2009 Mac Pro surround sound - Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect in Boot Camp

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by 20eman, May 9, 2009.

  1. 20eman macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2009
    I'm trying to get full 5.1 surround out of my Quad 2.93 when playing games in 64-bit Vista Ultimate. I want to send the multichannel audio from e.g. Left 4 Dead over optical TOSLINK to my Logitech Z-5500 speakers. Currently when I try this the computer only outputs stereo sound. I haven't encountered any definitive answers on how to get real time surround to work, but I have found the following information.

    The onboard sound chip is some sort of Realtek HD Audio. I don't know exactly which chipset. The Z-5500 is capable of decoding DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 input streams over the optical cable. This works fine for movies which are already encoded, but apparently to get games to work in surround I need either Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect to encode the audio from the game in real time. However, I haven't seen any way to enable this in the Realtek HD Audio Manager (Boot Camp driver) or the Windows sound control panel.

    Is the 2009 Mac Pro's motherboard compatible with Dolby Digital Live or DTS connect in Vista x64 on Boot Camp? If so, how do I enable it?

    If it's not, can I bypass the problem anyway using third party drivers or plugins?
  2. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    IIRC Dolby 5.1 support in Windows gaming has used the decoding capabilities of the sound card, and the 5.1 speaker set attached via "normal" mini jacks (3 sets usually.... 1 for L/R front, 1 for L/R rear, 1 for Centre and Sub).
    So the card does the surround sound decoding, and simply passes through the audio to the amp on the speaker set.

    That's the reason I installed a SoundBlaster X-Fi PCI-e card for my Boot Camp gaming.

    Maybe with OpenAL, future games can support passing through the encoded surround sound to the attached speaker set, so that the amp in the speaker set can do the decoding like the Mac OS X DVD player now.

    I have the Logitech Z-680 Dolby 5.1 set attached to my Mac Pro. I have a toslink cable connected for Mac OS X, and 3 x mini jacks via the SoundBlaster card for in Windows.
    Works gr8! :)
  3. Sharangad macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2008
    Dolby digital live and dts connect needs to be licensed by the manufacturer of the motherboard.

    If you add a creative x-fi you can will either get dd live/dts connect as part ofthe soundcards drivers PCI-E X-Fis or can be bought for $5 for older X-Fis.

    This isn't to be confused with driver based decoding of AC-3/DTS streams on the host cpu which the newer cards don't have and which even older cards don't have on 64 bit OSes.


    I don't think you can add it to existing mobo based sound solutions unless the mobo manufacturer has licensed it and you use their drivers.
  4. 20eman thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2009
    Are you sure that Apple didn't license DDL or DTSC? Some Realtek chips do include this technology. Is there any way to be sure?

    If I go the route of buying a new sound card...

    First, are you saying that the sound card can support DDL or DTSC even if the motherboard doesn't?

    Second, the X-Fi is not an optimal solution because it's not OS X compatible. I don't really want two separate audio connections like MacsRgr8 is doing. Are there any pci-e sound cards with Vista 64 drivers and OS X drivers with either:

    1. an SPDIF connection (optical or coax) and DDL or DTSC support, or
    2. six-channel direct with 3 stereo-mini connectors?

    Edit: Looks like the answer is no unless you want a pro-level card. Feel free to prove me wrong, though.
  5. UltraNEO* macrumors 601


    Jun 16, 2007

    What makes you think that the MP actually has a physical Realtek Semiconductor chips embedded on it's logicboard?? How sure are you, that it's not software emulation? Perhaps those Realtek drivers supplied in bootcamp is the nearest, most compatible drivers for the emulation?? I've taking my MP'07 apart and I haven't seen a physical Realtek chip on any parts of the board, not even on the underside.

    though i could have just missed it...
  6. Sharangad macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2008
    Apple could license it and include it with OS X with every single Mac with a digital output. The Realtek chip doesn't have anything special to support DDL/DTSC. It's done on the host CPU in software, even on Creative cards. There're non-realtek chips which support this. Creative added this to their soundcards (in software just like every mobo integrated audio solution). I think a driver update will add support to the audigy series as well.

    The only chip which supported this in hardware was nvidia's nforce mobo which had a hardware encoder, though back then (2001) it was called DICE (Dolby interactive content encoder) and the original xbox which had the same nforce MCP. The new xbox (360) also does this in software.
  7. TheStrudel macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2008
    That would be nice...It'd be nice if there were better support for surround sound in OS X in general. But the only circumstances under which I see that support being added were if it comes with Blu-ray playback or similar media/HDCP handling added to OS X. Otherwise, I just can't see it happening, lamentably.
  8. 20eman thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2009
    Can I get third-party windows software to do this in my mac?
  9. Sharangad macrumors member

    Oct 19, 2008
    Ac3filter can do this for surround sound played back through wave out. I don't know whether it can do this for games though (directsound).
  10. rikoshay macrumors member


    Mar 28, 2006
    No. California (in the Redwoods)
    This appears to be Windoze only. Yeah, I know I can install Windoze on my Mac Pro, but I don't want that bug-ridden, multi-hacked, travesty on my Mac.
  11. 20eman thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 10, 2009
    I just found a potential solution to my problem.

    This software, redocneXk, can encode any source to AC3 (that is, Dolby Digital 5.1) in real time and then send it through spdif passthrough. (Windows only, sorry rikoshay.)

    You need a Creative card to do this, unfortunately - so I'd have to buy an X-Fi anyway (it being the only pci-e Creative card).

    However, redocneXk will let you send audio to any spdif output you want, so that means I can send it through the onboard optical out, meaning I don't need a separate connection to the X-Fi.

    This is better than using the built-in DDL/DTSC functionality of the X-Fi in exactly one way: You can still connect your speakers through the motherboard, so you don't have to disconnect anything when you boot into OS X.

    Edit: Come to think of it, is there any reason I couldn't have the connect the motherboard's optical input directly to the x-fi, and then set the onboard sound chip to pass-through mode? This would require Vista to play nice with two sound processors at the same time, of course.

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