Question Where to start to build a system for this budget and setup?


Standard Member
Hey thanks for having a look,

I want to buy a speaker and amp setup for the living room but I'm a bit confused about getting off the ground about differing connections etc especially concerning to a PC.

I have just put together an order for a £400 PC with an Asus H170-E B3 motherboard. It only has three audio outputs on the back (pink,green,blue) but says it supports 8 channel audio. It has headers on the motherboard for an S/PDIF output, which googling tells me gives me RCA or optical output if I buy the right cable/ bracket.

Now I'm wondering if £400 is a decent budget to start from for an amp and speaker setup aswell that can incorporate this new PC, an Xbox one and very occasional Virgin watching.

I've never really been somewhere with surround sound to experience 5.1 but I'm more a music lover anyway so maybe 2.1 is the way to go. The TVs also in the corner and maybe not best shaped room for surround sound. But I'm really not sure.

I'm just baffled by deciding what amp to look at to start with. What features do I need, I'm guessing everything's just HDMI but the PC thing confuses me.

Any advice on where to go with that sort of budget and where to start looking thank you. I take it I need an A/V receiver rather than an amp?

Plasma Dan

Well-known Member
As you suggested, you should be looking at an AV receiver if you want to connect HDMI devices to the sound system.

As for your PC... the motherboard you have chosen has Realtek® ALC887-VD2 8-Channel High Definition Audio, this should be available via HDMI. Since you want an AV receiver anyway that's perfect. :smashin:

Personally I would look at getting a dedicated video card with HDMI, but it really depends on what you're using the PC for. If you're not using it for games then on-board HDMI should be fine. :smashin:

The AV receiver you want will depend on the features you require (4K, 3D, Atmos etc). If you don't need any special features you will have much more choice of AV receivers. :smashin:


Standard Member

You saying the audio should be available through HDMI with that Realtek audio is exactly what I wanted to hear. I was getting so confused googling about HDMI audio pass through and using RCAs etc or other cables along with HDMI to pass audio cos of problems?

I thought I needed a dedicated GPU aswell, thought every build that wasn't just a word processor did still! But no my i3 6100 APU been advised it benchmarks above any cheap £40 GPUs I was going to throw in it and I don't plan to game on it much. Maybe the odd steam indie game.

No desire for 4K, feels like a complete gimmick to me. 1080p was a noticeable leap from sd, but 4K? It's a marketing tool that I really can't notice at 42" Screens... Or 3D.

Atmos sounds like the best thing ever but as I said I'd never really experienced 5.1 I thiink just that would make me happy.

Majority use will be iTunes audio from PC and mkv / similar video files. Netflix use on both PC and Xbox one. Aswell as gaming and the odd dvd / blu ray on Xbox. Virgin TiVo box barely gets a look in.

Things like wifi and stuff sound cool but for my budget I'm not sure anything fancy can fit? The option to have the amp link to a second set of speakers wirelessly or even not, for another room for later addition would be cool but again maybe just a fleeting idea.

Not sure really. Is my £400 enough?

Plasma Dan

Well-known Member


Standard Member
Thanks I've spent a lot of hours last couple days browsing but no closer to a decision.

I should rephrase my question about the £400. Is it a decent enough budget to get a AV receiver and a speaker setup?

Looking I'm starting to think no. Getting my 5.1 in that budget I would bet would have me disappointed in sound quality for music.

I'm thinking maybe £250 on the AV receiver and £150 on 2 speakers? Then add 3.1 later when budget allows?

Hmm, there's so much choice.


Distinguished Member
Building the system slowly will give you a better end system. However, take care with the speakers since you may not want to buy a pair on heavy discount as they could be end of line which will make finding the matching speakers for centre and rears more difficult in the future.


Standard Member
Thanks I was just going to ask about keeping the speakers all the same or similar as that seems to be recommended.

I think floor standing are out the window. I have downstairs neighbours and not lots of space beside tv. So Bookshelf size on stands for the 2 at either side of TV.

When I add the tears, do these have to be exactly the same or would I want to slightly underspec the rears as they aren't as important?

Centre in guessing is worth spending the extra on. Could position on my tv unit on either shelf or top directly in front of TV.

Rear speakers could really do with being wall mounted, maybe one on a stand and another on wall as rooms a bit strange shape.

May draw up a picture if it helps with advice.

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