Hey, sorry but this is gonna be long. There's a lot of matter-of-choice in picking speakers. These are the things I look for, in rough order of preference:
1. supports the format needed, i.e. Dolby Digital for DVD watching, or four-point for game playing.
2. richness of tone (i.e. doesn't leave certain ranges out)
3. Adequate power balance between speakers and sub; does not have a subwoofer that resonates at certain tones, and does not attempt to carry the whole system solely on a really powerful sub. If I wanted that sound, I'd buy a vibrator and stick it in my ear.
4. has accurate bass reproduction. Lots of speakers sound "muddy" with notes in the low range.
5. Suffient volume, without distortion or popping. DVDs are made with soft audio tracks, so you have to be able to turn the speakers up.
6. has convenient controls. You gotta be able to adjust the bass level without bending under the desk.
I used to do lots of speaker shopping back when I had time, and I can vouch for Klipsch. They at least used to make speakers for theaters, and I have a pair of their Chorus II speakers I got five years ago, and I've never seen as good sound quality since. Creative, on the other hand, I got a four-point computer speaker system from and I will never buy another speaker system from them if they paid me to. Creative as far as I can tell just looked at a shelf one day and said "Hey, them people's sellin' speakers! I want some of that action." Anyway, that's my brand choice, if I knew nothing else. The Creative speakers do sound "ok". They're better than most of the others on the shelf, but there is much better quality to be had. In terms of my preferences, they fail preferences 2, 3, and 4. If you feel like shopping, I highly suggest checking out Boston Accoustics. I've had a 2-way with sub set and a 4-way w/sub set from them, the latter of which I'm using right now, and my opinion would place them at the absolute top of the line except for Klipsch. Every set of Boston Accoustics speakers I've listened to have passed preferences 2, 3, 5, 6, and usually 4, hands down. most speakers that don't pass 5 are "Valu-Speaker" systems. The 4-point set I had from Creative failed 2, 4, 5, and 6.
Looking at the speakers your links point to, like you said you get 5.1 from Creative and the simple 2-channel w/sub layout from Klipsch. I've looked at both systems at Best Buy, and my opinion is definitely that the Klipsch speakers had immaculate sound quality while the Creative system did not sound as good *to me*. However, I was comparing the much more expensive 4-point and 5.1 Klipsch systems. The new Creative Labs speakers also might sound just fine to you. (also keep in mind if you look in Best Buy, you're listening to speakers in the worst possible environment to hear what they actually sound like. When they are placed in a normal size room in a house, they sound much different. Also check the bass level knob, because people for whatever reason like to turn that knob all the way up and leave, which makes them sound awful)
If you want to play DVDs on your computer, or if you want to have good sound in games with a Creative Labs card, I would suggest getting a 5.1 channel speaker system, because you will be able to play all the DVD sound channels through their proper speakers. For games, the Creative Labs sound cards are really terrible at making two-speaker systems reproduce sound from behind or above you. If anyone remembers using Aureal2.0 at any point, then had to switch back to Creative Labs, they know what I mean. So for those two purposes, lean towards a 5.1 system. For mostly listening to music, lean towards Klipsch.
Also, make sure you have places to put the rear speakers in your room, because when I was on campus I had no place for the rear speakers except to put both on a shelf to my left, which defeated the purpose of surround.
Finally, going from dream system first and on down towards "if they paid me", these are what I would buy right now:
Klipsch 5.1 system (expensive!)
Klipsch 4-point system (also expensive)
Boston Accoustics 5.1
Boston Accoustics 4-point
Boston Accoustics 2-way
Creative Labs 5.1
Creative Labs 4-point
Hope this helps you shop!
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Just thought I'd mention I saw a whole bunch of good stuff about the Logitech Z-560 speakers on the rest of the forum. Lots of people saying the only better speakers were the Klipsch Promedia. I think you might end up shelling an extra few hundred for them though... some guy said they ran $400 canadian, don't know how that translates to $US
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Hmm, Z-560's good but if you live with parents still or in a small apartment i suggest going with Klipsh as the subwoofer in the Z-560's can really rumble outside of the room your in. In fact, its very hard to get it not too. The Klipsh subby is more controlled than that and is better for those cirumstances. On the other hand, for gaming, i really really love the Z-560's. For movies and music i have to admit the Klipsh is better. But its all relative cause they cost alot more and if the rumble of the Z-560's outside of the room your in isnt a problem then i suggest sticking with them.
Bottom line, if you have 200 bucks for speakers, go with the Z-560's, they're the best for the money. If you have 400 bucks, go for Creative Megaworks 510D's as they're the best for that money. Don't see a reason these days to go with Klipsh anymore. Creative Megaworks beats em in my books and Megaworks is 5.1 for 50 dollars less than Klipsh. If you can find the Megaworks for sell that is...I think Fry's has em.
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