How to Enable Dolby Digital on Realtek PC Optical Output

When I acquired the Turtle Beach EarForce DSS, it saw duty with the Xbox One, where I encountered no difficulty configuring the optical output to Dolby Digital. Its service life there was limited, however, because it didn’t play nicely with my headset configuration. Try as I might, there was no easy way to get party chat sounds to play through the Xbox One’s optical output, a limitation that didn’t exist with previous generations of the Xbox.

I moved to use the Turtle Beach EarForce DSS with my workstation computer, which features an optical audio output from the motherboard, powered by Realtek.

I was able to accomplish this through the use of unlocked Realtek drivers. Here’s the discussion about this topic on TechPowerUp’s community forums: techpowerup.com/forums/threads/unlocked-realtek-hd-audio-drivers-with-dolby-digital-live-and-dts-interactive.193148/

Download Realtek High Definition Audio – Unlocked Drivers – Windows 7 – R2.75 – A1 from Unlocked Realtek HD Audio Drivers (With Dolby Digital Live and DTS Interactive)
Download Realtek High Definition Audio codecs from Realtek website (R2.79, current at time of writing)

To enable Dolby Digital output, I performed the following:

Installed Realtek High Definition audio codecs from Realtek website

Renamed C:\Windows\System32\RltkAPO64.dll to RltkAPO64.dll.bak

Copied RltkAPO64.dll from the unlocked drivers archive

Opened Regedit and created a new DWORD (32-bit) in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Windows/CurrentVersion/Audio named DisableProtectedAudioDG and set it to 1.

After restarting the machine, new options became available in the Realtek HD Audio Manager under Digital Output: Dolby Home Theater & Dolby / DTS. I was able to get the optical output to output a signal that the EarForce DSS picked up as Dolby Digital by setting the default format to Dolby Digital Live (5.1 Surround)

Most recently, I’ve noticed that Realtek HD Audio Manager is no longer present. If you don’t have Realtek HD Audio Manager, right-click on the speaker icon in the taskbar, click Playback devices and view Properties for Realtek Digital Output. Under the Advanced tab, you should now find Dolby Digital Live and DTS Interactive within the Default Format dropdown menu.

If all else fails, pick up an ASUS Xonar U7 USB sound card, and plug and play.

Edits
20171121: Updated content to account for missing Realtek HD Audio Manager; this method is working with R2.82 (0009-64bit_Win7_Win8_Win81_Win10_R282) under Windows 10 Pro 15063.726