Past Rants, Raves & Views

Music to your 5.1 ears

How can one little cable bring so much ear-bursting happiness?

Like most film nuts, I always watch my DVDs via a big screen and through surround sound system. The picture is impressive, but what makes any film truly come alive is 5.1. Everything is so much clearer and awe inspiring with surround sound, from the little SFX that twinkle around the room, to the clear speech and rip-roaring explosions. Surround sound just makes films come alive.

So what I’ve always wanted to do is link-up my surround sound amp and Xbox 360, and hear some of the games in glorious 5.1. But frustratingly, the 360 has no optical output, so I can’t connect and enjoy some ear-bashing goodness. Curse you Microsoft cheap-scats!

But this technical shortcoming hasn’t been a major issue for me. I’ve always used the standard TV speakers, or if necessary slapped-on a pair of headphones. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do, and you’d be surprised at how well a pair of headphones can deliver. But recently I brought a PS3 – which has an optical output – and gave that a blast around the system. The results were fantastic. Well, I say fantastic, I’ve only got the one game at present (Resistance: Fall of Man), but it gave me a taste of what surround sound could do for a game, and vice-versa. So, I dived face-first into the web, and went in search of a way to get surround sound out of an Xbox 360.

Disappointingly, this isn’t going to be an epic tale of one mans enlightening experience of self discovery, filled with struggle, pain, adventure and torment. After a couple of brief clicks of a mouse and a sip of Ovaltine, I found a suitable cable on Amazon. No intricate technical operation was need, no expensive parts, not even a new console. Nope, just £12.99 and two days in the post. Why didn’t I do this 4 years ago?