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Thread: Quality PC sound system

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    Insomnia Robscure's Avatar
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    Question Quality PC sound system

    I'm looking to buy a really good quality sound setup...

    I have bought the Sennheiser PC350 headset...

    Will a soundcard greatly improve the quality of sound through the headset as well? Or will I not notice much of a difference? Music and gaming.

    However, as far as the speakers are concerned, I'm unsure...

    Logitech X-230? Z2300? Or something else? What's the best 2.1 speakers for music and movies?

    I don't plan to have the volume up very loud, so I want high quality sound when it is low to mid...

    What are the best 5.1 or 7.1 (if 7.1 is better) speakers? Again, I would want high quality music and movies, but not too loud... just quality at low-mid... so I'm assuming that I can get relatively cheaper speakers since the more expensive ones are for higher-quality sound at high volumes, correct me if I'm wrong...

    If I get 5.1/7.1, would I need to mount them up on the walls? Can they all sit on the desktop, pointing different directions? I'm not quite sure how they would/should be set up. Logically I'm assuming they would need to be spaced around the room and placed up on the walls, but I wouldn't put it past modern technology if they don't lol.

    Thanks

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    Hexus.trombonist
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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    For music speakers, I recommend the M-Audio AV40s.
    They lack the bass of some 2.1 systems, but they're excellent quality and provide clean reproduction of music.

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  4. #3
    Yeah dude! NightshadowUK's Avatar
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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    Depending what chipset your on-board sound uses a quality soundcard can make a big difference, as it'll give you greater control over what you're listening to and may include settings / modes specially designed for use with certain setups (i.e. headphones).

    The best 2.1 speaker package is without a doubt:

    - Acoustic Energy Aego M ~ £99.99

    For 5.1 / 7.1 you would have to wall-mount to get the proper effect (I finally got around to doing mine this weekend and it sounds immense!), although no matter what your speaker layout's like I find when watching movies, having a centre speaker for speech is a Godsend.

    One of the best 5.1 sets is probably:

    - Logitech Z-5500 ~ £203.55

    But if you're only going to be listening at low levels I don't see any harm in getting:

    - Creative Inspire T6100 ~ £47.60
    Last edited by NightshadowUK; 11-02-2009 at 09:05 PM.

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    DILLIGAF GoNz0's Avatar
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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    logitech z5400, just as good but not quite as loud, and a lot less.

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    Yeah dude! NightshadowUK's Avatar
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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    I've had a quick read and Z-5400s get the thumbs up but I can't find anywhere that sells them, any ideas GoNz0?

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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    nah they must be EOL, the logitech G51's are out for less than £100 at amazon tho?

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    Insomnia Robscure's Avatar
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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    Thanks for the replies everyone.

    I'll check into the Acoustic Energy Aego M ...

    I think 2.1 will suffice for now... I don't think I want to mount anything just yet.

    Maybe though... I can't imagine how much better a 5.1 would be, and considering our room is more rectangular... and the computer is on one side... I don't think the 5.1 would be very symetrical, which I think would make it a poor choice given the circumstances... I'm very detail-oriented and I would measure it and make sure they're spaced evenly, etc... but I know that there's less than 1m to my right and that's not enough space for 5.1 to fit around me.

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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    Have you considered getting a proper amp and speaker setup?
    Nip into richer sounds if on a budget, see what they can do for you on a richersounds and see what they can do for you.
    Or if got a bit more to spend and don't like the "cheap" style shop, sevenoaks were good to a friend of mine, but they weren't cheap.
    I use a 6.1 amp and floor standers for the htpc, and an amp and speaker setup for the bedroom and the sound is far better than what my friends with "computer speakers" have demonstrated.
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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    Any speakers you buy will only be as good as the signal you feed them. Do you have a digital sound out on your motherboard?

    If not - the first thing I would buy would be a soundcard. I would recommend a Xonar D1 or DX. I have a Xonar D2, which is very similar (more expensive but I got it cheaper on ebay). It's the first soundcard that I've found that convincingly simulated surround speakers over headphones, using its dolby headphone technology. With higher quality headphones, I've actually gone to turn off my surround speakers and then realised I wasn't using them. I love surround sound too. I even bought some 5.1 headphones to cover for my speakers but Dolby Headphone with stereo phones is far more convincing. In terms of sound quality the Xonar series are about as good as you can get without spending silly money.

    As an alternative, you could consider an X-Fi. Avoid the XtremeAudio or any of the USB versions though - they're rebranded older chips without the full feature set. I used to use an XtremeMusic and personally I didn't find CMSS-3D (Creative's equivalent to Dolby Headphone) to be as convincing but some people prefer it. Connectors on X-Fis can be very variable too, so consider that if you want to plug it into anything. EAX compatibility on X-Fis is better than the Xonar, which is a plus for gaming.

    Having got the soundcard, I'd then consider getting some speakers. I agree with getting a proper hi-fi amp and speakers if you can afford it but some PC sets aren't bad if you don't want to spend much. As a cheeky alternative - you could consider getting the best stereo setup (prefarably 2.0 rather than 2.1) you can afford in the first place. This will be a good foundation for music listening. Then, if you still really want surround sound, get a 5.1 pc set. Plug them all into your soundcard and use them in 7.1, controlling the volume with the computer. This is almost what I'm doing, using the working remains of my broken Creative Digital 5700 set to supplement my stereo speakers in a 5.1 setup and it works surprisingly well.

    If you have a digitial out on your motherboard, you have choices. Analogue output from onboard motherboard audio is generally poor but if you can feed a digital signal to a DAC or receiver then you may get good quality audio out of it. A Xonar or X-fi will still give better support in games though.

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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    Thanks lolol and Uriel...

    I am getting a soundcard... the Auzentech Prelude... it's meant to be top quality, for about £100-130.

    I don't know much about speakers, so I wouldn't know how to hook "proper speakers" up to the computer... Is it as simple as paying the extra money for "proper" 2.1 set up? I'll look into it... but I'm under the impression that the £30 x-230's would do what I need... (low-mid volume, good quality sound)

    So... I guess what I really need is to know whether there will be a noticable difference between listening to music/movies/games on the x-230's at low-mid volume, compared with "proper speakers" lol

    Thanks a lot for the help

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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    The Prelude is an excellent card and it may see you through a few headphone / speaker upgrades. The EAX support will be better than the equivalent Xonar for games. Try out CMSS-3D with the headphones to give pseudo-surround sound. Some people prefer it to dolby headphone

    To get a bit higher quality than the x230, I'd consider the Creative Gigaworks t20. You pay a little more but they've had excellent reviews and are reported to sound good at low volumes.

    To plug in a hi-fi it's fairly simple. Just need a mini-jacks from the soundcard to phono connections into the hi-fi amp. I think the cables will be included with your soundcard. With the prelude you can also use a digital connection (optical or coaxial) but unless you're spending a lot on the amp / receiver, the Prelude will give better quality.

    Edit: And forget low end 2.1 sets. On cheaper PC sets the supwoofer is just there to cover the low frequencies because the main speakers aren't good enough. You only send them a 2.0 signal anyway.
    Last edited by Uriel; 12-02-2009 at 12:24 PM.

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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    Thanks again Uriel, I'll look into the t20 as well... what is CMSS-3D? is that a type of headphone?

    If so, I already mentioned that I've bought the Sennheiser PC350 headset... which I hear are amazing and have surround sound etc...

    So... I'll be getting the Prelude + Sennheiser PC350 + x-230 OR t20.... sound about right? Let me know what the hell CMSS-3D is thanks

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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    CMSS-3D refers to a number of creative technologies. Your Prelude has a Creative X-Fi chip in it that supports these. One type is CMSS-3d headphone, which is an algorithm that tries to trick you into thinking you're hearing surround sound over stereo headphones.

    The PC350s are a stereo set. They will only take a 2.0 signal and any impression of surround sound comes from the signal that they are fed. They don't do surround sound on their own. CMSS-3D Headphone and Dolby Headphone adds audio cues to the stereo signal that simulate space (so it doesn't sound like the speakers are right next to your ears) and positioning (front and back as well as left and right). Both these technologies make it sound less like you're listening to headphones.

    Edit: CMSS also does things like upmix stereo music or mono film tracks so you will hear them over all the speakers in a 5.1 or 7.1 system.

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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    Take a look at Logitech Z4s.
    I bought them late last year and I abosolutely love them, great at low through to high volumes, and they do go high Bass is just right too, not overpowering like I find a lot of high end PC speakers can be.
    IMO they look pretty stylish too.
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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    Quote Originally Posted by Robscure View Post
    . . . Logitech X-230?
    Although popular with many, every review I've read about these mentions a buzzing noise coming from the subwoofer at low/ zero volume which can only be stopped by unplugging from the mains. Interference from the adapter is cited as a probable cause.

    One bit of good advice I was given was not to spend more on the sound card than your speakers which would certainly count those (and others) out if you were going to go >£100 for the card.

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    Re: Quality PC sound system

    I'd second the T20 or even the T40. I got a set of T40s recently and the sound quality is excellent. And there's no worry about having a thundering bass speaker annoying everyone else in the building
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