550MHz G4)).

This has to be one of the least documented, most powerful tools that we inherited from CoreAudio - why Apple keeps so quiet about it always puzzled me. The interface looks like it came out of an undergrad Java 101 assignment, it's almost as if a programmer left it there as an after thought.

As an example, here is how it worked out on my GA P35-DS3P rev.2 :

The plugs that work for me are: Line Out (aka "Built-in Speaker"), Sub/C Out (aka "Line Output") and front headphone socket (that's the header on your mobo, aka "Headphone"). The last one can be a bit iffy; the pins on the mobo can be connected as either AC97 or HDA audio. It makes little difference for os X (afaik), but can make things tricky in windows -if your case has an old school AC97 header - like many (most?) on the market still do.

To make this setup work in Vista you will need to go to Gigabyte's website and download the realtek driver and utility. This will enable hot plug detection. After you install the driver, unplug and replug your speakers one by one; you will be asked what speaker you plugged in and can assign RL & RR to the headphone socket. (You can use any other socket for you headphones... or, I find it easier to use the desktop remote for my speaker system - if you have one)

The problem occurs if your headphones are connected to the AC97 standard, hot-plug won't work and you will have no way to remap headphones to rear speakers. (Well.... I'm sure there is a way - I'm just not enough into windows to work it out.) In that case, you have to either; disable rear speakers in config, keep switching the plugs around or, wire up a Y splitter so you can have them plugged into two sockets at once.


hey consolation

ok I went through and I got it all working (yay), and even tested some surround sound AC3 files with VLC, which worked great. however, when I tried to use iTunes to play music, only the front left, front right, and sub played. Is there any way to tell OS X to send those same signals to the other 3 speakers?

I googled, and found many mentions of the problem, but all were on windows. Many talked about sound card options (which doesn't apply to me), or foobar2000 (windows only).

Did you find any solutions that allowed you to use itunes with your 5.1 setup where you got all speakers working?


Yes.... but you might not like my solution. My speaker system has a controller that sits on the desk, it has a headphone socket, plus controls for the amp; one of the buttons lets you switch between stereo and 5.1. I use that, sorry.


P.S
http://www.apple.com...aggregateaudio/
Oh, and the device for logic has to have at least one out... At least it used to have to.

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#2
dutchiee (=

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wow thanks, first one thats worked :( always wondered how to get this working.

Thanks again

#3
FavleX

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Wow thanks for this new experiment.
On mine Ihaven't been able to get the 5.1 working
But I notice few intersting stuff:
with aggregate I got 2 channel working but i lost the kboard volume.
with the aggregate itunes doesn't play my songs, instead of another player as xbmc which does.
I dont' know but I think i'm on the right direction.
the configure speakerd doesn't work at all.
Great Consolation

#4
Laik

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Is there a way to do the Speaker Fill, like in vista, so that two channel sound is distributed through 5.1 system? Thats the only thing i`m really missing.

#5
nate256

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it wont let me select 5.1. how can i make it let me select it?

#6
consolation

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it wont let me select 5.1. how can i make it let me select it?

You have to make an aggregate device with at least 6 channels out, then select it as the default sound out.

with aggregate I got 2 channel working but i lost the kboard volume.with the aggregate itunes doesn't play my songs, instead of another player as xbmc which does.I dont' know but I think i'm on the right direction.the configure speakerd doesn't work at all.Great Consolation


Common problems are:.
-Not setting up one of the built in channels as the master clock.
-Different bit/sample rates on channels, you have to make sure that each channel in the aggregate device is set to the same sample/bit rate.
-Forgetting to set the aggregate device as the default sound out in system prefs.

Is there a way to do the Speaker Fill, like in vista, so that two channel sound is distributed through 5.1 system? Thats the only thing i`m really missing.


Not easily; you could re-encode your stereo songs into 5.1 and dupe front into the rear track. Or, see if your speaker system has a stereo/5.1 toggle.Having said that, speaker fill is heresy as far as listening to music - it completely ruins the stereo image of the music; it does, however, help get the volume up. :)

#7
Berzerker

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It's not letting me select 5.1. Any Aggregate device only has either 2 in or 2 out.

#8
consolation

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It's not letting me select 5.1. Any Aggregate device only has either 2 in or 2 out.


OK, it would be helpful to list what board/codec you are running on, and which hack you are using to get sound. If, for example, you are using azalia edit and only have one line out in stereo; you can't create an aggregate device with 6 channels. You have to have 6 channels (3 stereo) to begin with.

#9
chell

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Hello,

I've got the GigaByte P35-DS3 mainboard and a logitech 5.1 system. Everything works except for my centre speaker. In the speaker configuration dialogue neither the centre speaker nor the subwoofer work but when I play music with iTunes I do get bass from the subwoofer.

Any ideas on how to fix this? I've already tried swapping the numbers for the subwoofer and the centre speaker in the configuration dialogue.

#10
consolation

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Hello,

I've got the GigaByte P35-DS3 mainboard and a logitech 5.1 system. Everything works except for my centre speaker. In the speaker configuration dialogue neither the centre speaker nor the subwoofer work but when I play music with iTunes I do get bass from the subwoofer.

Any ideas on how to fix this? I've already tried swapping the numbers for the subwoofer and the centre speaker in the configuration dialogue.


Which channels are you using for your setup? I had to assign one to my front case headphone socket to get 6 channels. If I used just the back sockets I'd get only 4 channels.

#11
FavleX

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The system preferences don't let me choose " Aggregate device " in the menu System Sound Alert..
What does mean -Not setting up one of the built in channels as the master clock- ?

#12
Alandor

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Laik, I had that problem too, I get a "solution" using Jack (just google "jack for mac"). With it you can send any input/output from system or applications to another one. This way you can get a stereo music in itunes playing on 5.1 for example, just send the out1 of iTunes to system 1,3,5 and out2 to 2,4,6. And so on for the rest of applications.

#13
consolation

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setting up one of the built in channels as the master clock-[/b] ?


if you look at the second pic you'll see one of the devices has "clock" selected beside it. There are reports of problems if the clock is set to a usb or other external device.

#14
FavleX

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I got full almost.Now I'm able to test the single speakers with the midi setup , I can change the position of the output , then even if Ihaven't with me the 5 and 6 speaker , I think I can say I got a multichannel sound installed.
I can test even the subwoofer.When I use the Aggregate I lost the volume button on my kboard..but I can choose so..
Thanks, I'll let u know when I grab my others spaekers. :-)

#15
twisted vegan

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Please help me, I have an abit aw9dmax m/board with an audiomax soundcard, I used the hdapatcher to get multi channell inputs and outputs and was able to create an aggregate device with 6 channel output but when i look at the properties for the aggregate device all the channel volumes are at 0 and it won't let me adjust them so I cannot get any sound from the aggregate device.

At the moment the only sound I have is 2 channel if I set the default output to built in speakers, Any ideas ?

I am having to keep going back to my windows install just to use surround sound and it's really annoying !

#16
gendem

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I have a GA-P35-DS4 2.1, and I used the guide created by pcwiz here to get everything installed and working. I'm trying to get 5.1 working, and so far I can only get stereo. I have set up my aggregate device the same as the OP and still, only get stereo.

The true pain in the a$ though is that I get no white noise when I click the speaker, making configuration a nightmare.Is there another audio driver i should be using? The one included with his driver pack is described like this: "These sound drivers (ALCinject.kext and patched AppleHDA.kext) allow for full input and output audio on the ALC889a codec. "

Also, I guess I'll need a 6 channel audio file to see if it in fact working. Anyone got a spot to download one of those?

...Mike

#17
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Thx for the guide consolation.

I've set mine to Quadrophonic (sub + fronts and Backs, no center) cause I don't have a front headphone jack on my case.

#18
mimimimi

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hi
i got the EP35-DS3 rev.2.1
i followed the instructions and now i have sound in FrontL FrontR BackL BackR but no sub+center.

the pins on the mobo can be connected as either AC97 or HDA audio. It makes little difference for os X (afaik), but can make things tricky in windows


in windows 5.1 is working fine.
i dont use front panel connector, no pins are connected.
but in os X the sub+center jack is mute. while the rest of the connectors work ok. this leaves me with 4 channels out of 6.
is there any way i can enable the headphones on the back, change jack mapping etc?

#19
webdogk9

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might be handy to add for the utter noobs what kext drivers are needed.

#20
consolation

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hii got the EP35-DS3 rev.2.1i followed the instructions and now i have sound in FrontL FrontR BackL BackR but no sub+center.in windows 5.1 is working fine.i dont use front panel connector, no pins are connected.but in os X the sub+center jack is mute. while the rest of the connectors work ok. this leaves me with 4 channels out of 6.is there any way i can enable the headphones on the back, change jack mapping etc?

That's the same situation and board as me, I guess if you follow Taruga's guide (attached below) you can manually edit the pin assigns. I'd say it's easier to connect the header on the mobo.

might be handy to add for the utter noobs what kext drivers are needed.

This doesn't use any specific kext extensions. You can make 5.1 from any mixture of sound outs, built in / usb /firewire.

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