5.1 Surround Sound on a PC (AV recievers, logitechs) general questions

Acelondoner

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Hello guys!

I recently went and purchased the Logitech z906 bundle and a Creative Z sound card for my PC so I could try 5.1 surround sound. Had it running for about a month now and am finding I really like 5.1 surround sound.

However, I am not very happy with some parts of the logitech setup. Mainly the satelites, they look awful/cheap and they don't sound crisp, quite muffled actually compared with my previous 2.1 speakers (Creative Gigaworks T40's) http://. I also don't like how cheap the central unit feels and am worried it's going to pack up before long which will render the whole setup dead.

Anyway, I want to get a proper 5.1 system. Thing is, there are some areas I am confused about when it comes to av receivers. Specifically, If I was to buy an av receiver, I assume it would be best to connect to the PC through HDMI. BUT, I have a 1440p monitor and from what I've read, the HDMI connections on those receivers only allow for strict resolutions (1080p,4k etc). Then there is what I suspect will be added input lag while going through a receiver too. To be honest, I would just prefer to pass the audio through the receiver alone, not the video. Can you do that with av receivers?

Next thing. All I have is the PC. No consoles, TV, Blu ray players or anything like that. So the av receiver seems like overkill and all the fluff ups the cost but I don't need any of it. Is an av receiver actually what I absolutely need to have 5.1 with decent speakers on a PC?

Another thing. One thing I do like about the logitech setup is that it has an option on the (not sure the proper term :pt1cable:) central unit/amp thingy to change to quad audio output (stereo out of front two speakers, stereo out of back two, subwoofer enabled) center speaker disabled. I really like this option and use when I have media which is not in 5.1, music too. It helps fill the room. Do av receivers come with the same ability? I would miss it for sure.

What are your options for 5.1 on a PC with decent speakers?
 

Acelondoner

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@jsmith
I ended up getting a good deal on a used Denon receiver 125w per channel. In the end I decided not to go with the Tannoy's. Instead, I have gone and purchased a pair of Monitor Audio Bronze 2's

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Monitor-Audio-Bronze-2-Walnut/dp/B002LPTH92/ref=pd_bxgy_23_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=TN9HKM3HPBTV17ACP6ZY

and a matching MA Bronze center speaker

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000GJEUP6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


I will later go on to buy the surrounds and a sub once I can pony up the rest of the dough.
 
If you have no intention of hooking up anything else, xbox, chromstick, Stand-alone bluray player, Roku etc, an AV Receiver is indeed a little of a waste. IF YOU ARE CERTAIN OF THIS... then I'd stick with what I call PC Speakers Sets, speakers designed primarily for PC, just get away from Creative, Logitech, is my opinion and am not going to explain. I like Klipsch, check them out.

What surround materials are you playing? Have a BluRay drive in the PC?

Playing stereo materials on all speakers, unfortunately is called by different names by different vendors, so once you pick whatever you like, you have to ask if such particular feature exist.

An AV Receiver is most flexible, allows hookup of lots other things (expandable), but at current time, you are right, 4k compliant receivers are too new, I would sit and watch until they work out the bugs. Instead of hooking up HDMI to receiver (for audio), a Toslink connection *should* work, but I can't guarantee you no sync prob.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
quite simply most home theater speakers will make pc speakers look far inferior. of course price is also increased as well. there are a few notable sets (t40 you had for instance) which are known to be good for the price but 2.0 powered speakers compete with them and often are better for just a bit more investment.

technically no, a receiver is not needed but an amplifier is. a multi channel amplifier however is very expensive as there are no real entry level options since this type of setup normally is only for extreme hifi. a receiver can be had for $200 on up hence why its suggested even if its overkill. a receiver is basically a dac (digital to analog converter), a source selector and an amplifier in one box.

receivers often have what you mentioned about pushing to other speakers. on pioneer units its called ext stereo.

you do not need to route video through the receiver. you can hook up via hdmi for audio-only feed (it shows up on your pc as a display connected with no resolution settings) and not worry about other than 1080/4k resolutions. optical is of course another option but of lesser quality and more potential troubles.

the cheap way out? htib sets. the trouble is that not all are surround input and you will be extremely limiting yourself later on. not to mention if the amp/control box/dvd player unit fails you're screwed as the speakers may be 2 or 4 ohm impedance which do not play well with most receivers which are often rated for 6 or 8 ohm impedance speakers.

i use a klipsch 5.1 setup myself.
 
If your PC has digital audio output then that connection will work fine to an AV receiver. They all have that kind of input. The only audio that won't pass through that connection are lossless BD codecs like Dolby TrueHD.
Most people using a surround receiver don't use all the functions but since they are made in larger quantities than more specialized products/
You could get a used older surround receiver without HDMI. These go cheaply and can be great sounding. You need one that has digital inputs. An older $1000 receiver might sell for $150-200 since it can't be used in the average av system but would work great in your simple setup.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
@aa
mostly true but it should be noted that not all computer motherboards onboard audio will output more than 2.0 over optical. some do not have the required support on the software end of things to allow this. all receivers (other than the ones in some htib sets) do support such things though and it is true that many modern motherboard onboard audio doe support this.
 

Acelondoner

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Jul 7, 2013
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@jsmith Yes, I have a Blu-ray drive, tv, music and gaming all on the PC. Thus, DTS and Dolby decoding is required but I assume most av receivers have those. With the Logitech's, my sound card currently does the decoding.

Some great information here guys!

- Pretty much, an AV receiver is needed if I want decent speakers connected to a PC. Seems like a big expense but ok.
- Audio alone can be passed through HDMI to an av receiver without needing video. Great!
- Some av receivers have the ability to switch to 4.1 mirrored stereo, not all. Ok, some research required here I guess.

I'm thinking about the tannoy HTS-101 XP's https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tannoy-HTS101XP-5-1-Speaker-System/dp/B004WAI1BO
While small like the Logitech satelites, they should provide more clarity than the Logitech's I hope. They seem to be reviewed well and are 8 ohms so should be compatible with a decent amount av receivers.

On the av receiver front, I'm going to look for one that has as little fluff as possible, allows changing to 4.1 and one which powers audio in standby mode.
 
These Tannoy... looking at their backs reveals a lot... tells me only the sub is powered, the other 5 speakers need to be amplified.... and your PC is not gonna do it, at least not with enough to provide any fidelity.... and it kinda expensive.

If you gonna skip the receiver, I (personally) want to see a 6 channels amplifier inside the sub enclosure.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
an av receiver is needed when connecting passive (unpowered) speakers up. most home theater branded products are generally unpowered. its certainly possible however to use powered speakers to create a setup and avoid using a receiver while using your soundcard to connect to them since they do not need an amplifier. i'm not aware of any 5.1 sets but you could pair a few 2.0 kits together and buy a sub seperate. prices might not be much different than just getting a kit + avr though so i did not mention doing that.

i'm not sure what is good for cheap in the uk. the energy 5.1 classic / monoprice 10565 clone are good in the states for cheap but i dont think they are available for under 350usd if at all in uk.

the cheap sony receivers are often good enough. we have one in the other room and while it was 200usd or less it has held up.
 

Acelondoner

Honorable
Jul 7, 2013
7
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10,520
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@jsmith
I ended up getting a good deal on a used Denon receiver 125w per channel. In the end I decided not to go with the Tannoy's. Instead, I have gone and purchased a pair of Monitor Audio Bronze 2's

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Monitor-Audio-Bronze-2-Walnut/dp/B002LPTH92/ref=pd_bxgy_23_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=TN9HKM3HPBTV17ACP6ZY

and a matching MA Bronze center speaker

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B000GJEUP6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


I will later go on to buy the surrounds and a sub once I can pony up the rest of the dough.
 
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