I'm thinking about getting a new 5.1 speaker system to replace my old analog one which was rendered useless because it was getting too high volume too rapidly.

I've got a proposal with a possible replacement, however, that is a home theater system with only HDMI.

I'm using my motherboard's sound capabilities, which is capable up to 7.1 through analog means, and theoretically it can do it also through HDMI output. According to the motherboard's manual (Gigabyte GA-H67M-UD2H-B3), the HDMI output only supports AC-3, DTS and 2-channel-LPCM. The mainboard also has an optical S/PDIF out. It doesn't mention that if the mainboard sound is capable to output 5.1 through HDMI or S/PDIF.

The sound setting applet in Ubuntu shows only S-PDIF with only stereo output. If I run pavucontrol I can set HDMI 5.1 (or 7.1), and then it also appears in Ubuntu's sound applet, but clicking on the test button don't do anything. Of course, I don't have that sound system yet, so I don't know if this setting works or not.

My questions are:

  1. Should I get that HDMI only sound system, or just stick to analog (which I know that works)?

  2. Using the HDMI out I can get surround only in lossless codecs, since my mainboard only supports that?

Thanks in advance!


I think it depends on your hardware. My understanding is that some changes in the innards of 16 broke the AMD supplied drivers (fglrx). The open source driver only supports 2 channels over HDMI. There is a new AMD sourced driver but it supposedly onlyl works with the very latest Radeon hardware.

Chat/discussion on nVidia makes it sound like it has the same problem. I suypposed this may leave only Intel or non-integrated sound as options for multi-channel over HDMI in Ubuntu 16.

(I'm fighting the same battle with an AMD/Radeon system)

Good luck!

  • I've got the new sound system since, It turned out that Ubuntu can only provide sound through S/PDIF and only in stereo. – Negirno Sep 5 '16 at 10:42
  • According to this, I have to enable AC-3 output. And yes, I use the onboard Intel sound chipset. – Negirno Sep 5 '16 at 10:51

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