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

openSUSE 12.3 KDE
TvHeadend 3.4
XBMC 12.2

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!!)

    Discard all samples (playback) or generate zero samples (capture)
    Default ALSA Output (currently PulseAudio Sound Server)
    SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio
    Default Audio Device
    SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio
    Front speakers
    SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio
    4.0 Surround output to Front and Rear speakers
    SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio
    4.1 Surround output to Front, Rear and Subwoofer speakers
    SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio
    5.0 Surround output to Front, Center and Rear speakers
    SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
    5.1 Surround output to Front, Center, Rear and Subwoofer speakers                                                                                                                                                                                                             
    SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
    7.1 Surround output to Front, Center, Side, Rear and Woofer speakers                                                                                                                                                                                                          
    SB X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, USB Audio                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
    IEC958 (S/PDIF) Digital Audio Output                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
    HDA NVidia, HDMI 0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
    HDMI Audio Output                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
    HDA NVidia, HDMI 0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
    HDMI Audio Output                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
    HDA NVidia, HDMI 0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
    HDMI Audio Output                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
    HDA NVidia, HDMI 0                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
    HDMI Audio Output                     

I ran ->

Any help would be appreciated!

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:

Thank You,

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?

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 and … etc … ). If the solution is in that direction, then this is all well above my technical expertise to help.

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,

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.

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!

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! :slight_smile:

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.

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,

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.

Most of my collection are DVD/Blu-Ray rips. The actual discs have since moved on or never excisted in the fist place :slight_smile: 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.

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!

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.

On the Raspberry Pi Front, I have a model B with power supply as stated before I think and I purchased a multi-color 16x2 display ($24.99 US plus shipping), A Wifi Antenna (12.99 US plus shipping) and a clear Display case for Pi and LCD display ($12.99 US plus shipping), added a small stereo speaker set and installed the software per (Initial System Configuration | Raspberry Pi WiFi Radio | Adafruit Learning System) and I now have great working Internet Radio using a free Pandora setup. I plan on setting it up for the Wife with the music she likes so she can listen to radio with the push of a single button. I never was able to have such a simple setup before, but now I do. The LCD has five buttons for switching songs and turning the sound up or down, but a single power on is all she really needs. The Raspbeery has many possible things it can do I have found.

That You,

I am having the same problem. I have tried so many things with the spdif but it did not work. So know i just connect the RCA and 3.5mm wires and still not a sound from the rear speakers or the subwoofer. I am using 13.1
This is my .asoundrc file

pcm.!default {
type plug
slave.pcm “surround51”
slave.channels 6
route_policy duplicate

When you use a .asoundrc file are you suppose to install it as a superuser or as a group user?

Is there a 5.1 usb surround card that uses a digital spdif connection that just works out of the box for Opensuse 13.1?

Unless you’ve specifically removed PulseAudio, you won’t be using ALSA at all so asoundrc won’t do anything.

Install paprefs package, launch it and go to Speakers and select 5.1

To add to this, pavucontrol package also allows you better control over the output devices and the configuration.

Try both.

can somebody tell me the current state whether the “Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro” (especially the SDPIF output with 5.1) is working with opensuse?