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Can I get good stereo performance from my PC?

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by Pezerinno, Sep 29, 2005.

  1. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    Hi guys, while I'm at uni I don't have a 'hi-fi' and just listen to music from my pc with iTunes which is ok but not great. I was planning on buying a secondary system to keep up at uni but with a lack of space and the fact I'm always at my PC (when I'm in) I was hoping I could get 'hi-fi' sound from my PC. Ok my current pc specs are:

    AMD X2 @ 2.6Ghz
    2GB Ballistix (260/3/3/3/7/1T/1:1)
    4x250GB Samsung SATAII Spinpoints
    7800GTX
    Audigy 2 ZS gamer soundcard
    Logitech Z5500 5.1 speakers


    Now the sound setup is great for gaming but not music (partly to blame on lossy AAC files). So I was hoping to keep the current sound setup but just add to it with a new sound card, amp and stereo bookshelve speakers (or studio monitors?) and I'll re-rip my CDs using Lossless. So I need suggestions on what I should buy? The speakers will just be on my desk so they have to work well close to walls.

    I assume going with something like the above the sound quality will be much improved? Also how much space roughly do lossless songs take up? Is it around 10mb/min?

    I can spend upto £1000 but would prefer less if I'm honest (as theres some cds I want buy :D )

    Thanks for your help in advance. Nick.
     
  2. The Dude

    The Dude
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    If space/perfprmance is an issue, but you have £s to spend..
    I'd say you can't go far wrong with this setup..

    Maudio 2496 Soundcard (£50), using the analog outs to drive a pair of Rokit KRK8's (£400)

    I've been using a 2496 to drive my Aaron/Dynaudio system with fantastic results..an awesome soundcard.
    A mate uses KRK8's in his studio and they're superb for the money, front ported too.. :)
     
  3. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    Thanks for the quick reply 'the dude'. I've never listened to a pair of studio monitors all I know about them is they're very honest.

    Will a setup like this equal a normal hi-fi setup of the same price?
     
  4. The Dude

    The Dude
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    It should better a normal setup of the same price in my honest opinion..
    I was well impressed with the Rockits when I heard them... annoyed even. :rolleyes:
     
  5. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    I'm also using the MAudio 2496 - it's analogue output is excellent for the money (better than CDPs of a few hundred pounds IMO). I use Dynaudio Audience 42Ws - front ported version (for going on walls) of the 42s. I ripped my CDs losslessly with EAC, which is fantastic free software. Use foobar2000 or equivellant to play files, and avoid windows mixing and losing quality (lots on the subject if you search foobar, and asio).
     
  6. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    I'm deffo tmepted by the sound card - seems like a bit of a bargain. What amp are you using with the Dynaudios Trigaaar?
     
  7. rmask

    rmask
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    sure
    1. trash your audigy and logitech speakers
    2. follow instructions above :)

    PS
    I'd recommend not maudio audiophile, but esi juli@ (~100£)
     
  8. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    I have 2 pairs of Dynaudios. One set up with an Exposure 2010S (£600 new, I bought here for £380) and the other is set up with an Arcam Diva A75+ (couple of hundred 2nd hand).

    Will you be sitting right next to the speakers? Or maybe next to them when on your PC, and normal position when just listening to music? This could make a fair difference to what you go for.
     
  9. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    For the majority of times I will be sitting right next to them, occasionally I will be somewhere else in the room. Can I have two soundcards in my computer as I would like to keep my curreny setup when playing games.
     
  10. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    The fact that you will sit next to them means that a lot of our experience isn't as relevant for you. I have had my Dynaudios on my PC desk for a month, and I liked them, but I've never compared that to anything else. But regardless, I'd advise you look for second hand speakers (better value).

    2 soundcards - it's best to only have 1 for a few reasons:
    1) Set up is easier - I'm not sure how you'd have one soundcard do the output in one scenario, and the 2nd card in another - for short term interests, I tried to have my motherboards sound for my monitors speakers, and my soundcard for my separates, and couldn't get it to work.
    2) It's cheaper to have one - it can output both SPDIF and analogue - use the SPDIF for games & dvd, analogue for music
    3) You have one good quality card outputting all, instead of a cheaper card for certain tasks

    I don't know anything about the Audigy you have, but first you could try using it's analogue output into a stereo amp (borrow one to test) and see what you think. I assume the issue you have had so far is SPDIF to an AV amp (neither the best for music). Maybe you'll end up keeping that card. If you choose to upgrade, get rid of the Audigy, and use the new one for games as well.

    I missed your question: "Also how much space roughly do lossless songs take up? Is it around 10mb/min?"
    I'm using FLAC (lossless compression) -and it takes between 6 and 7Mb for a minutes play. I have chosen this method because I want the best quality, and since I don't collect music (friend offered me 6000 tracks from his HD, but I have no interest) my entire collection has taken up only 110 Gig - cheap with todays HD prices.
     
  11. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    Thanks for the reply. Firstly I'm a bit worried that the extra expense isn't going to warrant the better sound quality - I'm worried I won't notice much difference between what I have now and what I will have because I will be sitting so close to the speakers etc

    I'm also slightly anxious about space on my desk as I like surround for gaming so want to keep the logitechs (I also dont have the box so selling would be difficult). For me smaller speakers would be better due to desk space - The amp could always go under the desk (plenty of space there) or I could get a small footprint amp like some MF or Cyrus models.

    I have nearly 2TB of HDD space so lossless format shouldn't be a problem in that regard.

    I have no problem with replacing the audigy and sticking with just the one sound card as long as the new soundcard I get is excellent for analogue stereo and decent for 5.1

    I will definately be looking to go second hand for the speaker/amp.

    I'm not sure whether an amp/speaker combo would be best or a studio active monitor?

    Thanks for all the help so far :)
     
  12. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    You said you'd like to spend less than a grand. You don't need to spend anywhere near that. Sitting close to your speakers will not stop you getting the benefits. My Dyns sounded great, and were under 3 feet from my ears.

    You will definitely keep your surround for games, whatever. How are the logitechs wired up? 1 cable into your soundcard? You could try just replacing the front left and right, and then when playing games, your soundcard will output via your stereo amp and to your logitech.
    Yep, sounds good. Should be some reasonably small speakers about - go to the speakers forum. The fact that the sound will come from your PC is irrelevant. You just want nice, small, stereo speakers.

    If it's good for stereo, it will be good for 5.1 (the easy bit). I'd try and choose amp and speakers 1st, to see how much it's worth spending on the soundcard. The M-Audio (or simillar) should do you for the amp and speakers you can get for <£1k, but there are cards for top hi fi (RME and Lynx).

    This depends on how your soundcard would control volume - I've forgotten how it works (post a new specific topic, or search for the answer). If you can get a decent soundcard that controls volume without losing quality (by just dropping bits) then active monitors would be great. I've got some Mackie HR624s which I love for stereo - some just went in the classifieds for £400 a pair. With no amp needed, that leaves a lot for a soundcard and CDs.[/QUOTE]
     
  13. Pezerinno

    Pezerinno
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    Ok slight change of heart - I'm going to ditch the logitechs altogether and just stick with stereo (I might buy some surround sound headphones for games) The logitechs are cluttering up my desk as it is.

    With speakers on your desk can you get spikes or anything like you would if you were using stands?

    I'm going to have a search around for all the small bookshelve speakers that are sealed or front ported - I do like the look of the slimline 42W's though.

    One last thing - how many systems do you have Trigaaar!? :eek: You've already mentioned you have two pairs of 42s and the Mackie HR624s then theres whats in your sig.... :smashin:
     
  14. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Don't go making rash decisions. I've not tried surround headphones.

    That would be DIY. You can get isolation pads. Also, the desk will be lower than your ears, so maybe a mini stand on your desk would be good. Or fix to the wall. Depends on your situaton. Basically, tweeter at ear height is 'ideal' and you want to isolated the speakers - solid desk, and a little diy isolation platform with spikes?

    :D I haven't updated my sig as it's not all finished yet. Living room as per sig. Source is PC, streeming music via Cat5 to 5 squeezebox 2s, then kitchen Arcam Black Box DAC & Exposure 2010S & Dyn Audience 42Ws; Mst bed TAG DAC20 & Exposure XIX pre amp & Mackie HR624s and Accoustic Research A06 for the bathroom (no speakers yet); Dressing room Arcam Diva A75+ & Dyn Aud 42Ws. Nothing for the guest room yet, and my study has just lost its speakers (Dyns have left the room) - study will not have squeezebox, but use foobar and souncard over cat5 with audio baluns.
     

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