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Help me pick some 5.1 speakers

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Last response: in Components
December 20, 2006 3:40:13 PM

I'm looking to buy a 5.1 speaker system for my PC, Xbox, PS2, GC, and DVD player. Any recommendations that will allow me to hook up all these devices? Also would I need to buy any special cables for hooking up my Xbox, PS2, GC, and DVD player to the system? I'm looking to spend up to around $300.

More about : pick speakers

December 20, 2006 8:04:58 PM

I don't think you can get a good HT setup for that (you'd need to spend double), but as long as you don't mind that this might be sitting in your garage a few years as victim of upgraditis (basically more expensive now, vs more expensive over a long period of time), then you are looking for a all-in-one box basically.

You should goto your local Best Buy or Circuit City for HTiBs. I don't know if any system will have enough digital connections to accomodate so many piece tho. You may have to goto Radio Shack in the end for some kind of audio switchers.
December 22, 2006 1:19:52 AM

shoot, get two pairs of Altec VS2221 speakers. They are perfect for desktop computer use. They are cheap and they give you a balanced frequency response. Just honest little speakers. You'll be surprised.
You want anything more that that you need to get into DIY speakers.* Your money will go ten times farther than anything found at Circuit City or Best Buy.

*for example:

Standard Disclaimers Apply: IMHO and YMMV
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December 28, 2006 6:28:12 PM

Get Logitech Z5500 speaker system. You can hook up all that you wanted to hook up to it via optical cables, and SPDIF, as well as analog inputs, then just switch between the inputs to get to what source you want.
December 28, 2006 8:57:14 PM

Last time I checked, the Logitech Z-5500s did not have multiple toslink inputs.
December 28, 2006 9:35:16 PM

They do have the TOSLINK, SPDIF, and Analog inputs do they not?
December 28, 2006 9:46:02 PM

I just got the Z-5400s and they are nothing short of fantastic, sub is gigantic and they sound as good as they look! Couldn't ask for more!
December 28, 2006 10:04:54 PM

Or for less get the Z-5300's they sound great!
December 28, 2006 10:31:22 PM

They do have the TOSLINK, SPDIF, and Analog inputs do they not?

Last time I checked, at least 2 of the OP's sources would have to be toslink for surround sound, and at least 3 would require digital input.

At this point there's no difference between buying a Z-5500 or just adding a Ratshack toslink input adaptor to any surround speaker system he buys.
December 28, 2006 11:12:31 PM

Wait...ok first it's early so my brain isn't working properly yet so if I say something completely stupid ..well yeah :p 

anyway, I've got a set of Z5500's had them for a while but haven't hooked them up to my consoles yet cause they are simply too hard to move and my monitor is usually a long way from my TV, however I'm just about to buy a 24" monitor and use that for my consoles as well as PC usage and do the same with my speakers....are you saying that the Z5500's can't do surround sound with the inputs they have?
December 28, 2006 11:25:47 PM

No they are fully capable of surround sound via an Optical cable, analog or a third that i forget right now
December 28, 2006 11:31:43 PM

That should work beautifully. My Dell LCD can take VGA, DVI, SVideo, and Composite Video. I can switch between computer, VCR/DVD, and my game consoles just by clicking on the source button on my monitor. Plus it has PnP (Picture in Picture) that I can use with some of my other inputs as well as the monitor. So if I'm watching something off of a different source I can put the pic in pic on source 2 and still work on my computer stuff at the same time. I love this monitor.
December 29, 2006 2:14:05 AM

Okay I've decided to hold off on the 5.1 computer speakers and I am currently researching DIY HT systems. Any suggestions on where to start.
December 29, 2006 3:10:01 AM

Actually I'm just pointing out the the Z-5500s doesn't have enough *digital* inputs to connect that many consoles together properly for 5.1, I think some people are confused and think I am saying the Z-5500s don't have multiple inputs.
December 29, 2006 3:30:16 AM

Okay I've decided to hold off on the 5.1 computer speakers and I am currently researching DIY HT systems. Any suggestions on where to start.

Okay, I'm just going to read off your PM here, since I can read previous posts this way. If it bothers you, I won't do it again.

Okay I've decided to ditch the 5.1 computer speakers and started looking into investing into a 5.1 DIY HT system.

DIY actually means generally implies you are actually "building" the components yourself. I think you mean you just want to put together a regular home theater setup =P

Any suggestions on where to start. I'll probably just start with a 2.1 system and continue to add as my budget allow for.

That's a pretty good start.

The system will go into my 13'x14' bedroom and I would like to hook it up to my computer, TV, DVD player, and Console systems.

Any surround receiver can handle that.

Could you give me any links or suggestions.

My signature has 2 links, though they might be a bit dense for some. The most knowledgeable "computerspeak" audio guys I know is the Peripherals forum at Anandtech, guys like Yoyo and a few others give advice for new folks getting home theater sets all the time. At another time I would have suggested 3dss-forums but that place seems to have died down. 3DSS was the place I first heard about "bookshelf" speakers, this was back around 2002 when a couple of guys were ahead of the curve and found their Gigaworks and Klipsch Ultras weren't good enough for DVD voicing, and started auditioning and then finally replacing the satellite speakers with bookshelfs (and using the subwoofers as amps! Pretty neat and cost effective replacement).

What can you tell me about the Acsend CBM-170 SE? Thank you for your time.

Well, I would go to's forum if you are really interested. Ascend is a company that started from a former engineer at M&K (big name THX home theater speaker company, very high end). He wanted to make accurate speakers affordable to everyday people, so he took designs inspired by M&K speakers (very low profile, simple, with most of the money spent on the cabinet and drivers).

The reason was, the bookshelf market at $100-500 is very crowded with excellent retail products. To make yourself known, as a newcomer, you can do one of two things--either force your way in by selling your product cheaper than it really is (as Microsoft did with the Xbox), or, as Ascend chose to do, skimp on everything else (basically, the looks; its a very simple cube shaped speaker) in order to provide a product that stands out at its price range. Ascend took drivers that were very popular with DIY (do-it-yourself, guys who build their own systems) include aerogel (an incorporeal substance used as a heat insulator on the Space Shuttle) midrange drivers from Audax and tweeters from SEAS.

The concept was really stolen from DIY people (i.e., build your own speakers that are much better than retail speakers for the same cost, because you aren't spending that much money on the cabinet or retail overhead). Another concept stolen from DIY is that people who build their own speakers build them for accuracy.

Not a specific "flavor" or "taste" that is unnatural. While a specific flavor such as pushing the frequency response in a certain range might make rock music sound better to some, it'll probably sound a lot worse with another kind of music. An example would be Klipsch, whose well known for amped-up treble that sounds suitably horrible for other types of music.

Making an accurate speaker is not easy, just like the amplifier post I made before, making an amplifier that can provide you sustained juice at all frequency ranges is a lot harder than an amp that claims 100W/channel, but it was measured only at a specific frequency. At the same token, an accurate speaker means it has to be accurate at all frequency ranges, and that means drivers that can sustain a lot of structural stress.

Ascend got its popularity this way through selling primarily online and using drivers that would otherwise go into much more expensive speakers.

Not too long afterwards, a lot of companies which indirectly worked with Ascend started "copying" Ascend's business strategies. You now see quite a few other speakers that use Ascend's business strategy of "spending all the money on the speaker" and less money on useless things like advertising or beautifying the box. SVS (A subwoofer maker), Hsu (another subwoofer maker) and Onix (another online speaker maker) have recently introduced their own "accuracy first" speakers into the market. They are mostly in the $250 and below range, as they respect Ascend (most of the owners of these companies including Ascend commonly post in Avsforum) and weren't interested in competing directly with Ascend, but helped the market by providing even cheaper options for consumers.

That's the main gist of what's known as the "internet direct" business model. You yourself don't actually have to purchase internet direct speakers, as retail speakers are very good themselves. The jump from PC speakers to bookshelves is the bigger one, as internet direct (ID) speakers and retail speakers are like two different types of luxury cars, while the PC speaker is a horse drawn cart. Just getting up there with "real" speakers is the big jump.

To conclude: I'd suggest you ask around either at Anandtech's Periperals forum, or the AVS forum.

I'm guessing ID people will suggest you either Ascend/Axiom/Onix/SVS speakers with a Hsu/SVS subwoofer, a Panasonic receiver, while the retail people (those who don't like shopping online and prefer a company with a retail base) will suggest either Energy or Paradigm speakers, a Velodyne subwoofer, and a Pioneer or H&K receiver.

Heh, just a hunch.

Anyway, here's a linky about Ascend's newest speakers (SEs) from the owner himself. Ascend was already well known for very accurate speakers, but David F wanted to make something *really* special in the commercial price range by bringing in very high quality tweeters (from SEAs of Norway) you usually find in DIY speakers or very, very expensive speakers. This allowed David to tighten up the frequency response of his speakers to within +/- 1db (decibel) from the 80-20KHz range. Most regular loudspeakers operate in the +/-3db range, which is 9 times larger than the Ascends. As for computer speakers...I wouldn't even go there.
December 29, 2006 4:22:46 PM

Okay thank you astrallite for all of the info and links.
December 29, 2006 6:40:18 PM

And in the catagory "Longest informative post I have ever seen" the winner goes to:

ASTRALLITE!!!!!!! Come on up and get your super shiny Rhino Trophy!!
December 29, 2006 6:47:45 PM

You don't like Harman Kardon? I haven't had much experience with their last couple of years worth of HT Receivers, but I do have an older HK power amp, and I love it. It's rated at 25 x 2 but it blows away anything I have heard from any other 2nd teir amp company. IE Sony, Kenwood, Pioneer, etc. Dennon and Marantz are decent as well in my books.
December 30, 2006 7:05:32 AM

I'm just biased towards digital receivers due to low heat generation, low idle power, and power efficiency. (Current online fad).

But I have nothing against H&K nor people who are against buying online direct, I was actually just mentioning H&K and Pioneer were the two most popular budget receivers for non-internet direct buyers. I do know H&K is very well known for understating their true power output, so when they say 65W/channel, they mean it (it's usually closer to 75W/channel at 0.06-0.07% THD). Pioneer's lower range can be fairly crappy, but their midrange receivers are definitely gems.

Their high end "Elite" brand is overpriced, just like Denon has become, as both companies were once performance leaders but have become slow in embracing newer (better technologies), and still charge a premium on their older products. Still, if you have cash to burn, you can't really go wrong with them either (as they come in really nice, polished steel enclosures and have tons of connectivity).
January 6, 2007 12:34:21 AM

Logitech Z-5500 all the way

Also, there was a system from Pelican that was like a machine that let you connect all your systems in there so everytime you wanted to use another you would just press a button. I really dont remember the name but it was cool :p 
January 6, 2007 1:42:24 AM

As he said, Z5500 is by far the best quality sound you can possibly get for the money. I am 100% confident when I say that there is not a better 5.1 set of PC speakers out there. Personally I have heard and owned Klipsch, Altec's, Creative etc..... Not only are these brands pricier than the Logitech's, but they also do not offer as much RMS output. The Z-5550's offer a 200W RMS 10" Sub with 300W split among the 5 channel speakers, at about 67 watts per speaker RMS. The sound quality is excellent, and these can get LOUD. You will probably rarely use more than 25%-50% volume, however there is not even a hint of distortion at 100% full blast... although you will probably think you are going to die at that volume. The Klipsch do have comparable sound quality.. but they don't get nearly as loud, and are more expensive. Music, Games and Movies all sound awesome on the 5500's.
I bought my Z-5550 setup over a year ago for around $220, though I think they might be a bit more expensive now.

Individual Home Theater Components are obviously better in the long run, but the amount you'll spend to get a similar power output and wattage to the 5500s is probably in the $500 and up range for a reciever/amp/speakers/sub.

The only slight weakness to PC speakers is that they often lack punch at pre-bass frequencies (100-150Hz) because the satellites cannot as effectively produce these sounds as a dedicated woofer. The sound is still there, but it lacks energy. In all honestly you likely will not notice this unless you are a dedicated audiophile.
January 6, 2007 1:52:59 AM

You are right, they are the best set of 5.1 speakers now but as you know they have been out for more than a year now. I think Logitech is about to release new ones (well is time to!)

tearsofglass88, their crappy wireless version just sucks, stay away from those.
January 6, 2007 2:07:59 AM

Yes, I suppose a replacement set is due soon. Speaking of Logitech yearly upgrades, isn't it about time for a newer version of the G5 Mouse?

Personally I still have my faithful Logitech MX 500, the original incarnation of that current mouse design. I would have upgraded long ago but I am extremely annoyed that they have removed both the forward button and the button that used to be above the scroll wheel. Its just stupid that if I buy a newer version of this mouse that the buttons are downgraded.
January 6, 2007 2:12:39 AM

Hmm well Im a mouse lover too :p 

I got the MX1000 when it was the best mouse (Before G7 and Revolution) and I still love it! I just dont like that the batteries go down really fast.
Im waiting for a Keyboard and mouse combo but that includes the MX Revolution because I dont see a reson to buy the mouse and keyboard separately when I can have both kb and mouse with 1 receiver.

Only future will tell what logitech will bring us :D  is time to start the new year with good upgrades :) 
January 6, 2007 4:44:48 AM

I dunno if Logitech really needs to bring out anything new. They pretty much have the market in their pocket, and they haven't really brought anything new to the audio department for 6 years (the basic design is still the same as the Z-560s, and they are still using the same low grade tangband drivers).

I was very impressed back in 2000 with the Z-560s, they were selling a surround set at 1/3 the price of the Klipsch Ultra. Unfortunately, they've gone the way of microsoft since they gained market share--they just regurgitated the same product with different colors and milked the market, and started charging more. Most of the premium audio brands have been pushed out of the market with Logitech's marketting tactics, so unless you go into the HT market, I don't see the PC audio market going anywhere but downhill from here.
January 6, 2007 5:50:19 PM

Well thats true, they have the input devices market in their pockets.
I just like the style they give to their new products! but hate the premium prices that they give. Paying $80 for a mouse! thats crazy! I always wait for offers or discounts.
January 7, 2007 8:19:10 PM

Im waiting for a Keyboard and mouse combo but that includes the MX Revolution because I dont see a reson to buy the mouse and keyboard separately when I can have both kb and mouse with 1 receiver.

My friend just ruined his MX Duo keyboard, and got another Logitech wireless KB/M set, something cheep like $40, his new keyboard works/synced with his old receiver.
January 7, 2007 9:22:53 PM

The thing is that Logitech's latest keyboard are corded because of that dumb and useless 2-bit screen. lol and it would be great if they start releasing keyboards itself cordless
January 10, 2007 9:06:33 PM

I have the Logitech Z-560's and they were great. I guess they are about 3 years old now. One of the Satalites sounds like its cracked but cant find a tear in the speaker and likes to cut in and out, used to sound perfect and they havent been moved in months and yes I have checked the connections and still no better.

What speaker would compare to them now?
How much? Or should I keep the sub from the z-560's and buy some bookshelf speakers?

Thanks for the input.
January 10, 2007 10:05:56 PM


What speaker would compare to them now?
How much? Or should I keep the sub from the z-560's and buy some bookshelf speakers?

Thanks for the input.

That sounds like a good idea. Replacing PC speakers with other PC speakers generally is is not too much more than a horizontal improvement in driver performance, unless you are looking for features.
January 10, 2007 11:02:55 PM

I have the Logitech Z-560's and they were great. I guess they are about 3 years old now. One of the Satalites sounds like its cracked but cant find a tear in the speaker and likes to cut in and out, used to sound perfect and they havent been moved in months and yes I have checked the connections and still no better.

What speaker would compare to them now?
How much? Or should I keep the sub from the z-560's and buy some bookshelf speakers?

Thanks for the input.

Since they are 3-years old and they used to cost between $70-$100 in their time, I would say that any good 5.1 Logitech setup on the stores with that price range should be enough. Anyways, You can also save some money and get the Z-5500, I have heard nothing but Excellent reviews about it. I would really like to have those. With a good Creative card= 8O :lol: 
January 11, 2007 12:32:24 AM

Thanks I look and see which ones are cost effective.
January 11, 2007 1:06:04 AM

just go to best buy and pick out a 5.1 system. Yamahas are decent and should be in your price range.