How do I get 5.1 channel audio from my Laptop to my 5.1 Dolby surround receiver? The receiver only got a S/PDIF optical and coaxial input and my Laptop doesn't have an S/PDIF out.

I'm looking to buy an external S/PDIF out supported USB sound card. Which should deliver direct 5.1 channel digital audio signals to the receiver.

What is the best way to connect the laptop to the receiver?


After some research I've found several sound interfaces (external sound cards) Which promise to have various mind blowing technologies, Like HD sound, True HD, etc. And higher bit rates (24Abits), Higher sample rates (32KHz, 40KHz, 44KHz, 48KHz, 192kHz, etc) And the Prices are vary depend on Brand name to features.

Example Findings:



(Above links can be expired in shorter period due to those are product listings from out side web sites. However for future references, Link 1 targets a cheap noname chinese product. Link2 targets a higher price Asus Xnoar U series product)


Since my only requirement is to get my Laptop digital audio to the home theater receiver:

  1. Should I worry about sample rates and bit depths?
  2. Should I worry about those hardware's inbuilt technologies like, Dolby decoding on that hardware?
  3. The receiver does decode only 5.1 Dolby. So if I'm looking to play medias which encoded in Dolby True HD, THX, DTS, Can I use this particular encoding supported sound and direct the digital output to the receiver?
  4. Should I worry about these capabilities which above sound cards have at all? 5.Except the durability and the trustworthiness, should I worry about the brand names? Can I go with a Chinese NONAME cheap sound card?
  • This question may be relevant for professionals too - I edited the question to a more generic character. Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 9:26

1 Answer 1


Let's assume that what you call 5.1 Dolby is Dolby Digital (aka ac3 codec). That is what your receiver expects.

1 - Any s/pdif interface can output ac3 bitstream (it is part of the standard).

2 - As you want to output the ac3 bitstream, you shouldn't worry about the decoding in the interface.

3 - No

4 - I don't know

You must in any case check that the software player you are using on your laptop is able to send the ac3 bitstream to the audio interface. This is not the case with all players. Many of them will have no other option than decoding the audio to discrete channels prior to sending it to the interface.

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