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PC sound setup advice

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by shaf, 18 Apr 2010.

  1. shaf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 23 Sep 2007

    Posts: 1,144

    Hi,

    I have my pc connected to an old hifi system which I use for sound. I want to upgrade this to get better sound. I 've been searching the forums and net but always go round in a circle and give up on what would be the best solution.

    I own 3 spare front speakers (small centre and bookshelf fronts) which I had connected to my AV receiver (home cinema) setup.

    I might add a subwoofer at a later date.

    I generally use the PC for games and a little for music.

    What is the best (cheapest) option available to me to connect these to my PC? Or should I forget this option and just for a Logitech 5.1 solution.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Eddie

    Mobster

    Joined: 13 Feb 2006

    Posts: 4,828

    Location: --->

    Has your motherborad and receiver got digital connections (s/pdif)?

    If so then I'd say that would maybe be the cheapest way to do it. At least then you're using your existing speakers, and then maybe get an additional pair for the rear to give you 5.0 or 5.1 if you add a sub later on too.
     
  3. shaf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 23 Sep 2007

    Posts: 1,144

    Thanks for the reply shoot1st.

    My motherboard does have a spdif out but what would I connect this to? Amp?
     
  4. Eddie

    Mobster

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    Yeah, if your receiver has s/pdif then that would probably be the best option as you could then go for 5.1 (or whatever) for your gaming.

    Now that I think about it, I'm not sure if I read your OP correctly, do you still have the receiver? If you don't, does the amp you do have have a s/pdif connection?
     
  5. shaf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 23 Sep 2007

    Posts: 1,144

    Sorry for not being clear.

    I do have a receiver but this in another room. If I go the reciever root then I will need to buy a new one for this purpose.

    Do I have any other options?
     
  6. Eddie

    Mobster

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    Ah, I see. I don't know, maybe in this case it would be cheaper to get a PC 5.1 system like the one you mentioned.

    Saying that though, depending on how much you're thinking of spending on the 5.1 system you could maybe get a second-hand receiver (with S/PDIF) and use your spare speakers with the view of adding speakers at a later date, when funds permit. Another option would be to get a dedicated sound card which would more that likely be streets ahead of your onboard sound. I suppose that depends on just how good your current amp is, as to whether the difference would be worth the cash/effort. I don't know if it's your thing but what about getting a good set of headphones for gaming?

    Just a few ideas, but either way, unless you're prepared to move your current receiver (I understand why this isn't an option) then it looks like you're going to have to spend some cash to achieve your goal of better sound.
     
  7. shaf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 23 Sep 2007

    Posts: 1,144

    Some good suggestions there.

    I do have some headphones (sennheiser hd 555) but I only use them when the baby is asleep in the other room. Not much of a headphone person.

    I don't mind spending around £200 if I must. I can probably get a receiver (2nd hand) with that but I don't have much space in the room as it is. So the need to explore other options....

    When you say to get a dedicated sound card (I'm assuming a Xonar) would I be able to use my current speakers? I can't see it being able to power them though.
     
  8. Eddie

    Mobster

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    If you were to go the dedicated soundcard route you'd still be using your existing setup, you'd just improve the quality of the source - how good your amp & speakers are determines whether it would be worth while or not.

    If 5.1 is your ultimate goal (and you don't have a lot of space) you could just do the whole lot in one swoop and go for the Logitech (or similar) 5.1 route. That way you've got what you want straight away and you don't have to do anything else other than sit back and enjoy. It would certainly be less time consuming and probably less hassle too.

    Personally I like to keep my music/movies and PC separate, so I have a dedicated system for music/movies and a decent pair of speakers (plus headphones when needed) with a good souncard for games. I too like the idea of 5.1 gaming so if I was to upgrade I think I'd look at one of the Logitech solutions.
     
  9. shaf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 23 Sep 2007

    Posts: 1,144

    The idea of a Logitech solutions seems to be winning. :)

    If I were to go the amp route would you be able to suggest a decent compact receiver/amp for this use?

    How compact are the Cambridge Audio models?
     
  10. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: 18 Oct 2009

    Posts: 11,178

    Amps are quite large slabs. Usually 43cm+ wide 30cm deep. I wanted one a while back for my PC setup, but they were always too big for the space I had. TBH, I found no compact amps, the only ones were part of hi-fi systems, but they need the rest of the system to work, so that's a no go. I thought it would have been handy for some models that are narrower and tallers, rather than wide and flat. I suppose amps are designed to be used in a separates system, so they have to be of a standard size roughly.

    Some Logtiech speakers are an idea, but the problem is, you said you use an old hi-fi. Hi-fi's in general, even half decent all in one off the Curry's shelf jobs, will offer better sound than most PC speakers. If the one you have is half decent, it will murder Logitech and Creative speakers for sound quality. PC speakers are all nice and handy in a limited space, but most are never designed to offer hi-fi sound. If you have no room for an amp, then depending on the quality of your current hi-fi, AE's Aego M 2.1 speakers might be worth considering. Of Pc speakers, they are one of the few 2.1 sets designed with sound quality in mind, rather than just treble and overbearing bass, like is common with Logitech speakers.

    Another possiblity, is Teufel's Concept B. They are USB, so no need to worry about sound card, and the main unit has it's own compact amp. The speakers are of decent size, so are quite a bit bigger than the majority of PC speakers, they are tall and have a small footprint. They are however, £200. Of course, space permitting, a separate amp and some bookshelf speakers would be a far better buy for the same money, but Concept B's are designed decent sound in a limited space enviroment.
     
  11. Eddie

    Mobster

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    Yeah, as Marsman says, most proper hi-fi gear has a standard size (well, width) so if you haven't the space then they aren't really an option. I'm not sure if anyone has released a more compact 5.1 system, tbh. I'd imagine Cyrus have one but the price will definitely be steep.

    How good is your current hi-fi (the one attached to the PC)?

    I know PC speakers aren't exactly hi-fi but they are getting a lot better these days. I have Creative T20s and think they are perfect for gaming, especially for the money they cost (£50 ish). The Logitech 5.1 systems aren't ideal for music but a lot of people think they are brilliant when it comes to gaming. I suppose it depends what the primary use is. If it's a case of say 80% gaming, 20% music, then I'd get whatever is best for gaming.

    Maybe someone who owns a Logitech (or similar) system could post to give their opinions on it, i.e. just how good are they? 9 times out of 10 I'd go for the amp and speakers set up, but on the odd occasion where space/price/usage come into play then I'd definitely consider one of the Logitech jobs, especially if the main usage is gaming.

    If you're still none-the-wiser though, or to get a bit further advice you could have a look on over at AVForums (http://www.avforums.com/forums/index.php) and see what people are saying over there.
     
  12. shaf

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 23 Sep 2007

    Posts: 1,144

    Loving the advice, thanks you.

    Hmmm...Now I think the option of having an av receiver is more tempting as it gives me greater flexibility.

    1) I can use my current speakers.
    2) I can add 5.1 sound at a later date

    PS.
    My current hifi is an Aiwa AV70 - it's falling apart and I only use it for the PC connection (which is the only thing that works :)).
     
  13. Eddie

    Mobster

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    If the old Aiwa is past its sell by date, which it sounds like it is, then it's definitely time to move on. I used to own an Aiwa job myself when I was younger and thought the amp side of it wasn't bad at all!

    Have you got your eye on any particular 5.1 system?

    Whatever you get though, make sure it has the old S/PDIF and budget in for the cable too.
     
  14. TheBiznes

    Hitman

    Joined: 17 Sep 2007

    Posts: 553

    I would opt for a USB DAC like the Music fidelty VDAC and output it to your amp. Better than any sound card you can buy. You can use phono outs to your amp although only stereo it's an awesome way to have sound from a PC. I have had creatives XFI and Azuntech Forte this is by far the best sounding of all those without any internal interferance too. you will never need any sound drivers again with this setup works with Linux everything. It really is the way forward, just a lot of people don't know or want to know about such things it seems those in the know, know why I am recommending this solution.

    Ther are other DACS available but I like my VDAC they cost about £110 pounds, best place to research this is at http://www.head-fi.org/

    I too am into 5.1 have an AVC A1 downstairs but this dac matched to headphone amp and Senn 650's gives me all the sound presentation I want from films or games. I have tried Razor 5.1 headsets lol utter crap use you Senns wiith a Dac and you will be amazed :D

    Just noticed you have same motherboard as me use the onboard only for mic duties . You can output the digital S/PDIF to the DAC's but I use the USB
     
    Last edited: 20 Apr 2010