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Windows 10 playing audio in stereo instead of surround

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  • Speakers
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Last response: in Audio
February 3, 2016 11:04:54 AM

So I have a full 5.1 surround speaker system on my PC, and for whatever reason it only plays in stereo. When I do the 'test' thing in windows playback devices it plays the two noises out of the center, front and rear speakers. This would mean all the speakers (including the subwoofer, which outputs sound) works and are plugged in, it's just not playing 5.1. My headset is 7.1 and it has the 'Configure speakers' thing which lets me configure surround sound, so I guess there's something I need to do to enable it for the speakers? Thanks for any help!

More about : windows playing audio stereo surround

a b β Windows 10
February 3, 2016 11:07:32 AM

What is your sound card (and/or motherboard) and how do you have said speaker system plugged into it?
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February 3, 2016 11:31:49 AM

To be perfectly clear, your system will only play the audio based on its source.

If you play a file with 2 channel audio your system will only output stereo. Most notably in music
If you play a file with 5.1 audio your system will output 5.1 sound. Most notable in movies with Dolby digital or DTS sound

The only way to play stereo sound from all 5 speakers is to enable software controls such as Pro Logic II which sucks because all it does is clone the front 2 speakers to the rear 2 speakers. There will be depth of sound or difference in the range.
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Related resources
February 3, 2016 12:39:16 PM

Rogue Leader said:
What is your sound card (and/or motherboard) and how do you have said speaker system plugged into it?


I have an MSI Z77a G45 motherboard and as for how it's connected, all the speakers connect to a main panel on the subwoofer (on the floor) and from there there is a black cable that I don't know what it's called. It's a single pin and it flat on one side. I keep thinking a fiber optic cable but I'm not sure.

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a b β Windows 10
February 3, 2016 1:06:10 PM

haloguy1999 said:
Rogue Leader said:
What is your sound card (and/or motherboard) and how do you have said speaker system plugged into it?


I have an MSI Z77a G45 motherboard and as for how it's connected, all the speakers connect to a main panel on the subwoofer (on the floor) and from there there is a black cable that I don't know what it's called. It's a single pin and it flat on one side. I keep thinking a fiber optic cable but I'm not sure.



Its kind of square and you put it in a square hole then yes thats fiber optic.

Ok so you have the right connection. Now you need to make sure your source is dolby digital. Windows built in speaker test only does left and right stereo audio. You may have an additional audio control panel for your built in sound. If not you need to play something like a DVD that you know has 5.1 sound and try it out. The audio drivers for the system sound should have a panel to test out these features, and that board is THX certified. Look for a panel like THX trueStudio or something and configure it from there, or Realtek digital output.
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February 3, 2016 1:17:21 PM



[/quotemsg]
Look for a panel like THX trueStudio or something and configure it from there, or Realtek digital output.
[/quotemsg]

Yeah I have realtek hd audio manager on here, and it's fully updated, but all I see is a tab that says 'Sound Effects' and 'Default Format'. I don't see anything that seems like it would help, am I not seeing something?
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a b β Windows 10
February 3, 2016 1:26:49 PM

If you go into your device manager look for Realtek Digital Output Optical properties. Click on the supported formats tab. That should show you Dolby Digital and DTS. There should be a test button as well
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February 3, 2016 1:56:15 PM

Rogue Leader said:
If you go into your device manager look for Realtek Digital Output Optical properties. Click on the supported formats tab. That should show you Dolby Digital and DTS. There should be a test button as well


I found 'Realtek High Definition Audio' under 'sound, video, and game controllers'. When I click properties on that the only tabs are 'general, drivers, details, and events'.
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a b β Windows 10
February 3, 2016 2:18:43 PM

haloguy1999 said:
Rogue Leader said:
If you go into your device manager look for Realtek Digital Output Optical properties. Click on the supported formats tab. That should show you Dolby Digital and DTS. There should be a test button as well


I found 'Realtek High Definition Audio' under 'sound, video, and game controllers'. When I click properties on that the only tabs are 'general, drivers, details, and events'.


Try the "Change Settings " Button.

Do you see anything like this?

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/window...

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February 3, 2016 2:53:58 PM

Rogue Leader said:
haloguy1999 said:
Rogue Leader said:
If you go into your device manager look for Realtek Digital Output Optical properties. Click on the supported formats tab. That should show you Dolby Digital and DTS. There should be a test button as well


I found 'Realtek High Definition Audio' under 'sound, video, and game controllers'. When I click properties on that the only tabs are 'general, drivers, details, and events'.


Try the "Change Settings " Button.

Do you see anything like this?

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/window...



I don't see a change settings button, and all the realtek thing has is sound effects where there is environment settings and stuff. I have the MSI realtek thing, and I when I look online I see people who have a whole other tab where they can configure their speakers. I have nothing like that here. The only 'device' I can configure is called 'Speakers' and it is a picture at the top left of 3 cables
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February 3, 2016 2:53:58 PM

Rogue Leader said:
haloguy1999 said:
Rogue Leader said:
If you go into your device manager look for Realtek Digital Output Optical properties. Click on the supported formats tab. That should show you Dolby Digital and DTS. There should be a test button as well


I found 'Realtek High Definition Audio' under 'sound, video, and game controllers'. When I click properties on that the only tabs are 'general, drivers, details, and events'.


Try the "Change Settings " Button.

Do you see anything like this?

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/window...



I don't see a change settings button, and all the realtek thing has is sound effects where there is environment settings and stuff. I have the MSI realtek thing, and I when I look online I see people who have a whole other tab where they can configure their speakers. I have nothing like that here. The only 'device' I can configure is called 'Speakers' and it is a picture at the top left of 3 cables
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a b β Windows 10
February 3, 2016 3:38:32 PM

How about the Default format tab in there.
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February 3, 2016 3:56:28 PM

Rogue Leader said:
How about the Default format tab in there.


I see the default format tab
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a b β Windows 10
February 3, 2016 9:13:06 PM

haloguy1999 said:
Rogue Leader said:
How about the Default format tab in there.


I see the default format tab


Does that allow you to set/test/turn on Dolby DIgital?

Also you can download files from here to test it as well

http://www.mysurround.com/en/info-test

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February 4, 2016 5:34:23 AM

Rogue Leader said:
haloguy1999 said:
Rogue Leader said:
How about the Default format tab in there.


I see the default format tab


Does that allow you to set/test/turn on Dolby DIgital?

Also you can download files from here to test it as well

http://www.mysurround.com/en/info-test



No the only thing the default format tab in the Realtek HD audio manager that is lets me do is change the quality to different frequencies. I'll try to download that thing later and get back to you.

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February 4, 2016 1:44:12 PM

So I tried it and it seemed to work. The speakers were working fine in the test. That doesn't really explain why it says it's not working in windows though
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a b β Windows 10
February 4, 2016 1:57:20 PM

haloguy1999 said:
So I tried it and it seemed to work. The speakers were working fine in the test. That doesn't really explain why it says it's not working in windows though


Like i said windows normal audio test is only in stereo. You need that specific control panel to test 5.1 I am not sure why you don't see it but it doesn't seem to matter because it does work.
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February 4, 2016 2:08:02 PM

Rogue Leader said:
haloguy1999 said:
So I tried it and it seemed to work. The speakers were working fine in the test. That doesn't really explain why it says it's not working in windows though


Like i said windows normal audio test is only in stereo. You need that specific control panel to test 5.1 I am not sure why you don't see it but it doesn't seem to matter because it does work.


I just did a test in windows that tested all five speakers. It was Playback Devices > Speakers > Properties > Supported Formats > Test for Dolby Digital. I think what the problem is is that windows recognizes my 5.1 speaker system as stereo, yet it works in surround, because I heard the rear, front and bass speaker. Does that really matter? It seems like that should be looked at lol
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a b β Windows 10
February 4, 2016 2:21:52 PM

haloguy1999 said:
Rogue Leader said:
haloguy1999 said:
So I tried it and it seemed to work. The speakers were working fine in the test. That doesn't really explain why it says it's not working in windows though


Like i said windows normal audio test is only in stereo. You need that specific control panel to test 5.1 I am not sure why you don't see it but it doesn't seem to matter because it does work.


I just did a test in windows that tested all five speakers. It was Playback Devices > Speakers > Properties > Supported Formats > Test for Dolby Digital. I think what the problem is is that windows recognizes my 5.1 speaker system as stereo, yet it works in surround, because I heard the rear, front and bass speaker. Does that really matter? It seems like that should be looked at lol


Its a different test. Normal windows sound test is only stereo.
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February 6, 2016 6:19:41 AM

Rogue Leader said:
haloguy1999 said:
Rogue Leader said:
haloguy1999 said:
So I tried it and it seemed to work. The speakers were working fine in the test. That doesn't really explain why it says it's not working in windows though


Like i said windows normal audio test is only in stereo. You need that specific control panel to test 5.1 I am not sure why you don't see it but it doesn't seem to matter because it does work.


I just did a test in windows that tested all five speakers. It was Playback Devices > Speakers > Properties > Supported Formats > Test for Dolby Digital. I think what the problem is is that windows recognizes my 5.1 speaker system as stereo, yet it works in surround, because I heard the rear, front and bass speaker. Does that really matter? It seems like that should be looked at lol


Its a different test. Normal windows sound test is only stereo.



My normal Windows test from accessing Playback Devices - Speaker Properties - Advanced does play sound from all 5 speakers.

It may have not been configured correctly for 5.1 using the configure button as there are options for Stereo, Quadraphonic, 5.1 and 7.1. By default it will be set to Stereo unless you manually change it.
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February 6, 2016 10:42:22 AM

thundervore said:
Rogue Leader said:
haloguy1999 said:
Rogue Leader said:
haloguy1999 said:
So I tried it and it seemed to work. The speakers were working fine in the test. That doesn't really explain why it says it's not working in windows though


Like i said windows normal audio test is only in stereo. You need that specific control panel to test 5.1 I am not sure why you don't see it but it doesn't seem to matter because it does work.


I just did a test in windows that tested all five speakers. It was Playback Devices > Speakers > Properties > Supported Formats > Test for Dolby Digital. I think what the problem is is that windows recognizes my 5.1 speaker system as stereo, yet it works in surround, because I heard the rear, front and bass speaker. Does that really matter? It seems like that should be looked at lol


Its a different test. Normal windows sound test is only stereo.



My normal Windows test from accessing Playback Devices - Speaker Properties - Advanced does play sound from all 5 speakers.

It may have not been configured correctly for 5.1 using the configure button as there are options for Stereo, Quadraphonic, 5.1 and 7.1. By default it will be set to Stereo unless you manually change it.


Yeah, for me I don't have the option to configure my speakers. I wanna get this fixed, because while the speakers are playing surround sound, windows isn't detecting it, and registers it as a stereo set up. When I go into the advanced stuff and test Dolby Digital it plays sound from all speakers, but not a regular test.
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February 6, 2016 10:46:34 AM

As you have been told the regualer sound test will not output surround sound only stero

Have you actually tried playing a surround sound source such as a dvd
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Best solution

a b β Windows 10
February 6, 2016 11:13:34 AM

haloguy1999 said:
thundervore said:
Rogue Leader said:
haloguy1999 said:
Rogue Leader said:
haloguy1999 said:
So I tried it and it seemed to work. The speakers were working fine in the test. That doesn't really explain why it says it's not working in windows though


Like i said windows normal audio test is only in stereo. You need that specific control panel to test 5.1 I am not sure why you don't see it but it doesn't seem to matter because it does work.


I just did a test in windows that tested all five speakers. It was Playback Devices > Speakers > Properties > Supported Formats > Test for Dolby Digital. I think what the problem is is that windows recognizes my 5.1 speaker system as stereo, yet it works in surround, because I heard the rear, front and bass speaker. Does that really matter? It seems like that should be looked at lol


Its a different test. Normal windows sound test is only stereo.



My normal Windows test from accessing Playback Devices - Speaker Properties - Advanced does play sound from all 5 speakers.

It may have not been configured correctly for 5.1 using the configure button as there are options for Stereo, Quadraphonic, 5.1 and 7.1. By default it will be set to Stereo unless you manually change it.


Yeah, for me I don't have the option to configure my speakers. I wanna get this fixed, because while the speakers are playing surround sound, windows isn't detecting it, and registers it as a stereo set up. When I go into the advanced stuff and test Dolby Digital it plays sound from all speakers, but not a regular test.


If it plays Dolby Digital when you run a Dolby digital source such as that other sound test, DVD's or the test files I linked, then there is nothing wrong and windows IS detecting it. Otherwise those things wouldn't work. Every motherboard comes with different sound config options. Make sure you have all of your motherboard's sound drivers and config files installed and it will give you (somewhere) every option you need. Windows Sound test is never going to do a 5.1 test only stereo. Its not a native windows feature, its part of the drivers that came with the motherboard.
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a b β Windows 10
April 26, 2016 8:49:28 AM

Surround sound in Windows 10 is partially broken. You can fight it all day long, replace drivers to your heart's content, and it will remain partially broken until Microsoft fixes it, again.

Microsoft has been aware of the problem for well over a year. A fix was actually implemented and worked from build 10586.1 - 10586.3. Since then, the problem has resurfaced and remains unfixed.

The problem affects digital coax and digital optical, so basically anybody running digital surround from their Windows 10 system.

The problem affects sound that is encoded in real-time for things such as games, so DDL (Dolby Digital Live) or DTS Live. The effect is not seen on pre-encoded surround tracks such as would be found on a DVD, Blu Ray, or even the Supported Formats test in Windows sound devices properties panel, so performing those tests is not a guarantee that the system is working entirely as intended.

In games that support surround sound through live encoding, speakers are missing, mapped incorrectly, or you get simple stereo.

This isn't a driver issue. All we can do is be patient and wait for Microsoft to fix this, again.
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July 5, 2016 2:49:03 PM

bigpinkdragon286 said:
Surround sound in Windows 10 is partially broken. You can fight it all day long, replace drivers to your heart's content, and it will remain partially broken until Microsoft fixes it, again.

Microsoft has been aware of the problem for well over a year. A fix was actually implemented and worked from build 10586.1 - 10586.3. Since then, the problem has resurfaced and remains unfixed.

The problem affects digital coax and digital optical, so basically anybody running digital surround from their Windows 10 system.

The problem affects sound that is encoded in real-time for things such as games, so DDL (Dolby Digital Live) or DTS Live. The effect is not seen on pre-encoded surround tracks such as would be found on a DVD, Blu Ray, or even the Supported Formats test in Windows sound devices properties panel, so performing those tests is not a guarantee that the system is working entirely as intended.

In games that support surround sound through live encoding, speakers are missing, mapped incorrectly, or you get simple stereo.

This isn't a driver issue. All we can do is be patient and wait for Microsoft to fix this, again.


yet another "hardware issue" acknowledged by all the hardware and software manufacturers, yet no one does anything about it lol ... but instead of sitting on improperly configured thousands of dollars of hardware waiting endlessly for an update that will probably never come till we buy a new OS ... nope ... a new computer ... nope ... a new AV receiver ... NOPE. instead we could actually share the solution to this easily solvable problem. (which affects all versions of windows not just 10). the issue is digital uncompressed HDMI PCM 5.1 (or greater channel surround) sound vs the more prevalent down-sampled/compressed formats like dolby through stereo. I just got a new AV receiver with multiple hdmi inputs to plug my devices directly into instead of going through the tv and sending a digital optical line down to the receiver. (don't worry you don't need a new AV receiver lol... probably) I was hoping this would end confusing configuration issues--nope. having the same issues I had as my previous setup.

if i'm not mistaken, my understanding is that the uncompressed digital pcm surround sound format is much less common and somewhat new. I have been testing all different kinds of media after getting my 5.1 configuration setup in windows hoping to hear ... anything out of those satellite speakers--nope. there is 1 single thing I found that actually had that pure unfiltered, high quality digital PCM HDMI 5.1 sound--an awesome game called final fantasy xiv online - a realm reborn. and probably a few other new games too. and maybe audio dvds. not sure what else.

for everything else you actually have to set your sound in windows to STEREO. right click sound icon > sounds > playback tab > select 'default device' > click configure. click stereo > next > next > next > finish. YES STEREO. why? because analogue component has been abandoned for the new and far more prevalent digital hdmi so older things are now sent through two channels into a compressed format encoded with multiple channels, which is then decoded in your AV receiver when you hit the dolby/matrix/whatever button. nobody buys sound cards with component outputs, especially since GPUs now output hdmi at increasingly larger bandwidths capable of multiple channels (after some compression). and subsequently, manufacturers are abandoning "higher quality" component inputs on their AV receivers for better and better and more hdmi inputs (my new onkyo has 4 hdmi in and 1 out, all hdcp 2.2 4k ultra hd ready).

so to recap:

if you ever find a 5.1 PCM source LOL... CONFIGURE WINDOWS FOR 5.1 SOUND in default sound device (and for me I have to hit the direct option on remote so it's not adding any weird surround sound filters etc but I think even if I did that the pcm signal would override not sure..)

and for everything else / older games / youtube (aka if you notice sound not coming from your satellite speakers when it says that sh!#'s supposed to be surround)--CONFIGURE WINDOWS FOR STEREO SOUND in default sound device (and then hit the surround/dolby/pro logic/matrix whatever button on your remote to hopefully decode it). GOOD LUCK <3

I hope this begins to answer anyone's questions this has been plaguing me for years and I finally figured it out since my old av receiver burnt out lol. I hope these hardware manufacturers realize it just makes them look stupid when their products fail as advertised yet there are such simple yet elusive software fixes / configuration options that must be selected in order to get the most (or anything) out of thousands of dollars of hardware. it's 2016 make this crap automatic! we shouldn't have to scour forums for hours/days/years to get such common problems working right.

I am sure I have some inaccurate info somewhere in here I have learned more than I ever cared to know about how audio is fed from pc to av receiver to speakers in the past few days getting this crap to work... this was just the solution that worked for me. please feel free to correct me / make this more accurate / add to this. thanks!

p.s. another issue I had was that when I applied an EDID hack to force my passive 3d LG tv to be recognized by NVidia 3d vision, it took away my surround sound formats/options. I finally figured out how to fix this too

original EDID hack (makes 3d work, breaks surround sound):

http://afriendlyfox.com/2013/02/04/massively-improved-n...

how to create a new EDID with moninfo (working 3d, working surround sound, through 1 hdmi):

https://forums.geforce.com/default/topic/510807/if-anyo...
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September 14, 2016 4:32:09 PM

Hey Halo, just in case this is still an issue with your surround sound system, I had the same issue with my 6.1 and after digging found a solution that might help you. The Realtek HD Audio console was mentioned in the post and my issue was due to this app. For me, on the default format tab, I had changed the format to 24bits/96000Hz (studio quality) for my new headphones. After I switched it back to 16bits/48000HZ (DVD quality) everything was working normally again.
My system is an older Onkyo HT-R510 6.1 receiver. Hope this helps.
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March 9, 2017 4:53:49 PM

thanks for you response. i see this is almost a year old- im having the same issues, any update on this??


bigpinkdragon286 said:
Surround sound in Windows 10 is partially broken. You can fight it all day long, replace drivers to your heart's content, and it will remain partially broken until Microsoft fixes it, again.

Microsoft has been aware of the problem for well over a year. A fix was actually implemented and worked from build 10586.1 - 10586.3. Since then, the problem has resurfaced and remains unfixed.

The problem affects digital coax and digital optical, so basically anybody running digital surround from their Windows 10 system.

The problem affects sound that is encoded in real-time for things such as games, so DDL (Dolby Digital Live) or DTS Live. The effect is not seen on pre-encoded surround tracks such as would be found on a DVD, Blu Ray, or even the Supported Formats test in Windows sound devices properties panel, so performing those tests is not a guarantee that the system is working entirely as intended.

In games that support surround sound through live encoding, speakers are missing, mapped incorrectly, or you get simple stereo.

This isn't a driver issue. All we can do is be patient and wait for Microsoft to fix this, again.


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a b β Windows 10
March 9, 2017 6:06:59 PM

cwjonesy said:
thanks for you response. i see this is almost a year old- im having the same issues, any update on this??
You don't specify if your issues are Windows 10 related, and I really can't say if the live surround encoding issues have been fixed in Windows 10, but from how badly Microsoft was dragging their feet on the problem, I would not be even the least surprised if the issue still remained. I have Windows 10 on a few systems, but none that are connected to surround audio, or I would happily test it for you. Windows 10 is too slow and too troublesome compared to what it was supposed to replace to use it on any primary devices.
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a b β Windows 10
March 9, 2017 8:11:16 PM

This issue at the time was resolved and the OP long gone, best to start a new thread.
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