What if you wanted to connect your PC to your 5.1 surround sound system? Maybe you want to enjoy immersive PC gaming complete with surround sound. Is the possible? Certainly! In this article, we will show you how to get 5.1 surround sound from your PC using HDMI.
The easiest way to get 5.1 sound from your PC using HDMI is to get a high-end sound card and connect the 5.1 system to the soundcard via its digital output port. Another option is to connect the 5.1 system to your existing graphics card (GPU) via HDMI. Just connect the cable and set the ‘Realtek digital output’ as your default device, then right-click it, go to properties, and in the rightmost tab select DTS or Dolby Digital or 5.1.
You can also check out this article on how to get 5.1 surround sound from your laptop.
What Do I Require to Get Sound From My PC Using HDMI?
The first thing you should do is ensure you have the right home theater system. You can use your PC to set up and manage your home cinema atmosphere. Another alternative is to use a media streamer or smart TV to access your favorite content on the PC.
What’s more, if you choose, you can connect your PC to your home cinema system with the ideal surround sound. If that’s not enough, consider using your TV as a monitor.
Now that you’ve chosen your preferred system, you should play with the settings of your PC to achieve your objective. How you do this should depend on your PC’s operating system (OS).
How to Get 5.1 Sound from Your PC Using HDMI Step By Step
1. Decide On The Type of Graphics Card You Wil Use
If you want hi-fi sound or if you are already an audio professional or just into music production, then you wi likely have some sort of high-end sound card with digital output ports.
However, if you do not that have one, you can use the PC’s but in graphics card or GPU to send sound to your 5.1 home theater system.
2. Plug The HDMI Cabe Into The Graphics Card
Your graphics card wi typically has at least one HDMI port. You can identify the graphics card anywhere you see video ports like HDMI and DVI:
3. Plug The HDMI Cabe Into The Receiver or Soundbar
Your system wi likely use an AV receiver or a soundbar. Simply plug the other end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI input port on the receiver or soundbar.
4. Connect Your Display
If you are connecting a display like your TV, you shouldn’t worry, you can still connect it. Remember, HDMI carries both video and audio so you can pass the audio through the receiver or soundbar. All you need to do is to use the HDMI ARC port on your AVR or soundbar and get this signal to your TV or a second display.
However, if there is no display, the receiver will simply get audio-only without unnecessarily stressing the graphics card for video content.
Now that you have the connection setup, you will need to configure your system (Windows, Mac, etc). Please check out the sections below to see how to do this.
How to Get 5.1 Surround Sound from Your Windows 10 PC HDMI
Ensure your PC has a sound card that can output 5.1 sounds. Most new computers come with compatible sound cards. You can also get a new one for your PC if necessary. After doing that, you should follow the steps below to get 5.1 sound from your computer’s HDMI:
- Go to your computer’s start menu.
- Click “Control Panel.”
- Type “sound” in the search box.
- Click on the surround speaker icon.
- Click on the “Configure” button.
- Select “5.1 Surround.”
If you want to know how to figure 5.1 sound on your PC as well, here are the simple steps you should follow:
- Press the Windows key + R.
- Once the Run window is open, type “mmsys.cpl. “
- Navigate to “Playback.”
- Select a playback device that outputs 5.1 sound.
- Select 5.1 Surround and hit “Next.”
With these crucial tips, you should be able to get 5.1 sound from your computer. To test whether you’ve done everything right, you can follow these steps:
- Press the Windows key + R
- Type “mmsys.cpl “
- Go to the Playback
- Right-click on your configured 5.1 speakers and then select “Test.”
- If everything is OK, you’ll begin hearing test sounds emanating from each of the speakers in turns
How to Get 5.1 Surround Sound from VLC on Your Mac Using HDMI
If you’re using a Mac PC, you should start by finding out the type of software you want to rely on to get the cinematic experience. This will determine the steps you should follow to get 5.1 sound from the PC HDMI. Since most music lovers prefer VLC due to its efficiency, let’s use it here as an example.
Here are the steps you should follow to get the surround sound from your computer’s HDMI:
- Download and install VLC
- Launch the app (note that you can find VLC in Mac’s app folder).
- Select “Open File” from the “File Menu”
- From the open dialog box at the bottom of the screen, select your preferred video file
- Select “Audio > Audio Device,” from the menu and then choose the device you want your audio to play.
- Select the “Play” button on your VLC controller
You can also configure VLC to use AirPlay. Here’s how you can do that:
- Follow all the above steps
- Select “AirPlay” from the Apple menu
- Go under Airplay on the dropdown list, select the name of your TV, and then turn on Airplay
- Select “Audio > Audio Device” from the VLC menu
- Click on the name of your television again
- Select “Video > Fullscreen” from the VLC menu
- Enjoy the cinematic experience
If you don’t hear the sound, your video could be playing the wrong soundtrack. Select “Audio > Audio Track.” After that, choose an audio track designated as 5.1 sound or surround.
How Do I Get Better 5.1 Sound from Your PC Using HDMI?
Since quality matters, you need to find ways to ensure you get the best surround sound from your PC HDMI. The three ways to get surround sound from your computer that we’ve seen above aren’t enough.
Here are other essential things you should do to get the best quality sound from your computer:
- Choose the right room: While you have many options when it comes to choosing your entertainment room, you should avoid square rooms. Studies have proven that they aren’t good for acoustics.
- Position your speakers in suitable locations: You’ll require two front speakers, center speakers, and surround speakers. Ensure all of them are facing your listening position. Moreover, be sure they are approximately head height when you are sitting.
- Use the recommended surround sound formats.
- Calibrate your speaker levels.
- Upgrade your audio system.
Why Does My Computer Not Play Surround Sound through HDMI?
You will most likely get quality sound if you’ve followed all the tips above to connect your PC to your TV. Nevertheless, you can encounter the HDMI no sound issue. Various factors can cause this. The most common culprits include broken hardware, wrong settings, and software bugs.
Here’s how you can troubleshoot the exact cause of the problem and fix it:
- Check Whether All Hardware Devices Are in their Right Working Condition
i. Use a different cable to see whether that fixes the issue. If it does, the cable was broken.
ii. Try different HDMI output ports. If some of the parts have issues, this can resolve the problem.
iii. Ensure the monitor’s speaker volume is neither muted nor turned down
2. Set HDMI Device as Default
If your personal computer is not set as a default device, you won’t hear the sound from the HDMI output. To fix this, you should:
- Right-click on the volume icon
- Click on “Playback devices.”
- Select “Digital Output Device” or “HDMI” in the Playback tab.
- Click “Set Default.” Click “OK.”
Remember to refer to your user manual since your choice of make or model may determine the steps you should follow.
- Update Your Sound Drivers
Missing or corrupt audio drivers can cause several software-related complications.
Go to the manufacturer of your sound drivers’ website and search for the latest updates. You can follow their instructions to install the updates manually. You can also go to your device’s settings and allow it to update the apps automatically.
How to Get 5.1 Sound from Your Laptop Using HDMI
You can get surround sound from your laptop using HDMI by using the laptop’s GPU. To do this, simply use an HDMI cable to connect from the laptop’s HDMI port to the HDMI port on the receiver or soundbar.
How To get Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound On Your PC
The first thing you need to do is to enable Dolby Digital on your PC:
- In Windows 10, click the Speaker icon in the System tray.
- Right-click Playback devices.
- Right-click Speakers => Select Properties.
- Switch to the Dolby tab. From there, click the button to enable or disable Dolby.
Does My Laptop Support 5.1 Surround Sound
Most modern laptops will support surround sound. If your laptop has an HDMI port, then it will likely support surround sound or multi-channel audio.
If your laptop doesn’t support HDMI, then you have two options:
- USB to Optical: Get a USB to optical cable like the Douk Audio USB Converter and Interface TOSLINK that you can use to connect the laptop to your receiver.
- USB to 5.1 Analog audio out: Get a USB to analog converter like the PROZOR 192KHz Digital to Analog Audio Converter that you can also use to connect to order receivers.
To learn more, check out our article on how to check if your laptop supports 5.1 surrounds and how to connect 5.1 speakers to your laptop.
NVIDIA 5.1 Over HDMI
When an HDMI cable is attached from any modern GeForce card to a modern TV set, the Nvidia drivers detect that the TV only supports stereo even if you connected the TV to an external 5.1 surround sound system. Therefore, it is impossible to transfer 5.1 surround sound from the video card to the TV through an HDMI. As a result, every time you try this, you end up with stereo.
Windows 10 HDMI Passthrough
Suppose you use Cyberlink PowerDVD, open the program, go to Settings or use the shortcut “Ctrl + Shift C.” choose Video, Audio, Subtitles in Player Settings.
On the output settings, select HDMI, then click “More Audio Settings.” Now change the output mode by checking “NON-DECODED high definition audio to EXTERNAL DEVICE” and hit “OK” and “Ok.”
These changes will ensure the audio is decoded by the external AV Receiver and not Windows.
Using Windows or Mac as your home theater PC is relatively simple. You can follow the steps above to configure it for 5.1 sound.
Since practice makes perfect, put into practice what you’ve learned here. This way, you’ll be able to appreciate fast why experienced music lovers say you can get 5.1 sound from your PC HDMI without a sweat.
Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics.