No 2.1 speaker support in Realtek drivers? (solved)

gibbousmoon100

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May 20, 2006
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(Edit: solution below.)

I have a new subwoofer I want to add to my 2.0 system.

I'm using a gigabyte motherboard with windows 7 64bit. (http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4518#ov)

I'm using standard speakers with speaker wire, so I am outputting to them via a small amp (which doesn't have its own output to subwoofer, and nor do the speakers).

I had the idea to simply plug in the subwoofer to the orange output (it's labeled Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out), but when I check the realtek driver configuration page, I realized that realtek only provides support for 2, 4, 5.1, and 7.1. My friend told me I could set it to 5.1 and then deal with losses of information/quality due to my 2-speaker setup.

What's the best solution for me? It seems odd that 2.1 is considered so unusual that realtek doesn't support it. Am I missing something here?

Thanks for your help!



Edit: Well, no one posted any help (guess Tom's doesn't have as many audio heads as I thought), so I will post my own solution, along with what I've learned.

First of all, 2.1 is a speaker configuration, not a multi-channel standard. The multi-channel 2.1 standard does not even exist, so obviously a motherboard or its soundcard cannot be expected to support it. So what is 2.1 then? Simply enough, it is two-channel (2.0, or stereo) audio, and the speakers themselves (or the amp/receiver) are responsible for separating the low frequencies and sending them to the subwoofer, NOT the mix.

Since my subwoofer is discrete, and not integrated in any way to my speakers (or the stereo amp which sits between them and the computer), that means I needed to figure out how to get the stereo output from my computer to them.

A second thing I learned is that the Realtek audio drivers for this motherboard (and probably many others) allow reassignment of any input/output to any other input/output (VERY convenient), or even duplication of outputs, and so it was not necessary for me to use a Y-adaptor to get the stereo output to my subwoofer. Instead, I simply plugged the subwoofer's RCA cable (via an RCA/miniplug adaptor) into another port--that port may as well be the subwoofer out port, because it isn't being used, but it's important to note that the port in this case is NOT being used as the .1 of the channel audio but rather has been reassigned in the Realtek options to 2.0 out. So I have two separate stereo mixes being simultaneously outputted from two separate ports, one to my amp/speakers, and one to my subwoofer.

Third, and this is where my solution isn't perfect, without any crossover filtering between the computer and the subwoofer (and my subwoofer has no internal crossover), the entire 2.0 signal is sent to the subwoofer rather than just the low frequencies. In practice this isn't noticeable, but with the speakers off and the subwoofer on, you can hear it doing its best to output the higher frequencies as well, and failing comically. This could be easily solved with a cheap (~$50) car audio crossover, but in my case it's not really worth the hassle.

And, that's it. I hope this post is useful to the next random person who googles this question and can't get any help with it (my google skills turned up nothing, which is why I made a forum post to ask other experts for help). Also, my advice to that person, if they have more questions: Don't ask them here, because you probably won't get much assistance. ;)
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
Some forum sections are more visited than others and Tom's Guide forums I think are less active than the Tomshardware ones also which is probably why no-one replied. Good job on sorting out your questoin, yes, 2.1 speakers are just stereo speakers with a sub for lower frequencies for space issues. There are some better sound cards with a sub out, but of course it has to be powered.


I've answered this question before where someone was looking for the 2.1 setting, but looks like it was not indexed as a top hit so a search did not find it.
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
Some forum sections are more visited than others and Tom's Guide forums I think are less active than the Tomshardware ones also which is probably why no-one replied. Good job on sorting out your questoin, yes, 2.1 speakers are just stereo speakers with a sub for lower frequencies for space issues. There are some better sound cards with a sub out, but of course it has to be powered.


I've answered this question before where someone was looking for the 2.1 setting, but looks like it was not indexed as a top hit so a search did not find it.
 
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