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5.1 & 2.1 - At the same time!!!

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September 23, 2006 12:31:25 PM

OK kids, heres the problems:

Problems number 1:

I currently listen to music A LOT on my computer, while also playing games and watching movies, I currently therefore have it connected to a Cambridge Audio amp and some nice speakers, all sounds great. However, for my next computer I would like to get a 5.1 kit for games, but in general, unless I spend a shedload they will probably sound crap for music - I was wondering if there were any soundcards that would let me output to both, and also let me easily change the output whenever I wanted to?

Problem number 2:

I also use my monitor to play xbox360, and cant be bothered to fork out for a 5.1 receiver and speakers if I will have them anyway for my next PC (can you imagine the wiring of 2 sets of 5.1's), so I was wondering if any soundcards would let me INPUT an optical signal and put it out on my PC speakers? - I am aware of external decoders like the DDTS-100, but again, I may as well use the soundcard if possible as it does the same job?

Ta very much! - sorry for the lenghty post!

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September 23, 2006 1:14:51 PM

Any of the X-Fi/Audigy/Audigy 2 series that have the drive bay have an optical-in and optical-out.

Some of the high end Cambridge Soundworks/Creative Labs speakers also have Optical-In.

I'm not sure about easily switching between a 2.1 and a 5.1 set, I think the best bet would be to just get a decent 5.1 set myself, but if you were buying an Audigy/X-Fi or similar for the optical in you could always connect one set to the Audigy/X-Fi and one to the onboard sound.
September 25, 2006 9:43:04 PM

First of all, your second question, the front I/O pannels of the Audigy 2 ZS platinum and almost certainly the Xfi series will let you input optical. I would suggest an Audigy 2 xs platinum because you do not need any accesories to output in 5.1 to a reciever via spdif, all you need is a cable adapter from the "digital out" versaport to a single rca jack for spdif.

And what it sounds like you should be doing is buying a 5.1 reciever as well as a center channel surround sattelites and a sub if you want. Wire it together and output to it from your soundcard, you can with a click of a button change the output of an Audigy 2 zs from surround to stereo, you could even wire it so that stereo outputs analogue and when you switch it over to the 5.1 option it changes to digital. Most newer Surround recievers support in addition to 5.1 surround channels 1/2 stereo channels, so one reciever will power a 5.1 speaker set, as WELL as power your two stereo music speakers simply switching between.
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September 25, 2006 11:09:28 PM

Why don't you get a decent set of 5.1 speakers that also incorporate a Dolby Digital/DTS Decoder in the external breakout box, such as the Logitech Z-5500.

My Z-5450's accept 2 optical and 1 coaxial digital input as well as the 5.1 output from my X-Fi!

That would solve your problem nicely, allowing you to switch between the Xbox 360 and the PC audio output simply by pressing a button on the control unit.

As for your music-listening 2.1 setup, I'd recommend using one of the soundcard's digital outputs. You will need an amp that supports digital input (few true stereo amplifiers do) or an external DAC in-line to the amp, such as this: http://cgi.ebay.com/MONSTER-CABLE-ENTECH-NUMBER-CRUNCHE...

Now *that* would give you cool sound.


X-Fi connected to Z-5500's
Xbox 360 connected to Z-5500's
X-Fi coax digital out connected to external DAC -> stereo amplifier -> stereo speakers
September 26, 2006 1:06:43 AM

Few stereo amps my ass you beach-pirate.

A consumer "stereo amp" is a stereo reciever, meaning an av switcher with decoders, encoders, multiple inputs/outputs. Radio tuner, has a remote control with an INTEGRATED amplifier. Most of the time when people say amps, they don't mean amps, they mean recievers, because amps are very barebone, and a good amp is really really really really expensive.
September 26, 2006 7:40:40 AM

Get a receiver.

Just get one big screen to play them all on.

Besides, a receiver is MADE for multiple inputs. All you need is long enough wires if you are going to have them in different places.

Also, most LCD monitors these days accept console inputs, so you can easily play console and PC in one area.

Stick to your current speakers, get a receiver, and get some satellite speakers. Use the line-outs on your receiver so you can continue powering your stereo with your external amp (and still use the receiver as the sound processor), and let the receiver amplify your satellite speakers. This can be done *very* cheap. There are tons of good cheap choices for very good satellite speakers -- Athena, Klipsch Quintet, Energy, there are tons of other names I haven't mentioned. You could probably do all of this under $150 if you are money tight.
September 26, 2006 5:38:54 PM

wow, how very helpfall of you all (nearly),

The posts are all very thoughtful.

But to be honest, there is the age old problem of money.

Think I will go with a audigy 2 and then get the 5.1 Logitech z-4500 (i think), and wire them all to that, maybe I could replace the front two speakers with my current stereo speakers, though that might make them crap for games (?)

Ta very much guys
September 26, 2006 6:17:54 PM

Quote:
wow, how very helpfall of you all (nearly),

The posts are all very thoughtful.

But to be honest, there is the age old problem of money.

Think I will go with a audigy 2 and then get the 5.1 Logitech z-4500 (i think), and wire them all to that, maybe I could replace the front two speakers with my current stereo speakers, though that might make them crap for games (?)

Ta very much guys


You might do well to invest in a good set of bookshelf speakers and a decent reciever/amp. They'll last longer than a set of PC speakers, and sound better while doing it. It ends up being about the same amount of money over time due to the extra life you'd probably get out of good quality speakers.
September 26, 2006 8:22:51 PM

That is literally the worst Idea I have ever heard, the sub will be out of phase with the speakers, the integrated amp, isn't made for that at all. I'm at the point were after this post I don't care what you do, but if you don't listen to the people who know what they are talking about then it will be noone fault but yours when your previously decent speakers sound like crap, and or are ruined, and you've cut off the front l/r speakers on a cheap computer surround setup and can't send the pieces of crap back.
September 28, 2006 7:03:47 PM

Quote:
That is literally the worst Idea I have ever heard, the sub will be out of phase with the speakers, the integrated amp, isn't made for that at all. I'm at the point were after this post I don't care what you do, but if you don't listen to the people who know what they are talking about then it will be noone fault but yours when your previously decent speakers sound like crap, and or are ruined, and you've cut off the front l/r speakers on a cheap computer surround setup and can't send the pieces of crap back.


ha ha, i think we have an audiophile guys..........
September 28, 2006 8:06:09 PM

You can buy a cheap 5.1 A/V receiver W/sub and speakers (at Wal-Mart for $70) and run everything from the receiver. As for 2.1, it will automatically switch between formats based on the input.
An Audigy 2 would cost over $70 and wont give as much flexibility.
October 1, 2006 10:33:54 AM

Dont know how much this would help you, would enable you to connect two sets of speakers to at least the front and switch between them....

Clicky
October 1, 2006 5:18:47 PM

actually, as long as that thing keeps the musics fidelity that looks like a pretty good idea!
!