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Surround sound questions

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Speakers' started by amcg, Nov 17, 2003.

  1. amcg

    amcg
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    Hi.

    I want to add surround sound to my living room at a reasonable cost, however I seek clarification on a few points:

    1 - since I already have a decent dvd player, I have no need for an "all in one" home cinema kit, just the speakers and decoder/amp. I've been looking at some reasonably priced 5.1 systems and from what I can see they only have one set of L-R audio inputs at the back. What I wish to ascertain is whether the audio from everything will go through the new speakers - i.e. from tv, digibox and dvd. If so, how is this done since there's only one set of inputs?

    2 - what is RMS? For example - I was in Currys yesterday looking at an LG and a Yamaha TSS-10. To my layman's eyes the Yamaha looked the vastly superior piece of kit (it was also twice the price), however according to the specs the LG had 400W RMS to the Yamaha's 70W RMS. I had assumed that the higher this figure was the better the system would be. The salesperson wasn't able to give me much help on this score either. A link to the Yamaha is here...http://www.yamaha.co.jp/english/product/av/products/ht/tss10.html

    3 - a friend of mine seemed to save a lot of money by buying a Creative system. Since it's intended for PC use it doesn't seem to be as powerful as others, but it still sounds great (my living room is on the small side so I don't think power is a huge issue, but feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!). Since I could get a top grade PC speaker system (+ decoder) for the same price as a low grade "non-PC" system, would it be a good idea to go this route? For example, there's currently a very nice 6.1 Packard Bell system on sale in my local PC World for €139 (down from €300 or so)...

    4 - Dolby Pro Logic II seems to me to be a clever feature (producing 5.1 surround sound from a stereo feed). Is it something that should be essential in a system?

    5 - when looking for such a system, what are the key things to look for? What features differentiate a "good" buy from a "bad" buy?

    Thanks in advance for any advice - I'm sure some of my questions are beginners' level stuff but I just want to make sure that when I make my purchase it will give me good service for a number of years.
     
  2. cribeiro

    cribeiro
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    I will try to answer some of the questions... Others are left to the experts here...
    Don't worry about asking, I had the same experience you do, just one year ago.
    First, you were looking at systems which have limited features, this is why you can't conect everything in. Anyway, the Yamaha you linked has 3 inputs, two are digital and one is analog. Then, you'd connect the dvd via one of the digital inputs, the digibox in the other (I don't know that item, but the "digi" in it tells me you can do it), and your tv in the analog one. But you won't be able to connect anything else... If you have a vcr, I'd connect that in the analog, so you can hear the tv via the vcr unit to your new home cinema. But if you have a cd player in addition, you can't connect it. For more possibilities, you'd need to buy something bigger, like a av receiver and then a sat-sub package.
    RMS, as far as I know (help, experts!), is a standard for power measurement in electronic audio devices. Be careful, there are other standards, so compare in the same one! This standard is the continuous power that the unit can supply (there are also another standards for the peak power). So to say, it tells you how loud will it sound, but not how good. But also the loudness varies... When I was younger I had a pioneer mini-hifi, rated at 50+50 rms, and my cousin had a Rotel amp and some B&W speakers with the same rating, but the difference was huge in quality and loudness.
    I don't know about the quality of pc speakers, but I have seen a Logitech set wich is THX certified (a quite high standard) and it is very cheap as compared to any THX cinema package. If you heard your friend's system and you are satisfied, then it means it is enough for you. So, if you can save money, do it. I mean, if I can't tell the difference between two cola drinks, I'll always buy the cheaper!
    About features... In one year, I learnt that Dolby ProLogic II is a must. It will enhance your experience even with TV spots! You should check carefully the specs of the system, but I'd say that they should include dolby digital, dts and ProLogic II. After that, you have a lot of extra things like dsp modes which would enhance the surround field, for example, but these are not so important... In addition, some people love them but other hate them.
    I hope I answered as much as possible, and I might be corrected by people with more knowledge here... Feel free to ask again!
     
  3. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Most Sky digiboxes have analogue outputs only although some have a digital optical output as do Sky Plus boxes.

    If sources are connected to the TV by fully wired scart lead the sound can be taken back from the TV to an amplifier from the audio outputs on the TV if they are fitted.
     
  4. Ian J

    Ian J
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    Hifi and AV manufacturers and retailers are masters at the art of meaningless statistics. RMS implies continuous power as opposed to a quick burst of much higher power but I would guess that Yamaha have realistically implied that their amp can produce 70 watts per channel. LG on the other hand are probably saying that their machine can produce 80 watts per channel and as there are five channels that makes a total of 400 watts.
     
  5. Noodle

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    If the Packard Bell kit is anything like their PC's, I'd steer well clear.

    AFAIK, the creative & logitech options are 2 of the better systems aimed at the PC market.
     
  6. amcg

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    Thanks for the replies.

    So, I'm looking for a system with...
    - at least one set of phono inputs
    - at least two sets of optical inputs
    - DTS
    - Dolby ProLogic II

    I was looking at a few of the Creative systems - the GD580, the 5500 and the 5700. I managed to find a view of the various connections options for the 5700 on this page: http://www.digit-life.com/articles/inspire5700vsdtt3500/ ... it's about half way down. I emailed Creative and asked if it was possible to plug in a DVD player, TV and Sky digibox into their system. They said it was, however from this picture I just don't understand how it can be done.

    Can anyone shed some light?
     

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