Logitech Z-5500 or AV Receiver + 5.1 setup for bedroom HTCP home cinema???

stuuz

Standard Member
Hey,

Ive been visiting my brother recently and was dead impressed with his new home cinema setup.

He is running an Onkyo SR606 with a set of 7.1 Mordaunt Short speakers and a 50" panasonic HDTV. Now his setup pretty much requires an AV receiver as he runs a Sky+HD box, Blu-ray player, 2 PC's and a stereo sound system through the amp.

Basically, back home I am running a bedroom setup with a 32" Toshiba Regza 720p TV, an Xbox360 and my PC, with sound being provided by a set of Logitech X-540 speakers. Now the downside, is the only way I could get all of my sound routed through the speakers without messing around changing cables all the time, was to route Xbox sound through the TV with component, and the PC sound through the TV with a single 3.5mm line in port, and then another single 3.5mm cable from the headphone socket of the TV into the input on the sub. With matrix mode on, all 5 speakers play sound in logitechs virtual surround mode.
This wasnt too bad I guess for my first surround sound experience, but now Ive really looked in to it, I realise this is a truly awful way of doing things.

So I have a few options:

1) I can stick with what I already have, and connect the speakers properly to my PC, so I at least get the true surround that is possible by using all 3 of the 3.5mm cables in to my sound card, but this leaves me with TV audio for Xbox games/dvd's, and watching TV itself.

2) Upgrade to Logitech Z-5500 for around £250, which will provide full DTS decoding and input for all of my gear, greatly improve on my current sound state, but will not be as good as a proper HT setup.

3) Upgrade to a full HT setup, AV Receiver (either an Onkyo TXSR308, Sony STRDN800/1000 etc etc), and 5.1 speaker setup, something like the Jamo 5.1 set, or the Tannoy SFX5.1 etc. (Too much choice for these).

Option 3 would cost, I guess a minimum of £400 for a setup that is worth purchasing over the logitechs, and most probably around £500 for something that is really worth it.

So my situation is this, Im a student living back at home for my second degree, and this system is purely for my bedroom, which is a pretty standard size for a bedroom. I do have a well paying part time job and a bit of cash spare, but obviously the cheaper the better (at the end of the day I am still a student :D ) without sacrificing on sound quality (I want this to last as long as possible, including when I move out in to my own place.)

So I dont know whether to just upgrade the speakers, and maybe spend the excess money on upgrading the soundcard in my PC from onboard to an Asus Xonar, and graphics from a 4870 to a 5770 etc etc.
Or splash the cash on a full HT system, knowing its complete overkill for a bedroom, but can be used in a bigger room when I move out.

Only problem is I dont know when Im moving out, could be in just over a year, or could be in 3 years, depending on my placements etc.

Anyways I think ive written everything that Ive been thinking about, but Ill post more if I think about it later.

Anyways Ive been looking at this system : Richer Sounds - The UK's Hi-Fi, Home Cinema & Flat Panel TV Specialists!

The £500 one, although I dont really need the bluray player as my PC has a blu-ray drive.

Thanks for reading, all advice is much appreciated.
 

gareth_alien

Active Member
When you're on a tight budget and also want kit that will last then make sure you have good speakers. Good quality speakers can (and do) last decades. Amplifiers will be superseded at some point - new formats, new technologies, etc.
So, in your case I would say the lions share of the budget should go on the speakers. You mention that you have a blu-ray drive in your PC - this is good. As the PC will decode the audio to the three 3.5mm jacks then an amplifier capable of decoding the new HD sound formats is not necessary. I've mentioned a couple of times when giving advice, HD audio is still generally 5.1 channels of sound like DVDs. In livingrooms and bedrooms the additional clarity and quality from DTS-HD or Dolby master wotsit will be difficult to spot.
This puts you an a lucky situation - go for a second-hand amp. For a small amount of money (under £100?) you could get a good quality 5.1 (or 6.1) amplifier being sold because it doesn't have HDMI. I sold my Sony STR-DB2000 (look it up - I still miss it) for £60 on the classifieds here. That type of amp and a decent speaker package will do a great job for years - just don't be afraid to go 2nd hand. Almost all of my kit is bought on the classifieds here and it rocks.
 

stuuz

Standard Member
Thank-you for the info Gareth, much appreciated. I have recently found the Onkyo HTS-3305 from richer sounds for 300 quid, gets great reviews and seems to be the best of both worlds for my situation. What do you think?

Cheers, stu.
 

gareth_alien

Active Member
That is a very nice setup for £300 and will do you fine for some time to come. It is also thoughtfully designed not to use proprietary connectors for the speakers, leaving you to add something more powerful after you move. One concern is that I couldn't see a standard phono connector for the sub - I had an all in one kit years back and while it did me OK, the sub was a bit weedy. Being able to upgrade this in the future may be desirable so I think that should be a question to ask the retailer.
Don't forget, you'd need a graphics card on your PC with HDMI to get the most out of your blu-rays - but these are getting quite common now and not all that expensive. I've heard that the ATI 4xxx series is good, with the higher range cards able to bitstream DTS HD, etc.

All in all a good choice. Ordinarily I would say that looking to the classifieds could find you something 'meatier' for the price, but loosing out on the modern amp capabilites would make that an unwise move compared to what you've got there.
Anyways, a perfect bit of kit for a bedroom which you may want to improve/expand when you're in somewhere larger. I did read on one site that it could be expanded to 7.1 - not sure how but it would be an even better deal if that was possible.
 

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