View Full Version : Need advice on audio setup

11-25-2010, 12:41 AM
I am looking for a decent 5.1 or 7.1 audio for my pc and would like to get your recommendations as I'm not really familiar with this. I am using my pc primarily for watching HD movies (blu-ray, hd-dvd, mkv), music, games and web, so basically i do everything from here.

I was thinking of getting a Philips HTS3560/98 as that is the same brand of my LCD TV and honestly i really don't know what to look for so i started with them...


anyways, budget is around $1000 and might purchase it soon, probably in two/three weeks. thanks

11-26-2010, 12:35 PM
Boxed systems usually aren't very good. I'd recommend a custom build where you can get a big jump in sound performance while still staying in that 1000 budget. I'd recommend going through Polk Audio's page and seeing what kind of speakers you would like. Newegg is an official seller so there's a good starter. A 300 dollar receiver would work just fine which gives you 700 on speakers. Then from there you could get 200 dollars for a pair of towers, 100 for a center and 400 for a sub and two rear speakers. There's numerous amount of ways you can spread your money and that is up to you. Everyone has different tastes to what they are looking for and are planning to use it for different uses. I highly recommend reading an article or two about basic home theater setup and even a buying guide I really think it would help give you a good idea of w hat to look for. Then come back and we can give some more suggestion on what to get :)

11-26-2010, 08:38 PM
thanks nanometer, i'm currently researching about avr receivers, specifically those with hdmi input with 1080p video and audio (lpcm? not so sure). i find it quite a daunting task to come up with something right now so it may take a little bit of more reading and a lot of understanding but i'll try my best.

what i have found recently is a zeppelin ipod dock or the MM1's that have glowing reviews. is it a good alternative to use as an audio set-up to my pc as an alternative to a full-blown setup? i like surround sound but i'm also fine with just front audio that is quite clean and clear so i was thinking of maybe just getting the zeppelin and save myself some bucks and the hassle of setting up wires all over the place. is this a good idea?

11-26-2010, 11:19 PM
It all revolves around what you want, and what you are willing to give up. Some docking bays can connect to a computer and it will give in my opinion, lousy sound. In the order that you listed what you want to do with your computer, I will give you a first recommendation, and a second. I don't feel it's wise to base choices on third and fourth preferences when you can easily get your first options. :D

First option, and usually my first recommendation to most people:

Get a 5.1 setup only, not a 7.1. I never recommend a 7.1 unless you are a much more dedicated movie watcher on your computer. And even then I don't recommend it because DVDs and ray disks are 5.1, anything else is an emulation of 5.1. too my knowledge nothing is in 7.1, even blu rays that say they are have been emulated into 7.1 so your receiver doesn't have to encode it.
Sooooo I would get a 5.1 system, with bigger front speakers than rear(towers first choice for fronts) and getting a similar center channel to blend with. The rear channels I usually get related speakers but with a single driver from the front speakers(assuming they have more than 1 driver per speaker).
If space is an issue, then ditch everything I said, and look for micro speakers(small space saving speakers). I wont go into it unless you ask for it, though they do not offer the best full range sound and are usually more money. Generally speaking, it's good to match all the speakers for a strictly movie only environment.

Option 2, space saving and decent performance:

Skip the rear speakers and get a good center-- and 2 tower speakers or 2 bookshelf speakers for your front speakers. This is nice, but you obviously don't get a surround sound effect like a full 5.1. This is also a good choice for music listening.

Option 3 best for music:

Get 2 tower speakers or decent bookshelf speakers as your front speakers. No center or rear channels.

All of these options include a subwoofer, it is a must ;).

11-27-2010, 06:20 PM
Edit: I had my receiver part # screwed up, but it's fixed now. Do highly recommend buying before it's sold out, as the sale below is a result of the item being discontinued.

For a receiver, if you're buying new I highly recommend an Onkyo HT-RC260 (http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-HT-RC260-7-2-Channel-Theater-Receiver/dp/accessories/B003FSTAVY). Entry level, but good features. Good name, burr-brown DACS, 7.2, 6x HDMI 1.4 ports (3D compatible), analogue to HDMI upconversion, 100w/channel, plus a bunch of other stuff. Probably the best receiver with a retail price of ~$300 right now, and you can surely find it under $300 on sale if you look.

Hell, it'll even do 1080p upscaling with a chip that was a few years ago considered pretty good (not sure how it compares to the current stuff, but really, surely it's not terrible). It doesn't have all the minor refinement options that the higher-end units do, but again, for the price, a killer.

Speakers... For $700 I don't think I would go for a full 7.1 system, you just won't get speakers of sufficient quality, unless you get a good deal on a used set. I'd say you can either get a very solid L/R set of used floorstanding speakers, or an entry level L/R + center you can build on, or a full surround set that you'll have to forklift at some later point (which can be decent).

The used speaker market goes area to area, so I'm leaving that alone. I am also leaving aside the entry level L/R+Center buildable set because I think the brands you would want aren't the ones I prefer, so I'd probably just steer you wrong. But the forklift set I can work with. I would suggest either:

- Klipsch RB-41 II (http://www.klipsch.com/na-en/products/rb-41-ii-1-overview/) (MSRP: $838, probably can find for $750 or maybe even less) - No sub included, but really a pretty decent set for the price, and it actually is somewhat expandable with other speakers from the Reference II series, so you can migrate to a higher-power system down the line.

- Klipsch Quintet (http://www.klipsch.com/na-en/products/klipsch-quintet-overview/) (MSRP $550, probably can find for $500 or less) - No sub, no upward migration path, but you can buy extra speakers to go for a 7-speaker set, and they're really not bad (again, for the price). At this price point I don't think you're too worried about things like crossover frequencies for your subwoofer, so just grab any ol' sub.

11-30-2010, 10:39 AM
If you are not expecting company while watching movies, you only need a 5.1 system. The 5.1 emulates perfect surround sound as long as you sit in the sweet spot (Where all the sound intersects between the speakers, assuming you are using a 5.1 codec and speakers are placed appropriately).

If you just want to buy the best PC audio speakers for mostly music and games, get an Audioengine A5 or the B&W MM1.

If you don't mind wearing cans, you will get $2000 sound for about $500 if you shop it right.