5.1 speakers with SPDIF input?

AlexanderDomin

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Dec 8, 2014
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Hello all,

I have a gaming rig that I plan to expand for use as a home theater PC, and I am having some trouble picking a soundcard. If I could find an inexpensive 5.1 speaker set with an SPDIF input, it would solve all my problems. However, the only similar thread I've found was from somebody with a radically different concept of "inexpensive" than my own.

Here is my situation...
■ I am leaning toward the ASUS Xonar Essence STX, as it has a built-in preamp and 6.5mm jack for my studio headphones. However, it does not have analog outputs for 5.1 audio, hence the need for a system with an SPDIF input.
■ Assuming I cannot find a reasonably inexpensive 5.1 system, I will likely go with the ASUS Xonar DX, as it has the more-common analog outputs and will still drive my headphones better than my onboard sound.

My stipulations...
■ I'd like the 5.1 SPDIF system to cost less than $300. If I spring for the Essence STX I'm not going to have much money left to throw around. A soundbar with virtual 5.1 surround will be fine, provided it has good sound quality and a SPDIF input.
■ I will not buy a standalone AV receiver. It would be needlessly expensive and complicated compared to my current setup. I also will not buy an external SPDIF-to-analog converter, as I could just buy the Xonar DX with analog output and get the same effect for much cheaper.

If anybody can give me some suggestions or insight here, I would love any feedback you can provide. If there are any audiophiles in the house, or anybody with direct experience with these cards, please feel free to chip in. If I'm way off base and there is a much better solution, by all means tell my why I'm wrong and what I should do instead.

Thanks again,
Alex
 
I know you dismiss a standalone AV receiver but a HTiB like this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-HT-S3500-5-1-Channel-Theater-Receiver/dp/B0077V88V8
is within your price range and will give you better and real surround sound for your money. If your mobo has digital audio out you don't need a new soundcard (for ht purposes). Could be used with other HT sources such as cable or OVA free TV. Will give you lossless digital surround with BD discs and files that have it.
It also gives you the option to upgrade the speakers if and when you want to. There may be a soundbar/sub that would work but I suspect it would be more expensive and still not give you real surround effects. Virtual surround, even on the best (which are way out of your budget), is not very good and sometimes positively annoying.
 
I know you dismiss a standalone AV receiver but a HTiB like this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-HT-S3500-5-1-Channel-Theater-Receiver/dp/B0077V88V8
is within your price range and will give you better and real surround sound for your money. If your mobo has digital audio out you don't need a new soundcard (for ht purposes). Could be used with other HT sources such as cable or OVA free TV. Will give you lossless digital surround with BD discs and files that have it.
It also gives you the option to upgrade the speakers if and when you want to. There may be a soundbar/sub that would work but I suspect it would be more expensive and still not give you real surround effects. Virtual surround, even on the best (which are way out of your budget), is not very good and sometimes positively annoying.
 

bigpinkdragon286

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Oct 3, 2012
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I read through your post and find myself confused. You talk about "analog outputs" and then say the lack thereof causes a need for "SPDIF input." Did you mean to say that you want the card to be able to feed your current audio equipment via SPDIF output, or do you really want the audio equipment in your computer to receive SPDIF input, such as for recording, mixing, or redirection purposes?
 

AlexanderDomin

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Dec 8, 2014
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The card I am looking at has only SPDIF output for surround, so I would like the surround system itself to have an SPDIF input. Sorry for the hazy wording.
 

AlexanderDomin

Estimable
Dec 8, 2014
7
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Thanks for the feedback, I haven't seen this one yet and it looks like it may be my best option. For the record, my mobo (M5A99FX) only has analog 5.1 out.
To play Devil's Advocate here, do you have any idea how the sound quality of the HT-S3500 might compare to the Logitech z906? My TV connects directly to the PC via HDMI, and I will be playing movies exclusively from my onboard Blu-Ray drive or media server. I have no plans to get cable or add any additional devices, so I would consider shelling out an extra $70 to avoid having a receiver on my desk if the difference in sound quality is negligible.
This is my first attempt at a home theatre build though, so pardon my ignorance and feel free to shoot me down.
 

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