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Hi! First time caller and long time listener - need some help with purchase...

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by herojig, Sep 28, 2005.

  1. herojig

    herojig
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    Hi! First time caller and long time listener - and I'm torn and perhaps you can help :clap: I need a sound system for my new office study which is a small 12x16 room with lots of noise from the street (chickens, goats, Tata trucks, etc.). I have a great pc setup with a flat screen monitor that swivels around from the desk so we can use the office/study to watch movies/TV (AverTV thingee attached) and DVD movies. I was running all the sound through a huge Kenwood receiver with ancient surround sound technology and inexpensive but large sony 5.1 speakers. It sounded great, but was all a bit much space-wise so I gave the sound system to my brother's music studio downstairs. Now what to do/get? A small compact home theatre system (w/DVD) or a computer 5.1 gaming speaker-system? Space is at a premium.

    It seems the difference between say a Samsung system and a Gaming Sound System is that one gives you a DVD player/FM player but the other type appears to be made for computers (although the marketing from companies like Logitech and Creative make it sound like these systems make great home theaters by just plugging in a TV.) So do you see my point?

    I don't know what to choose from the hundreds of offerings from Sony Samsung, etc. on one hand and Creative, Logitech, Harmon Kardon, etc. on the other.

    I really can use an extra DVD player (although my PC has 2) for testing purposes (I make DVDs/CDs for clients) and I don't mind paying the extra 50 usd or so for a DVD-based system, as long it will play computer burned DVD/CD-r+r+rw's. I don't need FM as the internet is doing that now....Hmmm...hoping I can get some suggestions from all here. Thanks!!!
    Jigs
     
  2. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Welcome to the forums

    Either will work fine with a PC. If you are using a home theatre system, with a built in DVD player, you need to ensure that it has an audio input (SPDIF most suitable, depending on your PC output) for when you are watching things that are on your PC. Also, you need to make sure you can connect it to your monitor for DVD use.

    What audio outputs does your PC have? The motherboard may have an SPDIF out. If you have a soundcard, which do you have?
     
  3. herojig

    herojig
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    Thanks for that Triggaar, but you lost me in the first sentance with that spdiffly thing. Ya mean rca plugs or little din thingee? I am using a sony TR3 laptop with SoundMax Digital Audio drivers (I guess). The AverTV TV9 box attached to the monitor has tons of plugs and ports too, if that's not enough.

    Seriously, I do wish I had a real soundcard, but there is really no room for something as big as desktop in my office, so I have tiny sony laptop connected to several 7-port usb hubs and a mountain of hard drives, dvd burner, and other devices - kinda like a desktop without the case. But it works. In general, the sound out of the Sony Viao seems to be okay for anything it plugs into, but I guess the sound will be going through the AverTV9 box if I get a home theater system?

    Here's a schematic of what I have:
    The System Today

    Okay, so now what to do? Any specific models in either the catagory of DVD Home Theatre or Gaming Boom System? As I don't have a gamer's system (the video chip on the Sony sucks) maybe I should focus on midlevels for music. What say you?
    :hiya:
     
  4. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Most basic setup: All in 1 system with DVD player, connecting to it's own speakers. Can be had or a couple of hundred pounds. Some will not have a method for connection to a PC.
    Separates setup example: Source (DVD player, PC or Sky) connected to Amp connected to 5.1 speakers (the 5 means front left & right, centre, and rear left and right, the 1 mean sub woofer).
    The method of connecting the Source to the Amp is usually a digital cable (either optical, or SPDIF = Sony/Phillips Digital InterFace). You will need this to connect your PC to your suround system. This connection will either be on your PCs motherboard or soundcard.

    I'll look up your laptop in a minute.

    That TV box will not allow 5.1, so you just ignore it (if you really want 5.1).

    What is your budget, what is your main priority?
     
  5. herojig

    herojig
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    that helps thanks, the sony laptop just has the normal ipod-like headphone jack, green, like the microphone jack, red.

    Funny, when i had the older Kenwood Surround Sound reciever hooked in, it sounded like something was working, ie rear / center speakers were working and adjustable. Is there something that Kenwood did that things don't do now?

    Anyway, over 100 to something less than 300 usd would be nice. And music from my Itunes lib & DVD watching is probally the priority, maybe a game now and then. Clients come into my office alot so looks are important too.

    Thanks for your help!
     
  6. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Need to see the spec to know, as SPDIF can be output via 3.5mm socket.

    If you were using 2 channel out from your TV box, this would probably be stereo left and right. Your Kenwood could process this with ProLogic, and make it into 5.1. Modern systems still have ProLogic, ProLgicII and other algorithems for the job, as well as dolby digital & DTS. These latter 2 fomats make use of 5.1 encoded on a dvd (for example), where each speaker gets a signal that was specified for it in production, whereas ProLogic (or anything that makes 5.1 from a 2 channel source) is guessing (bit cleverer than that :)) where sounds should go.

    This is such a toughie - you could get a 2nd hand amp and 2 speakers, which would give you good music and a nice 2 channel movie performance - or an all in 1, which would give you 5.1 DD/DTS from DVDs only, and look nice. Some would be happy with it's music capabilities, you'd have to demo it. I'd prefer stereo than an all in 1 5.1 system with that budget (because you'd get a better quality sound with the budget concentrated on 2 speakers and am), but not everyone cares about quality so much.

    You're very welcome - and thanks to you, I am now the luckiest forum member, with 888 posts.
     
  7. herojig

    herojig
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    :thumbsup: That explains it (in clear english). I do have the spiddle thing coming out the 3.5 jack - confirmed by pal on Sony TR World, and that's exactally what was going on with the Kenwood, which was second hand by the way. So I want all that or some of that in a smaller version (ProLogic, ProLgicII, dolby digital & DTS). Does anyone make?

    I don't suppose any of those Logitech or Creative gaming systems do this eh?

    So that means I need to find a compact hometheatre system with both Prologic and dolby digital & DTS to get it all yes - both 5.1 from DVD video and simulated from everything else?

    The next problem will be to try and find something local here in Nepal, selection is limited, exspecially with computer hardware. But I am wondering if there is just a small box that does the ProLogic, ProLgicII, dolby digital & DTS that can be used to hook up any 5.1 speaker system. If there is, its probally not in Nepal, but we do have a lot of chinese tech here.

    Anyway, now I think I know what to look for in a home theatre system and I am very glad you have reached 888. This may go to 899 if we keep going! :eek:

    Ps. by the way I was looking at a 2 speaker samsung hometheatre that had SRS (WOW). What's that?!? It was small, 2 speakers and a sub, and the enclosures matched my decor, but it sounded cheesy in the store. It was about 340$USD :rolleyes:
     
  8. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Ok, lets recap on your requirements. You want to be able to:
    1) Watch DVD movies with true digital 5.1 surround (all these systems have DD = Dolby Digital, some have DTS as well, doesn't matter if you have it or not).
    2) Watch TV with surround sound (prologic most common - helps to start with a stereo source - where does your tv signal come from?)
    3) Play games with surround sound (pref digital)
    4) Listen to some music

    Are these the requirements, with weight to movies and tv rather than music? If you listen to music a fair amount, you could be better with a stereo system, and ignore the 5.1, but it looks like you're after 5.1 ahead of music cares.

    Looks like that isn't digital - partly because if your Kenwood was old, it may not have had a digital input, and I've looked up the spec of your laptop (like this) and the audio out just says headphones and 'soundcard' which doesn't tell me much, and the expansion ports doesn't include digital audio.

    Assuming I've got your requirements right, you will need a surround system, that includes a dvd player (that will auto inc CD too) and can take audio input for you standard TV needs & Games. There should be a lot of choice for something like that, from the usual gang - Sony, Panasonic, the samsung you mentioned etc. If you play games on your laptop, you will only be able to have a made up surround sound (like watching TV) from you 3.5mm socket. If you use an xbox (or new PC), you can have true Dolby Digital surround sound if your system has a digital input (I mentioned the 2 types earlier - xbox outputs via optical, not SPDIF, but it can be converted - lets not get ahead of ourselves).

    The logitech in your 1st link doesn't have DD or DTS, but gives a surround sound of it's own. For your purposes, I think you're best going the home cinema route, rather than PC speakers.

    Yes (but it doesn't have to have DTS - many DVDs don't include a DTS track, but all modern ones have DD). If there's a few you like, and one includes a digital input, get that one, as you may at some stage get a different PC, xbox, sky+, all of which have digital output for DD 5.1.

    Because this forum is full of AV enthusiasts, most of us don't have an all in one system, but instead have a dvd player/PC, an AV amp (which is the box you mention) and seperate speakers. Note that box (AV amp) is the heart of the 5.1 system, and connected to 5 speakers and a sub (not to a 5.1 speaker system).

    No idea what SRS is. Search the AV forum.
     
  9. herojig

    herojig
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    I think I may have found another solution, whatcha think about this:
    Creative Soundblaster Solution and here are the specs:Specs, see far right column

    Then I could just go get a creative speaker system or one like it.

    As for your questions thanks so much. Yes, most of the time I am watching movies and TV (from Cable), and what you are saying is that for the pure music lover, 5.1 is not good or preferred. I guess this is a strange place to be discussing this as most of you are professional audiophiles yes? Anyway, let me know what you think of this latest idea.
    jigs
     
  10. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Looks good. From what you said, I think you already know, but just in case: note that this will output the signal you want, but will not amplify the signal - it needs to feed an amp & speakers (which a creative speaker system could be), and that will also need DD 5.1 capability. So, this card would allow your laptop to output 5.1 (instead of it's 3.5mm stereo jack) for games and DVD. It will also make your laptop a good source for 2 channel music.

    Probably, yes. You could also look at home cinema systems that don't include a dvd player (as you can use your laptop for that).

    It's not that 5.1 isn't as good, but that when a budget of £300 is spread accross 5 speakers, a sub, amplification for 5 speakers, and the technology to do DD, DTS & Pro logic, the bit used for stereo (2 speakers and amplification for those 2) isn't getting much of the budget, so the quality can't be compared with £300 spent on a stereo amp and speakers.

    Not at all. Some here like music most, some games, some film, and most of us certainly aren't professional.
     
  11. nsherin

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    I use a £320 stereo setup - a NAD C320BEE amp and a pair of Mission m70 speakers. Tried to do surround sound on a budget, but wasn't impressed with music performance. My Creative SoundBlaster Auidigy 2 runs straight into the amp and sounds excellent with music (using iTunes as a player) and WinDVD for DVD playback. It's not my only source (a NAD C521BEE CDP for CD duties and a Pro-Ject Debut 2 TT for vinyl duties are also part of the system), but it gets a lot of use, both for the convience factor of iTunes and the decent sound quality.

    Plus, two speakers take up a lot less space, of course.
     
  12. herojig

    herojig
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    yea, an Audigy user! I am really considering ordering this for my notebook, but how does it fit into this system:
    System Today
    I guess the AverTv box would used to just get TV/Cable sound to the audigy, and the speakers would not be hooked here, but to the Audigy. I am looking creative and logitech amplified speaker systems, but many of them have the decoders built in there as well. Now I am really confused. :rotfl:
     
  13. Triggaaar

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    Do you already have the Aver TV box? Could you post a link to it's spec (in English - I've only found french). I assume this box is simply a switch, so you can have one cable from it to the monitor and speakers. But it is up to the job? In your diagram for the AverTV9 box, it shows an output 'RCA SPDIF (Video 2)'. SPDIF is Audio, not video. What does it say on your box?

    You wouldn't use the Aver box to output audio to the audigy (unless you were recording tv onto your laptop's hard drive).
    As I said, the Aver box is supped to be a switch, and cut down no. of wires to your speakers (and tv). It is supposed to be the last link, not the soundcard.
    Also, you don't want to have to have the laptop on to watch tv/cable.
    If the Aver cannot take a digital audio signal from your laptop (and also a std signal from TV/Cable) and pass it to the speakers, then it really isn't up to the job you need (from an audio point of view) - but it is if it can pass the digital signal.
    If it can't pass the digital signal:
    You really want your speaker package to have 2 sets of inputs: digital from your laptop, and stereo from TV/Cable (no need for this to go through Aver). If the speaker package only has 1 input, and the Aver doesn't do digital audio, you'd have to have TV/Cable via laptop, but you want to avoid this (get a speaker package with 2 or more inputs if necessary).

    All your Audigy (or any dvd player) can do, is output a range of signals - DD, stereo, etc. This is no good if your amp (or speaker system) cannot decode that signal. So you need one with the decoder built in, for whatever format you want to listen to (DD & ProLogicII would be nice).

    Why are you looking towards a PC speaker package rather than a Home Cinema package?
     
  14. herojig

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    Here are the specs, as they are, for the AverTV box:
    AverTV Info and I've updated the system chart to make things more clear:
    Updated System Diagram

    Still kinda confused, but its becoming clearer. I think sound from the Audigy card would require power from the laptop, at least if I got the PMICA slot version? The USB version might have an external powersupply and allow passthru without the pc being on, but I kinda doubt it, as it looks like the controls are software based.

    I guess just getting a home theatre system would be a lot easier then all of this, thx jigs
     
  15. Triggaaar

    Triggaaar
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    Why would you want to pass sound through it? To save changing cables?
     
  16. Antpink

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    Just a suggestion - if you already have this "mountain" in your office, have you considered going the route of a mini-tower, or SFF PC, and condensing all of that to a nice neat box, which will then have the added bonus of being upgradeable as funds allow. Most motherboards will have the spiddy thing as standard - seems like you may have to shell out a bit more initially, as you still need the amp and speakers though.....
     
  17. Triggaaar

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    Oh I see. For TV -> Monitor.

    You don't need to use it for audio at all when you have your system.

    Ok, so:
    Video:
    TV/Cable to Aver box, to lcd
    Camcorder same
    DVDs from Laptop, direct to lcd
    If you got HC with DVD, it can have video to Aver or direct to LCD depending on LCD spec.

    Audio
    DVDs from laptop, via soundcard, to HC amp/speakers set-up or PC Speaker package (if they can have digital in (SPDIF or Optical)
    (or don't use laptop for DVDs, but use HC)
    TV/Cable = stereo out, into HC amp/speakers set-up or PC Speaker package (again, if they come with the option).
    (while you could put the sound into the laptop, this would be unecessarily complicated for your needs I think)

    If you watch movies on Cable TV (or any other program where you'd want surround sound) you'd want the Cable's 2 channel output converted with ProLogic or simillar. I'm not sure if you can do this without a HC amp. Hopefully someone else will jump in and set us straight.
     
  18. herojig

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    Thanks antpink, here is a pic of the mountain, perhaps I exagerated. But I really dont want to replace my pc just to get decent sound in this room :nono:
    [​IMG]
    I love this laptop, and it's my primary pc, hence all the wires and usb doohickees. I just unplug all the cables and use it for mobile videography, which is my primary reason for having this model. At home it's the home entertainment system as well. Now to just get this sound thing figured out. Note the Creative travel speakers in the back. They don't sound that bad for watching the BBC. So far that's my replacement solution for a 5.1 Kenwood Amp/Reciever that was just too big,,,this is a bit too small... :D

    jigs
     
  19. herojig

    herojig
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    Well, I am now considering just getting a hi-fi or mini-hifi system from Sony, as they are available here in nepal, the GNV, GNZ, and MHC series of boxes new from Sony. Does anyone have any experience with one of these? It's a confusing range of products but spec wise it seems to do what I want albeit in ugly enclosures (inmho). I originally passed them over in the shop because they looked like overgrown boom-boxes. But apparently they are real hifi systems. I am leaning towards the mhc-gnz8d. But heck, I don't really understand the series...some have subs some don't. but at least the one in the store I tested played a cd-rw and dvd-rw well. Okay, anyone have any reviews of the line or pointers? thanks!
    jigs
     

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