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Advice on buying a 5.1 audio system

Last response: in Home Audio
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March 1, 2011 2:07:15 PM

I am building a Hi-Def Gaming & Media system with a computer (yet to buy - leaning towards Sandy bridge 2500K), display would be either a TV or a monitor (leaning towards an LCD/LED TV, preferably 120Hz). I would mainly use it for Movies & Music...gaming too (not hard core gamer).
My room dimension would be roughly around 10x12 in feet.
I am not looking to spend crazy money, budget within 1500$ (preferably 1000$) for the speakers & receiver included. Lesser would be wonderful, might be willing to push up a bit.

1. What choices do I have? Can i get a good system with this budget?
2. I presume a receiver is what I would need. Or should I look at an amplifier as the option?

I had a look at Bose Acoustimass, and from a few reviews that I came across
...marketing, promotion and hype rather than quality.
...not worth the money & better choices available.

Also had a look at Paradigm CT110, (costs around - 1200$ where I live :(  ), i guess amp not included.
March 2, 2011 3:11:41 AM

when you buy the right motherboard, the outputs for surround are already built on the board. You should be buying a quad core computer with plenty of RAM, and a PCIe16x video card installed.
Gigabyte board with an AMD processor is one of the better choices, but this includes surround outputs.
As far as speakers, the board supplies line level, not speaker level...
which means if you want to run powered speakers (computer speakers) they plug and play. There are a few Hi Fi speakers with a built in amp, but not many.
if you want to run HiFi speakers, (acoustamesss, klipsch horns, etc...) you gotta have an AMP between the computer and the speakers. This means a Power Amp, or an integrated amp, etc...
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March 2, 2011 3:34:25 PM

soundguruman said:
when you buy the right motherboard, the outputs for surround are already built on the board. You should be buying a quad core computer with plenty of RAM, and a PCIe16x video card installed.
Gigabyte board with an AMD processor is one of the better choices, but this includes surround outputs.
As far as speakers, the board supplies line level, not speaker level...
which means if you want to run powered speakers (computer speakers) they plug and play. There are a few Hi Fi speakers with a built in amp, but not many.
if you want to run HiFi speakers, (acoustamesss, klipsch horns, etc...) you gotta have an AMP between the computer and the speakers. This means a Power Amp, or an integrated amp, etc...


duh...dont u think u missed my question entirely :sarcastic: 
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March 3, 2011 2:57:45 PM

What am saying is that the system should be built around a multimedia computer, instead of a receiver. Let the computer supply the surround, not a receiver.

Here is an example system

Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Power Supply Shipping $ 8.53
Reason: efficient PCM design cuts power consumption and heat by 33%. $78.99
Note: 500 watt power will run this system, if the supply is rated continuous true power.

Gigabyte 890FX/SATA3&USB3.0/A&2GbE/ATX Motherboard GA-890FXA-UD5
Note: You want a motherboard with video card instead of onboard video, uses less system resources to maintain system speed. 1GB DDR5 video card memory minimum recommended.
Reason: PCIe 16X video support, advanced chipset, reliable manufacturer $179.99 Shipping $ 7.19

LG Electronics 10X Blu-ray SATA Writer Drive with Software WH10LS30K - Bulk (Black)
Reason: Highly rated, reasonable price, higher writing speed. $128.49 Shipping $5.49

Cmple HDMI Cable, 30 feet $ 9.49 Shipping $5.49
Note: Very expensive HDMI cables are a waste of money. You should be able to buy a good long cable for about $10, that’s certified and tested. Limit HDMI cable to 50 feet maximum.

Logitech Internet 350 USB Desktop Keyboard and Mouse $ 22.99 Shipping free

Hauppauge 1183 WinTV HVR-1600 Internal PCI Dual TV Tuner/Video Recorder Media Center Kit $99.24 Shipping $8.68
Reason: Highly rated dual input HDTV, NTSC, FM tuner with S video/audio inputs.
Note: It is recommended to use Windows Media Center instead of the supplied software, just load the drivers from the CD.

Windows 7 PRO 64 Bit System Builder 1pk $139.99 Shipping free
Reason: Media Center included, much better quality resolution video compared to XP, more advanced record playback features. Drivers are from supplied manufacturer CD’s or manufacturer’s websites. This version does not contain many hardware drivers.

Zalman ZM-MC1 Multi-connector PS to Add Fan $ 3.70 Shipping $6.88
Reason: provide 5,7,12 volt breakout connectors to control fan speeds.

2 X G.Skill Ripjaws F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL - Memory - 4 GB : 2 x 2 GB - DIMM 240-pin - DDR3 - 1600 MHz / PC3-12800 - CL9 - 1.5 V - unbuffered - non-ECC $229.96 Shipping $9.98
Reason: Provide excellent high speed RAM for 64 bit operating system, video, audio, photo, film editing, photoshop, scanning, increased support.

Antec Three Hundred Gaming Case External 3 X 5.25; Internal 6 X 3.5 2*Usb2.0
$ 53.38 Shipping $36.10
Reason: Better case will have plenty of high flow ventilation and spaces for fans. A standard “home theater” computer case will have very limited space and poor ventilation.

Fan 3 Wire to 3 Wire Y Connector $ 2.39 Shipping $4.88
Reason: split circuit for 2 cooling fans.

Phenom II X4 965 Black AM3 3.4Ghz 512KB 45NM 125W $179.99
NZXT CB-3F Sleeved 3-Pin Fan Extension Premium Cable $ 3.99
RADEON HD 5870 1GB DDR5 HDMI Graphics Card HD587XZNFC 379.99 Shipping $6.54
Reason: You will want the best HD graphics card, with HDMI output, for the highest resolution video quality, to interface to your HD wide screen TV. Dual output card allows hooking up computer monitor also.

2 of: Zalman ZM-F3 120mm Quiet Case Fan with Silicone Pins 9.99 shipping free

OEM Western Digital 74GB 10K VelociRaptor WD740HLFS $ 89.99 shipping 8.94
Reason: Fastest available drive for operating system and programs only. Use additional 1 TB drive for video download files and office files.

Computer Parts Totals 1602.57 108.70 SHIPPING PARTS

Also recommended peripherals…

Canon CanoScan 9000F Color Image Scanner $233.99 + 22.21 tax
Note: Scans negatives, film, pictures, documents, 9600 X9600 dpi shipping was free

Acer 24” WUXGA HD HDMI DVI VGA monitor $249.99
Shipping free







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March 5, 2011 3:54:14 AM

to help you save some money..
there are used graphics cards that have a transferable lifetime warranty.
maybe a used motherboard with a transferable lifetime warranty too.

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March 28, 2011 11:11:17 PM

The 2500k is a good choice.

With your budget what I would do is look around at the best buys and crutchfields of the world and see what kind of complete box systems you can buy for around $2000. Then go and get on e-bay or check some local pawn shops and see if you can find any of the systems you saw and usally you can get tham for about half of new.
In all honesty you do not have the budget for putting together a system of seperates (amp pre amp speakers) If you buy on ebay be sure to use paypal (gives you protection against bad stuff)
I have always bought high end professional gear myself but I buy them used! 1/2 price usually!
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March 29, 2011 12:06:01 AM

i still say jump on the bandwagon at parts express or madisound.
i seen the woofers i wanted on sale for $30 (marked down from $75)
http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber...

i would have bought four of them for my house and probably two of them for my car, but i dont have the money.


its best to grab the parts yourself and compare your project to other peoples.
kinda like racing a car with a turbo against a bunch of stock engines.
the price tag on speakers that have the same quality midranges are high.
for the same price, you can add a woofer and make your speakers 3-way.
if you buy 'em already made, they are 2-way.

its hard enough to teach people they need 3-ways for extended frequency response.

but i will say it again,
the frequency spectrum movies and music has is 20hz - 20khz
there is no reason why your speaker system shouldnt play all of those frequencies.
3-way speakers can play all of those frequencies without a subwoofer.
the bigger the woofer, the better your chances of playing all of those frequencies.

sometimes a company will take a 2-way system and add an extra tweeter instead of a woofer.
but people just dont get what they are missing unless they hear it.
trying to explain on a forum isnt always the most informative.
i try to stick to the frequency response.

people wouldnt buy a 1024x768 resolution monitor and expect it to play 1080p video..!
and i dont see why they make the same sacrifice with their speakers.
some speaker purchases are about the equivalent of 800x600 trying to play 1080p
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