My laptop+desktop pc's only has stereo sound card - external USB surround sound card recommendation?

newsboost

New Member
Thread Starter
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
4
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Yamaha YPAO
Front Speakers
wharfedale
Center Channel Speaker
wharfedale
Surround Speakers
wharfedale
Surround Back Speakers
wharfedale
Subwoofers
wharfedale
Other Equipment
UMIK-1 mic.
Hi, I'm a new user, so please bear over with me.

I bought the UMIK-1 mic and have practiced a bit, although I'm a REW-newbie. Now I wish to measure my 5.1 speaker output and characteristics, at their current location in my living room, through my yamaha surround sound receiver. However my laptop+desktop pc's, both only have a stereo sound card. I wish to transmit the sound digitally, i.e. through a HDMI-cable. I have read that, at least under Windows one should use the ASIO4ALL-driver (I also run LInux, but I suppose this is even worse supported). I tried (SEE SCREENSHOT, I CANNOT POST A LINK?!?!) but realize it's impossible to make it work, if the sound card is too cheap and only capable of understanding stereo, which is the case for me....

Now I'm thinking that maybe I can buy an external USB surround sound card and just plug it in and use that USB-sound card to pass the audio through REW, via a HDMI-cable, into the receiver. Will this setup work? Are there problems with switching between an internal sound card and an external (through USB)? It it works well, do any of you have any recommendations for 5.1 / 7.1-capable-USB sound cards, that can pass sound through a HDMI-cable, so can I select which speaker to test directly from within REW? I'll be grateful for any hints/tips/ideas about how to solve this + grateful to hear any experiences in this matter, or hardware recommendations, as I hope not I have to buy a complely new laptop for this, if I want "a portable" solution...?
 

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John Mulcahy

REW Author
Joined
Apr 3, 2017
Messages
2,216
Linux and macOS allow direct access to multichannel outputs on devices like HDMI audio, Windows is the odd one out in requiring an ASIO driver to allow that. If ASIO4All doesn't like your HDMI output you may have better luck with FlexASIO.
 

newsboost

New Member
Thread Starter
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
4
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Yamaha YPAO
Front Speakers
wharfedale
Center Channel Speaker
wharfedale
Surround Speakers
wharfedale
Surround Back Speakers
wharfedale
Subwoofers
wharfedale
Other Equipment
UMIK-1 mic.
That is great, thanks a lot, John, for letting me know (I'll try FlexASIO tomorrow). I've tried the Linux-version of REW several hours, but I couldn't make 5.1 HDMI-output to my receiver through REW. Linux sound card handling is not so user-friendly as on Windows, so maybe I'm doing something wrong. I'm just curious: Am I supposed to get 5.1 HDMI output to EVERY channel with even the cheapest build-in laptop stereo sound card? I'm not completely sure if I'm doing something wrong or if it's because the sound card is a (likely very very cheap) "stereo sound card"?

I'm willing to buy e.g. "Creative Soundblaster Omni Surround 5.1", if it helps on being able to use REW to output to all 5.1 HDMI channels, any input on this? Any experience to share?
 

John Mulcahy

REW Author
Joined
Apr 3, 2017
Messages
2,216
It doesn't matter what your soundcard is, modern video interfaces support audio over HDMI so they are in effect a multichannel soundcard themselves. The output is the HDMI interface. What channels the HDMI interface offers depends on what it is plugged into and what mode that device is in.
 

cgull

Member
Joined
Jul 13, 2019
Messages
21
Location
Boston
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
denon avr-s740h
Front Speakers
polk t50
Center Channel Speaker
polk t30
Surround Speakers
polk t15
Front Height Speakers
polk t15
Subwoofers
mtx sw2
I have seen an HDMI interface only offering stereo sound output in Windows sound driver configuration, when connected to my AVR. I don't remember now whether that was due to drivers, or the cable/connectivity issues I was having then.

It's also possible for HDMI sinks to only support stereo sound-- computer monitors, for example. But that's probably not the case here.
 

newsboost

New Member
Thread Starter
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
4
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Yamaha YPAO
Front Speakers
wharfedale
Center Channel Speaker
wharfedale
Surround Speakers
wharfedale
Surround Back Speakers
wharfedale
Subwoofers
wharfedale
Other Equipment
UMIK-1 mic.
OOOOOOoooohh!!! After MANY hours I found out the problem and the solution (and I hope by writing this, I can help someone else in the future waste as much time): My problem was NOT the sound card as John correctly wrote - the problem was that I had the HDMI cable connected to my Samsung "smart"-tv's socalled "One Connect"-box. DO NOT MAKE THAT MISTAKE! The HDMI-cable has to go directly into the receiver, otherwise the pc thinks the receiving device only understands stereo (confirmed by the linux utility "pavucontrol").

Now, I can output sweep-tones through surround-sound channels - which was impossible by using the "One Connect"-box! My "only" problem seems to be however, that the channel names are incorrect or mixed, e.g. FL and FR are ok, front left and right. But FC sound level is very low and there's some strange thing going on with RR (no sound) but RL has sound (really weird???)? Likewise, RRC/RLC sound level is low or being mixed into other channels (I have a 5.1-system), I didn't test LFE as it's late and I don't want to wake up my neighbours... I'll do some more testing in the following days... Thanks, all - now it seems like I can soon begin to measure with living room 5.1-sound using my UMIK-1 microphone! :-)
 

jwags818

New Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2019
Messages
2
My AV System  
Main Amp
D3A/300B Amp
Front Speakers
Audio Nirvana 12 inch
Other Equipment
Topping D50 DAC
For $200 you can get a Topping D50 DAC. It is absolutley awesome!... plugs into usb port and sounds amazing.
 

newsboost

New Member
Thread Starter
Joined
Jun 16, 2019
Messages
4
My AV System  
Preamp, Processor or Receiver
Yamaha YPAO
Front Speakers
wharfedale
Center Channel Speaker
wharfedale
Surround Speakers
wharfedale
Surround Back Speakers
wharfedale
Subwoofers
wharfedale
Other Equipment
UMIK-1 mic.
@jswags818: Ok: You made me checkout some reviews for this piece of equipment, however even though it sounds good (for those interested in such devices), I've decided that the builtin 5.1 and 7.1 HDMI-possibilites from my laptop are enough for me.

I'm hoping to soon make REW-measurements, however I've lost my UMIK-1 microphone as it couldn't be detected under Windows anymore. I've spend around 10 hours this week and finally miniDSP also wrote something is wrong. Today I shipped the UMIK-1 microphone to the dealer/reseller and it'll probably take around a week before I figure out what to do. Sounds like UMIK-1 is a very good mic for REW. I must've been unlucky... I bought it 5 months ago, kept it in its box for some months as I had HDMI-problems (solved in this thread, the solution is written above)...

So, bottom line is: I don't need external audio generators, I'll be using the HDMI-cable with builtin graphics card. Now, I just need a good microphone for REW-recordings and I'll hopefully have that within 1-2 weeks so I can begin playing with REW and optimize my living room sound experience to the max! :-)
 
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