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Not sure if this is a very basic question for this community, but I am finding it real hard to determine if the sound card in my computer supports 5.1 speakers?

The Device Manager -> Sound, Video and Game Controllers just show Realtek High Definition Audio, and I am unable to find any additional clues in the Properties.

I do have 5.1 speakers - and a quick internet search gives me lame answers like "check if you have 5 speakers with 5 audio jacks" which is not what I want, as the speaker will be unable to play 5.1 sound unless the card supports it.

Kindly let me know if any additional system configuration details would help. I am using Windows 7 Home Edition.

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You should also check with your manufacturer's documentation as well. –  Matt Voboril Apr 3 at 15:13

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The 5 audio jacks you quote is the important thing, not the number of speakers.

It refers to the audio jacks on your motherboard or sound card, not the plugs from your speakers.

If you have multiple audio output jacks on your motherboard/sound card then you have support for surround sound (providing the correct drivers are installed)

The standard jacks are as follows:

Green - Front L/R
Black - Rear L/R
Grey - Side L/R
Orange/Yellow - Sub & Centre
Blue - stereo line in
Pink - mono mic in

2.0 will have 3 jacks - Green, Blue, Pink

5.1 will have 5 jacks - Green, Black, Orange/Yellow, Blue, Pink

7.1 will have 6 jacks - Green, Black, Grey, Orange/Yellow, Blue, Pink

In the pic below, clockwise from top left: 7.1, 7.1, 5.1, 2.0, 2.0

enter image description here

If you want to see in your system properties you need to open up the RealTek HD Audio Manager (from Control Panel or System Tray icon) and this should show an image on the right that will show you which are available on your system (jacks which are plugged in will be highlighted):

enter image description here (Error here is because I am accessing this PC via RDP with audio disabled)

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Thank you very much - unfortunately I am not allow to vote up yet. And I just discovered that I do not have a 5.1 soundcard :(. However, my 5.1 speaker system comprises 1 sub-woofer and 5 speakers. The 5 speakers connect directly to the sub-woofer, while the sub-woofer has three audio jacks for input which should connect to the jacks in the motherboard. Why three then? And not five jacks? –  Mozan Sykol Feb 6 '12 at 15:01
    
the three will be green, black and orange and will require matching outputs on your motherboard. You can connect the green one only and you might get 2.0 output. You can buy a 5.1 PCI or PCI-E sound card for very little cost. –  Shevek Feb 6 '12 at 15:05
2  
the other 2 jacks are for input to PC (mic and Line In) so nothing to do with speakers –  Shevek Feb 6 '12 at 15:14
    
How does this work with digital outputs, since there's only a single cable for them no matter how many speakers are attached? –  Dan Neely Feb 6 '12 at 18:06
    
@DanNeely digital output sends the raw audio stream (e.g. 6 channel AC3 or DTS). This would normally be for connecting to an amplifier which can decode that audio and split to the speakers. –  Shevek Feb 7 '12 at 16:23

You will only be able to connect 5.1 speakers if the physical connectors are present. This is the case if the card supports 5.1 output. However, if the software is not properly installed, the card may only output 2 channel audio. Does the sound card or MB have the necessary connectors for 5.1 audio? If you have teh needed connections and still no 5.1 audio, it could be the driver /audio software or the original audio is not a 5.1 source.

Finally, more info on your system would help. If a barnd name, exact make/model. If not, then the MD make/model or audio card make/model

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According to this guide, some cards are able to use those standard 3 ports to output the audio for 5.1 setup if u se them up that way. I am testing it at this moment on my 3 port audio card, but my driver seems to know only 2.1 setup. I am gonna try another drivers but I dont think it will help.

Edit: it is actually working. I just installed realtek driver which can be downloaded here and I was able to setup my speakers for 5.1 with those typical green/blue/red ports.

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