AV receivers are boxes that are reminiscent of old video players and that are responsible for managing the different audio and video signals in a hi-fi system. They are not usually associated with the PC world, however, it is possible to use them in combination with your graphics card to have an immersive audio system that is many times better than what many sound cards offer. Of course, it is not a cheap option at all and it is designed for very gourmet people. However, you can use it on any gaming system with a dedicated graphics card, be it a PC or a tower.
Digital audio via HDMI is better than optical output
The HDMI port has the particularity of being a carrier not only for video, but also for audio. However, the graphics card is not the hardware that we use to generate the sound of the applications, but among the functions of its display driver is to transmit video and audio to the monitor. As long as we do not use a separate audio output, such as the minijack for headphones included in the motherboard or simply wirelessly via Bluetooth.
Well, most users, unless they are using headphones, will hear the sound of their favorite games coming from the speakers of the monitor or television, which will come through the HDMI port of the same from the graphics card. And although it may seem surprising, all GPUs have the ability to generate audio. And no, they don’t do it by taking the power of the graphics chip itself for it, but by integrating an audio device into your graphics card.
Why don’t you need a sound card?
Okay, let’s get to what really matters to us, which is the usefulness of this article. It is possible that you have decided to mount a surround sound system around your PC, that you have everything ready, except for the fact that your motherboard does not have an integrated sound card with several audio outputs or, failing that, you want to use an AV receiver dominating a 7.1 system, for example.
Well, this is possible to do through the HDMI outputs of the graphics card and we will be especially interested in HDPC content. Since in many cases, if we separate the audio from the video, it will not allow us to enjoy both at the same time. That is, the graphics card guarantees us to be able to reproduce said content if it is protected by copyright and not have to break our heads.
In addition, the high bandwidth of the HDMI output will allow us to enjoy audio without compression of any kind and, therefore, without loss of quality. We must bear in mind that this video interface has enough bandwidth for six or more audio channels without data encryption in between, while the classic S/PDIF only has two. So it’s a much better solution for creating an immersive audio setup.
Why connect an AV receiver to a graphics card?
What we are interested in is connecting the HDMI cable to the AV receiver, which will be in charge of separating the video and audio signal to be able to handle the different speakers at the same time. Which it will do through an advanced digital to analog conversion to amplify the signal of each of the speakers, both conventional and bass, that our setup has. However, we need to tell the graphics card driver that we don’t intend to use any dedicated sound card, be it in the form of an expansion card or on the motherboard.
Most AV receivers will allow you to connect several sources at the same time and will recognize them without problems, all this thanks to a particularity that HDMI cables have of carrying the identification of the different devices, as well as their nature. A mechanism that they share with other connectors such as USB or PCI Express.
How to configure it on an NVIDIA graphics card
However, for our graphics card we will have to carry out a series of steps to be able to configure our surround audio system.
- Go to the NVIDIA control panel, to do this right click on a part of the desktop where there is no icon and select that option.
- In the drop-down menu on the left select screen and then configure digital audio, there you will see if the graphics card recognizes the AV receiver.
- Click on the “Open Windows Audio Options” button.
- Another window will open where you can see all the audio outputs that your PC has, select the one that corresponds to the AV Receiver and then click on the configuration button.
- You will see that it is configured by default for stereo, however, you will see many more options such as 5.1 or 7.1 Surround audio or even Dolby Atmos. From there you can test that the audio works on the different speakers. Try to set the subwoofer correctly as well.
Now you just need to enjoy the audio in the games, make sure you configure the volume of each of the audio outputs from the AV receiver itself and get ready to enjoy the sound of your games and movies like never before.