I am finalizing everything on my new rig setup and am at the sound part which is something I have very little knowledge on so any insight will be very helpful. I have a 7.1 surround sound system in my room that I would love to utilize instead of buying a computer sound setup like Logitech speakers or what not. That being said what would be the best way to setup my computer to the home theater system for best quality audio (has to be a long cord to reach around the whole room hugging walls so its hidden) and does my GA-Z77X-UD5H mobo onboard sound have a good enough quality to support something like this or am I looking at a dedicated sound card? Also, I have a pair of Sennheiser PC 360 headphones that I want to get best quality out of when I game and listen to music.
Easiest way would be to connect your pc to amplifier via hdmi cable (if it has hdmi inputs) or using optical toslink. Unfortunately optical spdif is limited to some 6 meters of length, so I guess it won't do.
Connecting your headphones is another matter. You can connect them to onboard audio, but the problem is that the sound can be output to only either hdmi or rear panel audio jacks. Not to both at once - you will need to switch windows audio settings to either hdmi or headphones every time.
If you would like to have sound on amplifier and headphones simultaneously, the problem becomes more complicated. You would need some kind of Y signal splitter. Easiest way would be to split front signal, with mini jack --> 2x mini jack cable. Then connect each pair of channels to your amplifier analog input with mini jack --> 2x RCA cables. Headphones would be connected to splitter other output. Another problem with this solution is that for surround sound you have to configure your games / movie player to 7.1 channels, while for your headphones you should have it configured for stereo.
Crude diagram for this solution:
PC front out --> Y spliter ---> [ (1) mini jack to 2x RCA ---> Amplifier 7.1 analog input front ] and [ (2) ---> headphones ]
PC rear out -------------------> mini jack to 2x RCA ---> Amplifier 7.1 analog input rear
PC side out -------------------> mini jack to 2x RCA ---> Amplifier 7.1 analog input side (not existent if your amplifier has only 5.1 analog input)
PC center/sub out ----------> mini jack to 2x RCA ---> Amplifier 7.1 analog input center/sub
Depending on your amplifier (whether it has 5.1 or 7.1 analog input) this solution needs you to wire 3 or 4 cables.
Other way to do it, would be to use HDMI cable, and connect headphones to headphones output of your amplifier. This would look like this:
PC HDMI ---> HDMI cable ----> amplifier HDMI IN
Amplifier Headphone Out ---> jack to mini jack (probably) ---> Headphones
This would require you to wire 2 cables. Only downside is that each time you would like to use your headphones you will need to manually plug it in amplifier.
To sum it up, it all comes down to what inputs are available in your amplifier. Optical spdif is out of the questions due to length limitation, hdmi should be fine up to 15 meters, analog jack to rca cables can be even lengthier.
Thank you Bejusek and gamerk316. The HDMI option is a no go because of the distance so it looks like I will have to go the RCA route. As for my headphones (sennheiser 360s) would I need a dedicated sound card to get the performance out of them (3d positioning) or is my ud5h onboard sound chip going to work with good quality? B/c the headphones are great quality and I want my gaming and movies to sound awesome with the headphones. Thanks!
Ya I guess your right haha. Seems expensive though to do that with an hdmi plus I already went out and got the rca. I just need to figure out if I need to purchase a new sound card to get the most out of my sennheisers.