I have been busy improving the "linux side" of my Acer A722 netbook, in addition to its Win7 side. It now has LMDE used with a KDE desktop. At home, this little fella serves mostly as the sound source for my hi-fi set-up, and for that it's connected over HDMI to an AV amp. The netbook serves the bit-pure soundbits after demuxing and decoding, the amp does the DAC and amplification. At least, that's how it works under Win7, with Foobar2000. No matter that the AV amp doesn't have a screen and the desktop is thus limited to the LCD panel, the OS recognises that graphics system (AMD Raden HD 6290) also has what amounts to a sound card.
I've long wondered how this would work under Linux, and I'm beginning to have some answers. First, I had to install the proprietary driver with the Device Driver Manager (contrary to last year, that didn't wreak all sorts of havoc ). And then I had to activate the video output, and find a setting that doesn't botch my desktop too much (as the amp does not have the LCD panel's resolution (1366x768) among its supported resolutions I've set it to 1280x768 cloned which only screws up the Clock screensaver with some nice tearing effects). I also had to install the gstreamer phonon backend.
With all that, I indeed get direct output from Amarok (or Foobar2000 under Wine), to the AV amp, which follows the source sampling rate. Except that I cannot seem to go beyond 48kHz; my files at 96kHz and 192kHz are played back at that frequency. That's not how I'd like it to work.
So, is there a reason the amp's higher sampling rates are not supported? Is there a way to activate the sound output without activating the video (the sound panel does show the HDMI output in that case, but nothing works)?