5.1 pc speakers vs 5.1 home theater speakers? Confused about similar pricing?

--jr--

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Why are say the Logitech Z506 or Creative t6300 or (the one i would buy) Microlab fc360 5.1 all around the same price and around under 100watts where as a cheap home theatre 5.1 system with dvd/blu-ray are only a little bit more but are up to 300 or 500 or 1000watts? Are the ratings different for home theatre or PC speaker systems?

I have a gaming pc which will be plugged into a plasma

I was going to buy the Microlab FC360 when I saw 5.1 home theatre systems (with bluray) with 8x the wattage for not much more money

My motherboard has 8channel jacks and optical/coax outputs

What would you recommend and are these home theater systems really that much better and more powerful and better for gaming than these pc speaker systems?

Thanks
 
i would not say anything in the $89 range has insanely high audio quality be it pc speakers or home theater speakers. if such systems are considered good i'd love to know how higher end systems compare. typically speakers for low end systems like this are all cheap plastic enclosed boxes with speaker wire hanging out the back. the dvd player is a combo receiver/amp/dvd player which is often quite limited. i am not saying that such systems will not work (they can and do work fine in many cases however may not be the best solution for everyone.

for reference 100gbp=150usd
anything i state as 100gbp is in pounds, anything i state as $150 is in us dollars.

z506 5.1 $99
t6300 5.1 $79
fc360 2.1 49gbp
bh6220s 5.1 279gbp

both the creative and logitech speaker choices you listed are very good in terms of sound quality for a low budget. they arent going to win any awards for performance but for that price range you shouldnt expect them too. they will fill a small room with good sound at least as good if not better than home theater systems of the same price range.

from what i could find out on the microlab set it provides some decent sound for a small budget 2.1 set. it should be comparable to the $40 2.1 sets logitech offers but definitely is alot nicer looking. its hard to call how good they will sound without hearing them in person really.

the lg looks like typical htib sets which i always avoid. they do work but you need to really watch what you are buying. as you said this is out of your budget anyways. even if you did have the budget for this set i would suggest looking for individual components instead as there are very few sets with a few notible exceptions that are any good. technically they can and do work but there are better choices out there.+

since you listed GBP i will assume you are in the UK

used complete z-5500 5.1 set on ebay uk for only 169gbp. generally this is regarded as the best set logitech made and is on par with many moderate quality home theater systems. brand new i know these retailed for $500 to $600 in the usa and it can be hard to come across them. you may be able to find them used or refurbished elsewhere so have a look around.

used z906 5.1 set on ebay uk for only 99gpb. generally this is regarded as the second best set made by logitech. this one is missing the subwoofer not sure how you feel about that. you may be able to get a subwoofer to work with the unit but i'd have to take a look at how the original subwoofer connects up to the set to know for sure.

sony floor standing speakers on ebay uk for only 56gbp. i know they usually come 2 in a box not sure about the ad as its not listed but should be for two. i gifted a pair of ss-f5000 which should be similar to my parents and they are very loud (no need for a subwoofer) but audio quality as actually suprisingly good. if you are okay with 2.0 sound you could hook this up with an amplifier or receiver and come out just a little over budget. they are tower speakers though and will take up room on the floor.

logitech x530 5.1 set on ebay uk for 49gbp brand new. i bought this exact speaker set 10 years ago for my first homebuilt computer and in fact i still have them on a spare pc. these speakers arent going to win any awards for sure but for the price they definitely offer very good performance for the dollar. its a 5.1 set for a comparable price to the microlab 2.1 set so as far as a price standpoint goes its good. i've watched movies with the set personally and while not anywhere near as good as my $1500 sound system i currently use is definitely worth every dollar i spent on it (i think it was $80-100 new when i bought it)

---------

if you want brand new it seems that the creative t6300 or logitech z506 would work perfectly well for what you need and are in your budget.

if you dont mind used and do not mind spending a little more the z5500 is as audiophile range as pc speakers go. they are comparable if not better in quality than $700 and under htib sets.

if you want cheap and 5.1 then the x530 which i've personally used is not a bad choice. perhaps not as good as the higher end creative or logitech sets mentioned but its a cheap 5.1 set that doesnt kill the budget.

if you dont mind looking for a subwoofer the z906 set might be worth looking into. of course i would prefer to get everything all-in-one without having to look for a subwoofer.

if 2.0 or 2.1 is okay with you and you dont mind using a receiver then the sony floorstanding speakers may be a good idea. as i said before my parents use the lower end model and they are great (at the price they were it makes me think i spent too much on my smaller speakers!) and loud enough to not need a subwoofer. you may go over budget a little getting a receiver but you can always buy more speakers in the future as time goes on to build a 5.1 set over a year or two.

--------

any ideas you like?







 

Bejusek

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Check if the power is specified in RMS. I think that manufacturer specified it in PMPO.
They are hardly comparable. PMPO is BS and I would avoid speakers from companies that specify their products power this way.
 

jemm

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I have had the same dilemma -- ended up going with the 5.1 home theater.

You can get a 7.1 sound system (home theater) to match your motherboard audio capabilities, but pay attention to the way it should be connected to each other.
 

ingtar33

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PC specific sound systems are all massively overpriced.

I went with a home sound solution because of the far higher quality and much lower prices... the result is i'm running my video AND sound through a Sony, Blu-ray DVD player which is connected to a 5.1 DDS speaker system, the DVD/Sound system and speakers cost me $89, i got a 300W system with insanely high audio quality, an awesome BluRay player (computer blu-ray is still a mess), and a remote control to control the whole media experience, all for 1/5 the price of a similar sound only computer solution which wouldn't have a blu-ray player

everyone who hears the sound this system produces is generally envious. So yeah... i would say that commercial non-pc specific hardware is as good or far superior to the pc specific hardware at a much lower price.
 
what is your preferred budget? max budget?
do you prefer new or is used okay?
what do you plan on using the speakers for? ie music, games, movies.
what are your space constraints?
do you need 2.0, 2.1, 5.1, 7.1? ie do you need surround sound or not
would a higher quality 2.0 or 2.1 set be preferred over a lower quality surround sound set?
what size is your room and mounting location?
do you intend to use other perepherals or not?

you cannot always go by rms wattage ratings. while a higher wattage speaker will be louder it may also sound worse than a low wattage but higher quality speaker.

the more you get for a lower price typically the lower quality as well. i've seen quite a few of the low cost htib solutions and they are very shoddy construction and arent really all that impressive in terms of sound quality. even $40 logitech speakers have better build quality then some of the cheap htib sets.

also keep in mind that ht systems often have more powerful subwoofers which greatly boost the total wattage figure. for example my speaker system has a total of 275w rms but with my 450w subwoofer my total rises to 725w if i used the 350w subwoofer my total would only be 625w.

computer speakers will hook right up to your pc soundcard and will work perfect right out of the box. with htib speaker sets the ideal hookup is via dvi-to-hdmi or a hdmi cable out of your video card to the receiver. keep in mind that some htib receivers do not allow aux connections or may not give surround sound via aux connections. provided your soundcard has enough power to drive the speakers you could use 3.5mm to speaker wire connections but it would involve some fancy splice work for all the channels since ht speakers are all split apart and pc speakers share common ports.

----------

this is what i personally use... a 275w 5.0 satelite speaker set, 450w sub and receiver connected up via dvi-to-hdmi. 725w total and the receiver allows me to swap audio sources easy. these are medium quality speakers so they are out of your budget but there are definitely good options available to you depending on what your budget and expectations are. at first glance it does appear that you should have enough budget to get a good system but without exact numbers and without knowing your needs it is hard to say. this is why i provided a short questionaire for you to fill out.




 

--jr--

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Thank you very much for your reply, I really appreciate it
I'll try and answer those questions as best I can (currently typing on mobile i will update on pc when I get home)

Budget: I'm a student and I'm not looking to spend too much over £100
The Microlab (a brand I've heard good things about) fc360 5.1 is about £85 and would be my proffered choice for pc speakers
I've seen a bluray 3d 5.1 theatre systems going for around £130 with much higher wattage although it's not clear whether this is Rms or not

New/used: I was looking at used, but I decided I would like new (or refurbished ) as long as it has some kind of warranty

2.1/5.1: I was really looking forward to the idea of proper surround sound, as it's main use will be pc gaming. I already have a set of what we're very reasonable but surprisingly good 2.1 speakers which if i got the Microlab 5.1 speaker I would use the 2.1 as a set of rear speakers for a total of 7.1/7.2
My mobo has 3.5mm jacks and a digital/optical/coax output
Im not sure whether this would be doable with the bluray theatre system as I only know you can do this if it's through jacks, I'm not sure if you can have optical/coax for 5.1 to bluray AND 3.5mm jack to rear speakers at the same time
5.1 surround is my priority.

The room I'll be using it in isn't that big at all, it's pretty square and there will be places to place the speakers correctly I imagine

And what do you mean by other peripherals? The sound system will be used pretty much solely for my gaming pc... It would be nice to have have a bluray player, but to be honest it would just be a bit of a novelty

I'm not too much of an audiophile but i really dislike it when some speakers, even when there more powerful, aren't as clear and crisp, and speech in movies is hard to hear for example. (my current 2.1 altec lansing speakers were only £25 and i preferred them to and expensive base set my dad gave me)

Basically my question is, how can/can you compare the following two modules;

LG bh6220s
Microlab fc360 5.1

Please take into account that the LG is out of my price range but serves as an example of something that immediately on paper seems much better (maybe because it's not rms?)

Looking forward to hearing your solutions, and again thanks everyone for answering so far!
 

--jr--

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May i ask what model it is and how much it was? And what pc speaker sets you were looking at?

I appreciate your response I just worry that as another member said, the build quality for these home theatre systems can sometimes not be as good despite the 'higher specs' resulting in lower sound quality

Cheers,

Jr
 

ingtar33

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here are some solutions i've got for you.

Samsung HT-EM35 Home Theater System
RCA RTB1016 Blu-ray Home Theater System

I got a

Sony BDVE2100 3D Blu-ray Home Theater System; for sale around xmas from walmart for $110

neither of the other two are perfect, though you should be able to find both inside your price range, with good speakers and connectivity. The sony i lucked into around xmas, with a little searching you might find it inside your price range.
 
i would not say anything in the $89 range has insanely high audio quality be it pc speakers or home theater speakers. if such systems are considered good i'd love to know how higher end systems compare. typically speakers for low end systems like this are all cheap plastic enclosed boxes with speaker wire hanging out the back. the dvd player is a combo receiver/amp/dvd player which is often quite limited. i am not saying that such systems will not work (they can and do work fine in many cases however may not be the best solution for everyone.

for reference 100gbp=150usd
anything i state as 100gbp is in pounds, anything i state as $150 is in us dollars.

z506 5.1 $99
t6300 5.1 $79
fc360 2.1 49gbp
bh6220s 5.1 279gbp

both the creative and logitech speaker choices you listed are very good in terms of sound quality for a low budget. they arent going to win any awards for performance but for that price range you shouldnt expect them too. they will fill a small room with good sound at least as good if not better than home theater systems of the same price range.

from what i could find out on the microlab set it provides some decent sound for a small budget 2.1 set. it should be comparable to the $40 2.1 sets logitech offers but definitely is alot nicer looking. its hard to call how good they will sound without hearing them in person really.

the lg looks like typical htib sets which i always avoid. they do work but you need to really watch what you are buying. as you said this is out of your budget anyways. even if you did have the budget for this set i would suggest looking for individual components instead as there are very few sets with a few notible exceptions that are any good. technically they can and do work but there are better choices out there.+

since you listed GBP i will assume you are in the UK

used complete z-5500 5.1 set on ebay uk for only 169gbp. generally this is regarded as the best set logitech made and is on par with many moderate quality home theater systems. brand new i know these retailed for $500 to $600 in the usa and it can be hard to come across them. you may be able to find them used or refurbished elsewhere so have a look around.

used z906 5.1 set on ebay uk for only 99gpb. generally this is regarded as the second best set made by logitech. this one is missing the subwoofer not sure how you feel about that. you may be able to get a subwoofer to work with the unit but i'd have to take a look at how the original subwoofer connects up to the set to know for sure.

sony floor standing speakers on ebay uk for only 56gbp. i know they usually come 2 in a box not sure about the ad as its not listed but should be for two. i gifted a pair of ss-f5000 which should be similar to my parents and they are very loud (no need for a subwoofer) but audio quality as actually suprisingly good. if you are okay with 2.0 sound you could hook this up with an amplifier or receiver and come out just a little over budget. they are tower speakers though and will take up room on the floor.

logitech x530 5.1 set on ebay uk for 49gbp brand new. i bought this exact speaker set 10 years ago for my first homebuilt computer and in fact i still have them on a spare pc. these speakers arent going to win any awards for sure but for the price they definitely offer very good performance for the dollar. its a 5.1 set for a comparable price to the microlab 2.1 set so as far as a price standpoint goes its good. i've watched movies with the set personally and while not anywhere near as good as my $1500 sound system i currently use is definitely worth every dollar i spent on it (i think it was $80-100 new when i bought it)

---------

if you want brand new it seems that the creative t6300 or logitech z506 would work perfectly well for what you need and are in your budget.

if you dont mind used and do not mind spending a little more the z5500 is as audiophile range as pc speakers go. they are comparable if not better in quality than $700 and under htib sets.

if you want cheap and 5.1 then the x530 which i've personally used is not a bad choice. perhaps not as good as the higher end creative or logitech sets mentioned but its a cheap 5.1 set that doesnt kill the budget.

if you dont mind looking for a subwoofer the z906 set might be worth looking into. of course i would prefer to get everything all-in-one without having to look for a subwoofer.

if 2.0 or 2.1 is okay with you and you dont mind using a receiver then the sony floorstanding speakers may be a good idea. as i said before my parents use the lower end model and they are great (at the price they were it makes me think i spent too much on my smaller speakers!) and loud enough to not need a subwoofer. you may go over budget a little getting a receiver but you can always buy more speakers in the future as time goes on to build a 5.1 set over a year or two.

--------

any ideas you like?







 

--jr--

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Thanks again for replying...

A few things i should say and should maybe have said before
1. A remote control is a top priority (hence why i didn't look at x530s and why Microlab stood out for me)
2. The microlab im talking about is the 5.1 edition
http://www.microlab.cn/product_detail.asp?id=369&bigclassid=15&smallclassid=63
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Microlab-FC360-5-1-Speaker-System/dp/B007BZS8OC/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1370047450&sr=8-5&keywords=microlab

I saw those Z906 last week when i was prowling ebay, and was very put off by the lack of subwoofer as it would be hard to source another one.

Could you please elaborate on the following....
they do work but you need to really watch what you are buying
What should i look out for?

What about the Sony BDVE190 htib?

As ingtar33 mentioned and i read online in a review about the LG:
(If you)... fall back to the digital optical audio input, you’ll lose out on Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio if you do.
What practically does this mean for the sound from games/movies played through my PC?

Again looking forward to hearing your responses,

--jr--
 

--jr--

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The blu-ray 5.1 DDS system i'm running my sound through has both an optical input and an hdmi input. HDMI can transmit sound just as good as optical cables. Its not complicated to run my video and sound through the system. i just run the hdmi output to my blu-ray receiver... then run an hdmi from the blu-ray to the monitor, and the speakers to the blu-ray. then chose to display the feed/sound from the hdmi input. Not hard. no fancy setups needed, or special software... all plug and play
the LG has no HDMI input, so you'll need two video input cables for your monitor and swap between the feeds if you're watching something on the blu-ray. Its restricted to optical, but apparently won't play DD TrueHD sound through an optical (not sure why they gimped it like that. That said if you want surround (5.1) you'll be forced to use the optical as there is no other digital input option. Generally i'd say it's a pretty poor option.
The micro-lab has no digital input which means you'll be forced to use the multitude of audio plugs to get 5.1 sound out of it, that said the speakers, though soft and quiet (under-powered) apparently are also crisp and clean sounding.
I'm very happy (if not more comfortable) using a multitude of audio plugs, as it would make it easier to expand to 7.1 in the future.

here are some solutions i've got for you.
Samsung HT-EM35 Home Theater System
RCA RTB1016 Blu-ray Home Theater System
I can't find the Samsung online, nor the RCA one in the UK? Do you have any other suggestions of something which is better thant he Microlab FC360 5.1?
As i mentioned in my other post, what do you think of the: Sony BDVE190?

Also just in case you didn't realise, like other people may not have, there are several Microlab FC360 versions and i'm talking about the 5.1 version (the 2.1 version has various reviews online about it).

Again thanks for your response and looking forward to hearing back from you!

--jr--
 
i'm not an audio guru but what i've heard is that spdif cannot support uncompressed audio above 2.1 which means that you can get normal compressed dolby audio but not the better sounding uncompressed audio. unless you have good speakers you probably wouldnt notice.

what i meant by watch what you buy is that the vast majority of HTIB sets i would avoid like the plague. they are often cheaply built with a crappy dvd/receiver combination unit that is just asking for trouble. the only sets which i personally would recommend are ones which include a dedicated receiver unit and a matched speaker set from a major brand. this is not to say that cheaper HTIB sets do not work (they do) but i personally do not feel that they are worthwhile.

i was hoping the z906 would be able to take a different subwoofer since it had a control deck however after looking in depth it doesnt seem like it does.

what were your thoughts on the z5500 which looked complete?

if you absolutely must have a remote then you are strictly limited to either HTIB sets, receivers and speakers or high end audio sets like the z5500/z906 (i think both come with controllers but you may want to check). you could also get a remote controller for windows which works with media player instead if you wanted to go that route.

again, you can pick any product you want i'm just letting you know my thoughts. generally i list products that i myself would personally buy if in the same situation so i tend to be very discerning in my recommendations.
 

--jr--

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The z5500 isn't available anymore, I will have another look for it before it make my final decision but I think you have put me off the HTIB systems and i'll probably go for the Microlab FC360/5.1, unless you can think of any explicit reason not to?

again, you can pick any product you want i'm just letting you know my thoughts. generally i list products that i myself would personally buy if in the same situation so i tend to be very discerning in my recommendations.
And i really am taking into account all this info and am very appreciative of it.

Thanks again,

Jamie
 
the z5500 on ebay had about a day left if i remember so yes the auction should now be closed. it was a good 50-60% off brand new retail prices though which was great and why i listed it. good deal but not the end of the world.

note that i said the vast majority of htib sets. this is not to say that there arent a few jewels in the rough however you would need to double or triple check to make sure they will work how you want them to. i am sure that there are some out there that will work but i dont know of any personally i can recommend except as i said the higher end models with a dedicated receiver unit. perhaps look for one of those used on ebay.

the fc360 is listed as a 100w system. it will not have the output power of high watt systems however for a small room you really do not need all of this. i have a small room and my subwoofer is turned down to 20% and my volume rarely gets above 1/3. for a smaller set of speakers you may be using more output power in terms of a percentage but it should fill a small room just fine. i think the cheap logitech 5.1 set i had before was rated at something around 5-10w per speaker only and it worked in a small room fine as well.

look at the back panel with me for a minute (fc-360)



note the inputs.

pc soundcards output LF&RF on one 3.5mm jack, C&SUB on one 3.5mm jack and LR&RR on one 3.5mm jack.

the fc360 has inputs which use two RCA jacks (2 channels) per speaker.

you will need to split the L and R channels off the 3.5mm and adapt it to RCA but it should work fine.

if you really want to go for the fc360 5.1 and are happy with the output i dont see anything particularly wrong with it. it has decent reviews for sound quality, it doesnt have a funky combo dvd/receiver box but straight inputs and it should be powerfull enough for a small room. the only negative is that it takes 6 component cables and not 3 3.5mm cables however a simple splitter/adapter cable will fix this.

i would go for an all in one cable like the one below to minimize connections (each extra connection point degrades signal)



buy whatever length you need to suit your arrangement. you would need 3 such cables.



EDIT:

on the rear panel the specs are listed as 220v. i am not sure if this is supposed to be the input voltage (from the wall plug) or the post-transformer voltage. i know here in america we use 110v and 220v is only for electric ovens and other such appliances. i am not sure what the UK power standard is. please do check this out. my guess is that since it is marketed in the UK everything is fine but this is important enough to warrant special attention
 

--jr--

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Hey there, yeah I was fully aware of the nature of the inputs and cabling wise I would be fine.
An advantage of this over digital /coaxial is that I could easily plug in my 2.1 speakers into the rear jack and have the computer producing 7.1 sound (with a subwoofer for rear also). I'm not sure how well this would work if it would at all with some channels through optical and some through jacks.

And yeah America is one of the few places that uses 110-120v. So that shouldn't be an issue.

The room it will be used in really is quite small... 2.5m by 3m or so and to be honest clarity and clearness is a huge factor for me and I feel this can be lost on more powerful (but cheaper) htib sets.

I'll probably go for the Microlab and if you're interested I'll post a mini review here too

Cheers for your help ssddx, you're a sir.
 
optical?
most 2.1 pc speaker sets are 3.5mm which would plug into the side or rear surround ports provided you have 7.1 capability on your soundcard or motherboard. personally i wouldnt do it as there really isnt much demand for 7.1 sound and they arent matched to the other speakers but you can do it if you want.

wow... that is definitely a small room (8x10ft approx). i know what you mean about sound quality over volume. although my room is a bit larger (12x14ft or so) my system really isnt as powerfull as even some cheaper HTIB sets. as far as sound quality is concerned its top notch (as it damn well should be for $1500). i will admit i'm addicted to my receiver. since i use multiple inputs swapping back and forth is a knob turn away.

it definitely wouldnt hurt to post a mini review on the set here on the forums if you felt like it. your choice.

i try... now how about a taddy porter for effort! i jest of course but definitely a good stout beer from tadcaster uk!

good luck.
 

tss

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--jr-- did you end up buying the microlab FC360 5.1? I'm also looking for a 5.1 set, although to use for a larger room, and primarily for ps3 and film use.

How have you found it? Any feedback on sound quality? How is the subwoofer? Thanks in advance!
 
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