5.1 Output Splitter/Switcher

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lightscribe721
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My problem is this:

I have a 5.1 headset (Razer Barracude HP-1's) and have just purchased the Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speaker system - I wish to be able to use both (NOT at the same time), each in their appropriate circumstance, however, I would rather save myself the hassle of rooting around the back of my PC everytime I wish to alter the arrangement.

What I am looking for, essentially, is almost a KVM switch, purely for sound - perhaps like a box, which attaches to my audio output jacks as a normaly analogue device would, and this box has enough outputs on it for two 5.1 devices, which could be switch between at will.

Hopefully that made sense :)

Any advice/assistance/knowledge of a product that can help, would be most appreicated

Cheers,

Tim

lightscribe721
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--BuMp--

hnkftalnot
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I think the easiest solution (and perhaps also the cheapest) is to use two soundcards. You probably already have an onboard 5.1 soundcard on your motherboard, so if you add a 5.1 soundcard to it you have two 5.1 outputs.
Windows should be able to handle them both independently. I did this on an XP machine and it worked very well, you just have to point the game/program to the card you want to use with it.

I may be stating the obvious here, but also providing you with a bump ;).

lightscribe721
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Oh really? I did consider that, but I thought Windows wouldn't be able to address both sound cards simultaneously (i.e. I thought it would require a reboot and to change something in the BIOs each time I wished to switch outputs).
But if you believe this may work, I think I will give it a try, considering I was already planning on getting a soundcard. Wouuld you be able to make a reccomendation for a decent soundcard by any chance?

Thanks for you response :)

hnkftalnot
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I'm pretty sure it will work, because I did it on XP when I wanted to compare some old soundcards I had lying around. Media players have an option to change the output device, and I guess games will have such options as well. Rebooting will not be needed.
From the top of my head I can say the Asus Xonar is a good soundcard, but it's not a cheap one and you have to consider if it's worth it. By the way, I thought the Z-5500 system does have it's own DAC and you connect to it by optical out, so it doesn't really matter what kind of soundcard it is as long as it has an optical out.

hnkftalnot
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Another thought about using optical for the Z-5500: If your current soundcard has an optical-out, use that for the Z-5500 and the analog plugs for your headset. In windows playback devices you can choose which one will output the pc sound (analog out or optical out).

lightscribe721
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I did consider that, yes - however, will using optical output have an adverse affects on my sound quality? I've read that the analog output creates a much "purer" sound than optical, however that was from very much an audiophiles point of view, to the lay man, do you think there is much differnece, or is it barely noticable?

hnkftalnot
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It should sound better I guess, the difference lies in where the digital signal will be converted to analog (by a DAC: Digital to Analog Converter). If you use the analog-out then the onboard audiochip will take care of that, but if you use the optical cable to transfer the digital signal to the speakerset, that one will convert it to analog.
The question is which one has the better DAC. My guess would be the speakerset, but I doubt it will be noticeable.

GraysonPeddie
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You won't get 5.1 surround sound from gaming if your onboard sound card does not come with DTS Connect or Dolby Digital Live. Your speaker system must support either Dolby Digital or DTS.

Update: You'll have a very hard time finding something like Plantronics - 67526-01 - .Audio PC Switcher/Switch Box Speaker to Headset Switch as most of the websites have this product discontinued by Plantronics, but have the functionality you need if you buy three of them. You just have to remember to press three buttons to switch all of them between headphones and speakers.

HTPC: AMD Athlon X2 4050e CPU with 780G ATX motherboard running Windows 8 DP (4GB) and Ubuntu; Server: AMD AII X2 240e CPU with 880G-based ATX motherboard running Ubuntu Server 10.04 LTS (8GB)

2 pairs of Insignia NS-B2111s (front/rear), Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker, and 12" Velodyne Sub

Just ordered HP Pavilion dv7-6165us from QVC. Will have it by next Friday.

hnkftalnot
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I thought cards who don't have DD live would still give 5.1 thought the analog jacks, just not through optical.

GraysonPeddie
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Yes, true. With optical/coaxial, you'll need a sound card with Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect.

HTPC: AMD Athlon X2 4050e CPU with 780G ATX motherboard running Windows 8 DP (4GB) and Ubuntu; Server: AMD AII X2 240e CPU with 880G-based ATX motherboard running Ubuntu Server 10.04 LTS (8GB)

2 pairs of Insignia NS-B2111s (front/rear), Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker, and 12" Velodyne Sub

Just ordered HP Pavilion dv7-6165us from QVC. Will have it by next Friday.