Long time lurker, first time poster. I'm looking for a new sound card, but first a bit of back ground...
I'm in an (apparently) somewhat unique situation. My PC sits in the corner of my lounge, whilst my hifi lives under the TV on the same wall. At present, my PC is connected to my amp via a simple 3.5mm jack-to-RCA cable. I also have some 2.1 PC speakers on my desk for gaming, which are also connected to the sound card via a 3.5mm jack. The Hifi is in the "rears" socket, and the pc speakers are in the "fronts" socket. My current sound card is an X-FI titanium (or one of the variations thereof). When I'm gaming, I have the PC speakers on and my sound card set to 2.1 speaker configuration. When I want to listen to music, I turn the PC speakers off, set the sound card to 4 speaker configuration, select "stereo surround" as the CMSS upmix option to get simple duplication of the right left channels in the rear channel, and I get music out of my hifi speakers. Great.
However, there's a snag. The drivers for the sound card in question are fairly broken in windows 8.1. Settings are never saved, sometimes sound isn't working on startup, necessitating switching the creative console thing between "modes" to bring it back, etc. So, I'm considering an upgrade to better supported/more current hardware.
I don't want to spend an absolute fortune, so had settled on the Creative Sound Blaster Zx, assuming naively it would replicate current functionality. Unfortunately, based on what i've read online, it seems it doesn't. The basic problem is that the "stereo surround" upmix is gone from the software, replaced instead with crappy surround sound emulation, something i wouldn't be interested in even if I did have a 5.1 system, but as you can imagine is completely useless in my situation, since i'm only listening to the "rear" channels. I've been unable to find out online whether the various asus xonar/phoebus cards offer a simple stereo surround sound channel duplication option either.
There are other options, from switches to extra USB sound cards/dacs just to run to the hifi. However, if I can do all this in one device, that would be my ideal (and the cheapest option). The sound card could also do to feature dolby digital live output, since I use an astro mixamp with headphones for gaming when the missus is watching TV ;) Anyone know of such a card? Is anyone doing the same thing as me, essentially running several sets of speakers from one card and wanting them to behave effectively as selectable outputs?
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for any help you can offer.
Edited by randomtangent - 12/3/13 at 2:05pm