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

Microsoft Xbox Elite Wireless Controller

One of the more interesting developments to come out of E3 (not that I’ve been following that closely)

I saw this one pop up on Xbox Live. Microsoft has set up a microsite for the Elite Wireless Controller at http://www.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-one/accessories/controllers/elite-wireless-controller

Their video documentary and teaser are both slick.

At a $150 price-point, it’s going head-to-head with the Scuf controller. The benefits of the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller are many. Paddles can be customized through the Windows 10 app. Each thumbstick can be swapped to one of three different types (standard, tall, and dome). For longevity, the thumbsticks are made of metal, and they feature a low-friction surround within the controller body. The controller also features onboard memory for two different profiles. In the video documentary, Microsoft also teases customizable sensitivity profiles.

I’m curious to see what the guys over at Scuf Gaming are going to do in response to keep Scuf loyalists in their camp.

How to Add a Microphone to Your Headphones for Gaming with Xbox One, PS4

I wanted to adapt my audiophile headphones into a gaming headset so that I could communicate with my teammates in comfort while enjoying crisp game audio. Although I approached this from the perspective of an Xbox One gamer, the process is relevant to all gamers, regardless of platform (pcmasterrace included).

This is what I wanted:

Clear comms and the ability to adjust the balance between game and voice volume levels on-the-fly.

This is what I had:

  • Stock Xbox One Chat Headset (MSRP $24.49, Amazon.com)
  • Xbox One Stereo Headset (MSRP $59.99, Amazon.com), bundled with Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter (MSRP $24.99, Amazon.com)
  • Fiio E17 (Amazon.com)
  • Sennheiser HD 650 audiophile headphones (MSRP $499.95, Amazon.com)

The Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter features a single 3.5mm input, allowing you to plug in a CTIA headset. This is necessary for the original Xbox One controller – newer Xbox One controllers feature an onboard 3.5mm port. More information on connecting compatible headsets to the Xbox One is available at: support.xbox.com/en-US/xbox-one/accessories/connect-compatible-headset

Last I checked, the Apple iPhone headset won’t work, because Apple has proprietary standards (surprised?)

I initially investigated the Astro Mixamp (MSRP $129.99 Amazon.com), which is talked about a fair deal amongst console gamers. Some say it’s the best investment for a console gaming setup. I opted not to go down that route, in favor of something simpler.

Plenty of commercial products aim to make adding a microphone to an existing headphone setup easy:

Microphone Options

  • AntLion Audio ModMic, starting at $42.95 on Amazon.com. The official website for the ModMic is modmic.com
    I ruled this one out because I don’t want to put any tacky adhesive onto my nice headphones, but others swear by the ModMic
  • Headset Buddy MoovMic $20 (Amazon.com)
  • Zalman ZM-MIC1 ~$10 (Amazon.com)
    This is the one that I picked up for use in my setup – it clips onto your headphone cables
  • V-MODA headphone owners might look into the $30 V-MODA BoomPro (Amazon.com), which comes recommended by Destiny Serious Business fireteam member extra-ordinare PullRequest.

Plugging it all together

Now we have headphones and a microphone: let’s connect it all together!

The cheapest solution is to take a CTIA headset adapter and plug it into the stereo headset adapter. This is truly plug and play, and it only adds a single interface. Run the mic to the mic input, amp the audio output it if you like it loud, and enjoy.

I bought this CTIA headset adapter (Amazon.com)

Xbox One Controller + Stereo Headset Adapter

Readers also like Sennheiser’s PCV 05 Combo Audio Adapter (Amazon.com)

Watch out that you don’t purchase a stereo splitter! The difference is in the connector. You must get a CTIA Y adapter, like the one that I linked. The male portion is 4-pole as opposed to 3-pole (TRRS vs. TRS).

TRRS = Tip Ring Ring Sleeve

For PS4 owners

The DualShock 4 controller has an onboard 3.5mm CTIA port. All of the above is applicable to your case. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a hardware solution to allow on-the-fly adjustment of the game and chat volume mix for the PS4.

The finished product

Sennheiser HD 650 + Zalman ZM-MIC1

I hope this helps – GLHF 🙂


For those curious to learn more about audio jacks in general, I found these pages to be very informative:

Solution proposed on XIM4 forum: xim4.com/community/index.php?topic=36866.0

Xbox -> Optical Out -> Creative Sound Blaster sound card

Going balls to the wall with a PC sound card…

One with optical in & out, like Creative Sound Blaster Z
us.creative.com/p/sound-blaster/sound-blaster-z

Creative Sound Blaster ZxR
us.creative.com/p/sound-blaster/sound-blaster-zxr