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Best way to connect PC and Games Consoles to same Speaker System?

Dec 5, 2004
12 (0.00/day)
I've got a set of Creative Labs Inspire 5100 speakers that I use with my TV set up - using a Creative DDTS-100 decoder to connect my PS2 and XBox via optical cables for true 5.1 with movies (and the odd game), and connecting my GameCube and TV via analogue to upmix to 5.1.

I love that set up and it has served me well. However I've always had my PC and TV next to each other and so I've recently invested in a 20" LCD monitor to replace both my existing PC monitor but also my TV, so I can use the monitor for my games consoles as well - consolidating everything into one system.

I'd like this to include speakers as well. My PC has an onboard ALC650 7.1 sound card (it's an Asus P4P800-E Deluxe motherboard) which has both optical digital and analogue outputs. Last night I connected it to my current set up by simply connecting an optical cable from my PC optical out to the third optical input on the DDTS-Decoder. I go into Control Panel to tell Windows XP I now have 5.1 speakers instead of 2.1.

So far so good - I'm getting sound out of all the speakers and the sub, music sounds good using the decoder to upmix it to ProLogic II or Neo:6. I try a DVD movie and the Dolby Digital light on the decoder comes on, showing it's receiving a true 5.1 signal.

Then I try a game - Prey, which has surround support. It sounds good, but I'm not overwhelmed. Something on the wall is making a squelchy noise so I stand with my back to it. I can hear it out of all of the speakers. I'm sure it can do better than this.

What I tried was taking the decoder out of the equation and connecting my speakers directly to my PC using the onboard soundcard's analogue outputs. This worked wonders. The squelchy thing is only squelching in the rear speakers - telling me there's a squelchy something behind me! Excellent!

So my conclusion is - my PC's soundcard is doing some decoding of its own, and it's better than what the external decoder is doing, likely due to the fact that it's actually part of my PC.

But here's my problem - I can't connect both the PC sound card (for my PC) AND the decoder (for PS2, Xbox, GameCube and TV) to the speaker system at the same time. Ideally I'd have the PC go through the decoder, but that gives inferior results.

What can I do about this? I've thought of a few things:
1) Simply buy another 3x 3.5mm jack cable and 3 splitters, allowing my speakers to take 2 sets of analogue inputs. Would that work?
2) Is there a way to get my decoder to mix the game's audio in the way my onboard sound card does? Why doesn't my sound card output the audio it has upmixed through the digital out?
3) Is there a better soundcard (such as an Audigy?) that would upmix the audio and output it digitally?

I guess what I mean there is can my soundcard upmix to 5.1, send that signal to my decoder, and have my decoder not change the signal, just let it go straight through to the speakers?

Any help, explanations or suggestions would be much appreciated, as I'd love to be able to understand this better and have an ideal setup!