5.1 speakers with 2-channel sound card
I've been searching for a good 5.1 speaker set for my 5 year old Dell laptop (Inspiron 9300), but after some initial research I've learned that most internal laptop sound cards only support 2-channel audio and that 5.1 audio speakers either don't output surround sound or just plain won't work with 2-channel audio cards.
I admit to knowing little to nothing about computer audio equipment. My purpose for posting here is to get some clarifications so I don't make the wrong purchases. I'll try and outline my *limited* knowledge/assumptions here, so please correct me if I am wrong.
To my understanding, "true" 5.1 speakers will not work with sound cards that don't support 6 or more channels even with cable adapters, and the best one can do with a 2-channel sound card is:
a) buy a 5.1 speaker set that emulates 5.1 sound using the 2-channel audio output
b) buy an external sound card that supports 6-channel output
c) buy an external audio adapter that supports 6-channel emulation/output
1) Can I get true surround sound out of my internal 2-channel audio card?
2) If not, am I better off getting a 5.1 speaker set that emulates surround sound or buying an external sound card that supports 6-channel output?
3) Is an audio adapter supporting 6-channels essentially the same thing as a 6-channel external sound card, or does it just emulate 5.1 sound? How do I tell if the audio adapter supports 6-channels (i.e. what kind of interface should I be looking for)?
My computer uses a 3.5mm audio-out jack for primary audio output so I'm almost certain that it is a 2-channel audio card, though it does contain a single IEEE 1394 interface. (Not really sure how to check - DXDIAG output was fairly uninformative)
My 3.5mm audio jack is busted (seems to be a common problem with the Inspiron 9300). As such, my only audio interface is via usb or IEEE 1394
Thanks in advance!