I'm having a a problem with my audio setup. I've used to connect my external speakers (stereo setup consisting of two speakers) to a USB DAC which was connected to the onboard soundcard (Realtek) of my computer.

When I played video files where the sound was encoded for 5.1 speakers, the voices were too low and other effects were way too loud. The Realtek card had a feature called "loudness equalization" which took care of this problem.

Now I'm using a Creative X-Fi Xtreme Music instead of the onboard Realtek, which doesn't have this feature in the drivers.

The question is now, how do I normalize the sound with the X-Fi? I want to use Media Player Home Cinema as a player, but the normalize feature there seems to have no effect. Is there something I can do normalize sound on the hardware end?

Thanks for your time and help


  • You're trying to play 5.1-encoded files over stereo speakers, correct? – Kit Peters Jan 23 '14 at 21:44
  • You are correct! – Chris Jan 25 '14 at 19:19

The problem is not about normalization, but most likely of missing downmixing functionallity in your audio stack. In theory, at the point where the 5.1 signal is converted to a stereo signal, some downmixing has to happen, otherwise it is likely that you are missing the important Center channel, where most of the speech is.

To fix this, you can try to put the soundcard into stereo mode (drivers and operating system usually have an option for that). This will tell the audio stack—possibly including the media player—that the sound will be played using stereo speakers. This might trigger downmixing which properly mixes in the rear, center and subwoofer channels in the front left+right channels.

It is also likely that your media player has an option to enable “headphone surround” effects, which should essentially do the same (VLC has an option for that, for example).

  • This is exactly right. VLC, and other players, like Jonas mentions, support this without having to mess with the systems underlying settings. If you have only a stereo or 2.1 sound system you should not have your system configured as if anything else (at least not for any good reason I can think of). I run my laptop with somewhere between 4 and 5 sound devices and switch between them for the task at hand. Each has it's own configuration for the speakers they power. My X-Fi runs a 5.1 system in tandem with my projector for example but when I unplug it it swaps to onboard sound which is just 2.1 – Andrew M. Jan 28 '14 at 20:59

Maybe you could solve the issue using a traditional (Hard- or Software) Equalizer. Speech usually has different spectrum than other sounds have - so you'd want to play with volume levels for different frequencies. However, human voice can go from 80Hz to 12kHz, making it a cumbersome task trying to find the one ideal setting. I got an old-fashioned analog equalizer at home, if I find the time I'll look into it once again. Of course, you can just do this in software, too. I bet your X-Fi has at least an equalizer built into it's software.

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