I unfortunately have no answers for you. I do have another question to throw into the melee for anyone to answer though.
If you don't have a DVD player in your computer, is there any point in getting a soundcard and speakers to support 5.1? Do games actually support this? Can it somehow make your CDs and MP3s sound better even though (at least to my knowledge) they aren't encoded to support this? Or is it just a waste of money if you don't plan on watching DVDs on your system anyway?
- Anything can be fixed with duct tape, a swiss army knife, and WD-40.
You don't have to use computer speakers. You can get regular system speakers and run them off an external amp.
My freind runs his Live gold like that.
As for the 5.1, the specs should tell you adn the card will have several connections on it.
If money was no object, how could you spend it!
But SB Live X-Gamer and SB Live MP3+ supports 5.1 (for good price).
As for speakers Midiland is good.
You can also check out this one - DigiTheatre LC 5.1 Speaker System from VideoLogic
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Sanik on 11/16/00 08:33 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
The sound blaster live series of cards comes with two analog channel outputs. One channel is for the front two speakers and the other is for the rear two. The sub gets it's sound from these two channels too. Sound blaster now has a series of cards built for DD5.1 output (wish I had known they were coming out with that...). The back of card looks very different than the regular SB live card as I believe it has more outputs. Soundblaster has a great website. You should read up more on the differences there.
The only differences between the X-gamer, MP3, and Value versions of the SB card is the software that comes with it.
Creative labs came up with this cool stuff called environmental audio and EAX. Environmental audio is basically a tweak to the sounds you are listening to in order to make it sound like you are in an arena, a concert hall, or even on drugs. This requires no special encoding of the sound for it to work. EAX is different though. It does require the game maker to encode their sounds to take advantage of the feature on the card. EAX is basically positional audio. It is an awesome feature for any hardcore gamer. Explosions in Unreal Tournament that happen behind you or to the left or right actually sound that way. Theif is a game that absolutely requires positional audio effects. You have to be able to hear those guys coming around a corner or moving across the room. Even in Need for Speed its great. Everything sounds more real. EAX combined with environmental audio allows for the sound of the engine going through a tunnel to sound different than driving in the open air. It's the little things that you wouldn't notice otherwise that make that extra channel output all worth it.
As far as what speakers, I haven't heard the Midlands so I can't really say, but I know the Klipsch's are THX certified and they fill my entire basement with sound. So much so that I can hang up my disco ball and hold a full on dance party.
One more thing. If you get 5.1, you have to have a receiver or some component that is able to decode that signal and dish it out to all your speakers. The DTT3500's made by Cambridge Soundworks comes with all the components you need for this (as long as you have an SB live 5.1 card). At $299, it's cheap compared to what you would spend for a full-on home theater setup.
I don't have a home theater (I'd rather spend my money on my computer) so I use my Klipsch's also for watching DVDs on my TV. Maybe I would be happier spending $2000 on a home theater setup, I don't know ..I've never owned one, but right now, ignorance is bliss.
This question probably should have been in the soundcards forum. You might get better info than my ramblings.
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Thanks for the info, here is another question. I have a home theater system and I watch all my DVD's on that. I am leaning toward the Klipsch speakers. Do any games actually support DD5.1?? Or is that strictly a DVD thing?