Based on multiple reviews, on this an other external sound cards, I was concerned about getting true 7.1 surround sound through the optical digital output since optical outputs are limited to 2 channels unless the information is compressed through Dolby Compression in the card. I was looking for a way to boost the sounds from my computer so I could watch movies while exercising, with sufficient sound to drown out the equipment sounds so I could hear dialog. While I had issues getting more than two channels to work initially, it was due to settings on the computer instead of with the sound card. I am running a Windows 7 system and pushing the sound out to a Sony 5.1 DVD/receiver system. Depending on the source material, (DVD's work, but Netflix still has issues for other reasons and most web sites are not pushing more than one channel) I can get true surround sound, with the rear surround speakers faked through my rear L/R speakers. (7.1 sound on a 5.1 system) For those who are having difficulties, in Windows 7 the sound needs to be configured through both the Sound dialog box in the Control Panel, as well as through the Windows Media Center. The Windows Sound settings only select the right output options. To let the computer know that there is more than two channels, the setup has to be done in the Windows Media Center. The test in the SoundWave software's configuration panel will not provide a proper test since the testing environment is only for the analog hook-up. The typical test in the Advanced tab will only push sound to two channels, but if you use the DTS and Dolby test in the Enhancements tab, all of the channels will be tested separately. The test in the Media Center will also push sound to all of the speakers. Once the sound system is set up through the Windows Media Center, another good test is the THX Audio Test with "The Phantom Menace" DVD as it cycles through all 7.1 speakers. For those sources that are not Dolby compatible, such as Netflix on a PC for now, setting the receiver to use Pro Logic helped fake the surround sound with some success. Overall, the system appears to be working correctly.
- How did the image on site compare with the actual product? Correct
- Was the product free of any manufacturer defects? Yes
- Please tell us about the quality of the product. It is a good system that does provide full 7.1 surround sound through the optical digital output