5.1 audio no worky, help needed :(

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by AdvocateUK, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. AdvocateUK macrumors regular

    AdvocateUK

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Location:
    Billingham, United Kingdom
    #1
    Hi all,

    I've searched and searched but despite trying everything I could I still can't get 5.1 audio of any description from any program out of my Mac Pro to my AV amp using either .mkv files or with them re-encoded for use with my AppleTV.

    The AppleTV outputs 5.1 audio to my AV amp downstairs in the lounge but as I spend most of my time upstairs in my room with my Mac Pro (I live with my parents) I'd quite like to get the same surround sound that my "cheap OS X computer" can do downstairs.

    The Mac Pro is connected to a Cambridge Audio azur 540R receiver via an optical cable. The "Audio/Midi" app in Utilities seems next to useless at configuring for multiple speakers as when digital output is selected it won't let me configure more than two speakers. In the dropdown list next to the sample rate it allows me to select 2ch-16bit, 2ch-20bit and 2ch-24 bit with no problems but if I select "Encoded Digital Audio" then the "Default Output" and "System Output" drop downs above revert me from "Built-in Digital Output" to "Built-in Output" and the sound comes from the internal speaker.

    I'm at my wits end with this! How come my AppleTV can do this and my much more expensive Mac Pro can't?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Regards

    Alistair
     
  2. IroquoisPliskin macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2008
    #2
    The :apple:TV and the majority of its content is designed to work with 5.1 audio. On the MacPro side, only a few programs and videos encoded for 5.1 will work.
     
  3. AdvocateUK thread starter macrumors regular

    AdvocateUK

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Location:
    Billingham, United Kingdom
    #3
    But this has got to be a software limitation right?

    I mean the AppleTV is nothing more than a low end computer designed with a specific purpose in mind. The Mac Pro features the same optical output, I'm using the same files that play and output 5.1 audio fine on my AppleTV, and the Mac Pro runs the same(ish) operating system.

    I just can't understand why Apple hasn't fixed this or why it is so difficult to get working.

    Even the methods using VLC don't work for me :(
     
  4. AdvocateUK thread starter macrumors regular

    AdvocateUK

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Location:
    Billingham, United Kingdom
    #4
    A quick update, embarrassingly :eek:

    After fiddling around a bit and actually paying attention to my amp as I played a movie, I noticed that when I started a (.mkv) movie in Quicktime or VLC the amp would display "Dobly D Ex" or "DTS ES" but only light up the front three speakers on its display.
    I investigated this a bit further and discovered that in the speaker setup section of the amp I had "Small" selected for the front and centre speakers but "None" selected for the rears. Hence the lack of surround sound :eek:

    I've now enabled the rear speakers and am enjoying glorious digital surround sound through VLC and Quicktime. My apologies to everyone.

    iTunes however still does not output surround sound when playing the re-encoded for AppleTV .mp4 or .mov files. I would guess that's because the audio has been re-encoded to AAC and my amp doesn't know how to decode this and so drops down to 2.1 audio.

    Does that sound about right?
     
  5. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #5
    You need to give Plex a try. Best app out there, period. You can even feed it Blu-ray rips.
     
  6. AdvocateUK thread starter macrumors regular

    AdvocateUK

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Location:
    Billingham, United Kingdom
    #6
    I've actually got Plex here but setting it up seems very complicated...I'm using the 0.7 beta.

    Will Plex play the .mkv files I've got?
     
  7. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #7
    Yeah, it has a bit of a learning curve, but once set up it's pretty low maintenance. The key is to run it in library mode, IMO.

    Provided your containers don't have some weird file formats inside them they should play just fine.
     
  8. AdvocateUK thread starter macrumors regular

    AdvocateUK

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    Location:
    Billingham, United Kingdom
    #8
    I have no idea what you mean by that or how to do it lol

    I've seen references to a Library in Plex but don't really know what they're for.
     
  9. Mattww macrumors 6502

    Mattww

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2008
    #9
    Although Apple TV and Apple DVD player support passthrough of a 5.1 AC3 file to an external amp to be decoded it isn't supported in Quicktime Player or iTunes on OS X by default - at least today. There are rumours that the next version of Quicktime may add it but time will tell.

    For now you can use VLC to play the files or use Perian. I tried these instructions I found here on a test file:

    http://www.cod3r.com/2008/02/the-correct-way-to-enable-ac3-passthrough-with-quicktime/
     

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