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Audio PC

Last response: in Systems
June 21, 2009 6:57:37 PM

Hey, so I am building my father a new PC strictly for the use of music. He wants to be able to load all of his cd's onto it and play them through it with good sound quality. I am kind of new at this so I would really appreciate your advice and need to know that everything is compatible.

I already have a Antec Sonata II and a MSI 7900 GT 256mb that I plan to use with this, here is the build I was looking at, please feel free to comment/criticize and suggest better options, as long as they are not much more expensive. He will be using this in a very small room which is why I was thinking the surround sound. If absolutely necessary we can get a new case and video card but I think these are sufficient.

I also need to know whether there is some kind of wireless remote he can get to change his songs without the mouse and keyboard.

MOBO: GIGABYTE LGA 775 Intel G31 $52.99 [...] 6813128357

Processor: Intel Pentium 5200 Wolfdale 2.5ghz $69.99 [...] 6819116072

Memory: G. Skill 2x 2gb 1066 (PC8500) $54.99 [...] 6820231166

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar 1TB Green 7200 rpm 32mb cache $89.99 [...] 6822136317

Soundcard: ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 PCI Express $89.99 [...] 6829132006

Speakers: Logitech X-540 70 watt 5.1 $76.99 [...] 6836121006

Fans: 2x MASSCOOL 80mm case fan $3.58 [...] 6835150007

The total on newegg comes out to $438.52 without tax or shipping. My dad wanted very nice speakers and I think that the X-540's will be good but I am not positive. I am also unclear as to what OS to get.

Thanks for the help in advance!

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June 21, 2009 7:23:00 PM

i just put that sound card in for a customer it sounds awesome.

Nice speakers is a relative term, the logitech will suffice for low volume moderate quality listening. I have a set of 500 watt logitechs that sound better than the audigy 2 zs they were bought for, one of my customer's has the xonar dx which is putting out better than his bose system can handle
June 21, 2009 8:27:48 PM

my dad wants higher volumes with high quality speakers, does that mean the x540 is a bad option?
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June 21, 2009 8:32:38 PM

i would think so

let me ask you this though what does he listen to his music on now (be specific) and how does he want the comp to compare to that system in terms of quality and volume
June 21, 2009 8:53:46 PM

right now he uses a stereo/tiny boombox thing to play cd's, it is a cheap offbrand. He wants good quality and volume
June 21, 2009 10:16:30 PM

if that's what he is use to working with then your selection may not be far off.

Bear in mind when selecting speakers a 2.1 system is gonna sound best for music which is recorded in stereo where as 5.1 and 7.1 systems are for surround sound ie movies and games. Surround systems are gonna have lower power in the front L/R channels than a stereo system and the surround channels are only gonna play a reduced volume matrix of the front channels for filler sound.

You also have to remember only the best of components can play past 90% with out clearly audible distortion and pushing audio equipment past 80% of if its capacity for extended periods drastically reduces the lifespan. So you want to build a system that has plenty of power past your planned usage.

With all that in mind I would consider something closer to this for what you've described

This is all relative though I love sound systems. I play my music loud and demand clarity at all times. It all depends on what your used to for a lot of people onboard sound with jsut two speakers is sufficient, just not for me. The xonar dx is a great card i've used it to push a bose system and it was the speakers that were holding us back so it will more than suffice for any speakers in your budget, you get what you pay for so it's more a matter of how far you want to go.
a c 84 B Homebuilt system
June 22, 2009 3:55:20 AM

I think you can run all this using the media center application under vista home premium or windows-7. You can buy a microsoft mediacenter remote and ir reciever to control it.

Since you are getting a motherboard with an integrated graphics capability, I would omit the 7900GT. It will only add unwelcome fan noise.

If sound is important, skimp elsewhere, and get the best speakers that you can afford. Do not be seduced by excess wattage, almost any decent system can play louder than you can stand. Look for a subwoofer that has the largest driver. It will be able to reproduce the lowest frequencies.
I think I would look at a 5.1 system.

I am no expert on sound cards, but onboard HD sound is very good these days. Consider deferring the sound card initially. You can always add it later. It's cost could be applied to better speakers.

No need for 8500 ram. ddr2-800 will work just as well.

If you are a student, look into academic pricing for vista. Windows-7 is good and free for the moment. If a clean install in october is not a problem, you could go that way. Otherwise, Vista home premium-64 bit is fine. It includes the media center application.

80mm fans have high rpm's and are noisy. They are probably not needed.
June 22, 2009 4:18:19 AM

I agree with geofelt on passing on the 7900GT. Depending on its age, the card probably won't last very long; many 7900GTs had issues with their onboard RAM, and died after 1-1 1/2 years (mine included). As long as he's not doing anything graphically intensive (read: gaming), the onboard video should be fine.

I disagree with geofelt on the sound card option, however. Stick with the Asus Xonar DX, or maybe even a D2X. You don't realize the difference between onboard HD Audio and a good sound card until you try one and then the other. I've used onboard, a Creative X-Fi Xtreme Gamer Fatal1ty, and a Xonar D2X, and the Xonar is by far the best one I've heard. If its music your father wants, get a Xonar.
June 22, 2009 5:45:38 AM

can you please suggest some other speaker options for 5.1 and 2.1?
a b B Homebuilt system
June 22, 2009 7:16:22 AM

I don't recommend 5.1 speakers for most people. They have wires and can be very difficult to place.

I bought stereo speakers (2.0). I considered going with 2.1 but in the end went with the M-Audio AV40 speakers. A LOT of research went into that.

You can google for lots of reviews. Amazon is good too.

Sound quality also depends on how far he is away and the size of the room. Larger rooms and larger distances need larger diameter speakers to push the air.

Computer speakers are designed with the assumption that the person is sitting in at a desk with the speakers a normal distance away. If your dad is a lot farther off then what you really want is a STEREO setup using the PC as an auxiliary input.

If your dad ONLY wants to listen to audio then the ideal solution is some sort of a STEREO system with an iPod or some such as an input. Most iPod specific speaker attachments are horrible. Do your research.

My M-Audio AV40 speakers + my iPod sound amazing. As far as PC speakers go these have amazing sound but aren't meant for more than eight feet away and are optimized for about 3 with you and the two speakers in a triangle.
June 22, 2009 6:41:13 PM

I've heard the Logitech Z-2300 setup before, and I found them to be good...and loud. I wouldn't call them the absolute best in the world, but for a set of 2.1 speakers, they are very good compared to many of the other sets I've heard.
June 22, 2009 9:54:56 PM

My friend just showed me a creative i-trigue 3400 system that he has used with his iPod. They seem decent sounding but the problem is when i plug them into my computer the sound is only coming out of the right speaker. This did not happen on my computer 6 months ago when he brought them over. They work fine with his iphone and my ipod and used to work with my computer, so I am rather confused. Everything is plugged in correctly and I replugged them into my Fatal1ty soundcard with no success. Thanks for all of this help, I really appreciate it. Also, the cords for a 5.1 system really are not an issue for this setup.