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Windows 7/Realtek HD Audio/Surround Sound

#1 User is offline   jefn 

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 03:44 PM

Long preamble... bear with me (.aT-man you can bare with me because I know how silly you look naked...).

I've spent the weekend fiddling with the original nVidia hybrid graphics driver (x86 Vista) and Realtek's latest HD Audio driver and finally have video and audio working.

This notebook has a hybrid graphics system (embedded Intel and nVidia discrete) which is hot-switchable. Supposedly not supported for Windows 7. The OEM graphics driver for Vista works fine and I'm able to switch between the two graphics systems.

When I'm using the nVidia graphics I have available an HDMI port, which I have connected to my Onkyo HD-RC160 7.2 home theater system. The .2 is for a dual sub-wolfer installation. I have a 7.1 speaker system installed.

It took a while to get past the problem of "HDMI cable unplugged" in the Sound .cpl applet. I finally un-installed the OEM driver (Vista) for the audio and allowed Windows 7 to reboot. It installed it's driver. I then was able to install the latest Windows 7-compatible driver from Realtek and have audio now working through the home theater receiver.

My question:

When connected to the home theater receiver, my Sounds .cpl applet only lists stereo L/R speakers available.

Why am I not seeing the 7.1 speaker installation in the applet? Am I missing something .. or am I just being dumb because I wasn't playing any surround sound output through the system at the time I did the woo-hoo, it finally works! happy dance?

I don't have any games that support surround sound and my external disk with all my media isn't here at the moment.

Thanks in advance.

Jef
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#2 User is offline   .aT 

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 07:19 PM

First off...QUIT LOOKING IN MY WINDOWS!

I just spent a bit of time reading through several threads at AVS and other places online. Since I do not use HDMI, only SPDIF for 6.1 through MY Onkyo (lol), no firsthand experience from me. The single common denominator I sound in my reading was this: Realtek HD Audio Drivers should be installed before the Nvidia HD Audio Driver. I also read from more than one person that only L/R would show up under one control panel (Realtek's ?) but would show correctly under the system control panel and output's fine.

I assume you're using the Vista 64-bit version of the Nvidia nForce HD Audio Driver...nForce_HDA_10.3.00.23_international.exe? Funny thing is, same exact name and filesize as the 32-bit version but different release dates and nothing indicating in the filename one way or the other, just seperate download pages at Nvidia. lol I have both dl'd, as I assume there is a difference. Too lazy to check hash marks.

So yes, I found other people online that report they show only L/R channels but outputs 7.1. Sorry, I couldn't be any more help and had to resort to fishing online. And...quite your darn'peeping! Thank you.
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#3 User is offline   Inteller 

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 08:17 PM

QUOTE
(.aT-man you can bare with me because I know how silly you look naked...)
hysterical.gif

QUOTE
First off...QUIT LOOKING IN MY WINDOWS!
And...quite your darn'peeping! Thank you.
dance.gif
bath.gif

makingfun1.gif
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#4 User is offline   .aT 

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 08:55 PM

Inteller...just had to reply and applaud your use of Smileys. TOO funny! Bravo! Bravo! I'm still chuckling.
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#5 User is offline   .aT 

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 09:19 PM

Think I may have just found your answer in this thread at Nvidia Forums: http://forums.nvidia.com/lofiversion/index.php?t103307.html

It looks like you will need to update to the latest Nvidia Driver package (190.56) or revert to 182.50 (run compatibility as Vista and run as Admin, one person reported). According to that thread, reverting seemed to more often work, whereas, using the new drivers had mixed results. Instead of my quoting and listing things out here, just give that thread a thorough read all the way through.

Thanks to the posters and repliers in that thread at Nvidia.

Hope that takes care of it. Let us know. Thanks.
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#6 User is offline   jefn 

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 11:09 PM

I think we're headed off in the weeds, .aT-man...

It's a notebook with an Intel Mobile Express 4 Chipset with hybrid embedded Intel graphics and discrete nVidia graphics... and discrete Realtek HD audio.

nVidia has nothing to do with the audio.

I keep stumbling across Realtek's implementation of their audio processor in earlier OS's and find, rather than introducing their own audio manager, they've integrated with the Windows 7 Sound .cpl applet.

Once my external media disk is returned from the evening enjoyment of Eb and Arnold Ziffel in Green Acres, I'll give my theory a test. I've stumbled across one Windows 7 forum posting that the applet will include (and default) to the speaker configuration I seek once I run content that has a signal to run it.

ETA of the returned media: early tomorrow.

I'll post my results.

I'm still hoping to blow the windows out of the house without having to resort to a dedicated HTPC in the living room.

Now, as to peeping in your windows, .aT-man... take away my amusement and what am I left with? And what of that quite that darn peeping anyway? You rather enjoy it, I reckon.

Jef


EDIT: I managed a triple post because the forum is so laggy...
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#7 User is offline   .aT 

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 02:02 AM

Now see, maybe I wouldn't have stumbled all over myself with the more details. lol Yea, I probably would have. I have no experience with laptops, zilch, nada, zip. I was just applying the problems folks have been having with HDMI and the Nvidia drivers...DISPLAY drivers, that is. It appears from 185.85 and up to but not the latest but sometimes (lol), folks are losing their HDMI capabilities "because of" the Nvidia Display Drivers. These are folks using Realtek, as well. In working on overriding this ridiculous 29 Hertz maxim with Nvidia W7 drivers, I've come across folks having to resort to EDID overrides to overcome the problem. That's basically what I'm having to do for Benny and I's tv-out problems. I've almost got that tweaked now, though.

Sorry I didn't get to help...I saw the laptop part but didn't full understand the integrated graphics part and Intel, etc. Sounds like you have it covered now, though. Do let us know tomorrow when you get your component back and test things out.
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#8 User is offline   jefn 

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 07:41 AM

Funny thing is I've had absolutely no problem with the video over HDMI. Of course I'm limited to the OEM's highly-modified nVidia drivers (which integrate with the application that switches between the integrated Intel and discrete nVidia on the fly).

These are an older version of the nVidia reference drivers for Vista and I'm stuck with them until the OEM comes out with a version for Windows 7 (which they've announced they would for this particular model).

The audio has been my problem. I was using the OEM's drivers for Vista, thinking along the same lines that they'd modified the reference drivers for the hardware (it's documented in their manual to use their drivers, but then again, they don't want to provide support for anything else).

My audio problem was solved by going into Safe Mode and uninstalling the Realtek audio driver package then rebooting into the regular GUI. Windows 7 wanted, of course, to install those that shipped with the Release Candidate. I had my Eureka moment and happy dancy. After this happened I installed the latest from Realtek (R2.30) and I have audio through the HDMI, but no media to test.

Now I see there's a Realtek version R2.31 this morning... hmmmmm..... What to do? What to do?

Thanks for trying .aT-man. I appreciate the effort. Now go put some underpants on, okie dokie?

Jef
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#9 User is offline   jefn 

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 12:16 PM

Still showing only stereo speakers with both the R2.30 and (today's) R2.31 drivers.

However... when playing content with Dolby 5.1 audio. I seem to be getting 5.1. It sure sounds like a discrete signal to each speaker... even though Sound .cpl only reports stereo speakers.

Maybe I'll just have to wait until Windows 7 goes Gold on October 22nd. I'm wondering if Realtek is doing a lot of tweaking on the RTM release ... because they've been putting out a lot of new driver versions lately.

Sounds good at this point. I'm still pretty green at this home theater stuff.

Jef
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#10 User is offline   jefn 

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 03:42 PM

I think I may be onto something...

I spent some time over at sevenforums this afternoon, searching the audio page for Realtek and HDMI.

Came across a post from someone with exactly the same notebook and the same (initial) problem I was having... HDMI cable unplugged in the Sound Control Panel applet. No solution was posted, just "we'll have to wait this out while Realtek and Microsoft sort it out."

Came up with some clues. I'm supposed to have a Realtek HD Audio Manager Control Panel applet. I have the program that generates this applet installed. I have the startup item for it in the registry.

Specifically, what I found (quoting myself for lack of a better way to box this up on the screen):

QUOTE
Service name: RtkAudioService
Display name: Realtek Audio Service
Description: To check external HDMI device availability, HDMI device audio capability and update HDMI device capability into audio control panel.
Startup type: Automatic
Status: Running


Startup item (from Registry): RtHDVCpl - Realtek High Definition Control Panel
Command line: C:\Program Files\Realtek\Audio\HDA\RtHDVCpl.exe -s
Status: Not running


I never get the Realtek Manager applet show up in Control Panel.

If I attempt to run this program as an administrator I get the User Account Control prompt "do I want to allow..." and... nothing.


So... here's where I make some observations and leaps of faith about my hybrid nVidia/Intel hybrid graphics and Realtek audio.

Observation: If I start the computer with the HDMI cable plugged in I get to the login screen on the notebook. Then a blank screen and nothing on the television. Windows' startup sound works through the notebooks speakers (not HDMI).

I notice the light on the computer which tells me if I'm switched to the embedded Intel graphics or discrete nVidia graphics is not lit. Sliding the switch accomplishes nothing.

If I unplug the HDMI cable and wait a short while the graphics card selector light remains out but the LCD on the notebook will appear. I notice I don't have the nVidia Control Panel running, so I assume I'm using the embedded Intel graphics.

First leap of faith: I know from the computer's documentation that the HDMI is only active when using the discrete nVidia graphics. I'm told that the computer must be started with the nVidia graphics selected and only then may I plug the HDMI cable in to have audio and video over HDMI.

Second leap of faith: I'm assuming the nVidia Control Panel is crashing at startup with the HDMI cable plugged in. I'm assuming that Realtek's High Definition Control Panel is crashing with the HDMI cable not plugged in (why would it need to run: its service didn't detect anything connected). So... what would happen if I change the service to Manual, create and administrator-privledged menu item to start the Realtek HD Control Panel. Then... boot the computer, connect up the HDMI cable, manually start the service then run the Realtek HD Control Panel startup.

I'm off making changes after taking an incremental backup.

More later.

Jef



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#11 User is offline   jefn 

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 04:01 PM

Well... great theory, but something else is wrong.

The Realtek HD Manager applet will start for a split instant (as verified by Task Manager) but then quickly dies.

Time to go see if I can decipher anything from the application error logs.

Oh well.

Jef
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#12 User is offline   wizzard0003 

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 04:10 PM

Just shooting from the hip here, jefn...

Could you right click on the icon that launches the Realtek HD Manager applet
and choose to run it in "Compatibility Mode" then try running it in Vista Mode
or XP Mode...? I think you can even choose to let W7 troubleshoot compatibility
and let it suggest a Mode...

Just thinking out loud... idontknow.gif

wizzard0003

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#13 User is offline   jefn 

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 07:19 PM

Hi wizz -

Just gave it a shot with both the troubleshooter and manually. The troubleshooter suggested Vista SP1 and Run as Administrator. No luck.

The program was just posted today by Realtek as being compatible with Windows 7.

I'm still scratching my head. May just give it up and wait until October ... it seems there's been some rumblings that Realtek has been working over this issue for some weeks given the fast and furious number of new driver releases they've put out the last couple of months.

From looking at the various forums devoted to Windows 7, I see I'm truly in the company of many.

Jef
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#14 User is offline   wizzard0003 

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 08:08 PM

Well, it was worth a shot...

wizzard0003

\\//_

Edit:
Seems Chuck was having problems with Realtek HDMI as well but got it fixed
with a patch...

http://www.theraptorpit.com/forum/index.ph...amp;#entry77677

He's running ATI graphics though...
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#15 User is offline   chuck4456 

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 08:34 PM

QUOTE(wizzard0003 @ Aug 24 2009, 10:08 PM) View Post
Well, it was worth a shot...

wizzard0003

\\//_

Edit:
Seems Chuck was having problems with Realtek HDMI as well but got it fixed
with a patch...

http://www.theraptorpit.com/forum/index.ph...amp;#entry77677

He's running ATI graphics though...

They are coming out with new patches for this that and the other every day, so I would keep an eye on REALTEK and see what they have to offer.
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#16 User is offline   jefn 

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 10:09 PM

QUOTE(chuck4456 @ Aug 24 2009, 07:34 PM) View Post
They are coming out with new patches for this that and the other every day, so I would keep an eye on REALTEK and see what they have to offer.


Precisely. Which is why I knew R2.31 was out this morning, Chuck.

stomp.gif

I'm beginning to wonder if I should completely abandon the hybrid graphics in the notebook and see if I can get nVidia's reference drivers to run on it... Seldom do I really need to worry about battery life.

Jef
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#17 User is offline   jefn 

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 12:07 PM

Attempting to abandon the hybrid graphics makes matters worse: the embedded Intel graphics takes control and the system cannot even start the discrete nVidia graphics (which has the connection to the HDMI port on the computer).

Can't even get the nVidia installer to recognise that there's nVidia hardware on the computer.

Big however, however...

I played content where I knew the dialog was only through the center channel. Even though the Sound applet says I only have right and left speakers, dialog only came through the center channel. An action sequence in the video proved that there was front and surround happening and only got the big sounds through the sub-wolfer.

Have to conclude that I'm truly getting surround sound, regardless of whether or not I'm able to control the environment through Realtek's Manager (which still won't start).

I'll wait out the OEM. They've already announced they'd be providing Windows 7 support for this model since it's part of their flagship road-warrior business line.

Jef
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#18 User is offline   chuck4456 

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 02:04 PM

QUOTE(jefn @ Aug 25 2009, 12:09 AM) View Post
Precisely. Which is why I knew R2.31 was out this morning, Chuck.

Jef


I knew that you were on top of it Jef.
The patch for mine didn't come out until 15 AUG but I had the card several weeks before.
I was worried that I was stuck!
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#19 User is offline   jefn 

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Posted 25 August 2009 - 03:19 PM

QUOTE(chuck4456 @ Aug 25 2009, 01:04 PM) View Post
I knew that you were on top of it Jef.


I saw that R2.29 ATI patch release up there at Realtek Chuck. In just eight days they've put out two additional driver releases.

Unfortunately Realtek isn't going to be my salvation. I'm stuck until {urk} Sony releases highly customized nVidia graphics drivers supporting Windows 7 due to the hybrid graphics on this machine.

The concept is cool. Switching to stamina (Intel embedded) makes my battery last almost twice as long.

Not having an OS-based method to switch leaves me reliant on the OEM.

I'll wait it out. While Sony is notorious for lousy customer and technical support, they've been reasonably good at supporting a new OS with their non-low-end machines.

Besides... I already confirmed that I am getting surround sound down to my HT receiver, which is quite adept at controlling the audio environment. I certainly don't need anything more than a compatible audio signal from the computer. It'd be another story altogether if I were using this machine to run games (yeah, right... on a 3.4 lb. sub-notebook???).

Jef
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