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Thread: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

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    Question Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    I am in the throes of purchasing a new PC but would like to ditch my aging 5.1 analogue speakers in favour of an optical connected soundbar, for higher audio quality.

    Due to a physical hearing impediment (Since childhood, I have only 1 functioning ear ~ cease thy tittering in the cheap seats!) I cannot utilise headphones at all. <sigh> Also, because of such, I need a reasonably wide sound field: I have tried reasonable quality 2.0/2.1 speaker sets but my ear becomes overwhelmed by the sound produced by only 2 speakers in close proximity. Thus, I have opted hitherto, for a 5.1 setup to create a generalized sound field.

    I believe that a soundbar should be able to provide a wider sound field than a pair of speakers. Sound clarity/precision at lower volumes (as I will only be a couple of feet away) is quite important.

    I am aware that the Logitech Z906 5.1 set uses an optical connection but my budget cannot stretch to the £250-£325 price point for these.

    My budget would is up to £175 but I could stretch it to £199 if needs (really) must.

    Any (kindly) suggestions would be much appreciated.

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    Re: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    S/PDIF isn't the ideal choice for surround sound in PC gaming. It's bandwidth is so limited you need to use compression to get surround sound through it. That's not a problem in itself, the issue is that such compression isn't very common and you need a sound card supporting Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect.

    HDMI is the norm for TV setups now, but generally using ARC and I'm not sure how many monitors support that. An AV receiver is an alternative, but typically fairly pricey.

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    HEXUS.timelord. Zak33's Avatar
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    Re: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    have you tried two domestic speakers and an amp?

    have you space? Could you get two speaker stands, two godo shelf speakers and an amp and make it work?

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    Re: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    Quote Originally Posted by esde View Post
    I am in the throes of purchasing a new PC but would like to ditch my aging 5.1 analogue speakers in favour of an optical connected soundbar, for higher audio quality.
    An optically connected soundbar will likely sound worse than a 5.1 analogue setup.

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    Re: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    Thanks for your response.

    Why is that so?

    I was given to believe that the audio quality via an optical cable (from a dedicated soundcard) was superior to standard analogue connections.

    One online source even remarked that if you are not using optical connections, you may as well not bother with a soundcard at all and just use analogue into the onboard sound chip.

    Is it perchance that you think that a 5.1 system will produce a wider sound field than a soundbar, which would be kinder to my extant ear?

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    Re: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zak33 View Post
    have you tried two domestic speakers and an amp?

    have you space? Could you get two speaker stands, two godo shelf speakers and an amp and make it work?
    Thanks for your response.

    I have tried a couple of 2.0 & 2.1 speaker setups (connected to my dedicated SoundBlaster soundcard) but the result when gaming was rather overwhelming and a tad unpleasant to my ear. Because my ear homes in on the sound from the closest speaker, it appeared that there were (simplistically) too many varied sounds (music/voice/SFX) emanating from (effectively) a single speaker.

    With my current speaker arrangement, it appears to create a generalised sound field in front of me which my ear is quite happy with (& easily discerns individual sound elements), as all of the speakers have their own sound task.

    I have a soundbar system for my TV in the lounge, which my ear is still content with at <1m distance but admittedly it was a fairly expensive (for my wallet) one @ c.£700. Although, I appreciate that I will not have the same quality of sound from a budget <£199 soundbar.

    Obviously, being seated in front of a possible soundbar at close proximity, one is not trying to 'fill a room' with sound, which is why such needs to be clear/precise at low-medium volumes.

    I have desk space aplenty for speakers. I currently have my Creative (T6100) 5.1 speaker set (SW on the floor below the desk) on the desk arrayed in a gentle curve in front of my seating position. The distance from the 2 outermost speakers (notionally rear speakers) is about 1.2m. The distance from my seating location to the (centre) speaker is about 0.8m.

    I had intended to 'upgrade' (using the term generously) my speaker set to Creative T6300 to improve (hopefully) the audio quality a tad, as my impending new PC will have a SoundBlaster X-AE5 card.

    However, having been led to believe that the audio produced from a sound card connected via optical cable is superior to, analogue cables, the thought occurred to me that as I cannot afford a 5.1 optical system, perhaps a 0.9-1m wide soundbar in front of my monitor could be a solution.

    Any/all comments are welcomed.

    Apologies for the long response!
    Last edited by esde; 17-10-2017 at 11:33 AM. Reason: Further info

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    Re: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    Quote Originally Posted by esde View Post
    Thanks for your response.

    I have tried a couple of 2.0 & 2.1 speaker setups (connected to my dedicated SoundBlaster soundcard) but the result when gaming was rather overwhelming and a tad unpleasant to my ear. Because my ear homes in on the sound from the closest speaker, it appeared that there were (simplistically) too many varied sounds (music/voice/SFX) emanating from (effectively) a single speaker.

    With my current speaker arrangement, it appears to create a generalised sound field in front of me which my ear is quite happy with (& easily discerns individual sound elements), as all of the speakers have their own sound task.

    I have a soundbar system for my TV in the lounge, which my ear is still content with at <1m distance but admittedly it was a fairly expensive (for my wallet) one @ c.£700. Although, I appreciate that I will not have the same quality of sound from a budget <£199 soundbar.

    Obviously, being seated in front of a possible soundbar at close proximity, one is not trying to 'fill a room' with sound, which is why such needs to be clear/precise at low-medium volumes.

    I have desk space aplenty for speakers. I currently have my Creative (T6100) 5.1 speaker set (SW on the floor below the desk) on the desk arrayed in a gentle curve in front of my seating position. The distance from the 2 outermost speakers (notionally rear speakers) is about 1.2m. The distance from my seating location to the (centre) speaker is about 0.8m.

    I had intended to 'upgrade' (using the term generously) my speaker set to Creative T6300 to improve (hopefully) the audio quality a tad, as my impending new PC will have a SoundBlaster X-AE5 card.

    However, having been led to believe that the audio produced from a sound card connected via optical cable is superior to, analogue cables, the thought occurred to me that as I cannot afford a 5.1 optical system, perhaps a 0.9-1m wide soundbar in front of my monitor could be a solution.

    Any/all comments are welcomed.

    Apologies for the long response!
    I can't comment on the speaker stuff but a digital connection in and of itself is not an automatic improvement.

    All sound coming from a PC is generated digitally, and all speakers produce that sound in an analogue fashion. As a result, somewhere along the line it needs to be switched from one to the other and that will be done by something called a DAC (literally Digital-Analogue Convertor.)

    When you're using an analogue cable that DAC is the one provided by your computers sound card or built in audio. With a digital cable it'll be carried out by the speaker or amp at the other end of the cable. The quality will only improve if the DAC in your new soundbar is better than the DAC in your PC.

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    Re: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    Quote Originally Posted by esde View Post
    Thanks for your response.

    Why is that so?

    I was given to believe that the audio quality via an optical cable (from a dedicated soundcard) was superior to standard analogue connections.

    One online source even remarked that if you are not using optical connections, you may as well not bother with a soundcard at all and just use analogue into the onboard sound chip.

    Is it perchance that you think that a 5.1 system will produce a wider sound field than a soundbar, which would be kinder to my extant ear?
    As mentioned, one big aspect of quality is the DAC. In general, you get what you pay for, but if you already have a dedicated soundcard that is good the DAC in a budget soundbar won't necessarily be any improvement. Then you have the speakers - 5.1 speakers are much simpler (read: cheaper) to make sound good, compared to the tiny drivers plus small sub of a soundbar setup. So there's a very high chance that if you have a good 5.1 analogue set up already, going to a soundbar will be a step back in sound quality and certainly immersion.

    Your 'online source' is completely wrong - it's actually the opposite - if you ARE using optical connections then there's little point in a soundcard (because you're just passing through the digital signal and not using the DAC). However if you are using analogue connectors then a soundcard is definitely recommended over onboard sound.

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    Re: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    Quote Originally Posted by esde View Post
    I have a soundbar system for my TV in the lounge, which my ear is still content with at <1m distance but admittedly it was a fairly expensive (for my wallet) one @ c.£700.
    It's well worth plugging that one into your computer just to make sure you're happy with the directionality of it.

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    Re: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    Quote Originally Posted by kalniel View Post
    As mentioned, one big aspect of quality is the DAC. In general, you get what you pay for, but if you already have a dedicated soundcard that is good the DAC in a budget soundbar won't necessarily be any improvement. Then you have the speakers - 5.1 speakers are much simpler (read: cheaper) to make sound good, compared to the tiny drivers plus small sub of a soundbar setup. So there's a very high chance that if you have a good 5.1 analogue set up already, going to a soundbar will be a step back in sound quality and certainly immersion.

    Your 'online source' is completely wrong - it's actually the opposite - if you ARE using optical connections then there's little point in a soundcard (because you're just passing through the digital signal and not using the DAC). However if you are using analogue connectors then a soundcard is definitely recommended over onboard sound.
    At 5am this morn, the 1p (or 1d) dropped as I endeavoured to distil all of the info I had been given/read/viewed (some quite contradictory) over the past week ~ huzzah!

    You & spacein_vader have summed it up in your postings, which I have just read ~ my thanks.

    Thus, the optical connection is only an audio quality improvement IF the unit (soundbar or speaker system) has superior audio processing capabilities than the soundcard itself. If it is not, then it would be better to use the soundcard's processing effects linked to the unit (soundbar or speaker system) via analogue connections.

    On that basis, there appears to be little point in trying a standard soundbar (+ SW) system unless it has true Dolby/DTS processing capabilities. Thus, methinks I would be better served by opting to retain a 5.1 speaker system (creating the generalized sound field my ear is happy with) via analogue connections to the SoundBlaster X-AE5 card.

    I am going to need an extra therapy session next week!

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    Re: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    Sooo (just when you thought it was safe!) ...

    Do any of the kind posters herein have any suggestions for a 5.1 speaker set (@ <£100) which would be an improvement over the Creative T6300, I am intending (hitherto) to purchase?

    My thanks & kind regards.

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    Re: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    I need a reasonably wide sound field
    Have you tried looking for speakers and soundbars with Balanced Mode Radiator drivers? They give the widest and most even sound dispersal possible

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    Re: Any recommendations for a PC gaming soundbar?

    you should buy Q Acoustics M4 Sound Bar. It's just awesome.

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