I have been searching for the past two days for a way to get a sound card that will output 5.1 through optical because my motherboard is missing one. I have narrowed it down to Asus Xonar DGX to a cheep good sounding card to get for 5.1. But I am confused at this part because it has optical, says 5.1 sound, but is virtual? Is there another card that will indeed do true 5.1 surround sound through optical to my home theater system?
Optical does 5.1 and 7.1 compressed dolby/dts so it's still proper surround unique sounds for each channel. HD surround uncompressed dolby/dts requires a higher bitstream with Hdmi but trouble is no PC speakers have Hdmi passthrough for video, that would be quite handy, don't know why PC speakers don't yet include.
Motherboards or sound cards with multi channel support which is pretty much all models since a long time do support real surround not virtual either via 3.5mm jacks or optical.