Creative soundblaster x-fi and surround sound on MacBook pro

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by jamesapp, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. jamesapp macrumors 6502a

    Mar 7, 2008

    I recently purchased a set of 5.1 creative amplified surround sound speakers off eBay. The connection plug has three color coded 3.5 mm plugs. One for front l +r, one for back l+r, and one for center and sub.

    I own a MacBook pro laptop running Mac os x lion. From what I was told my Mac can handle 5.1 surround sound. But the problem I had was that there are two audio ports on my MacBook pro. One is a mic/line in port, and one is a stereo headphone/sound out port that from what I was told doubles as a optical out.

    My speakers can't handle optical/digital directly. So I was trying various setups to test the speakers, i.e. DVD players, vcrs, my computer etc. but was having a hard time. I do have a DVD player with optical digital out, my relatives have an Xbox and a play station 3. But it was looking like I would need something to interface my speakers with a surround sound source. Like let's say a movie with 5.1 surround sound.

    One thing I thought about was getting a replacement sound card for my MacBook pro, that would have more audio ports so I could plug my speakers in. But I didnt really want to mess with my MacBook pro. And I don't even know if that is an option. Besides I think I read that the operating system and my current sound card could handle surround sound.

    I thought of buying an a/v receiver, and I still might. But I went to best buy and all the a/v receivers they sell, don't have pre out audio jacks which my creative speakers require, because they have there own amplification(I think they are advertised as multimedia/computer speakers). I was thinking of going online and trying to find an a/v receiver that has pre out audio jacks.

    So I ended up buying in staples a creative soundblaster x-fi, external USB sound card. I had read online that although creative does not officially support macs. That people had gotten it to work.

    So my question is does anyone have this sound card working with Mac os x lion? I have plugged in my speakers to the sound card. And plugged the sound card into my computer. I then went into audio midi set up and my Mac recognizes the sound blaster. I was able to configure the speakers and individually test each speaker in audio midi setup. Under multi-channel and 5.1 surround sound.

    But when I put in a DVD that has 5.1, I am using a DVD of the tv show mission impossible. And when I put the DVD in there is a set up menu option that has 5.1 surround sound. I also went into DVD preferences with the disk ejected and chose sustem sound output. My other option is digital out with the soundblaster. Which I don't think is what I want but not sure? When I choose the soundblaster digital out the audio stutters?

    But when I choose system sound output, I only get stereo output not surround sound. So I am wondering is there something I am doing wrong? Or any ideas if this set up could work? Or what I have to do to get my MacBook pro to output true surround sound?

    Thanks in advance
  2. iMacDragon macrumors 65816


    Oct 18, 2008
    the apple dvd player app only outputs 5.1 via digital output, to do it via regular audio you need to use something like VLC to play the dvd.
  3. jamesapp thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 7, 2008
    I loaded the 'mission impossible' DVD in vlc. And it was the first time I heard sound from my rear speakers.

    But the vlc player isn't sending the audio to the right channels. I read a thread about vlc, and it seemed other people were having a similar problem. I justed downloaded a surround sound test file and it says slowly "front left", "front right", "center" etc.

    When I run the file in vlc, my back left speaker is playing the center channel. My back right is playing the sub. My center speaker is playing rear left. And my sub is playing rear right.

    From the thread other people are having similar issues. And I don't know if it is an issue with lion 10.7.2 or vlc.

    A couple of questions:

    Is there another player that would output 5.1, I have tried mplayer osx extended. But I only get stereo. I don't know how to play a file in 5.1 with mplayer os extended. Are there any other players I could use?

    In audio midi set up under configure speakers is there a way to remap my speakers? I have fooled around a little with it but when I change the speaker # it doesn't seem to change the speaker? I have read that it is a little tricky to get this to work, like you have to click apply several times etc. and I will fool around with this some more?

    Anyway thanks for the response
  4. jamesapp thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Mar 7, 2008
    For anyone interested,

    Current Mac 10.7.3 update fixes the issue I was having with my set up. Vlc surround sound is now sending the correct audio to the right channels, for me.
  5. MacsRgr8 macrumors 604


    Sep 8, 2002
    The Netherlands
    Thanks for sharing! :)

    That is interesting.

    I wish Apple could support more sound cards. I have the Soundblaster Xfi PCIe card inside my Mac Pro for use with Boot Camp, which works fine.

    OS X doesn't even recognize the card. Not a huge issue but it would be nice if I could use it running Mac OS.
    Your solution seems to be universal!

    Thanks for the info.

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