5.1 Speakers + Sound Card

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by Titan29, May 6, 2013.

  1. Titan29

    Titan29 Master Guru

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    I am finally looking to get speakers and sound card for my system (currently using onboard realtek and razer headphones).

    For speakers my eyes are set on logitech z-5500. Does anyone own them and could let me know if they are good enough for blu ray movies and games?
    I know they are not produced any more but if I could find used ones in $200-300 range, would that be good value?

    Also, what could be the best sound card to match the speakers? I am only looking for PCI-E cards as I do not have a PCI slot on motherboard. Price range is $100-200

    Thanks
     
  2. yasamoka

    yasamoka Ancient Guru

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    For soundcards, you're looking at:

    Xonar DX vs. Sound Blaster Z
    Xonar Phoebus
    Sound Blaster ZxR

    The first pair falls within your budget. The Z is generally superior and comes with good drivers, seemingly, and a better interface (subjectively). They are both good performers for their prices.

    Avoid the Zx. The ACM degrades audio quality. Use digital volume control from the keyboard or in software.

    The second falls within your budget. Many are reporting driver issues; make sure of 3rd - party support. The Solo version has just been announced / released so check that out. Comes without an external unit you might not use, so it should be less costly.

    The third falls slightly outside your budget, but it should be a good performer for its price. Its price is inflated somewhat due to the inclusion of the ACM, extra expansion card, and a very good ADC.

    Between the second and third, if there isn't too much of a difference in price between the Solo and the regular Phoebus, I'd go for the third option.

    Also, at this price, consider external units, although I doubt you'll find matching performers, as these cards should have a better performance / price ratio.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2013
  3. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    I'd go for a top of the line card, my preference being the ZXR.
    You will be well set for when you upgrade your sound system later.
     
  4. Titan29

    Titan29 Master Guru

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    Creative ZxR is $249 compared to $149 Zx. Is the $100 difference justified?
    I might end up with Zx as it looks to be good value. How are the drivers these days for creative? I heard there are still issues with them?
     

  5. yasamoka

    yasamoka Ancient Guru

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    Ahh, I wanted to tell you to avoid the Zx. The board is the same as the Z, but the Zx comes with the ACM - Audio Control Module, to adjust your headphones' volume with a knob. Avoid, it degrades sound quality.

    Drivers have improved for the last series.
     
  6. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    You might as well get the Z if you're considering the Zx. It's the same card minus ACM basically. If you can control your volume from your keyboard it's a no brainer. Best bang for your money.
     
  7. Tat3

    Tat3 Ancient Guru

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    I have Z-5500 and have not used those in ages, should actually put those for sale...
    5.1 is nice, but meh, I prefer good stereo sound over not so good surround. So think if you could survive with stereo speakers and go listen some entry level active monitors at some audio store near you ? If you have heard how Z-5500 sounds and like it, then go ahead and buy those as it's going to be you who is listenning those.
     
  8. StealBalls

    StealBalls Banned

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    Holy crap lol do not waste your money on a soundcard.

    With a 7950 simply go HDMI to a receiver.

    for £500 you could get a nice speaker set and a little A/V receiver that will BLOW HELL out of the SC + Logitech speakers you are talking about.

    Just as a VERY quick example....

    My first combo was Jamo A102 HCS6 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jamo-A102-C...=UTF8&qid=1367946387&sr=8-3&keywords=jamo+5.1

    And a Denon 1610 but this would do you just nice http://www.richersounds.com/product/av-receivers/yamaha/rxv373/yama-rxv373-blk

    Seriously, I cannot express how much a combination LIKE this, if not actually this, would blow the HELL out of what you are talking about, ditch the soundcard idea, put money towards something which will make your audio experience for movies and games BETTER - SPECIALLY for movies, once you bitstream anyway the DAC on the SC will be wasted totally.


    http://www.whathifi.com/review/rx-v373

    http://www.whathifi.com/review/jamo-a102hcs5


    These Jamo are very old now so better alternatives are available in 2013 but the point is the same, back in the day they were 5 star amazing speaker package for that price point.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2013
  9. Titan29

    Titan29 Master Guru

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    I did some research and found Edifier S550 to be better than z-5500. The cheapest S550 I could find was $400, so would that be a good value? or would an entry level HT system + Receiver would blow it away still?

    I only need speakers for the computer (no TV). So which one would be a better option for Movies + Games + Music?
     
  10. StealBalls

    StealBalls Banned

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    It would blow it so far out the water it's not even funny, or comparable.

    go to avforums post your maximum budget and see what is the current 'GOTO' 5.1 speaker package for your budget, I strongly advise the Yamaha AMP though. On avforums they are enthusiasts and should be able to help you with what is a high quality budget 5.1 speaker package which will PAIR NICELY with it.

    You can get the Jamo a102 2012 version here http://www.exceptional-av.co.uk/product.php?fdProductId=610 but again I am out of the loop now so it is better to get some more up to date advise on 5.1 speaker package, the least I can tell you is the Jamo will be ANYTHING but shabby and blow what you are look at far out the water, just best to ask I want you to have the absolute BEST you can get for your money.

    "it takes a seriously good product to win one of our Awards, so the fact that the Jamo A102HCS5 package
    has won three in a row should be a clear indication that it's extremely impressive indeed.

    Of course, the longer you spend at the top, the bigger a target you are to your rivals. And as the star rating above indicates, after three years of dominance the Jamo has finally been usurped as the affordable style speaker package of choice."


    Point being look into it, you will not regret making the extra effort, I will check back to help as well.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2013

  11. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    Receivers have low quality DACs compared to soundcards unless you spend a lot on the receiver and choose wisely.
    This is why soundcards are recommended and used to give analogue out to the amplifier.
    Its a much cheaper way to get higher quality.

    btw NVidia HD audio isnt a soundcard.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
  12. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    By all means use a cheap amp, but only use it for analogue amplification, along with a good soundcard.
    So choose one that has 5.1 or 7.1 analogue inputs.

    A cheap amp will have limitations, so get the best you can afford.
    Choose wisely.
     
  13. Titan29

    Titan29 Master Guru

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    Thank you for your suggestions. I will have a look.
    Why is a sound card not needed? Is the output from a GPU same quality as a sound card?

    Edit: nvm, didnt see Mufflore's posts above.
     
  14. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    A GPUs output is digital, it isnt used as a soundcard but is a conduit for digital information.
    Whatever it is connected to becomes the soundcard.
    So if you are using digital audio out from the PC and connecting to an AV amp, the AV amps DAC and the AV amps processing features become the soundcard.
    This is why you become dependent on the quality of the DAC in the AV amp for the sound quality when using digital out.
    Sadly the DACs in low to mid range (and some more expensive) AV amps are not as good as mid range soundcards, they tend to cheap out on the DAC.

    I had an Onkyo 875 amp (around £1000 at launch).
    This was very well reviewed and had a very nice sound.
    The DAC quality is nearly as good as my Auzentech Prelude card, but the soundcard still had the edge so fed 5.1 analogue to the amp.
    Modern top end soundcards are much better than my Prelude, so you can imagine that it needs one hell of an AV amp to beat the quality of todays soundcards.
     
  15. StealBalls

    StealBalls Banned

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    You wanna sacrafice amp and speakers for a slightly better DAC?

    He cannot buy it all.

    My advice stands, all your cash in AV Receiver and speakers will blow a £200 soundcard and that, whatever it is you call it you were looking at, out the water - PERIOD.

    If you had £1500 my advise would be different (slightly)

    THIS and put ALL your cash into the best amp and speakers you can afford.

    Ditch soundcard idea it's an invaluable extra £200 extra towards amp and speakers.

    JUST my advice, muff knows his stuff but I don't believe the facts muff stated will help you,not on your budget.


    If you want the best sound quality you can possibly get for £500 buy a top end soundcard and some Sennheiser HD650.

    Otherwise, AMP + SPEAKERS!!!! lol
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2013

  16. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    Depends if you are after oomph or sound quality.
    But if he hasnt got the money, he can build up his system.

    As a compromise, he can get an AV amp with 7.1 analogue in and use it for digital input until he can afford a good soundcard.
    But make sure the amp is capable of using 5.1 or 7.1 analogue or it limits you to the max quality of the amps DAC.
    It makes a considerable difference using a good soundcard with low and mid range AV amps.

    If he has the cash now, get a good soundcard + OFC cables, a decent AV amp and nice speakers.
    Job done.


    There is major disadvantage when feeding video and sound via HDMI.
    It gives quite a bit of lag to audio and video.
    The video lag can be bad enough that when I feed gaming audio via HDMI (I have a hi def HDMI multichannel solution), I still feed the video direct to my monitor from the gfx card.
    fyi
     
  17. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    Op, get a sb z with decent headphones. £200 and you're laughing.
     
  18. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    If going headphones, get the best soundcard.
     
  19. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    Yeah, depends on ones budget.
     
  20. Titan29

    Titan29 Master Guru

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    Why can we not go directly from Analog out on Sound Card > Speakers. Is an AMP really necessary? or is it that HT speakers can only connect to an AMP?

    At the moment, I do not have money to shell out on an expensive AMP/Receiver. So a decent sound card (SB Z?) and Speakers and or a cheap AMP might be the way to go for now.

    I have headphones already, just that I am looking to get separate 5.1 speakers now too.
     

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