Mar 15, 2013
I have a sound blaster z soundcard. I would like to get a 5.1 channel speaker system. I would like to have the speaker system working for my cable box, xbox, and bluray player as well. I am currently using the tv speakers for everything. Should I get a simple plug and play 5.1 set from a brand like logitech that connects directly to my soundcard(and if I do this will I be able to use it for my other appliances), or should I get a 5.1 av receiver and speakers separately. I'd like to make it clear that I would really like the best possible quality. My soundcard has three 3.5mm connections for 5.1 speakers, and also toslink spdif in and out connections. I don't exactly understand how I would go about connecting all of my speakers and devices, so as much information as possible would be greatly appreciated. I don't really have an idea of how much a system would cost, but I guess I'd be willing to spend up to about $600, maybe more if it's worth it. Thank you for taking the time to help me out if you can.
technically you have three options..

logitch z906 or z5500
-this can take either 3.5mm or optical spdif for sound. it will work great for any device with optical output (pc, game systems, any decent blueray player) but i'm not sure what your cable box outputs as.. if component you could probably use an adapter cable to use the 3.5mm ports. you could likely get it working fine but its not going to be as easy as a receiver option.

logitech z906 $294 (new model which replaces the z5500, good but not quite as good as the previous)

logitech z5500 $600 (because of popularity... its considered the best set for computer speakers)


-a receiver really gives alot of options and is the easiest to connect up and switch both your audio and video inputs at once however it is not a cheap option. unless you buy something really shoddy (HTiB sets or just bad speakers), used (can get some good deals), or lower down to a 2.1 or 3.1 to start (to save cash) its going to be hard to do it for $600. i said hard... but not impossible. there are a few diamonds in the rough to be found as i listed below.

energy take classic 5.1 $350
amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Energy-Classic-Theater-System-Black/dp/B001202C44
review: http://reviews.cnet.com/surround-speaker-systems/energy-take-classic-5/4505-7868_7-33310963.html

yamaha 5.1 receiver $360

of couse you could go with a cheaper receiver or a different brand. personally i like pioneer but i've heard onkyo is "alright" for low end. i've heard to avoid budget sony receivers.


computer speakers+switch+adapter cables

anything from logitech generally isnt terrible. you would need a switch which works with all of your devices and can output component audio that you would have to adapt to 3.5mm with cables. honestly its messy and not a very nice solution. its probably the cheapest solution however. i would say you could spend $200 for everything.

definitely not ideal. swapping sources wouldnt be much of a problem but you will have lots and lots and lots of wires and with all of the switching and adapter cables required sound quality might start to get affected.


my recommendations?

i would say receiver+ht speakers or possibly z906/z5500 as a second choice. you might want to look on ebay as well for good deals (i only quick searched amazon)


Mar 15, 2013

Thank you for your reply. I think I'd like to go with the receiver option. I would like to know if you think I should run all my devices through a receiver via hdmi passthrough(besides my computer, which would use toslink optical, I think) or use my tv as sort of a passthrough by using its toslink optical out to the receiver for every device. The receiver I'm thinking of getting one of these maybe?---
Pioneer VSX-822-K (You mentioned it is a good brand) $200 new amazon
Denon AVR-1513 (is it a good brand?) $200 new amazon

Also- regarding the speakers- would you recommend getting, say, the energy 5.1 set for their $350 price point, or possibly going for something of better quality in a 2.1 or 3.1 set and adding on more speakers later, maybe in a few months?

Last, should I go for used equipment on craigsilst? It seems that people are giving pretty good deals for audio stuff like this one? http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/ele/4105917483.html

PS: I forgot to mention, all my devices have hdmi( which could be used for hdmi passthrough on a receiver) and toslink optical.
And thanks again for your time and help.
i would suggest running all devices to the receiver with hdmi passthrough for video. unless of course you use a seperate monitor for your computer where optical may be a better solution. i use a single television for everything (ps3, ps2, pc) and this (all cables to avr first and hdmi passthrough) works out great. you output video and sound data from your video card on the pc by the way when you use hdmi (or even dvi-d)


buying better speakers would essentially be expanding your budget. yes, doing this will likely get you some better speakers overall.

a few other considerations for a prepackaged complete set of speakers...

ive heard that this set from pioneer is pretty good for being a budget set of speakers with a subwoofer but it needs a receiver still

the set from klipsch is also not terrible but is a bit more "placement touchy" than some other systems and works best in small rooms not large rooms. the energy take system might beat it.. not sure.

as far as picking out and buying high quality seperate speakers and sub and using them instead... that would definitely be a great idea to put together a nice sound system. however, this depends on what your total (over the course of a few months like you said) your budget will be.

for instance i could definitely recommend wharfdale 10.1 bookshelf speakers at about $200/pair combined with a half decent receiver. the trouble is that they are from overseas so arent really that cheap or easy to find. you could also go with some klipsch bookshelf speakers for $200-250/pair (personally i wanted to go with them or the floor speakers but they were out of budget! they sounded great to me).

again... depending on what your answer is for total budget it might sway the answer. let me know.


buying on ebay/craigslist can save some money for sure. even used isnt a bad idea if its in good condition. problem is you dont know until you get it and with craigslist you can get burned bad (they might not even work!!!). its also a hassle to return stuff on ebay (shipping costs) so its questionable.. unless theres a GOOD deal (and you always have ebay buyer protection unlike craigslist)

looks like what you listed actually doesnt get bad reviews except it states that it might just need a little extra power.

if he paid that much... there must be a reason he is selling so cheap.. which makes me wary. very wary. also at that price they are LOoooooong gone by now likely. good stuff cheap goes QUICK.


get back to me on those.

it might be easier to work a few things out in real time if you're in a decent time zone.

what time zone and what times are good for you?

i can start up a free session of freenode irc (web based)