Hi! I'm putting together a $2,500+ gaming/general use rig which I plan to purchase this month or early next month. My budget for the sound system is $500
This being said, I'm also very new at everything and have been making a point of lurking this forum for quite sometime. I'm pretty confident on my PC set up but I still don't know much about sound cards and how they play into speakers and how they will effect my gaming and music experience.
So basically I want a system that will sound good loud, and bass is very important. I'm not sure if surround sound will be useful or not; maybe someone can elaborate on that. Also, what does a sound card do and would I need it?
My opinion is if you buy a decent set of speakers $150+ = you'll want a soundcard.
The problem with onboard sound is the S/N ratio is too low = well under 85db(75db for most) and too much background system noise and distortion.
Every +3db of S/N ratio effectively doubles volume output.
Aftermarket soundcards are usually 102db+ S/N ratio with a significant reduction in noise and distortion.
The big question is if you want to use speakers or headphones. If you go the speaker route, RCA or TRS. Stereo or Surround. Etc.
What you decide to use can have a major impact on the soundcard you would want. For most people, teh ASUS Xonar DX is right in line with price/performance, but with high quality RCA speakers, the ASUS Essence ST/STX might be a more attractive option. If you have high impedance headphones, a card with an amp becomes a priority.
A headset and microphone will be used on occasion and mainly for the mic really. The speakers sound is very important. Not only for gaming but I listen to a lot of music and let me reiterate that bass is very important. I want it to sound good loud.
So what speaker system would you recommend (sound card included) would yall recommend? I have no idea the difference between RCA or TRS. I'm not sure if I would need surround more or stereo. I'm assuming surround is better for gaming and stereo for music. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Yes, their older z5500 system is better, but good luck finding it for under $500.
If you want to go the harder but better route, you'll want a receiver and speakers.
If you want good surround sound, it is absolutely critical that you get a receiver with direct 7.1 analog input. Check images of the back for an array of 8 rca input jacks labeled (center/sub, front, side, surround). That way you can avoid using a compressed optical connection. I have a harmon kardon avr1600, but Yamaha makes direct input receivers as well. Look for one on sale, it'll run you about $300.
To keep under budget, you'll need some cheap but good speakers. Audiophiles will tell you any speakers under $4000 are awful, but if you're used to computer speakers almost anything decent will sound good. Look for sales on Newegg speaker prices fluctuate as much as 50%. Either get a 5.1 setup or a 7.1 setup if you want surround. Their 7.1 Onkyo system sometimes goes for under $150.
Get all your cables from monoprice they are super cheap but good. You could also try monoprice speakers. They have a 5.1 surround setup for $84. It's not going to be good, but it'll be better than it should be for that price.
Some good, but slightly more expensive speakers are the energy take classic or micro RC, but those will run you $400.