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Confused and new to all this

towerofsong

Standard Member
Hey there,

Right i'm new to all this home cinema stuff, recievers, amplifiers and what not. And am really struggling to get my head around it. Have been reading through this forum all this week and I have learnt a hell of alot. So thank you for that. But i'm not sure what I need to set up the system I want. I'm not even sure if i'm posting in the right forum :-S. So i'm sorry if this is the wrong place and please move it :) Thanks. Right
Here we go

I'm turning my PC in to a HTPC, I plan to have an X-FI Fatal1ty sound card but currently have an Audigy 2ZS. I have cheapo Creative Inspire 5.1 SBS 560 speakers hooked into the sound card. I want to have surround sound from my Pioneer DV-585, XBox and XBox 360, now i'm guessing using an optical cable is the best way to do this? So I would need three optical (inputs??)
The Creative DDTS-100 has enough optical inputs on the back but is it actually any good? There is a review on IGN but I don't trust them.
I'm also planning on upgrading my speakers to the Z-5500 which seem to get excellant reviews.
My main question is can you, and is it worth hooking up PC 5.1 speakers, such as the Z-5500 to an Amp. For example the Denon 1906? Would they not be compatible? Would the speakers go directly into the Amp? Or would they go into the PC soundcard and then an optical cable to the Amp? Because as far as I know all PC speakers have headphone jack connectors and Amps want speakers wires. Or is this way off?
I think my brain is melting.
So in a nutshell. I want one set of speakers which everything will run through, with surround sound, if possible.
And how do you connect speakers through an Amp to a PC?
I have more questions but i'll leave it at that for now

Sorry if all these questions are stupid, but the forum is massive and the search function hasn't turned up much.

Thanks :)
 

mr_seanstanley

Active Member
Bit of a random post but due to your name (cohen fan?) i will try to help. Pc speakers cant be connected to an amp. The amplifiers for these types of speakers is in the sub usually and the sub is powered. Setting this up through an external amp would be more trouble than it is worth.
I think the best route for you to go would be to get a set of 5.1 surrounds (for home cinema not pc) and an av amp. connect the xboxs and dvd through optical inputs.
I would suggest using a 5.1 input on an amp (uses phono connectors, so 6 cables in all) to connect the amp to your computer as I have found that some games dont make use of the optical out on soundcards.
Happy to answer any more questions or to clarify the above.:hiya:
 

Knyght_byte

Distinguished Member
mrseanstanley pretty much has the answer tied up there.....
however i've had a drink so im going to elaborate on it slightly so i can wear myself out to go to sleep...lol

you either buy computer speakers, use the Creative decode thingy to plug any digital sources in that you want to use and keep it simple and colour coded......nothing wrong with the creative decoder for the price, its using the same kind of chips as any AV amp for a similar price will....possibly better even.....Creative manufacture products on a FAR bigger scale than most AV amp manufacturers.....more people have a computer with a Creative born product than they do an AV amp.....(a lot of motherboards with inbuilt 5.1 sound use Creative bought chips even if its a different name on the box..)


However.....computer speaker setups, as loud as they go, are fairly crap for music....they can sound good...but compare to them something decent for not too disimilar a price and you realise just how poor they are....their most redeeming feature is they will actually make an MP3/WMA track sound quite good......proper hifi speakers will make a MP3/WMA track sound crap..........why? because it is crap...lol...its compressed, pure and simple....even 320kpbs is NOT CD quality sound when you put it on real hifi gear......altho if you cant tell the difference between the two (320kpbs MP3 and a CD) even on £2,000 worth of speaker/CD/stereo amp, then just buy PC speakers, they cheap and reliable...lol

if however you have a discerning ear for music, plus you want DVD surround and gaming surround....then, for a lowish budget, heres a good starter....

goto Richer sounds.....get an AV amp by Yamaha for around £120ish....(check how many optical/coaxial digital inputs it has to make sure it has enough, if it doesnt then you might need to up your budget to around £180, then either Yamaha or Denon or Pioneer etc)

get 2 pairs of Mission or Gale bookshelf speakers for £50 a pair.........also a matching centre for around £40-60.......make sure the centre is fairly powerful as it will cope with a lot of work in movies.....

then add a decent sub, around £200 minimum tbh brand new for it to be worth paying for...

so basically thats all done for under £500.....if you can hit that budget you are laughing ;-)

for connection....from the PC point of view, if you only want 5.1, you need 3 cables, which are 3.5mm to stereo RCA phono.......these plug in to a 6 channel input on the back of the amp.....using these allows the soundcard to decode Dolby Digital (possibly DTS) plus send games in surround sound as well.......(also Creatives CMSS type music surround mode)...

you can also use a coaxial (or if you have the front panel breakout box or external breakout box use an optical) digital connection for DD/DTS movies...this will just take the signal straight from the PC's DVD drive to your amp, the soundcard wont do anything to it at all........if its from the back of the PC, you need to get on Creatives website and order a 3.5mm to Coaxial adaptor cable, then plug in a digital coaxial cable to the input on the amp...this is the same as hooking up to a DVD players digital coaxial output....the amp will do all the decoding (or likewise with the optical as i mentioned earlier in the paragraph if you have the breakout boxes)....however the digital connection wont do surround sound for games or music.....it will only send stereo to the amp, then your amp can do Pro Logic but it wont be very effective....you need the analogue 3.5mm-stereo RCA phono connections for game surround sound....

if you really value music sounding as good as possible, go the reciever/hifi speaker route.....if movie/games is more important, you might as well save yourself money for films and games and get the computer speakers....but get the best possible ones you can, it still adds to the atmosphere ;-)
 

Knyght_byte

Distinguished Member
oh yeah, i forgot, if the amp you buy can do 6.1 or 7.1, and you can afford to get a 6.1 or 7.1 speaker package.....the soundcard you have or will buy can do this.....

however the outputs from the soundcard need to be handled differently......i only have a 6.1 Audigy card atm, so i dont know exactly how the 7.1 output differs, but i know that on one of the sockets, instead of a standard 3.5mm to stereo RCA phono cable, i actually need a 3.5mm 4-pole Camcorder cable......basically instead of having 2 RCA plugs at the amp end, it has 3......these would normally be Left, Right and Video...however in this case the Left becomes my Centre speaker, the Right becomes my Rear Centre speaker and the video becomes my Subwoofer.....possibly wont make so much sense if you not aware of what im speaking of.......all i can say is if you want to go this route (av amp and speakers rather than a dedicate computer speaker setup) then head to Creatives website, and look on there for the diagram for hooking up an Audigy (or i guess now X-Fi) soundcard to an external receiver/amp........it might take a bit of hunting around, but you should come up with a diagram and explanation of exactly what you plug in to where on the soundcard and on the amp to get 6.1/7.1.....
 

towerofsong

Standard Member
Thank you so much for your detailed replys, it's almost starting to make sense.
Annoying as this is, I value Music, Games and Movies probably equally. Maybe music ever so slightly more. I want a decent all in one solution type thing. I have all my music encoded as .flac. Would that sound crap on a Hifi setup?
I will need three optical inputs? (XBOX, 360, DV-585) I think? The PC would connect to the 6 channel RCA on the back of the amp. This would give surround sound for games? With EAX and all that. Correct?
(Sorry about this, I understand PCs, but not hifi setups.)
Would these mission speakers be good enough? http://www.superfi.co.uk/index.cfm/page/moreinfo-1.cfm/Product_ID/2053
Mission M2s
Or would the subwoofer not be good enough?
My PC is going to be used to play my .flac files, divx/xvids and Hi-Def videos, and of course games. The connection to the 6 channel RCA on the amp would allow for surround sound in divx/xvids and Hi-Def? (if it supports it)
All DVDs will be run through the Pioneer DV-585
I'm only interested in 5.1

Sorry if i've completely misunderstood what you are telling me.
And I can afford a £500 budget

Thanks for all your help so far.
:)
(oh and i'm a massive Cohen fan :D)
 

mr_seanstanley

Active Member
I will need three optical inputs? (XBOX, 360, DV-585) I think? The PC would connect to the 6 channel RCA on the back of the amp. This would give surround sound for games? With EAX and all that. Correct?
Yep. using the surround outs on the computer will give you surround from games. Those mission speakers will be easily good enough. The sub will handle games and movies without fault.
.flac is a good form of compression, I've burnt cds from it and never noticed any obvious signs of compression.
Not sure what you mean by "hi-def".
You seem to be going along the right lines now:thumbsup:
 

towerofsong

Standard Member
Excellant, so thats the speakers sorted, now I need to decide on an amp. Knyght_byte suggested a Yamaha from richer sounds, cheapest one on the website is the RXV357 which is £170 but only has two optical inputs, so scratch that. There is a Denon 1906 but it is a tad expensive. I'll keep on looking and hopefully turn up something, any suggestions for an Home Cinema Amp with three optical inputs for under £200? Or is this impossible?

Thanks for all your help so far
:)
 

towerofsong

Standard Member
Also it would be useful to have three component inputs on the Amp, if possible for DVD, Xbox 360 and maybe an original XBox. That way I don't have to pay even more money for a decent switcher.
I think this is getting more expensive by the minute
So i need three optical and three component.
The Denon AVR1760 looks ideal, assuming I can put the DVD through coaxial to get DTS. It has three component in, 2 optical and 2 coaxial. Will this go well with the M2S mission speakers linked above?

Cheers
 

mr_seanstanley

Active Member
If you use coaxial you will still get DTS. coaxial digital is the same as optical digital with the exception it used a wire rather than optical fibres. If using coaxial digital I recommend you get a cable designed for the application. When it comes to digital it has to be 75ohms. Just has to be.:thumbsup:
 

Knyght_byte

Distinguished Member
seems you are pretty sorted now, so go buy stuff and be happy...hehe ;-)

btw, any form of compressed music will never sound as good as the original CD, however you need to be using reasonably high quality stereo equipment to notice this (say a CD/amp/pair of speakers comb around £1,000 upwards)....the better the equipment the more dreadful compressed music sounds....even WinMedia Lossless which is supposedly lossless still takes a little away from the track......(it isnt lossless as it takes a 500mb CD and turns it in to 400mb approx......lol).....however you'd need a damn good system to realise this (my £3,000 worth of stereo stuff lets me realise this....however my previous £1,500 worth doesnt show the difference hardly at all between lossless and CD).....

so use CD where you can if you have it.....when your feeling in the mood for pure music that is.....otherwise enjoy the .flacs...heh
 

mr_seanstanley

Active Member
Feels good to know someone else is on the road to a lifetime of empty wallets and pure audio pleasure:rotfl: :smashin:
 

Knyght_byte

Distinguished Member
ahhhmen

;-)
 

naboomagnoli

Standard Member
I'm also a noob. Glad I found this place though, I'm already feeling all edumacated on the matter.

Thing is a lot of the budget amps such as the Yamaha RXV 357 are an absolute pig to track down at low low prices. Knyght byte, you say Richer Sounds should have a Yamaha av amp at £129 or so? I can't find it, the 357 is at >£150 everywhere I look!
Fat lot of good froogle is too.. :(

Any ideas where else to look / alternative amps at £120 or less?
 

tfboy

Well-known Member
Lossless audio is lossless and should sound the same.
Whether you use the MS codec or flac, both are lossless. You end up with smaller file sizes just because it compresses them where it can. It's like a zipped compressed file for a PC. It's smaller, but HAS to return all the data when it is extracted or it wouldn't work ;)

As you've already said, going down the digital connection for xbox, 360 and dvd is the best way as it leaves the multichannel input to the PC. Most flexible :)

You won't regret getting a "proper" AV amp with some proper seperate speakers. :)
 

Knyght_byte

Distinguished Member
tfboy said:
Lossless audio is lossless and should sound the same.
Whether you use the MS codec or flac, both are lossless. You end up with smaller file sizes just because it compresses them where it can. It's like a zipped compressed file for a PC. It's smaller, but HAS to return all the data when it is extracted or it wouldn't work ;)

As you've already said, going down the digital connection for xbox, 360 and dvd is the best way as it leaves the multichannel input to the PC. Most flexible :)

You won't regret getting a "proper" AV amp with some proper seperate speakers. :)

an audio file is different from a computer file......a computer file is always bloated in respect to the way the data is written on a drive/disk....so for moving it it can be zipped up which condenses gaps that exist......it doesnt remove data......basically the same as defragging your hard disk drive does, it puts data in true sequential pattern, sadly over time this gets mucked around again when you use the program as stuff gets rewritten/overwritten and place on different sectors etc....

this is why zipped files have to be UNzipped....so that space can be made for things needing to be written.....however some files you zip dont need stuff to be written or are read only, these files normlly dont compress at all during zipping, they are simply zipped up as a way of keeping individual files together to send somewhere else by email or removable media......

music doesnt work that way.....its not a program that has the ability to instruct a motherboards components what to do.......its already sequential data that needs to be lifted from the disc, decoded and played back.......so removing anything from a recording by compressing it has the potential to affect the sound quality, even 'lossless' compression........otherwise all discs would contain 24bit/192khz quality tracks, compress to lossless, that a suitable decoder could then play back at that quality.......but they dont do they? why? because compression in music compresses it.....it extracts relatively unneccesary information from the point of view of something listening via an ipod or other portable mp3player whether via headphones or dixons hifi......but listening via an expensive setup lets you hear the differences......and if you cant, then tbh dont bother buying an expensive setup...lol
 

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