Thursday, 3 May 2012

Audio: Creative X-Fi S/PDIF FlexiJack,Toslink and Coax Digital output adaptors



Got a Creative X-Fi  or Audigy and want to easily output through S/PDIF the de facto standard to your Surround amplifier or DAC?

Well here's three different ways how to do it on the cheap.

For these examples I will be using a SB0460 (Xtreme Music)




The Flexijack

The adaptor below uses what creative call a Flexjack which is plugged into the MIC/DIGITAL OUT socket on the backplate of the sound card .






In simple terms Flexijack is a jack plug that only has the left channel wired, the right channel is reserved for  MIC this is disabled when digital out is enabled





For the Soundcard to output S/PDIF through the backplate Flexijack (Digital Out) has to be selected through the Creative Audio Control Panel .After this a reboot may be required also you must select S/PDIF OUT from the windows playback device control panel.







Below are alternatives to the above custom lead just be sure to only use the LEFT channel




COAX Digital S/PDIF

The next two methods would be the preferred ways to output S/PDIF

This method uses a backplate COAX out header from an old motherboard to connect to the header at the rear of the sound card these can be found on eBay.


The benefits of this method is it requires no settings in the driver for it to function its just works at least on a X-FI Xtreme music.








Creative header pin outs


Ground refers to the outside conductor on the phono/RCA socket.
Data refers to the inner conductor of the phono/RCA socket

If you have a multimeter to hand you can check both using the continuity check to determine which colour is GROUND and which is DATA.

No doubt you will have to move the contacts around within the header to get them aligned with the Creative header.






TOSLINK & COAX Digital S/PDIF


Again this is an old motherboard pack plate but features  Toslink (Fibre Optic) out.

Some backplates may only feature a Toslink with S/PDIF IN this cannot be used as an output .

There are two types of Fibre Optic modules those that transmit and those that receive data for our example we need to transmit data and the surround amplifier or DAC will be receiving the data.




Creative header pin outs

This connects in a very similar manner the previous method although your wire colours may be different!
As a guide RED will almost always be +5 or +3.3v which would be the power for the Toslink fibre module, Black will almost always be GROUND leaving the 3rd colour which would be DATA like in the method before.

No doubt you will have to move the contacts around within the header to get them aligned with the Creative header.

Again  check the continuity with a multimeter before taking the plunge.

No driver settings are needed to output a digital signal.







Below is Creatives own  Sound-Blaster-Digital-IO-Module  but good look finding one 

I hope this quick guide helped you get the most from your Creative soundcard.

If readers find this useful I may extend the article to include interfacing your PC case front panel header with Creatives proprietary connector.