Noobie to home audio: question about hooking up computer

Hi Everyone,

I want to take the leap into the world of home audio and step away from the standard computer speakers. I have this sound card:
Sound Card:
therefore those are my outputs!

I was going to go with a basic polk audio set-up to start due to budget and it was going to include a center speaker and two bookshelf speakers as well as a sub woofer:
l/r speakers:

Now where I get lost is the receiver. I understand the concept of the reciever but I have no idea which bands/ones are good for my use. Most of the time this system will be used for music and games and the occasional movie or two.

My question to you guys is broken down here:
1) What do you think about the speakers I have chosen?
2) Is what I want to do possible?
3) If its possible what receiver/cables would I need?

Thanks in advance, I hope a few of you guys decide to trudge through this with a noobie like me :D
6 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about noobie home audio question hooking computer
  1. anyone?
  2. are you planning on running a video feed through your receiver as well or are you just running audio?

    if you plan on running both then perhaps you might want to think about a dvi to hdmi cable (or hdmi to hdmi if you have hdmi out). if you have dvi out to get sound over the cable your video card must support this feature (sound out over dvi).

    if all you want is sound....i cant view shopping websites here so i dont know what ports you have on your sound hard, however the most ideal one to use would be s/pdif (optical) out to a s/pdif (optical) in on a receiver.

    as for receivers, i've heard it said to avoid low priced sony models as they arent reliable (but i have had no experience with them myself). figure out what inputs, features, and price ranges you want and go from there. remember to factor in any other equipment you might attach a few years down the road. i've heard a few positive things about onkyo, but again i have never dealt with them myself.

    listen to the speakers you plan to buy in person before you think about purchasing them. what i like in a speaker and what you like in a speaker will most likely differ. in general what you're doing by buying a 3.1 and maybe expanding later is what i would suggest if you're on a budget.

    i currently run both my audio and video through my pioneer vsx30 receiver using a dvi-hdmi cable which in turn connects to both my 40" tv and my klisph quintet iv (5.0) speakers and klipsch 450w subwoofer so yes... hooking a pc up to a receiver can be done and it really isnt that hard.


    as far as cables are concerned...

    you are probably going to need at least 1 spool of speaker wire depending on how big of an area you're doing. i ended up needing almost two spools for a 13x15 (approx) area for my 5.1 system.

    a subwoofer cable which length is determined by how far it is from your receiver. i have mine about 5-6 feet away, i'm using a 10 foot cable i think due to how i routed it.

    as far as connection from your pc to rec that is determined by if you want a/v or just audio. i'd suggest hdmi or a dvi to hdmi if video or a s/pdif if audio only. if you plan on going a/v then you're going to need something to connect from the rec to the screen. in general i'd probably go with an audio only setup unless you plan on hooking up a tv to your pc in the future (then i'd go with a/v).

    if your receiver or speakers can accept bannana clips (instead of twist or press type wire connections) you might want to think about using them. they will cost you more but they are (in my opinion) much nicer to deal with (once you actually get them on the wire that is!!)
  3. Thank you so much for the reply!

    I will be using it just for audio and the only thing I will be hooking up for now is my computer and maybe a record player in the future. I will make a trip to the speaker store asap before I purchase anything.

    So for connections it would be

    computer --> optical out --> receiver (optical in) -- > speakers

    Also when I am adjusting the audio volume should I adjust the volume on the computer or the receiver?
    Secondly whats an average wattage for a sub woofer and is that what determines its volume?
    Finally whats your opinion on creating a 3.1 system and moving towards a 5.1 once I can budget it?
  4. Best answer
    yeah, that connection scheme looks about right.

    you can do either. i normally just reach for the receiver knob since its close by.

    i'd say about 200-300w is average for lower end home theater systems. if you have a small room that should be more than enough. i myself use a 450w because i got it for the same price as the 350w ! talk about good deals.

    i'd recommend starting with a 3.1 if you're on a budget just keep in mind that if you wait a long time to upgrade (like 5 years or so) you might not be able to get speakers which are the exact same as the ones you purchase now which is only a problem is stuff like that bugs you.


    what i would suggest doing is to work out a budget number you want to stay under. remember that you're probably going to spend about 25% or more of your budget on the receiver and cables (as i wouldnt suggest buying good speakers and using a total junk receiver).
  5. Thanks again!
    Yea stuff like that totally bugs me I would probably have to wait about 6 months before getting the rear speakers so not too long.

    My general budget would be around 500-600 bucks. I am moving from logitech z5500s so I am pretty sure with that budget I should be able to get a decent 3.1 system!

    Yea my bedroom is fairly small so I will probably shoot for somewhere in that 200-300 watt range.

    Thanks so much for all your help!
  6. Best answer selected by bhk7594.
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