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Help needed: speakers for X-Fi Xtreme music card

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May 28, 2006 10:05:05 AM

I am getting a Creative X-Fi Xtreme Music sound card (Asus A8N32 mobo) and I'm now looking for a good set of speakers to go with it. Budget is $ 125-130.
First plan was to buy the Logitech X-530 speakers but I heard these were crap. The idea is to take advantage of the sound card ... any recommendations ?

greetz
May 28, 2006 11:21:53 PM

Suggestions are all personal opinions of course, but in my opinion, if you spent $120 on a soundcard, you should have at least some good speakers with tweeters, a "decent" sub, and a speaker system that at least attempts to be neutral. I personally think the Klipsch 5.1 Ultra would be the minimum I would personally go for 5.1 ($200), and the iFi ($200) or Altec Lansing mx5021 ($120) for 2.1.

Everyone has different opinions of course, so it's up to you. I think all the speakers that are a pedigree below suffer from too much satellite distortion. It would be a shame for you to have spent $100+ on a soundcard for the truly marginal noise level gains (2-3% over a $20 sound card) while still being limited by your speakers.

In the PC industry, there are two meanings, cosmetically taking advantage (buying really nice looking speakers and sort of decently performing) or taking actual performance advantage. In that case, know this: speakers produce 99% of the distortion in a speaker-soundcard combo. Any time you spend $100 on a soundcard, it's likely you need *very* expensive speakers to actually take advantage.
May 29, 2006 12:10:43 AM

Personal preference is a dead-on fact (opinion?) when it comes to speakers. I don't listen to a whole lot of music on them, but I do like the sound I get out of the Klipsch 5.1s I have when I do and also when I game.
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May 29, 2006 12:18:29 AM

If you spend the money for one of the highest performing sound cards, buy high performance speakers to go with it. I have an X-Fi on my A8N32 mobo and I run Klipsch 5.1 THX certified speakers. The sound is terrific, but the speakers also cost $500. when I bought them a few years ago. They also produce good sound with my old Audigy sound card. They also put out 500 wts of sound, so that may be more than you want. Point is, good speakers mean more to good sound than a good sound card.

Another thing is that a good set of speakers should last a long time, perhaps through several computers, so that spreads out the cost over many years. Unlike CPU's, etc that change faster than almost anyone can keep up with, speakers don't change much. $500. may sound like a lot for speakers, but how much gets spent on CPU's, mobo's etc? Keep things in perspective, adn you'll see that the money spent on good speakers is well worth it.
May 29, 2006 3:47:05 PM

I don't know an awful lot about bitch systems(woot). I hook mine into a sweet one, same that I have my dvd hdtv ps2 xbox etc. you do get what you pay for definittly but with a budget of 130 or so. Would headphones be an interest to you? LTB 5.1 ac97 with a mic? alot of poeple dont get it. There are 3 speakers in each ear cup. 1 front 1 rear 1 woofer. (or was it four?) they have sound chamber thingies, and they work great. You can clearly tell rear front etc. very good sound. that is what I usualy use for my computer, cuz people are always using my tv. I think I payed 90 bucks for them. if you get them make sure you get ac97 not ac3 or the usb one. they will work great for dvd (even on your computer) but games and music only work in 5.1 with ac97 and it will aslo do 5.1 on dvds. plus if you want a mic it is the only kind that has one.
May 29, 2006 6:19:52 PM

what about the I-Trigue series (creative) - would that be a good deal ?

I might also not take a sound card and use onboard sound and invest in a decent sound card and speakers later

is the onboard sound of the asus A8n-E or asus A8232-SLi deluxe any good ?

or maybe i could go with a cheaper sound card - what about the Audigy SE ?

Quote:
Would headphones be an interest to you?

nah, not really interested :) 
May 29, 2006 9:51:49 PM

I just bought a set of Creative iTrique L3800...their top-end 2.1 set. They're nice speakers IMHO for $150. They're not high-power though, 30watts RMS to the sub...9 watts RMS to the bi-amplified satellites. However, they do sound nice to me...with ample bass, but surely less than something like the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 that everyone speaks of.

The iTrique L3800s are very clean sounding speakers. With dual tweeter-upper mids and a dedicated laterally (sp?) placed mid-driver they cover the audio spectrum nice. The bass unit is a 6.5 inch driver and outputs deep tight bass.

If you don't listen to your music too loud I'd recommend the L3800 2.1 set...if you do like it loud...you might want to audition the Klipsch 2.1. ...both sets sell for $150 so that's slightly over your budget.

Make sure you audition anything you're considering buying...don't take anyone's advice directly. You're the one one that has to like the sound!
May 29, 2006 10:00:20 PM

...let me add, what you decide to get really depends on how you plan to use your system. If you're primarlily just listening to music, like me (on this rig) you may not need to spend $130 for a X-Fi... I'd imagine that an Audigy 4 (I'd stay away from the SE...I never feel comfortable recommending the bargain-basement solution) ...I'd imagine an Audigy 4 would be well good enough for music.

If you plan to game (unlike me), definately consider the X-Fi. I think most will agree that the X-Fi cannot be currently topped for gaming...and I'd imagine that should you decide to invest in one you'd be future-proofed for a good while.

However, don't spend your money on a nice sound card just to mate it to $50 ACME speakers. You'd not get to enjoy the investment you made in the sound card.
May 29, 2006 10:40:07 PM

Quote:
...and I'm now looking for a good set of speakers to go with it. Budget is $ 125-130.


Ever heard of an oxymoron? (NO, it's not a really stupid Ox!)

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=oxymoron

There is no such thing as "good speakers for $125". If you can invent them, I will buy all that you can produce.

Now - what you REALLY mean is "Quote me the least-bad speakers for $125"
May 29, 2006 10:54:44 PM

I think you're being too harsh. To him, good speakers are likely anything that he'll enjoy and that will at least be somewhat faithful to the source material. ...but if your point is that he'll have a difficult time finding speakers that are accurate from 20hz - 20Khz for $130, then yes, you're right. ...if he just wants to subjectively enjoy his music...the YES. YES, he can do that for $130.

I'll infer that at that price point he's not looking for audiophile grade loudspeakers, eh?
May 30, 2006 12:09:15 AM

OMG:

THERE IS ONLY ONE THING YOU NEED TO KNOW.

Buying a retarded 2.1 set for an awesome 7.1 soundcard like that is a WASTE.

You absolutely NEED to get a nice 5.1 set.

I recommend the Logitech Z-5500s. My friend has the newest Klipsch Ultra set and we BOTH prefer my Z5500s. The 10" sub owns and you can't beat the digital reciever box it comes with; its easy to connect a DVD player to it via optical or get a nice DTS or DD5.1 connection from your XFI card to it.

The best part: The PRICE. I've seen refurbished sets from my wholesaler connections for $250 CAD, right now the wholesale price is sitting at $335 CAD. (for the new-in-retail-box-set)

I bought another set for my TV upstairs, I absolutely love that the reciever has both a digital optical and a digital COAX input. I have my Rogers HighDef PVR connected via COAX and my DVD player via Optical, the reciever locks onto the DD5.1 or DTS signal from these devices without fail and therefore this is the cheapest HOME THEATER system you'll ever buy.

You just can't beat the Z-5500s.
May 30, 2006 9:38:00 AM

Quote:
Ever heard of an oxymoron?

yes, i do know what an oxymoron is - no need to look it up

as Halcyon said i just need a good set of speakers that are faithful to my sound card

let me add that i will not use my pc speakers to listen to cds, mp3 - i have a harman kardon set and an ipod that do that job perfectly (and please don't debate whether that's a good choice :-)
and no, connecting my pc to my hifi set is not an option

my pc will mainly be used for gaming although i may occasionaly watch a dvd on it
i heard that the X-Fi sound card is great for gaming and now i'm looking for some decent speakers to go with it
with decent I mean good price/quality
i am willing to consider buying some more expensive speakers as they will last several pcs but i don't want to spend $500 - the logitech z-5500s is as far as i want to go
May 30, 2006 10:29:06 AM

Astrallite could probably steer you in the right direction. ...it seems this stuff flows through his vains instead of blood. Where's he when ya need him?! :D 
May 30, 2006 11:00:38 AM

I don't think you'l ever need anything more than an audigy SE for just gaming. All the x-fi offers is better upmixing (won't need it since games are already multichanel) the so-much-disscused crystallyzer (won't need it since what it basicly does is trying to make mp3s sound as-if-not-compressed) a supposedly cool mp3 ripper (again useless for s.o. like you) and great recording cappabilities (now if you need that....).
Don't get me wrong it's a suppreme sound card but it bennefits gaming no more than the SE. (105 vs 100 db clarity is impossible to realize with convensional speakers).
So settle sor the SE and try the LOGITECH Z-5400 THX it seems to me like the best set for your case and a really good value for money.
May 30, 2006 11:56:21 AM

Quote:
...let me add, what you decide to get really depends on how you plan to use your system. If you're primarlily just listening to music, like me (on this rig) you may not need to spend $130 for a X-Fi... I'd imagine that an Audigy 4 ... would be well good enough for music.

If you plan to game (unlike me), definately consider the X-Fi. I think most will agree that the X-Fi cannot be currently topped for gaming...and I'd imagine that should you decide to invest in one you'd be future-proofed for a good while.

However, don't spend your money on a nice sound card just to mate it to $50 ACME speakers. You'd not get to enjoy the investment you made in the sound card.

Why is an X-fi so necessary for gaming?
It's the best non-professional soundcard out there, but you won't hear the difference between it and a $50 soundcard. You'll only be using a fraction of its capabilities - even the $50 soundcard's.

The weakest point will still be the speakers. You have a good enough source with even a midrange soundcard, but most pc speakers are low in sound quality.

Do yourself a favour, get a cheaper soundcard, and spend what you save on better speakers. Your ears will thank you.
May 30, 2006 12:08:56 PM

I have the X-Fi Extreme Music and I'm using the Klipsch Pro Media 2.1 speakers. They sounded really nice and I have to say by far the best entertainment I owned. I love these speakers along with the soundcard especially during games. I got the speakers at Newegg.com for about $140.

http://www.klipsch.com/product/product.aspx?cid=103
May 30, 2006 2:16:59 PM

Strange is dead on. Why Dave doesn't need the X-Fi to get his games working he'll need it if he wants his games to sound the best they can as developers write their games for the SoundBlaster line. I canna imagine it will be too long before they're utilizing the sample buffer provided by X-RAM and writing for EAX 5, supported by the X-Fi.

These are the reasons why you'd want to consider the X-Fi for gaming...needless to say its the fastest card for gaming as well. Why does a sound card need to be fast for gaming? The more developers use the DSP power of the latest gen. of sound cards the more information has to be processed. Things like, hearing a different type of echo when you're in a cave vs. that you would hear in a cathedral. These things are real in games and its technology like EAX 5 that lets them be experienced THE WAY the developer intended. With all the processing power offered by the X-Fi this can all happen and be processed by the card, with little to no hit on the CPU. Gamers already know that CPU utilization is precious.

Don't take my or anyone else's word for it for bejeezus sake. Try it out. Go out and get and Audigy 4 SE and a X-Fi, turn on the available audio features in say...BattleField2 or whatever you like. Then come back and tell us if there was a difference in sound quality and performance. Then, return the card you don't like to your local retailer (of course check to make sure there's no $$ penalty for returning an open box).

I think such an experiment would go a long way in demonstrating the difference in a soundcard designed with gaming in mind, and one that is not.
May 30, 2006 2:58:22 PM

I have just purhased a X-Fi music card, and am stuck with crappy £15 speakers at the moment.
I am however considering the MX5021 from Altec Lansing, after reading the customer reviews in newegg, they seem to have a good reputation. There's the more expensive FX6021, but they seem abit less tasty to me, based on readers opinions.

Just thought I would add my 2$
May 30, 2006 3:32:09 PM

I'm very happy with my Klipsch ProMedia 2.1, but if my room allowed me to have surround sound, then I would have looked into Logitech. But don't think that my ProMedia sysem disapoints me in any other way, becuase they really are very powerful. They are also much cheaper than most surround sound systems.

Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 Review

keep in mind that the price has dropped. I paid $160 for mine, and I guess it's dropped even lower.
May 30, 2006 3:37:37 PM

You can still enjoy the X-Fi if you have a reasonable set of headphones. Heck, I've got an ancient pair of Sony V600 headphones and I'm very pleased with how they sound with the X-Fi, especially with CMSS3D. Even with the 24-bit Crystalizer (which, I've learned is just equalization), they sound really good.

...but upgrade your speakers when you can to something you think sounds worthy. You'll appreciate your soundcard a lot more.
May 30, 2006 3:44:45 PM

Quote:
noob alert i repeat noob alert.

lol wtf. if all he wanted to do was listen to music then yes get the audigy but if wants one for games then of course he need the x-fi as it supports the latest version of eax which is 5 if im not mistaken. why go for a card which probably doesn't support the same level of eax that onboard does.

you got it the wrong way round IMO. if he plays the latest games and wants the latest sound effects and detail then he should get the latest tech.

Noob? Just because you spent more of your time here, does that make me a noob? Get a life, and start using your brain.

How much difference is there between EAX 4 and 5? I dare you to spot the difference. New version, omg. So what?
I didn't hear much difference with game effects when I went from an Audigy with EAX to an E-MU 0404, a semi-professional studio soundcard, without eax.
That's about it.
n00b.
May 30, 2006 4:06:34 PM

There may not be that much noticable difference between earlier versions of EAX and EAX5. I don't game so I can't really speak to that. ...and I'm by no means purporting that Creative's SoundBlaster line is the only decent audio card you can get. The X-Fi is a good card, it sounds good and its powerful, and, being a SoundBlaster makes it widely supported by developers.

One can definitely spend less money...and again, if listening to music is what you primarily do the X-Fi might even be overkill, unless you're listening to a lot of highly compressed MP3s (where that 24-bit Crystalizer might have a pleasant effect at less distortion than if manually applied similar equalization by say...iTunes). I noticed the difference in my SB Live! and the X-Fi. ...and to be honest, the SB Live! is not a bad card at all. Again, I've read that cards by the likes of M-Audio are just as good (if not better) for less money when it comes to music. If I were a gamer, though, I'd prolly stick with the SoundBlasters as I've experience with them and none of that experience has been bad.

The Audigy 2ZS and the X-Fi's (besides the $370 Elite Pro) share the same DACs but I think the X-Fi may have a better S/N ratio. ExtremeTech: http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1850365,00.a...

I don't think anyone's really saying the X-Fi is the best that can be had for all things. It's a good card and is indeed better than the $30 ACME special in terms of S/N ratio, distortion, DSP, and EAX support. ...but that's just evolution, really, eh? You'd likely get better sound by spending the money on more accurate speakers than on pairing an X-Fi with bargain basement speakers IF music listening is what you plan to do.
May 30, 2006 4:28:48 PM

Strange, come now. ...just because someone (other than myself, as I do not care) ...hasn't been a member of this particular forum as long as you doesn't make them less credible. You know that, tho. I'm hear to learn more about discuss about the things that interest me, and help...if I can. There's no gold medal for posting here.

Its good to see folks varying opinions about this. I admit, I like to spend money on new tech...but that's not everyone's motivation. Some people might get an SB Live! and stay with it until the silicon melts and be happy that they saved money upgrading...if I were one of them I'd likely have more $$ in the bank.

:roll:
May 30, 2006 4:56:11 PM

Dead-on. Dave, for <$90 you can go with the Creative Inspire P7800 7.1 ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1683... ). The reviews seem to be positive. Mated with respectible 7.1 capable audio (See! I didn't say Creative SB X-Fi!) ...mated with respectable 7.1 capable audio they could be worth considering.

:p 
May 30, 2006 6:05:56 PM

thanks for the help guys

I think I'll go for a 5.1 set. With a 2.1 set I feel it can be better but a 7.1 set is simply too much (also because I wouldn't know where to put all these speakers on my desk). So let's settle for a reasonably priced 5.1 set with a X-Fi Xtreme Music card.

That narrows it down to this

Creative I-Trigue 5600
Creative Inspire T6060
Logitech X-530
Logitech Z-5400

The Logitech X-530 is the cheapest and seems to have good reviews: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1683...

The Logitech Z-5400 is probably the best one but also much more expensive (not within budget I first had in mind)

The Creatives seem to be decent enough (but not great ?).

Which of the 4 is the best buy ? Or should I go for a 7.1 set after all ?
May 30, 2006 7:22:51 PM

If I were you, I'd try heading to Comp USA or somewhere else that you could audition any of these. Loudspeaker sound is truly a matter of personal taste. Once you find something you like the sound of you can find the best buy online. You may be unpleasantly surprised if you buy your speakers without hearing them first.
May 30, 2006 8:48:50 PM

If you primary use is gamming I would consider headphones over speakers.

The Sony MDR V6 (Do not confuse with crappy V600s) Studio Monitors are in your price range and give a very accurate rendering which helps zeroing in on sounds in FPS.

Of course with music sometimes you don't want an extreemly accurate rendering of the audio is not always the most pleasant.

Personally I greatly enjoy the music on these headphones, but other ears may disagree.

So this recommendation is valid only if you are a heavy gamer and need to stalk your prey via his footseps or hear when he is changing a clip.

--
For music/home theature usage I use a Reciever and 5.1 Home Theater Speakers, but those would be out of your price range.

In the $300-$400 price range I prefer Pioneer Recievers. The best value in Home Theater Speakers in my opinion is Fluance (you can only order direct). For arround $250 I got a system which most reviews say compare favorably with $500-600 systems.

The front speakers are full range (inc subwoofers) so I don't have to enable any base redirection. The Surrounds are S-M Speakers. The system was 5.0 but I already had two subwoofers lying arround.

I was planning on upgrading the speakers one or two at a time when I could afford something better, but I when I listen to the better speakers I do hear enough of a difference to bother with it.

Going this route only makes sense of course if your PC is near enough to your TV to act as a media center.

PS PC speakers can be great for movies if you are watching them at your desk with the speakers propery positioned arround you.

However if you are 6-10ft away sitting on a couch even the most expensive 5.1 PC speakers will be dissapointing compared to a moderately priced Reciever and full sized home theater speakers.

I have a friend with a 5.1 Klipsche speakers which were great arround his PC, but now are not so great in his large living room.

Then again I couldn't fit my Reciever and 1'+ Center, 3' front speakers arround my PC, so it all depends on the intended useage.
May 30, 2006 9:52:44 PM

They still make or sell the Sony MDR V6!?!? I want them. I used to have a pair and thought the V600s would be just a good...BOY was I wrong! Where can I get MDR V6's ...and don't tell me Egghead has them or I'm going to need to change my underwear.
May 30, 2006 9:58:16 PM

OMG, they do still make and sell the V6. I need them. ...heck and they're less than the so-so V600s! I hate to be excited about a pair of headphones but they bring back fond memories of audiophile-on-a-budget musical bliss! Thanks CodeSmith, I just assumed that they didn't make them anymore when back in '95 I couldn't just go to my local retailer and get them.
May 31, 2006 4:50:51 AM

Quote:
...and I'm now looking for a good set of speakers to go with it. Budget is $ 125-130.


Ever heard of an oxymoron? (NO, it's not a really stupid Ox!)

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=oxymoron

There is no such thing as "good speakers for $125". If you can invent them, I will buy all that you can produce.

Now - what you REALLY mean is "Quote me the least-bad speakers for $125"
Um usually yes but there is one exception.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1683...
Best 2.1 speakers out there right now. $90 with the rebate right now and shipping is like $30 so he could afford that. Now if he wants 5.1 speakers...then he's screwed heh.

My dad just recently got the X-530's cause he needed some new speakers but was on a budget. They appear to be the best budget 5.1 speakers, according from all the reviews people have made about it but honestly it sounds HORRIBLE compared to my Z-5500's. I know mine are much more upscale but...ugh. I'd rather have a high quality 2.1 set than some bad sounding 5.1's.
May 31, 2006 8:35:02 AM

I personally believe at $99, you are better off going 2.0. Either the Altec Lansing MX5020 or the Klipsch 2.0 Ultra would both have significant bandwidth advantages, not to mention far less distortion, then those full-range Z-2300s.
May 31, 2006 8:36:57 AM

Quote:
yes your right of course but i wish people would look to who they reply to and whon replies to them. call it forum courtesy or something.

Hear, hear. The one who calls another member a noob just because his otherwise sound advice didn't match his, is talking about forum courtesy.
Ironic.
Lol.

Yes, I realise you were using the other member's post to reply, but it was also - as you now say, indirectly - aimed at mine, as I agreed with him.

EAX doesn't add much besides equalization.
What does a newer version of it add? Not much you'll notice in a blind test.
You won't be left out of games, either.
Heck, I'm playing with the e-mu 0404 and a pair of AKG K340s, using Miles Fast2D positional audio. I'm not feeling any bit left out.


As for speakers vs headphones.

Room size, acoustics and even furniture placement can severly impact the performance of speakers. What might sound ok in a store may turn out to be horrible with all the reverberations and phase cancellations of non-optimal placement.
Also, it may be irritating to other people living with you.
Not to mention budget speakers are often inaccurate and lacking detail.
OTOH, you don't have to worry about comfort with speakers. You are also not limited by cords.

These are things to consider. In my situation, headphones were a better choice.
May 31, 2006 9:42:38 AM

I agree with telim that the Z5500 is the best right now Klipch been out for a
while now but you also have a special feature that no other speaker set has yet which is the first dts 96/24bit speakers I own a pair with the XFi Xtreme Music and they rock.
!