PC-based home theatre

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by calvinhobbes, Feb 5, 2003.

  1. calvinhobbes

    calvinhobbes
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    I am currently trying to construct an ultimate home theatre system that centres around my PC. I need some advice on a couple of areas:

    Sound
    I am planning on getting the TerraTec Aureon sound card which has 8 (7.1) channel sound, with a digital input and output, as I hear that’s the best on the market. My PC already has a DVD+RW drive, so I don’t need that.

    Could someone tell me what else I need for a high quality audio and theatre experience? Do I just need an Amp with speakers or do I need a pre-amp or receiver. If its just the amp + speakers, does anyone have a suggestion for an amp+speaker system that can take digital input and directly convert it to 8 channel digital sound rather than going through DAC (or does it not make a difference to sound quality)? I’m looking to spend less than £500.

    Vision
    I am currently trying to construct an ultimate home theatre system that centres around my PC. I’m going to get the ATI Radeon 9700 that has a DVI out and a TV tuner, so I want to know what the best screen is for high resolution PC-gaming AND watching TV / DVDs on my PC. I have read many conflicting things about what the best vision appliance (Plasma vs LCD vs DLP projector) is for a combination of PC and TV use.

    My PC card and the latest games go up to UXGA resolution (1600 x 1200), but there doesn’t seem to be any Plasma, LCD or projector that has this capability as the native resolution – all of them use scaling, which I’ve heard is generally not very good. The best plasma resolution seems to be on the new Sharp, which is 1024 x 1024. The projectors from in-focus and NEC don’t do more than 1024 x 768, which is not really close, and LCDs are again maxed at 1024 x 1024. I’m not really bothered about the other differences between plasma, lcd and projector.

    Im looking to spend up to $5000, and want to get at least a 42” picture that can handle TV (not HDTV, but DVD driven), games and PC up to 1600 x 1200 resolution, AND also have a DVI connection for my PC. Any thoughts on what the best option is?

    Thanks

    Any thoughts / help would be much appreciated
     
  2. Dangerous

    Dangerous
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    I don't think that you will achieve an "Ultimate Home Theatre system" with a budget of £500 for the sound side of the equation. A decent sub-woofer alone will cost you £500, probably more. As for the vision side of things I would suggest a Sony Vpl-vw12ht which has many input options and will run at native resolution.
    Dave
     
  3. RichardH

    RichardH
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    Re sound. You need to decide whether you want the PC to do the decoding for you or not. If you do, then you will need a soundcard with 6 channel out (or more!). You will then also need the same number of power amps. These are not generally cheap, as they are not a mass market product, so expect lots more expense. The PC in this case would act as a preamp.

    You might be better advised to output the sound digitally (i.e. coax or SPDIF) to an AV amp/receiver (reciever being an amp with a tuner added in). These amps are "integrated" - i.e. they have both pre and power amp in one unit. This would then do the decoding, and that of course would be a digital to analogue conversion - you're going to have to do that somewhere, whether it's in the PC or in the receiver! It would then also amplify the signal to be passed to the speakers. For any sort of "ultimate" system, as said above, you are going to want to drop serious cash on a good quality active sub - size and budget depends on the size of your room, proximity of neighbours, etc.

    The second way means you can buy a cheaper sound card - just make sure it has a digital out - some of the cheaper soundblasters offer this, or perhaps look at the MAudio Revolution which will be out soon - this does actually have analogue outputs as well, but you don't have to use them. Read up on this forum on the differences in quality of digital outs from soundcards. You''ll then need a av amp - there's a good forum for advice on that here too ;) - but if you want to play music through it too then the Marantz range is hard to beat if you're keeping the budget down. If you only want to go 5.1 rather than 6.1 or 7.1, then consider the Nakamichi AV8 at Richer Sounds - it can be got for around £200 I believe.

    Right, vision. Just because your PC can deliver 1600x1200 doesn't necessarily mean you should run your PJ at that. You should change the PC's res to match that of the projector/plasma etc. I think you need to decide whether you go plasma, pj or whatever first. An LCD projector will give you best bang for buck, I'd say, but again you need to spend some time reading up here and refining what you want. One thing - gaming with an 8' screen can be an unsettling experience - we found it to be too big and disconcerting TBH.

    Hope this helps!
     

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