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Sound setup for computer...

Last response: in Home Audio
December 29, 2010 11:56:01 AM

Hi folks (beginner questions coming up...sorry)...

I need some input from you. I listen to music and 'game' with my son on this (PC) computer.

We currently have a Creative X-Fi Music soundcard and did have a Cambridge SoundWorks 2.1 setup. The Cambridge setup is now history. When we are 'gaming' and the wife is home, we have to use our inexpensive Logitech USB headset.

Here's what I'd like to do:

Get a pair of AudioEngine A5 powered speakers(@ $325.). I'm also considering getting the Asus Xonar Essence STX soundcard. If I get these two items, I would then use my headphones from my downstairs stereo system and plug them into the new Xonar card. I would then have to get a seperate mic (which would also plug into the Xonar I assume) so that we can continue to use TeamSpeak in some of the clan-games that we play. Would the mic need a connector to interface w/ the soundcard, or could I just use a usb mic?

Will all this work? And, does it sound like a good setup?

Thanks for any ideas...

More about : sound setup computer

December 30, 2010 10:10:45 AM



What's really important to me in all this, is that I'd like to have both quality desktop speakers for music/gaming when the boss is not home, but also be able to use the inexpensive USB headset to 'game' with when she is home...and NOT have to disconnect anything when I want to switch from one to the other... (in gaming, it's so much easier with the USB headset...a headphone and separate mic combo is sometimes harder to setup & get it to work in TeamSpeak...which we use a lot in gaming)

Is that goal easier to achieve if I have either the MAudio AV40's / the AudioEngine A2's / the AudioEngine P4's / the AudioEngine A5's / or the Swan M200 MkII speakers, along with the AudioEngine N22 amplifier...with the new Xonar Essence STX sound card?
December 30, 2010 4:54:23 PM

You can change your default speaker/recording devices under windows. So you can choose which to use at any time without unplugging anything.

Some speakers require an audio receiver. If you do end up buying an audio reciever, you don't need an expensive sound card since the receiver does all the decoding a sound card would normally do.
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December 30, 2010 5:15:29 PM

That AudioEngine N22 amplifier I listed above does that...would need it if I get the P4's...

I'm now also looking at the Axiom M2 v3's and the AudioByte v3's... this isn't easy...some good equipment out there now for computer sound....wish I had more money...
December 30, 2010 8:22:37 PM

Here's another dumb question...

Is it important for these speakers to have 'digital inputs'? And why...
December 31, 2010 12:41:00 AM

Digital signal can't have signal loss.

Sound is basically a wave and analog signal is a wave as well, but when the wave gets transfered through cables, there can be distortions and signal loss. There is always some signal loss or distortions even if you have the best cables. This is heard as noise or static, only really noticable when the speakers are idle.

Digital overcomes this problem by using pulses of electrical current to represent 0s and 1s. Even with a lot of distortion a pule of current will still be read as a 1 and not impact audio quality.

The difference is small but noticable. Basically if you have digital input, use it.

I know what you mean about money. Speakers are expensive, if you want quality that is. I personally use Orb Audio speakers for my computer. I like how they are small unlike bookshelf speakers so I can hide away a 5.1 setup very easily. It cost my wallet $1000 X_X
December 31, 2010 5:43:32 AM

Try Audioholics or AVSForum.
December 31, 2010 10:50:18 AM

I'm leaning to the AudioEngine 5 speakers right now...

Why is it that some sound cards have digital 'outs', but most good speakers don't have digital 'ins'. Why is that, if that is technically a better form of interfacing speakers and source?
December 31, 2010 5:42:45 PM

Good speakers are designed to interface directly with an Audio Reciever.

An Audio Receiver is does digital decoding, amplification and input conversion. Everything a sound card can do and much more. High end speakers and subwoofers can only be plugged directly into a receiver via speaker wire.

Most computer users only want a simple 2.1 setup and don't want to pay for a reciever.
December 31, 2010 6:18:45 PM

Probably getting the AudioEngine 5 speakers with the Xonar Essence STX sound card... Will use my Grado headphones and separate mic through sound card when I can't blast the speakers because the wife is home... I don't think I'll need a switch box to go back and forth for outputting of sound...
January 2, 2011 3:09:38 AM

I've re-considered. Now, I'm thinking of using my old Yamaha RX-V492 receiver, and just using my current Creative X-Fi sound card. I can always get the Xonar Essence STX card later.

So, now I'll need two passive speakers with a budget of about $200-$325. What would be some recommendations for possible speakers? I've ruled out the Swan M200 Mk II's as too big for my desktop.

With this set-up, where would my Grado's and separate mic be connected to, the receiver or my sound card? And will I need any adapter cables to connect this stuff?
January 2, 2011 12:59:29 PM

M-Audio makes some really good nearfield monitors.

I do warn you, the X-Fi cards are limited to 2.1 output via SPDIF which is fine for your setup but if you ever want to expand to 5.1, you would need a new card. Im just using onboard for digital output since my reciever does all the dolby decoding.
January 2, 2011 3:49:21 PM

I'll never put a 5.1 setup in this computer room....would be a wiring disaster. Will only be 2.0 / 2.1...

So, I just need to decide what passive speakers to get with a budget of @ $250-$350...
January 2, 2011 7:00:49 PM

I personally use Orb Audio speakers in a 5.1 setup. They are tiny little things but sound great. If you don't do music creation, you probably don't need nearfield monitors since I find them too big for my room. Not into the boxy look either.

You can order just the speakers for $239 a pair. You would need a sub though.
January 3, 2011 11:09:54 AM

if u have a good receiver, then use a chap ati graphics card to do the audio output (5xxx or higher)

get a good HDMI cable and it should be well good, that is only if ur receiver supports HDMI 1.3 or else u might as well get a soundcard that supports HD audio, but still sending it to a dedicated amplifier will always be better at your situation.
January 3, 2011 11:13:39 AM

bbtennis1 said:
I'm leaning to the AudioEngine 5 speakers right now...

Why is it that some sound cards have digital 'outs', but most good speakers don't have digital 'ins'. Why is that, if that is technically a better form of interfacing speakers and source?

the digital outs arent designed for it to be connected with a speakers 'didigtal input'.
January 3, 2011 11:17:34 AM

if u do decide on getting a high end souncard such as essence st/stx dont bother with the digital out, it will be a waste of money of the soundcard.
January 3, 2011 12:15:21 PM

1) If I go passive speakers, then getting better speaker for same amount of
money; But have to deal with finding space for the receiver(Yamaha RX-V492...not HDMI
not easy in this room)
2) If I go active speakers, then less hassle- no receiver to deal with; But less
sound quality for same amount of $. (?)

Staying w/ same sound card for now (Creative X-Fi) I have an excellent graphics card in computer... AMD/ATI Sapphire 5870.

On short list:
NHT Absolute Zero
Polk RTi4
JohnBlue JB3
Alpha B1
Monitor Audio BR-1
AudioEngine P4
AudioEngine 5(active)

Thoughts? Speaker budget.... @ $250>$350
January 6, 2011 12:29:34 AM

Think it's going to be the Swan M200 MkIII speakers... debating whether or not to put them on speaker stands to get more separation...
January 6, 2011 3:23:32 PM


*Will get new speakers

*Should I get the Xonar Essence STX too? (how much better than the X-Fi I have?)...I'm not an audiophile....

*Do I need a DAC?...What's more important in my rig, DAC or Xonar sound card?

* Is ideal to get all 3 items? Or, if can only afford 2, which, DAC or Xonar...