Audio device setup 5.1 or 2.0, ALSA or HDMI?

Ok, this has been a slight mystery for me for quite a while. Just looking for best practices.

My Rpi3 goes to my TV using HDMI. From the TV to Reciever it uses SPDIF. I don’t like using passthrough because it is always way too loud, and I have to run over to turn it down (I know, I’m lazy). Assume I’m not using passthrough.

I’ve set my audio up for 2.0 as SPDIF can’t handle more than two channels. Ideally, I’d like 5.1. Will it work properly (or distribute the channels) if I choose 5.1? I just use 2.0 because I assume I need to use passthrough to get Dolby Digital 5.1 decoding.

Second question, what is the benefit of using ALSA vs. HDMI as the audio device? I was fiddling around with ALSA (with no luck) to get an equalizer going, but it never worked. Which setting is better, or is there no difference?

I’m pretty sure DSP has not been set up properly or in use for OSMC yet…or they’re planning on removing it.


spdif can handle 5.1 if you use pass through as DD or DTS formats, if you are sending lpcm i believe it can only handle 2 channels (pass through set to off)

Interesting. My TV has a setting to pass audio RAW, which is the setting I use…

in theory if your hardware supported it (tv ect) you could pass through dd and dts down to the tv over the hdmi and these could then be sent out of it over the spdif to the amp getting you 5.1 providing your hardware supported it. my old samsung tv would only send out 2 channel over spdi but my sony would send 5.1 so you will need to see what your hardware supports

AFAIK, Kodi on RPi does not use ALSA for its HDMI or Analogue outputs. You would only get an ALSA option if you have another device, eg USB soundcard or a HAT or a2dp bluetooth.