SP/DIF Passthrough!

Its been bugging me… I’ve had this kick-butt system in the living room for years, but for some strange reason with Windows Vista (now 7) I lost my ability to pass pre-encoded digital audio out my SP/DIF port for anything other than DVDs and Recorded TV… which is a really annoying little hole in the setup.  My wife can attest, that every few months, I’ll interrupt our evenings with a little experiment to try to fix this “problem”… though, its only really a problem to those (like for instance: me) who care/notice the surround sound when its missing/down-mixed to stereo… so, no support for this little quirk. 🙂 Any ways… today, I FINALLY solved my problem. 😀

So, what is the solution?

To start, I had the DivX codec to give me the basic functionality of watching and playing MKV files and most non-native containers to Windows 7. (at least the ones I care about) Then I was using AC3filter to handle the AC3/DTS streams and play them as stereo. (Some sound is better than no sound).  AC3filter does support SPDIF passthrough, but it almost always came out as painful static/white-noise…something a banshie would shriek at… and it would spur the end of my wife’s willingness to allow me to tinker and troubleshoot. (I don’t blame her…it never worked, and it WAS extremely discomforting to hear) So, this inevitably led me to try something completely different. Enter ffdshow. I had dismissed this little gem long ago, mostly because I thought of it as only a video decoding package… little did I know it added audio support. 🙂 Our little friend Google reacquainted us… so I tried it. Slight improvement… no sound, and no “You need an AC3 decoder” warning…no bloody-ear divorce inducing sounds… so, I was on the right path! …so, I dug a little deeper, and realized I needed something like Haali Media Splitter! Once installed, all was perfect. 🙂