I’ve been trying to make pulseaudio to output surround 5.1 on openSUSE 12.1 with KDE 4.7 which I’m now running on my Dell Inspiron 1525. Apparently the Phonon Sound and Video Configuration tells me that I can only output Analog Stereo Duplex, Analog Stereo Output, Digital Stereo (IEC958) Output+Analog Stereo Input, Digital Stereo (IEC958) Output, Digital Stereo HDMI Output+Analog Stereo Input, Digital Stereo HDMI Output, Analog Surround 4.0 Output+Analog Stereo Input, Analog Surround 4.0 Output, Analog Stereo Input and that’s all. I cannot seem to make Analog surround 5.1 work. The thing is in Windows XP it works by switching the Mic In with an Output for Center and Subwoofer. However in Windows XP I use SIGMATEL STAC 92XX C-Major HD Audio driver which and can’t seem to find for linux. How can I make it work?
So, one must think about the type of connection that you have to your speakers. What is that connection type? That would determine what output you select in Pulse. Now, think about the type of sound you will be outputting. Most sound is just stereo, not 5.1. Now, think about what music is in 5.1 format? Most often, that is just movies. So, not knowing anything else about your system, you have two ways to connect. Analog 5.1 with six audio channels or an optical / coaxial output to a receiver of some sort. So, you might select Digital Stereo HDMI Output for instance, which is coaxial audio to work with normal stereo and then in your player, you might select SPDIFF or Passthrough, depending on the player audio options. VLC works this way and so does Kaffeine-kde3, but I don’t know your end device. Finally, some Windows sound drivers allow simulated 5.1 or other gimics, but often this is not true in Linux. The exception is if you use a vendor supplied audio driver. Analog 5.1 is much harder to get to work because, you need a DTS decoder to split up the sound. Practically no receiver or TV can use this, but some older speakers and old receivers can, but you have fewer options that is for sure. There is a DTS decoder you can find in YaST Software Management, it works with alsa and just search in YaST for DTS and you will find it and see if it helps.