Getting bitstreaming working - the steps required!
Now that we have finished discussing the types of hardware and software you need for the job, let's go step by step and get this all setup, shall we?
Step 1 - Once you've finished building your HTPC or adding in the ATI Radeon HD 5000 series video card of your choice as discussed on the previous page and installing and setting up Windows 7, the first step is to install your video card drivers.
Ensure that your motherboard onboard audio is enabled in your BIOS. Refer to your BIOS manual if not sure, but it should be enabled by default in most cases.
As for drivers, you'll want to grab the latest ATI Catalyst driver for your Radeon HD 5000 series video card. At the time of writing it was Catalyst 10.3 and you can grab it here.
You will want to select the custom install option and ensure that the HDMI/DP audio driver is installed. Reboot your system when requested by the installer.
Step 2 - Now we need to confirm that the ATI audio driver was installed correctly and that it is working properly.
Head on over to the control panel and open up the 'Sound' settings area. If you installed correctly, you should see a screen similar to what you see above. You'll see that the ATI High Definition Audio Device is our default playback device.
Next up, click properties on the ATI HDMI Output device and you should see a screen like below.
Go to the 'Supported Formats' tab and the important thing to look for here is that the maximum numbers of channels is set to 8 and that Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD are listed under the encoded formats supported. If your screen doesn't look like this, you probably installed the drivers incorrectly (or are using a really old ATI driver) or you forgot to enable your motherboards onboard audio in the BIOS. Go back and try again.
Step 3 - Now that we have confirmed the video card and drivers and what not are setup correctly, it's time to install PowerDVD 10. Once you've got it setup and installed, move onto the next step.
It would be a good idea to first remove all previous versions of PowerDVD before installing the new version or a newer build of PDVD 10.
Step 4 - Open up PowerDVD, we are getting close now! Once it has finished loading, load your favorite Blu-ray move into the Blu-ray ROM in your HTPC and wait for PowerDVD to load it. Sometimes it can take up to one minute for a Blu-ray to load and start playing. Let it finish.
Once you are at the menu screen of the movie, you'll want to head to the audio, sound or language menu and ensure that either TrueHD or DTS-HD / DTS-HD MA is selected as the audio track to use.
Start the movie and once it skips all of the boring introduction stuff and gets into the first chapter, pause the movie and then right click on the movie area and select 'Settings' and you will be presented with a screen like below.
Now you want to click on the 'Audio' tab on the left and focus your attention on the speaker environment section. Make sure that it is set to '(current system setting) (Use HDMI)'. Now look down to the 'Output mode' area and if you happened to look before without the movie started, you will see that with the movie playing there is now a new option called 'Non-decoded high-definition audio to external device'. You want to select this option.
Step 5- Once selected, press okay and start playing the movie again. Right click on the area where the movie is being played and click on 'Show information'. This will bring up a small black box at the top right of the screen that shows you some fancy information such as current video and audio bit-rates, as you can see below.
If everything worked, you will see that next to audio it says either Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (or 7.1 for some movies) or DTS-HD Master Audio depending on which HD audio codec that the Blu-ray disc uses. Next to that it also shows the impressive high bit-rate that is being sent across your HDMI cable to your amplifier.
I was a little stumped at first by the output section showing as 'Compressed data', but after a quick email to CyberLink, we confirmed that this is normal. While the HD audio codecs are lossless, they are compressed, hence why PowerDVD displays the status as compressed data. Suffice to say, if you see this, you are most likely bitstreaming!
If you want to make sure that you are indeed sending a bitstream audio stream from your HTPC to your amplifier, just check the front of the device and it will display what audio mode is currently active. As you can see with my amp above (eek, sorry for all the finger prints!), we have Dolby TrueHD active and working, which confirms that bitstreaming is working. Happy days!
Step 6 - You've done it! Now go grab a coffee or whatever you like to drink, kick back and load up a movie. Now just sit back and enjoy the experience of Blu-ray HD audio the way it was meant to be!
If you have any questions, unfortunately I cannot respond to emails, but please do stop on over at our forums where there are plenty of people willing to assist and help out!
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