With Home Theater PCs, the first place most focus on is the video side of the equation. Getting HD video to your TV is always one of the first concerns of the HTPC enthusiast. Many times the audio side of the equation is either ignored or pushed down on the priority list and forgotten. Andy (known as babgvant) has written a very detailed how-to on how to enable multi-channel audio for your HTPC – formats beyond AC-3 and DTS. Here’s a quick excerpt of the guide:
“If you're fortunate enough to have a PC with multi-channel LPCM output enabling full fidelity audio output is easy (and there's not much point in reading the rest of this) but for those using a SPDIF or stereo only HDMI connection getting multi-channel audio working can be challenging. This guide intends to explain two different options and how to configure each to attain this goal.
While there are many multi-channel audio codecs around (AC-3, DTS, AAC, WMAPro, and FLAC to name a few) most* AVR will only decode bitstreamed AC-3 and DTS variants, so even though technically possible to send other compressed multi-channel formats to the AVR it won't know what to do with them.”
I’m definitely guilty of leaving the audio side of HTPCs as a leftover, ignoring the audio stuff or at least leaving it for last. My favorite viewing room currently has a 6.1 Stereo Receiver, but only 2 speakers! Yes you read right, TWO! Guess what is on my list to take care of this winter ;)
Andy’s guide is a long and detailed one, but I promise you’ll learn something from the read.