As an aspiring audiophile I really think I should improve both my soundcard and most importantly the speakers. However, my room is very small so I don't think I could use 7.1 and might have some problems with fitting 5.1 properly...I'd mainly use the new set to listen to music (that's most important to me), but I'd use it for games and movies as well.
What are your suggestions?
Are you looking for "PC speakers" or are you considering a receiver and a 2.0 or 2.1 setup? Soundcard... Any contemporary Creative Card, M-Audio Revolutions or Audiophile 2496, TurtleBeach Montego, Rivera, or Catalina. There's a lot of options. The Creative cards offer a good "Jack of all trades, master of one" solution, especially the Audigy 2ZS or X-Fi series (XM or Platinum for basic use).
here's my setup (i wouldnt call it audiophile though)
auzentech xplosion sound card AMAZING (id say this is my best component) - only card that encodes dts and ddl so you can use 1 digital cable but have full surround come out of your receiver
pioneer 815- i got it free, long story - its decent
got 2 pretty nasty front channel speakers, floor standers i think the woofers are like 100$ each (they are only like 2 feet tall though so i put one on a car wheel and one on a bucket lol)
i use my polk audio speakers that came with my computer for center channel (actually sounds decent for voice in surround sound)
2 rear pionner satellites (prob cost 5$) free for me
i seem to be like you somewhat- music 1st but i do play some games and surround sound is pretty cool
i get stuff free because my dad is in car audio and home theater biz- i get freebies and always have xtra components in my house.
i didnt think the sound card would effect stereo listening over onbaord sound... I WAS REALLY WRONG- sound is so much more clear and distinct, bass is MUCH more clear and stroung and the overall distortion went way down allowing me to crank up the volume
im 15 - age matters somewhat because if you are in highschool id recommend the receiver setup mainly because then you can bring it to college and set it up where as computer speakers will always be computer speakrs
remember, get highquality music files- try to get 200+ vbr for mp3s minnum(bittorrent?) - the quality is like amplified when you have a decent system- 128 doesnt cut it
if you can afford say 500 bux get the xplosion or mystique (mistique= 70 bux) get a receiver and spend the rest of the money on your front channel leaving like 50 bux for rear.
An aspiring audiophile? Hmm...if you have no prior experience with loudspeakers, and no built-in bias for a particular flavor, then I would recommend some neutral bookshelves. Neutral = accurrate, matches waveform output. Garbage in = Garbage out. Good input = Good output. Your are hearing the work of mixing engineer.
A "good" bookshelf by industry standard is expected to generally conform to some sort of upper bass to upper treble preformance within 6 decibels (e.g., 60-20,000hz +/-3db).
For speakers to be called "neutral", I believe it's a very selective area, and the bare minimum should be in a +/-2db spec. Of course, things like total harmonic distortion, spectral decay (cumulative time distortion), off-axis response (does it fill the room, or does it sound like many PC speakers do, like a horn that sounds good when u sit in a small area, but horrible across the room?), power compression (does it sound strained with more power?) and many more things are important, but a good linear speaker will do these very well anyway.
My top picks.
I. Got to put it in a bookshelf, shelf, or corner, where less bass response is preferable (or it would sound muddy).
Look into Revel speakers, such as the M22. Frequency response within +/- 1db. Stunningly beautiful finish. Very linear design, and extremely low distortion. This is, if you have $1-2k to kill for a stereo pair. Definitely not for the weak of heart.
Thanks for your help. Here's additional info :
-My room, where I usually listen to music, is very small (about 9 square meters).
-I can spend about 200 $ for the speakers alone (probably more if there'll be need)
-Most probably, I'll buy a soundcard later (a month, maybe two).
If you don't have one, you should get a sub makes a huge difference plus you can get smaller and less expensive booskshelves because the sub will take care of the bass. I'd probably put a more into the sub because it a compoment you're not likely to replace if you get a good one.
mmmmm, freshmeat. You have much to learn, young grasshopper.....
hope you've got deep pockets. 8)
ever though about building your own? get drivers from: http://www.tymphany.com/
They just bought out Peerless, Vifa (both upper-midrange) and ScanSpeak (high-end). PM me if ye want to know how to build...
And if you want the VERY best amps available, there's no choice, you have to get Halcro: http://www.halcro.com/
Of course, you may need a second mortgage to buy them...
For 2-channel only amps: http://passlabs.com/ & http://passdiy.com/ (for DIY passlabs amps, obviously)
They also double as space-heaters (eg, X1000 amp: Power Consumption approx. 700 watts idle).
Though a life long audiophile, I don't have the same expectations of my PC Speaker system as I do out of my serious listening system. That latter is in a huge room suited for big sound, the PC however is in my home office. Again a big room but to fit several desks, plotters, multifunction copiers, puters etc, the room is not set up for an ideal listening experience. So I had a "why bother" approach and my speakers were a 2.1 Altec Lansing set that I bought in 1993.
After getting a new laptop, I was somewhat annoyed at the location of the sound plug-in location as I often found my tight wrist resting on the plug. Concerned about what effect this might have long term, I sought out a solution which would accommodate the S/PDIF port on the back of the laptop.
The cable solution was a bit tough to find, finally finding a S/PDIF 2.5 mm mini plug x S/PDIF RCA cable at ramelectronics. The speaker solution I chose was a moderately priced ($262) set of Logitech Z-5500's. Again being somewhat spoiled by the set downstairs in the media room, I wasn't expecting to be impressed but I was. Sound on music CD's is quite good and game immersion is simply phenomenal.
In the end I am thankful for the less than ideal sound plug location as had it not been an issue I probably would have kept the 13 year old speakers I was using.
Those gigaworks are basically just 5 cubes with 3" drivers playing the entire frequency spectrum.
I say 2.1/headphones over the 5.1. Especially with a 2.1 set, you can always add additional channels later, instead of putting up with more, lower quality channels.
With headphones you get more privacy, with speakers you get a soundstage. Tradeoffs of course. Speakers are more comfortable too, as even the most comfortable headphones will get fatiguing after a while.
Dood...I have an x-fi extreme music..I just got a razer barracuda..I love creative..but they don't have optical in's or outs unless you get the expensive cards..And those don't have dolby digital or dts..I have a semi review of the razer up in sound cards section of hardware..Buy the Razer..Awesome sound for games and music..They have matching headphones for it..the hp-1's..I bought the card to try it out..now I'm keeping it..I'm gonna build a new machine soon and I will put the x-fi in the old machine..I also have logitech's Z5500..you can get them for under $250..5.1 with a 10..yes 10 inch sub..the sound incredible..the Razer card is around $200.. you won't be sorry!!