If you’re thinking of adding surround sound to your Media Center by outputting SPDIF from your computer… think carefully.
I have an AOpen i855GMEm-LFS motherboard, that I bought partially because it was promoted as supporting 5.1 sound via S/PDIF. However, on closer inspection, I found that while the Motherboard supports it, it requires an add-on PCI-slot plate, that connects to the headers on the board. And yes, you’ve guessed it – no-one stocks them any longer. I’m not sure they ever did.
Some digging-around reveals a possible compatible match from Asus, is actually incompatible.
OK – so scrap using the existing SPDIF support. How about a new sound card?
Well – Creative Soundblasters are an old, reasonable-value favourite. Do they support SPDIF? Well… again, not as standard: you need a PCI slot for the card, and a breakout box to plug into it. And to pay for both – the box is around £20.
How about another brand? Terratec make some value cards. But read closely (pdf) – you’ll see that the S/PDIF outputs (they refer to them by their TOSLINK name) only provide stereo sound – even on their 7.1 card.
So – I’m still looking. I might lump for a Soundblaster Audigy, and try harder to find a Creative Digital I/O module. But it’s not as easy as I was expecting.