I have the Intel Core i7-4790K that has the on-board HD graphics 4600 video. I currently have a Sony receiver hooked up via HDMI and windows (8.1 x64) setup to output 7.1 which works fine. I am able to verify each channel is output properly.
My question comes around the Intel Display Audio Driver. When using the on-board motherboard audio driver (Realtek) via the analog outputs, they provide the option to up-mix Stereo sources via "DTS Connect". This allowed me to play both 5.1 sources and 2.0 sources and not have to worry about not utilizing all of my speakers across all of my applications. With my new receiver, I want to drive 7.1 speakers so I went the HDMI route but the Intel Display Audio Driver now handles the audio duties and simply outputs 7.1 linear PCM which is fine except when a 2.0 source is used, only the left and right speakers are utilized. (Actually, I haven't tried but I am assuming a 5.1 source will only use the 5.1 speakers and the 2 remaining speakers will be silent)
I found found 2 work-arounds to this situation:
- Manually change the speaker configuration to "Stereo" in windows when I want to listen to 2.0 sources and let the receiver up-mix the sound to 7.1 via PLIIx or NEO:6
- This is fine from an output perspective, but annoying to have to reconfigure my speaker output in windows when I change the type of media I want to play. I also wouldn't want to leave it as "Stereo" when trying to play 5.1 movies.
- Manually change\configure individual software applications to deal with the situation.
- MPC-HC: Map individual source channels to output speakers. (Seems to work with direct mapping)
- VLC: Audio | Dolby Surround | Auto-On-Off.
- Having issues getting this to work properly. (Setting to "On" doesn't seem to force 5.1 or 7.1 up-mixing from a stereo source)
- I have also tried modifying the "Directx audio output | Speaker configuration = 7.1" but that caused an issue with the center channel output with a 5.1 source. (Strange ... I need to look into this, but they do clearly say that this option is not for up-mixing via the tool-tip)
- The problem with this type of solution is that not all applications are as "audio configurable" as MPC-HC or VLC.
- Ex: MediaMonkey, Windows Media Player, etc.
I believe the ideal solution is something similar to "DTS Connect" or "Dolby Digital Live" at the audio driver level to upscale the audio and then output 7.1 linear PCM to the receiver.
Does anyone know of a better way to configure things to ensure that all 7.1 speakers are being used regardless of the source? (2.0 or 5.1)