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  1. #1
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    Question Windows 8 Media Center Sound problem

    For no good reason other than being a curious geek I upgraded three perfectly good Windows 7 64 bit machines to windows 8, and put Media Center on all three while the price was cheap. Two of the computers are fine, one has a strange Media Center audio problem. It is a home-built low power HTPC that wasn't running much else besides Windows Media Center. It is connected to a TV via an HDMI cable. I leave the PC with media center running most of the time.

    Most of the time (but not always, I can't pin down exactly how to reproduce the problem 100% of the time), when after a day or so of the HTPC sitting I switch the TV from TV mode to using the HDMI input connected to the HTPC, the sound doesn't work. One of the following two workarounds always turns the sound back on: 1. I "unmaximize" (is there a word for that???) Windows Media Center, and the sound (may) come on, then I re-maximize media center and all is well. 2. If 1. doesn't work, which has happened more lately, I exit Windows Media Center and restart it, and the sound comes back on. Not bad workarounds, but it gets very tiresome after a while to do this nearly every time we use the HTPC. I am about ready to restore my pre-Windows-8 image backup, and hope I can use my Windows/Media Center serials later on another machine, but I thought I would ask the gurus here first.

    More background. The HTPC uses an ASRock H67M-ITX motherboard (terrific, the HTPC only uses 22 watts or so). There is an up-to-date Realtek High Definition Audio driver on board, but apparently it is not used, because the HDMI output uses an "Intel Display Audio" driver with a 2010 date. Thinking I might have an audio driver issue, I have searched high and wide for an Intel Display Audio driver update but not found one.

    Other things I have done are turn off the screen saver (though a screen save does come on from somewhere displaying my photos - maybe this is related to the problem?). I have updated every possible driver I could find, including the Realtek. I briefly tried connecting the HTPC to the TV using VGA, but the video results were bad, whereas the HDMI connection did great. If the VGA had worked, I would have connected the sound via conventional sound cables rather than HDMI.

    So this is more a puzzle than a problem because I have an effective but annoying workaround, and I can "cure" the problem by reverting to Windows 7 and lose nothing except false pride in my self-identity as a geek :-)

    (I am also considering abandoning Windows Media Center for a free Media Center alternative, but that's another topic altogether!)

    I would appreciate any suggestions from the lounge gurus!!!

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  3. #2
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    Do you still have local audio when this happens? In other words if you take MC off fullscreen and check the audio on the HTPC, has it switched over to the Realtek audio? Or is it still going to HDMI and MC is whiffing? Probably a bug if it's the latter, otherwise it may be Win 8 trying too hard, not detecting HDMI output so hey, I better switch over to local audio, which would not be MC's fault. If that's the case I'm not sure how to make Win8 stop switching over when there isn't a signal detected, and the only workaround in that case would be to run independent speakers from the Realtek subsystem or often there is a analog audio bypass connection (mini jack) next to one of the HDMI TV inputs that can be used.

  4. #3
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    Hi F.U.N. downtown,

    You raise a good point. I will check to see if the Realtek sound is coming out the audio jacks. Thanks.

    Occurs to me if I just leave the HTPC with the windows desktop in the foreground and start Windows Media Center each time we use the HTPC, it's just a one-click workaround, not bad. I assume (but will check) that Windows Media Center records shows even when it is not running as an application.

    I don't know if the other two Windows 7 64 bit machines that I also upgraded have the same bug because I don't leave Windows media Center in the forground on those machines. If I knew exact steps to reproduce the problem 100% of the time.

    Even under Windows 7 I had to press one keystroke to wake up the video after changing the TV to use the HDMI input. Apparently this isn't enough to wake up the audio. I use backspace. Is there another keystroke that might be better for waking up video and audio?

    All this said, I can easily restore my last Windows 7 HDTV image backup, which worked perfectly, but I hate to give up :-)

  5. #4
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    In reply to F. U. N. Downtown's suggestion, there was no sound coming out of the HTPC's audio jack as long as the HDMI cable was connected.

  6. #5
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    There's an audio menu in the MC settings for TV, might try messing with that, also make sure the HDMI audio is the default in the Win8 audio settings. Other than that I dunno.

  7. #6
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    FWIW, it is possible to use HDMI for video output and Realtek for audio output. I use HDMI for my monitor connection, and speakers connected to the Realtek outputs with Realtek selected as the default audio device. If your TV has auxiliary audio input jacks, you could use those.
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

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    twegner (2013-03-01)

  9. #7
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    Ya, that's what I mentioned, not too hard at all to do, and even if there is not aux analog audio in, most flat panels don't have the depth to carry good sound with built in speakers anyway and could highly benefit from a set of stand alone speakers, 5.1 or similar.

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    twegner (2013-03-01)

  11. #8
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    OK, I'm part way there. The TV does have a couple of sound rca jacks along with the HDMI connector. I was able to change the PC from Intel Display Audio to Realtek High Definition audio, and got sound out of the mini jack on the PC, but feeding it into to the rca jacks didn't result in anything I could hear. Oh, and by the way, Windows Media Center does have a way to specify the audio and video connectors. I just couldn't feed the non HDMI audio into the TV when using HDMI for video.

    BUT - I tried something I started to try the other day - use the VGA connector instead of HDMI. When I first tried this it didn't work very well, the video didn't fill the screen. This time, the image on the TV looked great, go figure. While I suspect HDMI is superior, I couldn't tell the difference between VGA and HDMI video quality. More importantly, the sound coming from the Realtek High Definition Audio now worked. So everything works great. I now need to try it a few days with Media Center in full screen mode to see if the sound cuts out as before. I'm hoping it won't. After I installed Windows 8, I was able to update the Realtek High Definition Audio Driver to something very current, so there's hope if the problem is driver-related.

    One more comment that relates to F.U.N. Downtown's comment about TV speakers. My wife listens to the TV speakers, and doesn't seem to mind the quality, but I don't. I have lifelong hearing loss, so I feed the audio out of the TV to a little FM transmitter. I listen on a Sony Walkman FM radio. That way my wife can set the level to suit here, and I can adjust my radio to suit me, and we can both happily listen. But there's no reason for me not to add some external speakers for her sake, I probably should :-)

    If using VGA/Realtek avoids audio problem I have with Intel Display Audio/HDMI, I'll probably keep Windows 8. Still bugs me that I can't (quite) get HDMI to work right under Windows 8 when it worked perfectly under Windows 7!

    Thanks for the helpful ideas, it always great to read some discussion of technical problems. I'll report back after a few days if the problem is fixed, I can't tell yet. I'll leave Windows Media Center full screen for a few days and see what happens. Thanks again.

  12. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbearren View Post
    FWIW, it is possible to use HDMI for video output and Realtek for audio output.
    This was correct in my case. My Sony TV has two HDMI connections. The second one has two RCA jacks because it is meant to be used with a DVI-to-HDMI cable that might not support audio. My HDTV has a DVI-D connection which I had connected to HDMI2 on the TV with a converter cable. When I set this up a few years ago I discovered that that connection did support sound, so I didn't connect the audio cables. I assumed having fewer cables was good, but this required using the Intel Display Audio driver which didn't quite survive the Windows 8 upgrade unscathed.

    The solution (to the problem of sound turning off which is the subject of this thread) was very simple. Connect the HDTV audio output to the Sony Bravia TV HDMI2 audio connectors, and change the default audio to Realtek High Definition Audio, not Intel Display Audio.

    I really appreciate both F.U.N. Downtown and bbearren for making suggestions! Thanks! Problem solved!
    Last edited by twegner; 2013-03-01 at 11:20.

  13. #10
    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by twegner View Post
    Problem solved!
    That's always great news!
    Create a new drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "Let them that don't want it have memories of not gettin' any." "Gratitude is riches and complaint is poverty and the worst I ever had was wonderful." Brother Dave Gardner "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else." Sir Thomas Robert Deware. "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?" Captain Jack Sparrow.
    Unleash Windows

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