I need some pc speakers for my new build but not sure where to start. Can someone please help me decode specs. I would like to understand what I have onboard and what the argument would be for audio card. btw, I am not really a gamer, more of a movie watcher.
Here are onboard audio specs from asus for p8p67 ws revolution:
Realtek® ALC889 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- ASUS Noise Filter
- Coaxial and Optical S/PDIF out ports at back panel
1 x Coaxial S/PDIF out
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC
DTS Surround Sensation UltraPC delivers exceptional 5.1 surround experience through the most common PC audio setups - your existing stereo speakers or headphones. In addition to virtual surround, “Bass enhancement” provides stronger low frequency bass sound, and “Voice clarification” provides clear human dialogue even with loud background sound. With these technologies, you may experience a better home-theater audio with ease.
personally i dislike the realtech audio software but it works just fine for surround sound. i've had both integrated sound solutions and card-based solutions and i'd be hard pressed to say one sounded better. i can say that i liked my soundblaster software better though but that is a personal preference. i dont really use the software much anymore though since i use a dedicated receiver for sound.
you will see me recommend alot of logitech products here. this is because A) i've only owned logetech computer speakers and B) because i've never had a single issue with them. personally i think you should go for a 5.1 set if you watch alot of movies but thats just my opinion (since you're missing out on surround sound if you dont!)
i'll list a few ideas for you to ponder:
under $50 solution: logitech z313
i've heard this system and for a cheaper 2.1 system it sure does sound decent. enough volume to crank up the sound but remember its not going to top speakers double or triple its price.
under $100 solution: logitech z506
i've never heard this particular system but it should be around the same as the older logitech 5.1 system i had. i never noticed any major issues even up to ear-hurting volume levels. not the best speakers in the world but definitely more than equal to anything in its class.
under $500 solution: logitech z906
while i havent heard this set myself i believe it replaces the older model z series set of a similar price point. the older set was often highly recommended to people looking to spend this much on a pair of computer speakers. if you're looking to spend this much though perhaps you might want to think about an actual home theatre setup.
over $500 solution: home theatre receiver + sub + speakers
this is the type of setup i use. computer speakers sound good but are nothing compared with the type of speakers you find in the home theatre market. i'd avoid HTIB systems and pick out your own speakers if you go this route.
setup: 2.0, (possibly 2.1), (unlikely but not out of the question 5.1)
Thanks for suggestions. z506 sounds like a great setup for price. Will keep in mind if i start considering 5.1. Regarding integrated-solution vs card-based solutions. You said you couldn't tell difference in sound quality. Very sorry for my complete ignorance but can you elaborate a bit. So cards possibly provide more I/Os but I have spdif and more analog outputs than i need, so do they also have superior codecs--potenially? And regarding spdif outputs, are these strictly to connect to receivers for home theater setups or are there digital-in pc speakers out there i should be looking for?
looks like you're looking at either of the two lower end model i suggested. the speakers used in them arent half bad for the price. i havent heard the angular speakers made by logitech personally so i cannot give you an opinion there.
i'd go for a 2.1 over a 2.0 any day of the week. the sub really gives low cost speakers more bang for the buck.
i've used both integrated sound cards and seperate sound cards on the same computer with the same speakers before. i dont use a sound card EQ or sound effects so they sounded (almost) exactly the same to me. i have an asus rampage III mainboard right now hooked up to $1400 in speaker equipment... and it sounds perfectly fine. i dont find myself running out to get a soundcard any time soon.
as far as hardware differences i'm not sure. the bigger cards might be able to handle more amp draw or perhaps offer a cleaner signal (but this is just a guess). as far as I/O, possibly spdif and one or two more but thats it. there will be differences in the software (but thats usually brand based). perhaps the cards support additional 3d effects which may not be included on lesser integrated cards. for just general sound use though, integrated cards normally work fine: its your choice though.
i'm not aware of any pc speakers which connect via spdif. they would need some sort of box or module to translate the spdif signal back to a useable state. most connect via 3.5mm cables. spdif does connect to receivers and HTIB setups. for the level of speakers you're looking at, spdif isnt going to give you any improvement (even if you could get it).