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Thread: No surround audio from SoundBlaster X-FI Surround 5.1 pro USB sound card

  1. #1
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    Default No surround audio from SoundBlaster X-FI Surround 5.1 pro USB sound card

    Hello all,

    I recently purchased a SoundBlaster X-FI Surround 5.1 pro USB sound card which I was hoping to use to connect my HTPC (a HP Proliant Microserver N36L with added Nvidia Geforce G210 and TSB 6891 TV tuner) to my LG surround sound system via optical SPDIF. I initially tried to get surround via the Nvidia but failed due to the fact that my Samsung TV does not passthrough Dolby (that would be to easy!!) and my LG surround system does not have a HDMI in (I knew I should have bought the more expensive 7.1 system!!)

    Since I do not have any more free PCI/PCI-e slots for a "normal" soundcard, a USB solution was needed. The X-Fi seemed to fit the bill. It works fine with Digital stereo and I see options for analogue 5.1 but I am unable to get Digital Dolby 5.1 working via the SPDIF. Pulseaudio does not seem to give me the option. Here is the rest of my info:

    Hardware (previously mentioned):
    HP Proliant Microserver N36L
    TBS 6891 Dual DVB-S/S2 TV Tuner
    Nvidia Geforce G210 (Closed Source Nvidia drivers)
    Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro - USB sound card

    Software:
    openSUSE 12.3 KDE
    TvHeadend 3.4
    XBMC 12.2
    Pulseaudio

    Code:
    jan-bart@server:~> aplay -l
    **** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
    card 0: Pro [SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro], device 0: USB Audio [USB Audio]
      Subdevices: 1/1
      Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
    card 0: Pro [SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro], device 1: USB Audio [USB Audio #1]
      Subdevices: 1/1
      Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
    card 1: NVidia [HDA NVidia], device 3: HDMI 0 [HDMI 0]
      Subdevices: 1/1
      Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
    card 1: NVidia [HDA NVidia], device 7: HDMI 0 [HDMI 0]
      Subdevices: 1/1
      Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
    card 1: NVidia [HDA NVidia], device 8: HDMI 0 [HDMI 0]
      Subdevices: 1/1
      Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
    card 1: NVidia [HDA NVidia], device 9: HDMI 0 [HDMI 0]
      Subdevices: 1/1
      Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
    and a slightly incomplete (pasted it from my post in the Dutch forums.. never realised it was incomplete!!)

    Code:
    null
        Discard all samples (playback) or generate zero samples (capture)
    default
        Default ALSA Output (currently PulseAudio Sound Server)
    sysdefault:CARD=Pro
        SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio
        Default Audio Device
    front:CARD=Pro,DEV=0
        SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio
        Front speakers
    surround40:CARD=Pro,DEV=0
        SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio
        4.0 Surround output to Front and Rear speakers
    surround41:CARD=Pro,DEV=0
        SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio
        4.1 Surround output to Front, Rear and Subwoofer speakers
    surround50:CARD=Pro,DEV=0
        SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio
        5.0 Surround output to Front, Center and Rear speakers
    surround51:CARD=Pro,DEV=0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
        SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
        5.1 Surround output to Front, Center, Rear and Subwoofer speakers                                                                                                                                                                                                             
    surround71:CARD=Pro,DEV=0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
        SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
        7.1 Surround output to Front, Center, Side, Rear and Woofer speakers                                                                                                                                                                                                          
    iec958:CARD=Pro,DEV=0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
        SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
        IEC958 (S/PDIF) Digital Audio Output                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
    hdmi:CARD=NVidia,DEV=0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
        HDA NVidia, HDMI 0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
        HDMI Audio Output                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
    hdmi:CARD=NVidia,DEV=1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
        HDA NVidia, HDMI 0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
        HDMI Audio Output                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
    hdmi:CARD=NVidia,DEV=2                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
        HDA NVidia, HDMI 0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
        HDMI Audio Output                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
    hdmi:CARD=NVidia,DEV=3                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
        HDA NVidia, HDMI 0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
        HDMI Audio Output
    I ran alsa-info.sh -> http://www.alsa-project.org/db/?f=99...fdf4e39afaf01f

    Any help would be appreciated!
    "To err is human... to really foul up requires the root password."

  2. #2
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    Smile Re: No surround audio from SoundBlaster X-FI Surround 5.1 pro USB sound card

    Have you looked at my blog on PulsAudio by Chance? I recently added another image there just for you. Have a look to see if it might help:

    https://forums.opensuse.org/blogs/jd...iguration-139/

    Thank You,
    My Blog: https://forums.opensuse.org/blogs/jdmcdaniel3/

    Software efficiency halves every 18 months, thus compensating for Moore's Law

    Its James again from Austin, Texas

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    Default Re: No surround audio from SoundBlaster X-FI Surround 5.1 pro USB sound card

    Thanks for the reply and my apologies for not getting back to you sooner. The instant notifications seem to be not working for my account. Rather annoying.

    I have actually looked at that post and I am assuming you are talking about the picture of the selection of AC3 and the like in Pavucontrol? Would this give me Surround or just AC3 stereo?

    Is there a way to add a Digital 5.1 profile to the list in Pulseaudio that specifies 6 channels instead of 2 via SPDIF?
    "To err is human... to really foul up requires the root password."

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    Default Re: No surround audio from SoundBlaster X-FI Surround 5.1 pro USB sound card

    Quote Originally Posted by Dexter1979 View Post
    The almost complete lack of any settings with amixer in that script make it pretty clear that support for the X-FI Surround-5.1 pro USB is not good.

    I have no answers.

    You could check out this thread to see if the deliberations/ideas in that provide any helpful suggestions: Re: Sound Blaster USB X-Fi configuration problem -- Linux USB (be certain to also check out the links contained therein, such as http://www.spinics.net/lists/linux-usb/msg89811.html and http://www.spinics.net/lists/linux-usb/msg89821.html ... etc ... ). If the solution is in that direction, then this is all well above my technical expertise to help.
    Last edited by oldcpu; 23-Sep-2013 at 09:01.

  5. #5
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    Smile Re: No surround audio from SoundBlaster X-FI Surround 5.1 pro USB sound card

    Quote Originally Posted by Dexter1979 View Post
    Thanks for the reply and my apologies for not getting back to you sooner. The instant notifications seem to be not working for my account. Rather annoying.

    I have actually looked at that post and I am assuming you are talking about the picture of the selection of AC3 and the like in Pavucontrol? Would this give me Surround or just AC3 stereo?

    Is there a way to add a Digital 5.1 profile to the list in Pulseaudio that specifies 6 channels instead of 2 via SPDIF?
    AC3 is normally the Dolby Digital output support and could be anything from Stereo to 7.1 ES and including 5.1. It is a single digital signal, transfered by coaxial, Optical or HDMI cable. SPDIF forces a single digital output while not selecting it may allow your 5.1 six channel analog output, a product of the sound card and using six stereo cables to your speakers or receiver, to work instead.

    Basically that screen shows us what Pulse thinks you have and so a good place to start.

    Thank You,
    My Blog: https://forums.opensuse.org/blogs/jdmcdaniel3/

    Software efficiency halves every 18 months, thus compensating for Moore's Law

    Its James again from Austin, Texas

  6. #6
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    Default Re: No surround audio from SoundBlaster X-FI Surround 5.1 pro USB sound card

    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    The almost complete lack of any settings with amixer in that script make it pretty clear that support for the X-FI Surround-5.1 pro USB is not good.
    Yeah, I thought the same. I have read that other people got it working in other distros so I may have a look. Thanks for the links. I will go through them to see if I can get anything going.

    Quote Originally Posted by jdmcdaniel3 View Post
    AC3 is normally the Dolby Digital output support and could be anything from Stereo to 7.1 ES and including 5.1. It is a single digital signal, transfered by coaxial, Optical or HDMI cable. SPDIF forces a single digital output while not selecting it may allow your 5.1 six channel analog output, a product of the sound card and using six stereo cables to your speakers or receiver, to work instead.
    Interesting. This sounds promising and as you said, a good place to start.

    I update this when I know more but so far thank you for the help everyone!
    "To err is human... to really foul up requires the root password."

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    Default Re: No surround audio from SoundBlaster X-FI Surround 5.1 pro USB sound card

    Ticking AC3 and DTS in Pavucontrol does work to the extend that the Dolby 5.1 soundtrack plays in XBMC but I only have sound coming from the front-left and front-right speakers. In other words AC3 stereo. Not really what I wanted.

    I am going to try the card in openELEC on my Raspberry Pi and see what that does. I have read that people successfully got AC3 surround working with this card but all methods I found are either old or don't apply to openSUSE. Even older tutorials for 11.x don't work anymore since pulseaudio/alsa have changed a lot since.

    It is a bit frustrating but I am going to get this working somehow!
    "To err is human... to really foul up requires the root password."

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    Default Re: No surround audio from SoundBlaster X-FI Surround 5.1 pro USB sound card

    Quote Originally Posted by Dexter1979 View Post
    Ticking AC3 and DTS in Pavucontrol does work to the extend that the Dolby 5.1 soundtrack plays in XBMC but I only have sound coming from the front-left and front-right speakers. In other words AC3 stereo. Not really what I wanted.

    I am going to try the card in openELEC on my Raspberry Pi and see what that does. I have read that people successfully got AC3 surround working with this card but all methods I found are either old or don't apply to openSUSE. Even older tutorials for 11.x don't work anymore since pulseaudio/alsa have changed a lot since.

    It is a bit frustrating but I am going to get this working somehow!
    Your best bet may be to write a bug report. Don't forget that SuSE-GmbH's packager for alsa is also an alsa developer.

    As an interim, you could try a hack like this with pulse audio: Linux surround sound with PulseAudio (mini-HOWTO) - but that imho likely won't be surround sound.

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    Smile Re: No surround audio from SoundBlaster X-FI Surround 5.1 pro USB sound card

    Quote Originally Posted by Dexter1979 View Post
    Ticking AC3 and DTS in Pavucontrol does work to the extend that the Dolby 5.1 soundtrack plays in XBMC but I only have sound coming from the front-left and front-right speakers. In other words AC3 stereo. Not really what I wanted.

    I am going to try the card in openELEC on my Raspberry Pi and see what that does. I have read that people successfully got AC3 surround working with this card but all methods I found are either old or don't apply to openSUSE. Even older tutorials for 11.x don't work anymore since pulseaudio/alsa have changed a lot since.

    It is a bit frustrating but I am going to get this working somehow!
    Let me say that without a doubt, the least expensive way to play a DVD in 5.1 is to buy a DVD player and connect it directly to your receiver using an Optical and/or to your TV using HDMI connection and then never look back.

    I have RaspBerry PI and with openELEC/XBMC boot, I think you would have to buy an External DVD player and the license to play DVD's which together already costs more than that DVD player by its self. When trying to build this in Debian, it can be done for free, but the little thing is way under powered when trying to play just stereo audio. The XBMC load works better, but everything not needed has been stripped out of the Linux distribution.

    I did build a dual boot HTPC (Windows 8/openSUSE 12.3) and with a Creative 5.1/7.1 sound card and VLC, I can play Dolby Digital in up to 7.1 ES using VLC. Its dual boot to play Blu-Ray disks under Windows. Even so, a separate Blu-Ray player is way cheaper than the HTPC rig I built.

    Thant You,
    My Blog: https://forums.opensuse.org/blogs/jdmcdaniel3/

    Software efficiency halves every 18 months, thus compensating for Moore's Law

    Its James again from Austin, Texas

  10. #10
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    Default Re: No surround audio from SoundBlaster X-FI Surround 5.1 pro USB sound card

    Quote Originally Posted by oldcpu View Post
    Your best bet may be to write a bug report. Don't forget that SuSE-GmbH's packager for alsa is also an alsa developer.

    As an interim, you could try a hack like this with pulse audio: Linux surround sound with PulseAudio (mini-HOWTO) - but that imho likely won't be surround sound.
    Thanks for that suggestion. Yes, I should write a bug report if I want to have a hope of this working Out-Of-The-Box.

    Quote Originally Posted by jdmcdaniel3 View Post
    Let me say that without a doubt, the least expensive way to play a DVD in 5.1 is to buy a DVD player and connect it directly to your receiver using an Optical and/or to your TV using HDMI connection and then never look back.
    Most of my collection are DVD/Blu-Ray rips. The actual discs have since moved on or never excisted in the fist place The surround set has a Blu-Ray player. That isn't the issue. It's TV and movie/series collection playback. Mostly MKV and mp4 files with 1080p video and multiple audio tracks (stereo and surround). The surround set is also DLNA compatible but the build in media player has issue with certain file formats.

    Quote Originally Posted by jdmcdaniel3 View Post
    I have RaspBerry PI and with openELEC/XBMC boot, I think you would have to buy an External DVD player and the license to play DVD's which together already costs more than that DVD player by its self. When trying to build this in Debian, it can be done for free, but the little thing is way under powered when trying to play just stereo audio. The XBMC load works better, but everything not needed has been stripped out of the Linux distribution.
    Mine is currently being used in an upstairs bedroom. Currently running openELEC 3.2.0 for the streaming of my movies via NFS and Live-TV (SD and HD) playback using TVHeadend. It is doing this without a lot of issues. Need to upgrade my network speed to proper gigabit instead of the flaky wireless G I currently have!


    Quote Originally Posted by jdmcdaniel3 View Post
    I did build a dual boot HTPC (Windows 8/openSUSE 12.3) and with a Creative 5.1/7.1 sound card
    I have a copy of Windows 7 64bit here and, as much as I hate admitting it, I am tempted to switch the server over. My only real problem is this surround card. I prefer a FOSS solution all around but it needs to be functional above all as it will be replacing my current paid TV service with a free one.
    "To err is human... to really foul up requires the root password."

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