Sound Blaster AE-5 - 5.1-Surround even possible?

Hi everyone!

First of all, I am a Linux-Noob, please be nice. ;o)
I am trying out Manjaro for the first time and would like to slowly transfer from using Windows 10 to Linux. So far, so good...

I am using a Sound Blaster AE-5 on the current release of Manjaro with Kernel 5.3.12-1. Stereo sound is working fine, but I would like to get 5.1 surround sound. I tried several things (will explain below), but I can only get 2 channels to work. If I add more channels, they get downmixed to Stereo, so only my left and right front speaker are working.

So the first question would be, if anyone has been able to enable 5.1 surround on a Sound Blaster AE-5 card?

I have had quite a journey so far... :sweat_smile:

I installed Manjaro and tried sound out-of-the-box...
Stereo Duplex via Pulseaudio is working fine. When I switch to any surround profile, the sink is immediately changed to "Dummy Output" and there is no sound.
Changing back to any Stereo profile fixes it and the sink goes back to "Sound Core3D [Sound Blaster Recon3D / Z-Series]".

I have changed the number of default channels in "/etc/pulse/daemon.conf" but that didn't help.

After looking at the system logs, I found out, that there were several errors pointing to the buffer:
snd_hda_intel 0000:03:00.0: Too many BDL entries: buffer=1058304, period=529152

After some searching in the forums and wikis, I found a hint to try disabling timer based scheduling in "/etc/pulse/default.pa":
load-module module-udev-detect tsched=0

This made it possible to change the profile to 5.1 Surround while keeping the sink working, but the result was the mentioned downmixed audio from any number of channels back to 2.

I tried several diffrent approaches with enabling or disabling remixing, but nothing helped.

I even removed Pulseaudio completely and only used ALSA, but that also resulted in downmixed 2-channel audio.

I briefly tried out another distro, Pop!OS, but there seems to be the same issue, which finally let me believe, that maybe there is currently no solution for this problem, because the kernel driver does not fully support my device. Sadly I could not find any information regarding the compatibility of my SB AE-5...

And there I stand... after about 8 hours of researching and tinkering... any advice? :grimacing:

Here are some snippets of information about my system:
inxi -Fxz

> System:    Host: uschguland Kernel: 5.3.12-1-MANJARO x86_64 bits: 64 compiler: gcc v: 9.2.0 Desktop: KDE Plasma 5.17.3 
>            Distro: Manjaro Linux 
> Machine:   Type: Desktop System: Gigabyte product: Z390 AORUS ELITE v: N/A serial: <filter> 
>            Mobo: Gigabyte model: Z390 AORUS ELITE-CF v: x.x serial: <filter> UEFI: American Megatrends v: F8 date: 06/05/2019 
> CPU:       Topology: 8-Core model: Intel Core i7-9700K bits: 64 type: MCP arch: Kaby Lake rev: D L2 cache: 12.0 MiB 
>            flags: avx avx2 lm nx pae sse sse2 sse3 sse4_1 sse4_2 ssse3 vmx bogomips: 57616 
>            Speed: 800 MHz min/max: 800/4900 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 800 2: 800 3: 801 4: 800 5: 800 6: 800 7: 800 8: 800 
> Graphics:  Device-1: NVIDIA GP102 [GeForce GTX 1080 Ti] driver: nvidia v: 440.31 bus ID: 01:00.0 
>            Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.20.5 driver: nvidia resolution: 1920x1080~60Hz, 2560x1440~60Hz 
>            OpenGL: renderer: GeForce GTX 1080 Ti/PCIe/SSE2 v: 4.6.0 NVIDIA 440.31 direct render: Yes 
> Audio:     Device-1: NVIDIA GP102 HDMI Audio driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel bus ID: 01:00.1 
>            Device-2: Creative Labs Sound Core3D [Sound Blaster Recon3D / Z-Series] driver: snd_hda_intel v: kernel 
>            bus ID: 03:00.0 
>            Sound Server: ALSA v: k5.3.12-1-MANJARO 
> Network:   Device-1: Intel Ethernet I219-V vendor: Gigabyte driver: e1000e v: 3.2.6-k port: efa0 bus ID: 00:1f.6 
>            IF: eno1 state: up speed: 1000 Mbps duplex: full mac: <filter> 
> Drives:    Local Storage: total: 3.64 TiB used: 11.93 GiB (0.3%) 
>            ID-1: /dev/sda vendor: Samsung model: SSD 860 EVO 500GB size: 465.76 GiB 
>            ID-2: /dev/sdb vendor: Samsung model: SSD 850 EVO 500GB size: 465.76 GiB 
>            ID-3: /dev/sdc vendor: Western Digital model: WD30EZRX-00D8PB0 size: 2.73 TiB 
> Partition: ID-1: / size: 250.97 GiB used: 11.90 GiB (4.7%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/sda6 
> Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 41.0 C mobo: 27.8 C gpu: nvidia temp: 49 C 
>            Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A gpu: nvidia fan: 0% 
> Info:      Processes: 218 Uptime: 39m Memory: 15.59 GiB used: 1.62 GiB (10.4%) Init: systemd Compilers: gcc: 9.2.0 Shell: zsh 
>            v: 5.7.1 inxi: 3.0.36 </code>

**pacmd list-cards**
> <code>2 card(s) available.
>     index: 0
>         name: <alsa_card.pci-0000_01_00.1>
>         driver: <module-alsa-card.c>
>         owner module: 6
>         properties:
>                 alsa.card = "0"
>                 alsa.card_name = "HDA NVidia"
>                 alsa.long_card_name = "HDA NVidia at 0x53080000 irq 17"
>                 alsa.driver_name = "snd_hda_intel"
>                 device.bus_path = "pci-0000:01:00.1"
>                 sysfs.path = "/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:01.0/0000:01:00.1/sound/card0"
>                 device.bus = "pci"
>                 device.vendor.id = "10de"
>                 device.vendor.name = "NVIDIA Corporation"
>                 device.product.id = "10ef"
>                 device.product.name = "GP102 HDMI Audio Controller"
>                 device.string = "0"
>                 device.description = "GP102 HDMI Audio Controller"
>                 module-udev-detect.discovered = "1"
>                 device.icon_name = "audio-card-pci"
>         profiles:
>                 output:hdmi-stereo: Digital Stereo (HDMI) Output (priority 900, available: no)
>                 output:hdmi-surround: Digital Surround 5.1 (HDMI) Output (priority 3800, available: no)
>                 output:hdmi-surround71: Digital Surround 7.1 (HDMI) Output (priority 800, available: no)
>                 output:hdmi-stereo-extra1: Digital Stereo (HDMI 2) Output (priority 700, available: no)
>                 output:hdmi-surround-extra1: Digital Surround 5.1 (HDMI 2) Output (priority 3600, available: no)
>                 output:hdmi-surround71-extra1: Digital Surround 7.1 (HDMI 2) Output (priority 600, available: no)
>                 output:hdmi-stereo-extra2: Digital Stereo (HDMI 3) Output (priority 700, available: unknown)
>                 output:hdmi-stereo-extra3: Digital Stereo (HDMI 4) Output (priority 700, available: no)
>                 output:hdmi-surround-extra3: Digital Surround 5.1 (HDMI 4) Output (priority 3600, available: no)
>                 output:hdmi-surround71-extra3: Digital Surround 7.1 (HDMI 4) Output (priority 600, available: no)
>                 off: Off (priority 0, available: unknown)
>         active profile: <off>
>         ports:
>                 hdmi-output-0: HDMI / DisplayPort (priority 5900, latency offset 0 usec, available: no)
>                         properties:
>                                 device.icon_name = "video-display"
>                 hdmi-output-1: HDMI / DisplayPort 2 (priority 5800, latency offset 0 usec, available: no)
>                         properties:
>                                 device.icon_name = "video-display"
>                 hdmi-output-2: HDMI / DisplayPort 3 (priority 5700, latency offset 0 usec, available: yes)
>                         properties:
>                                 device.icon_name = "video-display"
>                                 device.product.name = "ROG PG279Q
>   "
>                 hdmi-output-3: HDMI / DisplayPort 4 (priority 5600, latency offset 0 usec, available: no)
>                         properties:
>                                 device.icon_name = "video-display"
>     index: 1
>         name: <alsa_card.pci-0000_03_00.0>
>         driver: <module-alsa-card.c>
>         owner module: 7
>         properties:
>                 alsa.card = "1"
>                 alsa.card_name = "HDA Creative"
>                 alsa.long_card_name = "HDA Creative at 0x53104000 irq 19"
>                 alsa.driver_name = "snd_hda_intel"
>                 device.bus_path = "pci-0000:03:00.0"
>                 sysfs.path = "/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1b.7/0000:03:00.0/sound/card1"
>                 device.bus = "pci"
>                 device.vendor.id = "1102"
>                 device.vendor.name = "Creative Labs"
>                 device.product.id = "0012"
>                 device.product.name = "Sound Core3D [Sound Blaster Recon3D / Z-Series]"
>                 device.string = "1"
>                 device.description = "Sound Core3D [Sound Blaster Recon3D / Z-Series]"
>                 module-udev-detect.discovered = "1"
>                 device.icon_name = "audio-card-pci"
>         profiles:
>                 input:analog-stereo: Analog Stereo Input (priority 15, available: unknown)
>                 output:analog-stereo: Analog Stereo Output (priority 1500, available: unknown)
>                 output:analog-stereo+input:analog-stereo: Analog Stereo Duplex (priority 1515, available: unknown)
>                 output:analog-surround-21: Analog Surround 2.1 Output (priority 1300, available: unknown)
>                 output:analog-surround-21+input:analog-stereo: Analog Surround 2.1 Output + Analog Stereo Input (priority 1315, available: unknown)
>                 output:analog-surround-40: Analog Surround 4.0 Output (priority 1200, available: unknown)
>                 output:analog-surround-40+input:analog-stereo: Analog Surround 4.0 Output + Analog Stereo Input (priority 1215, available: unknown)
>                 output:analog-surround-41: Analog Surround 4.1 Output (priority 1300, available: unknown)
>                 output:analog-surround-41+input:analog-stereo: Analog Surround 4.1 Output + Analog Stereo Input (priority 1315, available: unknown)
>                 output:analog-surround-50: Analog Surround 5.0 Output (priority 1200, available: unknown)
>                 output:analog-surround-50+input:analog-stereo: Analog Surround 5.0 Output + Analog Stereo Input (priority 1215, available: unknown)
>                 output:analog-surround-51: Analog Surround 5.1 Output (priority 4300, available: unknown)
>                 output:analog-surround-51+input:analog-stereo: Analog Surround 5.1 Output + Analog Stereo Input (priority 4315, available: unknown)
>                 output:iec958-stereo: Digital Stereo (IEC958) Output (priority 500, available: unknown)
>                 output:iec958-stereo+input:analog-stereo: Digital Stereo (IEC958) Output + Analog Stereo Input (priority 515, available: unknown)
>                 off: Off (priority 0, available: unknown)
>         active profile: <output:analog-surround-51>
>         sinks:
>                 alsa_output.pci-0000_03_00.0.analog-surround-51/#2: Sound Core3D [Sound Blaster Recon3D / Z-Series] Analog Surround 5.1
>         sources:
>                 alsa_output.pci-0000_03_00.0.analog-surround-51.monitor/#2: Monitor of Sound Core3D [Sound Blaster Recon3D / Z-Series] Analog Surround 5.1
>         ports:
>                 analog-input-front-mic: Front Microphone (priority 8500, latency offset 0 usec, available: unknown)
>                         properties:
>                                 device.icon_name = "audio-input-microphone"
>                 analog-input-rear-mic: Rear Microphone (priority 8200, latency offset 0 usec, available: unknown)
>                         properties:
>                                 device.icon_name = "audio-input-microphone"
>                 analog-input-mic: Microphone (priority 8700, latency offset 0 usec, available: no)
>                         properties:
>                                 device.icon_name = "audio-input-microphone"
>                 analog-input-linein: Line In (priority 8100, latency offset 0 usec, available: unknown)
>                         properties:
> 
>                 analog-output-lineout: Line Out (priority 9000, latency offset 0 usec, available: yes)
>                         properties:
> 
>                 iec958-stereo-output: Digital Output (S/PDIF) (priority 0, latency offset 0 usec, available: unknown)
>                         properties:

pacmd list-sources

>1 source(s) available.
>    index: 2
>         name: <alsa_output.pci-0000_03_00.0.analog-surround-51.monitor>
>         driver: <module-alsa-card.c>
>         flags: DECIBEL_VOLUME LATENCY 
>         state: RUNNING
>         suspend cause: (none)
>         priority: 1030
>         volume: front-left: 65536 / 100% / 0,00 dB,   front-right: 65536 / 100% / 0,00 dB,   rear-left: 65536 / 100% / 0,00 dB,   rear-right: 65536 / 100% / 0,00 dB,   front-center: 65536 / 100% / 0,00 dB,   lfe: 65536 / 100% / 0,00 dB
>                 balance 0,00
>         base volume: 65536 / 100% / 0,00 dB
>         volume steps: 65537
>         muted: no
>         current latency: 0,00 ms
>         max rewind: 51 KiB
>         sample spec: s16le 6ch 44100Hz
>         channel map: front-left,front-right,rear-left,rear-right,front-center,lfe
>                      Surround 5.1
>         used by: 1
>         linked by: 1
>         fixed latency: 100,14 ms
>         monitor_of: 2
>         card: 1 <alsa_card.pci-0000_03_00.0>
>         module: 7
>         properties:
>                 device.description = "Monitor of Sound Core3D [Sound Blaster Recon3D / Z-Series] Analog Surround 5.1"
>                 device.class = "monitor"
>                 alsa.card = "1"
>                 alsa.card_name = "HDA Creative"
>                 alsa.long_card_name = "HDA Creative at 0x53104000 irq 19"
>                 alsa.driver_name = "snd_hda_intel"
>                 device.bus_path = "pci-0000:03:00.0"
>                 sysfs.path = "/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:1b.7/0000:03:00.0/sound/card1"
>                 device.bus = "pci"
>                 device.vendor.id = "1102"
>                 device.vendor.name = "Creative Labs"
>                 device.product.id = "0012"
>                 device.product.name = "Sound Core3D [Sound Blaster Recon3D / Z-Series]"
>                 device.string = "1"
>                 module-udev-detect.discovered = "1"
>                 device.icon_name = "audio-card-pci"

Thanks a lot.

Cheers
uschgu

This is probably an alsa issue, not a pulse audio one.
With that said, so far I have found this bug report:

Other threads on this subject:



I find this of interest as well:

The alsa sound matrix for creative labs:
https://www.alsa-project.org/wiki/Matrix:Vendor-Creative_Labs

Thanks for the quick answer. Will take a deep look into the provided links. :+1:

Have you gone through the arch wiki alsa page?

This makes me wonder about the upmixing section in particular
you can find it here:
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Advanced_Linux_Sound_Architecture#Upmixing

Thank you all for helping out. I looked at the mentioned links and wikis.
Inspecting the ALSA codecs on my installation, I found out, that there are only Stereo outputs defined for my card.
So I took a look at the ALSA-git at "https://git.alsa-project.org/?p=alsa-firmware.git;a=summary" and... tadaaa... Support for my specific chipset (CA0132) was added in may this year, but the new release (1.2.1) was packed just a few weeks ago and has not yet arrived in the Manjaro repo (only 1.0.29 available).
So there are now 2 options: Wait for the official release or try to compile myself... :thinking:

Could you type these on a terminal and post the output for both

amixer -c0

and

amixer -c1

please?

Of course!

▶ amixer -c0
Simple mixer control 'IEC958',0
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
Simple mixer control 'IEC958',1
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
Simple mixer control 'IEC958',2
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
Simple mixer control 'IEC958',3
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
▶ amixer -c1
Simple mixer control 'Master',0
  Capabilities: pvolume pvolume-joined pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Limits: Playback 0 - 99
  Mono: Playback 79 [80%] [-20.00dB] [on]
Simple mixer control 'PCM',0
  Capabilities: pvolume
  Playback channels: Front Left - Front Right
  Limits: Playback 0 - 255
  Mono:
  Front Left: Playback 255 [100%] [0.00dB]
  Front Right: Playback 255 [100%] [0.00dB]
Simple mixer control 'Front',0
  Capabilities: pvolume pswitch
  Playback channels: Front Left - Front Right
  Limits: Playback 0 - 99
  Mono:
  Front Left: Playback 90 [91%] [0.00dB] [on]
  Front Right: Playback 90 [91%] [0.00dB] [on]
Simple mixer control 'Surround',0
  Capabilities: pvolume pswitch
  Playback channels: Front Left - Front Right
  Limits: Playback 0 - 99
  Mono:
  Front Left: Playback 90 [91%] [0.00dB] [on]
  Front Right: Playback 90 [91%] [0.00dB] [on]
Simple mixer control 'Center',0
  Capabilities: pvolume pvolume-joined pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Limits: Playback 0 - 99
  Mono: Playback 90 [91%] [0.00dB] [on]
Simple mixer control 'LFE',0
  Capabilities: pvolume pvolume-joined pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Limits: Playback 0 - 99
  Mono: Playback 90 [91%] [0.00dB] [on]
Simple mixer control 'Mic Boost',0
  Capabilities: cenum
  Items: '0 dB' '10 dB' '20 dB' '30 dB'
  Item0: '0 dB'
Simple mixer control 'IEC958',0
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [off]
Simple mixer control 'IEC958 Default PCM',0
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [off]
Simple mixer control 'Capture',0
  Capabilities: cvolume cswitch
  Capture channels: Front Left - Front Right
  Limits: Capture 0 - 99
  Front Left: Capture 99 [100%] [9.00dB] [on]
  Front Right: Capture 99 [100%] [9.00dB] [on]
Simple mixer control 'AE-5: Headphone Gain',0
  Capabilities: enum
  Items: 'Low (16-31  Ohms)' 'Medium (32-149  Ohms)' 'High (150-600  Ohms)'
  Item0: 'Low (16-31  Ohms)'
Simple mixer control 'AE-5: Sound Filter',0
  Capabilities: enum
  Items: 'Slow Roll Off' 'Minimum Phase' 'Fast Roll Off'
  Item0: 'Slow Roll Off'
Simple mixer control 'Enable InFX',0
  Capabilities: cswitch cswitch-joined
  Capture channels: Mono
  Mono: Capture [off]
Simple mixer control 'Enable OutFX',0
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
Simple mixer control 'FX: Crystalizer',0
  Capabilities: pvolume pvolume-joined pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Limits: Playback 0 - 100
  Mono: Playback 65 [65%] [on]
Simple mixer control 'FX: Dialog Plus',0
  Capabilities: pvolume pvolume-joined pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Limits: Playback 0 - 100
  Mono: Playback 50 [50%] [on]
Simple mixer control 'FX: Equalizer',0
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
Simple mixer control 'FX: Equalizer Preset',0
  Capabilities: enum
  Items: 'Flat' 'Acoustic' 'Classical' 'Country' 'Dance' 'Jazz' 'New Age' 'Pop' 'Rock' 'Vocal'
  Item0: 'Flat'
Simple mixer control 'FX: Mic SVM',0
  Capabilities: cswitch cswitch-joined
  Capture channels: Mono
  Mono: Capture [on]
Simple mixer control 'FX: Noise Reduction',0
  Capabilities: cswitch cswitch-joined
  Capture channels: Mono
  Mono: Capture [on]
Simple mixer control 'FX: Smart Volume',0
  Capabilities: pvolume pvolume-joined pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Limits: Playback 0 - 100
  Mono: Playback 74 [74%] [on]
Simple mixer control 'FX: Smart Volume Setting',0
  Capabilities: enum
  Items: 'Normal' 'Loud' 'Night'
  Item0: 'Normal'
Simple mixer control 'FX: Surround',0
  Capabilities: pvolume pvolume-joined pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Limits: Playback 0 - 100
  Mono: Playback 66 [66%] [on]
Simple mixer control 'FX: Voice Focus',0
  Capabilities: cswitch cswitch-joined
  Capture channels: Mono
  Mono: Capture [on]
Simple mixer control 'FX: X-Bass',0
  Capabilities: pvolume pvolume-joined pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Limits: Playback 0 - 100
  Mono: Playback 50 [50%] [on]
Simple mixer control 'FX: X-Bass Crossover',0
  Capabilities: pvolume pvolume-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Limits: Playback 1 - 100
  Mono: Playback 8 [7%]
Simple mixer control 'HP/Speaker Auto Detect',0
  Capabilities: pswitch pswitch-joined
  Playback channels: Mono
  Mono: Playback [on]
Simple mixer control 'Input Source',0
  Capabilities: cenum
  Items: 'Rear Mic' 'Line' 'Front Mic'
  Item0: 'Front Mic'
Simple mixer control 'Output Select',0
  Capabilities: enum
  Items: 'Line Out' 'Headphone' 'Surround'
  Item0: 'Line Out'
Simple mixer control 'VoiceFX',0
  Capabilities: cenum
  Items: 'Neutral' 'Female2Male' 'Male2Female' 'ScrappyKid' 'Elderly' 'Orc' 'Elf' 'Dwarf' 'AlienBrute' 'Robot' 'Marine' 'Emo' 'DeepVoice' 'Munchkin'
  Item0: 'Neutral'
Simple mixer control 'What U Hear',0
  Capabilities: cvolume cswitch
  Capture channels: Front Left - Front Right
  Limits: Capture 0 - 99
  Front Left: Capture 90 [91%] [0.00dB] [on]
  Front Right: Capture 90 [91%] [0.00dB] [on]

I did update my alsa packages to the newest release from github and also I am using the newest Manjaro Kernel 5.4.0-1.
It seems that Pulseaudio has to be updated also, because there was no change at all.
I deactivated Pulse again and tried configuring ALSA only... I now have at least 3 channels running, but the channel-map seems to be wrong.
I also tried to get alsactl to rescan my cards and update the modules, but I am not sure if it has done something.
At least my card is now named correctly "Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5" in alsamixer and not "Sound Core3D [Sound Blaster Recon3D / Z-Series]" anymore, like in Pulseaudio.

Nevertheless... I am not yet giving up. :wink:

Since your card is very different than mine, I have no idea if this method will work for you, but this is what I would do to get 5.1 sound (I would revert daemon.conf and default.pa to their default values before trying this, though):

sudo alsamixer

alsamixer
I assume these two options will be different for you, so if you do not get the "6ch", perhaps you will get a "Surround" option, select it by pressing up/down (make sure your SoundBlaster card is the one showing on the top left corner).

Exit alsamixer, then:

amixer -c1 set "Output Select" "Surround"
alsactl store
sudo alsactl store

I know those last two commands sound redundant but it is what works for me. Log out, log back in, then select your 5.1 audio profile from Audio Volume Settings/Audio/Advanced/Device Profiles and you can also test the mapping right there under "Speaker Placement And Testing".

I hope it works!

Thanks for the hint! There was indeed an option "Surround" selectable as output, which was not there before I upgraded ALSA from GIT. :sweat_smile:
I do not have any option to select the channel-count, though.

Sadly it did not really change anything.
Using

speaker-test -c6

the channels are all still mixed into front-right and front-left.

I think it has something todo with Pulseaudio. There is only line-out in GUI and no surround option.

But step by step, I feel we are getting there... :grimacing:

If you try again:

amixer -c1

Are you getting this now?

Edit: There are people who have made it work with this command:

amixer -c1 set "Analog Output" "Multichannel"

Although, perhaps in your case, it would be:

amixer -c1 set "Analog Output" "Surround"

What works for me, is this one:

amixer -c1 set "Channel Mode" "6ch"

...which I did not mention before, since I do not see any "Channel Mode" in your amixer -c1 output, but feel free to give it a try as well.

Yes, exactly!

You probably are not surprised that the other commands do not work. I get

amixer: Unable to find simple control [...]

for each of them.

I just disabled Pulseaudio again and I am reading through ALSA documentation, trying out some .asoundrc stuff, but even ALSA itself does just not want to use more than 2 hardware channels...

I just found another thread with useful information:

https://forum.ubuntuusers.de/topic/sound-blaster-zxr-tonausgabe-der-hinteren-boxe/

It is in german and for another version of Sound Blaster, but using the same chipset and having exactly the same issues... Crazy enough, I just found out why my sound card was behaving so strangely in Windows the last few days:
When I have had done enough tinkering in Manjaro for a day and just wanted to play some games, sometimes there was strangely distorted sound, which only disappeared after rebooting a second time.
Regarding to the thread there seem to be registers set persistently between reboots on the Sound Blaster and this is carrying on to the other OS.
I just used the speaker test in windows and now my card is not working anymore in Linux:

Unable to set hw params for playback: Invalid argument
Setting of hwparams failed: Invalid argument

Probably it will work again in Stereo after a reboot.
Sooo... This seems to be an issue with Creative cards all alone... Damn.

problem with surround sound might be due to default Pulseaudio configuration
please post:
pulseaudio --dump-conf | grep -E '###|default|remix|lfe' --color=none
and
pactl list sinks | grep -E 'Sink|State|Name|Sample|Map|Mute|Volume|balance|Port|output' --color=none

see from earlier post were using setting tsched=0
(older Creative cards usually need that too)
may also need to adjust values for 'default-fragments' and 'default-fragment-size-msec'
wiki.archlinux.org - Setting the default fragment number and buffer size in PulseAudio

name can be changed in pavucontrol --tab 3
Pulseaudio on KDE should already have Pulseaudio 'module-device-manager' loaded
(can check if it is loaded in: pactl list short modules)
right-click on the Output Device 'Port' to rename it
pavucontrol_rename

Sure... here are the outputs:

▶ pulseaudio --dump-conf | grep -E '###|default|remix|lfe' --color=none                               
### Read from configuration file: /etc/pulse/daemon.conf ###
default-script-file = /etc/pulse/default.pa
load-default-script-file = yes
enable-remixing = yes
remixing-use-all-sink-channels = yes
enable-lfe-remixing = yes
lfe-crossover-freq = 120
default-sample-format = s16le
default-sample-rate = 48000
default-sample-channels = 6
default-channel-map = front-left,front-left-of-center,front-center,front-right,front-right-of-center,rear-center
default-fragments = 4
default-fragment-size-msec = 3

I do wonder why the channel -map here is different to my actual statement in daemon.conf:
default-channel-map = front-left,front-right,rear-left,rear-right,front-center,lfe :thinking:

▶ pactl list sinks | grep -E 'Sink|State|Name|Sample|Map|Mute|Volume|balance|Port|output' --color=none
Sink #0
        State: IDLE
        Name: alsa_output.pci-0000_03_00.0.analog-surround-51
        Sample Specification: s16le 6ch 48000Hz
        Channel Map: front-left,front-right,rear-left,rear-right,front-center,lfe
        Mute: no
        Volume: front-left: 21535 /  33% / -29,00 dB,   front-right: 21535 /  33% / -29,00 dB,   rear-left: 21535 /  33% / -29,00 dB,   rear-right: 21535 /  33% / -29,00 dB,   front-center: 21535 /  33% / -29,00 dB,   lfe: 21535 /  33% / -29,00 dB
                balance 0,00
        Base Volume: 46396 /  71% / -9,00 dB
        Monitor Source: alsa_output.pci-0000_03_00.0.analog-surround-51.monitor
        Ports:
                analog-output-lineout: Line Out (priority: 9000, available)
        Active Port: analog-output-lineout

I did calculate my fragments and fragment-size:

48000 * 16 * 6 = 4608000
device.buffering.buffer_size = 57600 / 4608000 = 0,0125 ~ 13ms
device.buffering.fragment_size = 11520 / 4608000 = 0,0025 ~ 3ms
13 / 3 = 4,333 ~ 4

 default-fragments = 4
 default-fragment-size-msec = 3

It actually is not loaded because of conflict with 'module-switch-on-connect'.
https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/PulseAudio#Switch_on_connect

Therefore my output device in pavucontrol is just "Line Out (plugged in)".
image

loaded channel map looks like > 7.1 surround, but missing some channels

but channel map is right for sink#0

please post grep 'default' /etc/pulse/daemon.conf to check configuration file

may be an old channel map in Pulseaudio database(s)
can clear databases in ~/.config/pulse/

tdbtool ~/.config/pulse/*card-database.tdb erase
tdbtool ~/.config/pulse/*device-volumes.tdb erase
tdbtool ~/.config/pulse/*stream-volumes.tdb erase
systemctl --user restart pulseaudio`

but if it is problem with module-udev-detect not getting correct channel map
can add the creative card statically in /etc/pulse/default.pa with module-alsa-sink before 'module-udev-detect' with specified options:

device= would be whatever ALSA connection works in speaker-test

possibly speaker-test -Dplug:surround51 -c6 ?
alsa.opensrc.org/Speaker-test - A 5.1 speaker setup from three stereo jacks

and other settings from before:
tsched=0 fragments=4 fragment_size=3

option channel_map= may not be needed

also appears can rename it with sink_name= too

Here is the output:

▶ grep 'default' /etc/pulse/daemon.conf
; shm-size-bytes = 0 # setting this 0 will use the system-default, usually 64 MiB
; load-default-script-file = yes
; default-script-file = /etc/pulse/default.pa
; default-sample-format = s16le
 default-sample-rate = 48000
 default-sample-channels = 6
 default-channel-map = front-left,front-right,rear-left,rear-right,front-center,lfe
 default-fragments = 4
 default-fragment-size-msec = 3

I will try setting the alsa modules manually and maybe also try disabling 'module-switch-on-connect' later, since I have read of some people having issues with that module... :thinking:

Happy new year everyone! :partying_face:

I just wanted to let you know that I ditched my Soundblaster AE-5. I could not get it working in any way and I do not think that is is currently possible to achieve 5.1 Surround with this card. Maybe some time in the future...

I am using my on-board Realtek Soundchip for now and it just works out of the box. Couldn't see any big difference in soundquality either. So what the hey. :wink:

Thanks to everyone for trying to get it running! Really appreciate it!

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