Best PC sound system (idea: TX SR-309 & Wharfedale speakers)

srynznfyra

Standard Member
I'm looking at upgrading my PC's sound system. First, let's get out of the way the fact that my *absolute maximum* budget for this is £460.

I will mainly use this for listening to music, and playing *some* games. However I would sacrifice gaming performance for music fidelity. Ie. the goal is to have all three ranges (bass, mid, treble) in equal clarity (of course I know this isn't completely possible with my budget), rather than concentrate on, for example, bass performance at the expense of the mids.

Also, I do like to listen to music fairly loud, and all different kinds (rap, folk, death metal, rock, electronic, Jimi Hendrix (a category of his own :clap:), etc.). Games too. This thing has got to be able to make some noise, shake the walls a bit, annoy the neighbours - you get the picture.

Okay, so I've decided on two bookshelf speakers and a subwoofer, connected to a surround sound AV receiver. I formulated a few positives and negatives of this approach, as opposed to what I was originally looking at (the Logitech Z-5500 all-in-one PC speakers):

Positives:
1. Bookshelf speakers apparently have a better dynamic range, especially in the mids (important for music).
2. Upgrades (e.g. more speakers) can be added at a later date.
3. More power is potentially available.
4. If one component fails, the whole system isn't necessarily dead.

Negatives:
1. Costs more.
2. The AV receiver contains a multitude of non-required features that would go to waste, such as all the video throughput, array of inputs and different settings.

So please tell me if you think this whole approach is flawed, or if you think it's okay to use a full-blown AV receiver just for a PC. I do actually think that being able to connect more devices can only be a good thing in the long run, but on the other hand, more components equals less reliability.

Assuming I do go with this method, here are the specific products I have my eye on (tempted to buy at any moment to be honest :laugh:):

Receiver: ONKYO TX-SR309 5.1 channel. Rated for 100W @ 6 Ohms, 1 channel driven at 1kHz. Not exactly sure how loud this would be able to go before clipping. Remember I'm incorporating a sub-woofer, so the actual amps in the receiver wouldn't need to pack a serious bass punch, as the sub would take care of that on its own (hopefully).

Bookshelf speakers: 2x Wharfedale Diamond 9.1. Rated 20-100W, 6 Ohm nominal impedance, with a 25mm tweeter and 130mm midrange driver. What Hifi? give them five stars, so they must be good.

Sub-woofer: Wharfedale SW150. Rated 150W, 25cm (10in) driver.

Obviously, this would be a simple 2.1 system, which can later be expanded with more speakers into a 5.1 system. As far as the PC's concerned, I would be using the integrated TOSLINK (digital optical) output from the motherboard, going into the receiver.

How does all this sound to YOU then?

Awaiting all replies with a thankful grin :D

Cheers

Fela
 

srynznfyra

Standard Member
Hi

I don't *need* surround sound, and will have 2.1 to begin with, but it would be a nice addition. Also, I do like playing some computer games, and for that surround sound is great.

Technically I have room for larger-than-bookshelf speakers, but aren't they much more expensive? Wouldn't bookshelf speakers + a 150W subwoofer produce enough sound in enough frequencies?

Thanks :)
 

Don Dadda

Distinguished Member
Personally I think the speakers and sub will do job well, but the 309 will be found wanting, especially if music is the main priority.

With a decent pair of floorstanders, you may not need a sub. Also if you have room for speaker stands, you have room for floorstanders as they take up roughly the same footprint.

Except these, as they are fairly big:

Wharfedale XARUS5000-BLACK from Hughes Direct

Available for £150 which were thought to be discountinued and is, but this site managed to find and churn them out so cheaply.
They do not have quite the finesse of others, but for the price, they are a absolute bargain. So buying decent cheap floorastanders is possible, but not always doable to a decent level.

If you could add £20 to the budget, you get the following stereo amp with digital inputs and the Diamond 9.1/Sw150 sub package.

Superfi - ONKYO A5VL AMPLIFIER -£250

You could connect the pc and games console diectly to the amp. May not be surround sound but a stereo 2.1 setup can sound just as good but without the swoohing around part.

If an AVR is a must for future additions, and you don't mind s/h, you could go an older ,more meatier avr that will do the job better.
I.e. An Onkyo 875 was just sold for £200 in the classifieds

Amplifier & Receiver Classified Adverts

If you are patient enough, more similar classed avr's will appear.
 

srynznfyra

Standard Member
Basically I don't have a games console or anything (I use the PC for gaming as well as music), but music is definitely my priority, and I would sacrifice surround sound if it meant I could get a much better stereo amplifier.

Floorstanders seem to not only be more expensive than the bookshelf / sub combo (which I'm 90% sure would be adequate with a good amp), but they also seem (and it stands to reason) to require a more powerful amplifier. The subwoofer has its own amplifier, so the way I see it, the amp doesn't need to do any heavy lifting for the bass if there is an (active) subwoofer connected - and it can concentrate its efforts on the mid- and top-end. Please tell me if I'm wrong about that :)

I had a look at that stereo amplifier too. £250 is probably too much, because if I were to get bookshelf speakers I would definitely want the sub, and I haven't seen any floorstander pairs that are cheaper than the 9.1/sw150 combo. Also, I'm not entirely sure how I would go about connecting a subwoofer to that amp. It is an active subwoofer and there are no outputs on the amp except for passive speakers (as far as I can make out).

Optical audio (I should have pointed this out) is not a necessity. I can use analogue audio if need be.

So, I'm going to have a look for some decent stereo amplifiers under £230. Cheers :)

UPDATE: I meant to say - low sound is very important to me. I listen to a lot of stuff with a lot of bass (as well as treble), such as drum n bass, some dubstep (only the good stuff), Dub reggae, and a few other things that are quite bass-heavy. I reckon a subwoofer is just what I want/need.

Also, I'm still not totally off the idea of the TX SR-309 receiver. It has good reviews on amazon (very good actually), also I think any separate speaker system will be a big step up from the junk I'm using at the moment (a Logitech X-540 5.1 "system").
 
Last edited:

Bossk128

Well-known Member
If music is definitely your focus, you do not want to use your soundcard for output of analogue.
Try and price up a DAC with a volume on it (Beresford Caiman?), and then get a decent second hand power amp, say Rotel Nad or Arcam. Speakers I'm not so sure about: you do tend to get what you pay for with speakers.
My Beresford DAC cost £110, second hand Rotel power amp about £80, leaves £200 for the speakers.

Oh, and
What Hifi? give them five stars, so they must be good.
-not necessarily, some suspect What HiFi selling good reviews to advertisers.
 

srynznfyra

Standard Member
Hmm, well I've just ordered what I was originally going to order from Amazon. If I really don't like it, it's subject to a returns policy, but I'm pretty sure it'll be up to the task. The room I play music in has a very low ceiling (upper attic floor), and, well, I'm not exactly an audiophile so I'm just hoping for the best :)

Thanks for all the suggestions though :)
 

dmagro

Standard Member
I'm very curious as to how you find your system now as you opted for the EXACT same components I am looking at.

Did the TXSR309 do the job? Would you have opted for changing any of the components if you were to do it all over again?
 

srynznfyra

Standard Member
I reckon the amp is good enough. By that, I mean if you have a higher budget, get a better amp. However, I'm satisfied with what I purchased, given the amount of money I had.

The speakers are fine for my standards. I mean, I'm not interested in shaking the walls or anything like that, and I want just as much treble/mids as bass. Which leads me to the subwoofer: it's good for *some* kinds of bass, but if you try to make it go too loud, it won't. It's not actually as "boomy", or simply loud as I thought it would be, but I'd nevertheless say it was a great sub for the money.

So, all in all, as long as you're not expecting TOO much from it all, you'd probably be pretty satisfied with the same components :)

EDIT: in terms of connectivity, I'm using my computer's built-in Toslink optical digital output, straight into the receiver.

Also, one word of caution: the room I listen to stuff in is quite small. Well, for a terraced house it's quite small, as it's situated in the attic, i.e. the ceiling is quite low. You may want to take this into consideration if you're thinking of listening to music etc. in large spaces.
 
Last edited:

rorackowe

Well-known Member
Similar to what I was trying to achieve on a similar budget. I used to have large floorstanders and Cyrus gear + a Beresford DAC. Was all a bit bright, verging on harsh.

Moved to a smaller house and bought s/h Cyrus CLS 50 speakers (100), a Sony Taf 501 ES amp which has outstanding digital inputs (£135) and a BK 300PR sub (£220). It's great!
 

dmagro

Standard Member
I reckon the amp is good enough. By that, I mean if you have a higher budget, get a better amp. However, I'm satisfied with what I purchased, given the amount of money I had.

The speakers are fine for my standards. I mean, I'm not interested in shaking the walls or anything like that, and I want just as much treble/mids as bass. Which leads me to the subwoofer: it's good for *some* kinds of bass, but if you try to make it go too loud, it won't. It's not actually as "boomy", or simply loud as I thought it would be, but I'd nevertheless say it was a great sub for the money.

So, all in all, as long as you're not expecting TOO much from it all, you'd probably be pretty satisfied with the same components :)

EDIT: in terms of connectivity, I'm using my computer's built-in Toslink optical digital output, straight into the receiver.

Also, one word of caution: the room I listen to stuff in is quite small. Well, for a terraced house it's quite small, as it's situated in the attic, i.e. the ceiling is quite low. You may want to take this into consideration if you're thinking of listening to music etc. in large spaces.

While somewhat reassuring, markedly less enthusiastic than what I would have expected.

I also would have anticipated the speakers plus sub to be EXTREMELY loud for a small room, since even my 7 year old or so £120 Logitech system was unbearably loud for a small room.

I must admit I'm waivering in my determination to spend a lot more money on non-Logitech speakers now!
 

cosmicma

Active Member
iv'e had a 2.1 system attached to my pc for some time now and it's not a bad way to go
mine consists of an old yamaha DSP A592 amp with some JBL S36 2's and a gale active sub
i chose the JBL speakers because they can take a lot of abuse rather than some delicate bookshelfs with fragile tweeters
i have some linn kahns that iv'e tried but for the purpose the JBL's are better
i'm not really interested in the best fidelity with all the finesse out of my pc considering more or less all the music you are going to be listening to is compressed ( including flac ) and the reality is you cannot compress audio without loss
and if i wan't to listen to all that music can be ( in our house anyway ) i walk 20 paces into the front room and switch the hifi on

my advice is to pour your money into your main hifi and don't spend a small fortune trying to get your pc sounding like your hifi it's not really worth it
get it sounding good with the satisfaction that it will sound great on the hifi :)
 

dmagro

Standard Member
iv'e had a 2.1 system attached to my pc for some time now and it's not a bad way to go
mine consists of an old yamaha DSP A592 amp with some JBL S36 2's and a gale active sub
i chose the JBL speakers because they can take a lot of abuse rather than some delicate bookshelfs with fragile tweeters
i have some linn kahns that iv'e tried but for the purpose the JBL's are better
i'm not really interested in the best fidelity with all the finesse out of my pc considering more or less all the music you are going to be listening to is compressed ( including flac ) and the reality is you cannot compress audio without loss
and if i wan't to listen to all that music can be ( in our house anyway ) i walk 20 paces into the front room and switch the hifi on

my advice is to pour your money into your main hifi and don't spend a small fortune trying to get your pc sounding like your hifi it's not really worth it
get it sounding good with the satisfaction that it will sound great on the hifi :)

The thing is I use my PC as my sound system, and game on it as well. I spend much, much more time at my PC than watching TV, etc. I want to get something that I'll be able to use for either (literally pick it up and move it to the living room to watch a blu-ray, etc). I'm also only starting with 2 speakers and a sub (the wharfedale 9.1 + SW150 combo in all likelihood), but hope to be able to turn it into a 5.1 system down the road. This already is way beyond what I would want to spend, but I'm hoping it will be worth it. I'm used to sound from basic PC speakers, or at best, Logitechs. My TV has never had anything but it's built in speakers. For all the bad that's said of Logitechs, I'm sure I'll notice some sort of difference... whether I think it's worth the massive investment (for me, I know this is considered low end for Hifi) remains to be seen!

On another note, I'm also considering the YAMAHA RXV371 vs the ONKYO TXSR309. Similarly priced. Open to any other ideas too.
 
Last edited:

The latest video from AVForums

Star Wars Andor, Woman King, more Star Trek 4K, Rings of Power & the latest TV, movies & 4K releases
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom