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I have a setup in my house where I have 1 surround sound in a room with 4 things connected to it w/ optical audio and 1 with the standard red/white cables. What I want to do is be able to do is listen to all inputs at the same time (or just 1, so N inputs at the same time), and ideally control the volume for each input.

So for example if I'm playing madden and additionally want to hear music from my computer, I want to be able to select those 2 inputs and have both playing over the surround sound.

Is there some way that I can achieve this? Would it require an external mixer, or is there some other method?

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Sorry if I seem ignorant, but — if you listen to multiple things at the same time, then what do you need high-quality surround sound for? You won't be able to properly concentrate on any of them anyway. So for this purpose, it shouldn't really hurt to use analog stereo, which is a lot easier to mix. –  leftaroundabout Sep 12 '11 at 21:55
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Using some rather expensive and specialized hardware, such as a Dolby surround encoder. If your stereo system has a discrete 5.1 analog input that would be easier to get set up either by manual cable-swapping or via a mixer that allows for multiple discrete submixes. This may introduce some latency, however.

Alternately, if your computer has multiple discrete audio inputs (or a firewire port and you want to buy an audio interface such as a PreSonus FireStudio), you may be able to set up a loopback mix or similar with some pro audio software that allows you to route the audio however you want. That will definitely introduce some latency into the audio, however, which might make it less than optimal for gaming.

You might just want to keep it simple and have a separate amplifier for your computer's music that you hook the music speakers up to.

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+1 for keeping it simple. Latency is annoying, whether you're gaming or watching TV. –  dgw Sep 14 '11 at 2:19
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