Connecting Old Digital Receiver to New Computer


Jun 9, 2011
Hi everyone,

Thanks for taking the time to check out my post.

I recently built my own computer and am trying to connect an old 5.1 channel speaker system to it.

The receiver for the audio system says that it is able to do DTS and Dolby Digital. The receiver has 4 RCA input channels in it, along with one digital input/output port (not optical).

The computer has one center/subwoofer port, one rear speaker output port, one line in port, one line out port, and an optical S/PDIF port. Basically the configuration of any newer model computer.

If anyone could point me in the right direction as to how to connect the two components together in order to create surround sound, I would be more than grateful.

Thanks again,



Oct 15, 2007
you didnt mention anything about the front channel outputs.. and usually that means the line input (or output) will also be the front outputs.

lots of the onboard soundcards do this.. if you have only stereo.. then the other jacks of the soundcard do something else (they become inputs for microphone or line-level)

you might try to connect the analog connections to the receiver first, but it will probably sound better if you use the digital connection.

check to see if one of those outputs on the soundcard will work as a digital output (coaxial)
because if they are switching between microphone input and front output.. maybe one of them will turn into a digital output.

usually there is a picture in the soundcard software to tell you what is what.
you just gotta change the number of speakers in the selection window to see the inputs and outputs change.

pretty strange that your soundcard has optical output and not coaxial output.
most of them are coaxial with an rca jack.
if you have no coaxial output, you are going to need an optical to coaxial convertor as was suggested above.

you will also need a cord to go from the soundcard to the convertor, and a cord from the convertor to the receiver (if you dont have these cords already)


its not strange at all.

all the soundcards i've had came with a digital (optical) output. never a coax. even my integrated sound on my asus rampage III comes with a digital (optical) output, not a coax.


Oct 15, 2007
weird.. since i havent looked at the newest offerings.

i do recall seeing quite a few have the optical output with the ability to plug in an included adaptor to change it to coax.
but, i have seen more coax outputs with an included adaptor to switch it to optical.

going from coax to optical is simply touching the two wires to get a spark, and that spark obviously cannot always be shorted directly.. so there is probably an isolation transformer to keep the circuit from being a directly closed/shorted circuit.
but the spark is used as light.. and it might not be as bright as a laser light or LED light, unless those isolation transformers are also stepping up the electricity to be comparable.

when you have nothing but a laser light or LED.. then it is a bit more difficult to go from light to electricity.
except a laser might be able to provide some electricity in the ray.. probably a microwave form of electricity.. and that would have to be stepped up by a transformer.

so does this mean fiber optics are cheaper and easier to get than the analog rca?
i hope they stop dumping on the rca connection, because i enjoy looking at it :lol:

the coax cable for the internet does the internet speeds as well as the speeds for HD television.. so i dont see why the rca cord cant keep up, unless the wire size is too small.

i know that if the fiber optic cable is going to break, then it is going to break and become useless.
the rca cords simply dont do it.
probably easier to clean the metal on an rca cord than it is to try and sand down the tip of a fiber optic cable.
sure, you could sand down only the cable itself.. but not when it is already in the molded connector.
becoming dirty at all is another reason of design choice and materials used.
i havent messed with those optical cords to know how easy they get dirty.

compared to the pci soundcards.. onboard soundcards do some strange things.
one could say that having an expansion board for a soundcard is strange.
having a special connector that needs a plug with a bunch of rca cords is also strange.

cant complain much if there is an adaptor included.. but wouldnt the lasers have a lesser lifetime than the analog parts of the same price?
we dont hear of lasers failing too often.. but there is always something going wrong with either the laser or the optical pickup amongst the cd players and dvd players and rom drives.
this is true for video game consoles.. home audio players.. and rom drives.

seems like the preamp inputs have died in the 1990s.. but nothing reported in the 2000 year.
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