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Is a decent 5.1 sound system possible with this setup?

Last response: in Home Theatre
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November 26, 2010 1:21:28 AM

Hi guys, hope you can help.

I've decided that I want to have great sound to go with my new Plasma. This would obviously be there for when I watch movies, but also for when I play games off my PC. I can already transmit the audio and video already over HDMI, but I want a 5.1 surround sound setup aswell.

To build the picture, I recently put together my first custom pc but am not sure whether to buy a sound card for my system, if I even need one. The following is all the relevant hardware that I have, minus a 5.1 speaker setup (speakers and subwoofer).

A Gigabyte GA-X58-UD3R motherboard. This has all the analogue ports for a 5.1 system on it. It also states that it has onboard audio with the Realtek ALC889 codec. This lists Audio Info from Gigabyte's website:

"1.Realtek ALC889 codec
2.High Definition Audio
3.2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
4.Support for Dolby® Home Theater
5.Support for S/PDIF In/Out
6.Support for CD In "

I also have an ATI Graphics Card, the HD 5870. According to ATI it has intergrated HD audio Controller

"Output protected high bit rate 7.1 channel surround sound over HDMI with no additional cables required.

Supports AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio formats "

So my question is do I have everything I need? Apart from the 5.1 speaker setup. Or do I need a £60 Sound Card?

On the choice of speakers, I was looking at these.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Logitech-Digital-Multimedia-The...

But I was also recommended these.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Onkyo-HT-S5305B-Receiver-Speake...


November 26, 2010 1:55:01 AM

You have everything you need. How you get audio is going to be based on which speaker setup you get and how you want to connect it.

With the Logitech Z5500 set, you would connect the speaker system via either on-board digital audio output or the Green/Orange/Black analog on-board outputs.

With the Onkyo HTIB set, you would either connect via the digital on-board audio outputs or, if you can confirm the set plays audio content from HDMI, via the HDMI from the graphics card (and then HDMI from the receiver to the plasma).

Unless you're a true audiophile (or have bionic ears), I don't think you're going to notice a different regardless of which output you use; though I think the Onkyo system will do a better job filling a larger room with sound.

-Wolf sends
November 26, 2010 2:31:53 AM

Hi Wolfshadw, thanks for replying. I had assumed that the Logitech set could just replace my present Creative 2.1 System that I use for my PC. Presently there's one analog cable going from the subwoofer to the green audio jack, and the satellite speakers connect to the subwoofer with the same analog type cable.

But it's where someone else started talking amplifiers where I got confused. The Onkyo setup is £100 more expensive, and my viewing and seating arrangement is based on a small area 3m by 3.7m, with the TV facing me from 3m, as opposed to 3.7m. Slightly less actually, considering the chair and the fact that the TV is on a stand.
So, I can't see the extra "quantity" of sound warranting the money.

But what part would the amplifier play. If it doesn't actually improve the "quality" of the sound, then I can't see myself going for this setup. If the speakers provided somehow better sound (range perhaps?), then maybe. But the Logitech costs £200. It's got to be good, right?

Talking on HDMI, I can confirm that a HDMI cable leaves a port on my Graphics Card straight to my TV. I've been playing Blurays from an Internal player. Both sound and video is sent.

I haven't checked into the Speaker Systems mentioned yet, but a guy off AVforums told me and I quote,

"All of the above mentioned systems will handle audio over HDMI so you would only need one HDMI cable going from the PC to the amp for audio decode/process/amplify and video passthrough and one from the amp to the TV to carry the picture."

But does the Logitech doesn't seem to have a separate amplifier. It says it's built in and has the system has the following connector types:

SPDIF input ( RCA phono )
SPDIF input ( TOS Link )
Digital 5.1 channel audio line-in ( mini-phone stereo 3.5mm x 3 )
Audio line-in ( mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm )

So how would I connect it up then?

Many thanks again.
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November 26, 2010 8:24:59 AM

Given the size of your viewing area, I'd probably go with the Logitech Z5500s. For connection, I'd go HDMI from the PC to the Plasma and S/PDIF optical (TOSLink) from the PC to the Logitech control module (see more images on Newegg's site). You'll just need to make sure the PC's audio output is set to use the on-board digital output rather than the ATI HDMI audio.

-Wolf sends
November 26, 2010 8:50:34 AM

So that's so the Control module will do all the decoding for audio playback, right? So even though the ATI audio can do AC-3, AAC, Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio formats it won't matter one iota. I just want to make sure that the Logitech kit can do all the codecs, and that I'm not missing anything by changing the Audio settings on the PC.

I understand now how to connect it:)  2 cables apart from the speaker cables is not much work at all!:) 
November 26, 2010 9:47:15 AM

I won't say it won't matter. I just don't know enough about audio formats to say with any certainty. The speaker system will handle anything your system throws at it. It's the on-board chipset (realtek alc889) that will determine what audio formats your system and output.

-Wolf sends
November 26, 2010 9:59:12 AM

Oh, ok. Well, the Realtek Codec seems to be fully featured after reading this:

http://www.realtek.com.tw/products/productsView.aspx?La...

It should be fine really. I'm probably questioning it too much, lol. Just looked a couple of Youtube Vids on the subwoofer of this system. Power! That is what I will say. I doubt I'll even be able use a third or quarter of it's capability. Being in the loft the sound would reverb, big time!

Now all I need here (apart from an Optical cable) are stands for the satellite speakers. I hope they make them. Don't really want to put the rear/side ones on the floor. Or use something other than made for purpose stands to prop them up.
November 26, 2010 12:30:58 PM

If you're looking for stands for the z5500s, your may want to read through this thread in the Logitech forums.

-Wolf sends

P.S., I was going to add a link to Monoprice.com for the TOSLink optical cable, but I almost forgot you're across the pond.
!