Looking to beef up my PCs sound system

Chris Byatt

Sep 30, 2013

I've got a pretty high end gaming PC which I spent all my money on. Now I've saved up a bit more and I'm looking to finish it off. I know I need to stick a sound card in it (was thinking an asus xonar phoebus solo), and I'm looking for a set of surround speakers to match the card.

I don't mind 5.1 or 7.1. The difference is negligible. Whichever set has better sound. I'm also well aware that using a home surround rather than a PC surround will give a much better result so I'm looking more towards those sorts of systems. Hopefully one suited for gaming, films and music.

In an ideal world... http://vintageking.com/barefoot-sound-micromain-35-5-1-system-single-sub
A friend of mine has a pair of these and my god they are the best sound I have ever heard. Clearly they are way out of budget though!

What about this? 5.1 surround with 4 vertical speakers
honestly i would not suggest home theater in a box (HTiB) sets as they are typically poorly built junk and the receiver combination blueray player often has very limited connectivity.

i would instead suggest buying some speakers , a sub and a receiver or amplifier seperately and building a system.

of course this depends on your budget.

my budget was around $1500 a few years back when i decided to get my setup.

pioneer elite vsx-30 receiver ($550)
klipsch quintet iv 5.0 satelite speakers ($500
klipsch sw-450 $350




complete specs...

Equipment: 40" sony bravia lcdtv
pioneer vsx-30 receiver
klipsch quintet iv 5.0 speakers
klipsch 450w subwoofer
ps3, ps2, xs1300 apc
corsair obsidian 800d
asus rampage iii extreme rog
mushkin redline 3x2gb
evga gtx470
samsung 840 pro 512gb ssd
wd caviar black 2tb x2
corsair hx1000
win7 pro
2x dvd 1x br drives
lamptron 6ch fan control

for a budget of around $500 you'd probably be better off buying a z906 or z-5500 if you can still find one provided you want surround sound.

if you were okay with stereo sound and wanted high quality speakers you could get some nice bookshelf speakers and an amplifier for that price.

technically a HTiB solution would likely "work" but you might have an issue with connectivity so would have to verify before buying that it can in fact be connected with hdmi or optical to your pc.

if you were to go that route.... you do NOT need to buy a soundcard. doing so would be a waste of money completely. the only reason you would need a soundcard is if you needed optical spdif or coax spdif outputs as your mobo doesnt have one or if you connected up via 3.5mm plugs to the sound system such as the z906 for some reason instead of using optical. if connected via optical to the z906 or via hdmi/optical to a receiver you dont need a soundcard.


you may want to get back to us on what your budget is exactly.
this is what i mean...




see what i mean in terms of inputs? while you really only need hdmi or spdif for your pc.. if you ever want to connect multiple sources up in the future you are often screwed.

seperate speakers are also better quality but will have a higher cost. your choice.

Chris Byatt

Sep 30, 2013
My budget is about $800 - $1000. I may want to connect other sources so an amp sounds like the right way to go, although probably only 1 extra games console.

My setup is:
24" BenQ XL2420TX Nvidia 3D vision 2 display
Corsair H80i
2 x EVGA nvidia GTX 670 signature 2
120GB KINGSTON HYPERX 3K SSD, 1TB Caviar Black, 2 x 3TB caviar green
Corsair HX850-80
1 blu-ray and 1 dvd drive

I would definitely prefer surround as I watch movies all the time as well as games.

The LG system I linked above has 1x optical in, 1x L/R in, 2xHDMI in and one HDMI out. (I'm just giving this set as an example - my heart is by no means set on it)
for $800-1000 its quite possible to get a decent home theater sound system. please specify if this is the price in usd or in gbp (since i see you linked amazon.co.uk)

what were you thinking of in terms of space?

satelite speakers you can put on shelves, the desk or wall mount?
bookshelf speakers you can put on shelves, on stands or wall mount?
floorstanding speakers you can put on the floor?

of course the larger the speakers the larger the cost.

what size room? you dont need really large speakers for a small room but if you are using a large room you may want bookshelf speakers.

you are correct which is why i said that system would technically work since it has the inputs you most likely would be using. keep in mind that in some cases even though they have inputs some HTiB units have odd limitations like not having surround sound from such inputs even though its a hdmi or optical input. pretty much them cheaping out which is why i dont like those all-in-one control box/receiver/dvd player combinations. an amp or receiver gives many more options. honestly for two sources you dont need a receiver unless you wanted to passthrough the video feed to the monitor and to use the knob on the front to auto switch between video sources and audio sources at the same time. for a system with optical output you would need to swap the audio and monitor inputs seperately but its not a big deal really. amps should be cheaper than receivers as well.

the speakers in HTiB units also might sound good but arent usually built all that well compared with what you can find seperately since they cut corners to reduce costs. this is why i suggested going with some seperate speakers.


get back with a confirmation of what your budget is (what currency you did it in) and what you were thinking in terms of sizes

Chris Byatt

Sep 30, 2013
I'm looking around the £400 - £600 mark - maybe £700 at a push, but if there's anything cheaper that will do a good job I'd definitely be interested!

It's for my bedroom which is about the size of a medium living room (it's pretty big as bedrooms go).

I'm definitely looking for bookshelf (on stands) or floorstanding. Preferably floorstanding - they would fit better, but I'm not too bothered.
Something like this looks perfect: http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/Speakers/Home+Theater+Speakers/SP-PK52FS but you just can't buy it in the UK! :(
i was looking to see what was good for the budget and wharfdale diamond 9 series and 10 series came up consistantly but it might be hard to find them (since i think they are now discontinued). apparently the .0 are small speakers, .1 is bookshelf and .3,.4 etc are tower speakers. the .cc is a center and the .cs is the better center speaker.

this is how i found out about the diamonds which i looked into and they are rated very highly

i did find a few links to them.. but if you're interested you may need to really search all over since i dont know uk stores (perhaps even any stores in the eu you may want to look at?)


wharfdale 9 set... 9.1 speakers + 9.cc center

wharfdale 9.1 bookshelf speakers @ £99/pair x2

wharfdale 9.cc center speaker @ £30 (so far at least with the bidding)

total... lets say £300-ish for the speakers which leaves £100-400 for the amplifier and subwoofer.

thats at least half off retail.. if not 1/3 of retail price.


then there is the 10.1, 10.cc....

if you can find them... they are a bit more expensive though at around £200/pair

or you could go with a tower fronts with bookshelf sides.

wharfdale 10.4 tower speakers @ £210/pair x2

wharfdale 10.1 bookshelf speakers

wharfdale 10.cs center speaker


anyways... just a few thoughts.

as far as an amp is concerned... some of them can get expensive quick as well. i would say its going to cost at least $100-200usd for anything half decent so budget accordingly.

Chris Byatt

Sep 30, 2013
Thanks :) is a sub not necessary with these speakers?

Is it possible to mix and match? I.e get the 9.1 pair, get a 10.4 pair and then see what centre speaker comes up? Or will the sound not match properly..

The Diamond 10.0 is about £20 cheaper than the 9.1, so I'm thinking a pair of 10.0's, then a pair of 10.4s/5s and whichever centre speaker I can get.

Chris Byatt

Sep 30, 2013
This is the system I've decided to go for:

Reciever: Sony STRDN840

Centre Speaker: Wharfedale Diamond 10.CS

Front Speakers: Wharfedale Diamond 10.5

Side/Rear: Wharfedale diamond 10.1

If I'm doing anything glaringly stupid please say!

I've got 10x Van Damme Blue Series 2.5mm cables. More expensive than the centre speaker alone! This stuff is worth it though apparently.
i've heard that low end sony receivers under $500 arent all that great but at that price point i'm not sure if that is what they consider low end or not as it is right on the line. it would likely work though... but read reviews to see how reliable it is first.

i personally love pioneer (i have a vsx-30 pioneer elite that was only $550/£339 when i bought it a few years ago) and i've heard denon is also good brand for receivers. the pioneer elite receivers have an osd (on screen display) for setup so you dont need to screw with the lcd panel on the front of the receiver for setup but instead can do it on your nice big tv. nifty.


lol a little over your budget of £700 arent we? looks like good stuff though.


the .0 models are smaller almost satelite sized speakers as i said before.

you could likely match 9.1 with 10.4 speakers but it would be best to use the same series.

i would not match a tower speaker with a satelite sized speaker ie a 10.0 with a 10.5 as there is too much of a difference in output. its quite common however to match rear bookshelf speakers with large front speakers. there is a difference in output but it is not as severe.

the 10.5 has some pretty big woofers (and all bookshelf/floor speakers have woofers) so you will get decent bass. you could add a subwoofer to get more low end punch but this can easily be added later on a "need be" status. there is no reason that you need to buy it right now (since you may not even need it) but its an option if you feel you dont have enough kick (but from my experience with floor speakers you probably wont need it unless of course you want to feel the vibration in your chest!)

a subwoofer can generate that really low vibration which you can definitely feel. there isnt a need to get a wharfdale sub though. if you read that thread i linked they suggest some other subs which provide some more kick at less cost.

again, a sub is optional.

Chris Byatt

Sep 30, 2013
I went with what I wrote in post above :) 10.1 bookshelf, 10.5 front, 10.cs centre and the sony amp.

The amp has rave reviews - it's awesome apparently. Packed full of features too :)

And yeah I went overbudget but it should be a pretty awesome system :)

Chris Byatt

Sep 30, 2013
Yeah well that's why I went for slightly more high end stuff. So I don't sit there thinking this could be better.. I can't wait for it all to arrive - I'll post pictures once it's here :)
i think you did good for the price. i spent quite a bit and i dont have tower speakers or bookshelf speakers. if i did it again i think i might have looked around online a little bit more but it was sort of an impulse buy.

i have to say that the speakers work out perfectly for the room and desk and sound great! (keep in mind i bought a subwoofer for the same budget as you though so bigger speakers meant more $$$)

i HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY (cant say it enough) suggest wallplates and routing speaker wire under the floor or above the ceiling to the rear channels (or even to the left and rights if they are spaced widely enough apart to hide the wires.

you can use speaker wire with bananna plugs to go from receiver to wall plate and they work perfectly. on the other side use a bananna clip on the wall plate side with plain speaker wire to the binding posts on the speakers (i prefer this as bananna clips stick out too far on the back and you cannot press the speakers against the wall). for the center channel if your receiver is right there... use a similar thing (one bananna one plain end). this keeps things nice and neat.

also dont forget to run the speaker setup where it plays machinegun sounds and other strange crap through your speakers when you have the mic connected to the receiver. this calculates speaker delay (unless your receiver doesnt support it!)

Chris Byatt

Sep 30, 2013
I'd love to except it's only going to be where it is temporarily :( Once I'm settled somewhere though I'll definitely do that.

The receiver has this thing called DCAC: Advanced D.C.A.C precisely fine-tunes and adjusts the phase frequency of sound from speakers to match your living room’s acoustics

Which I think is what you were talking about. The receiver is actually pretty feature packed.. 7.2, wifi, bluetooth, airplay, 3D and 4k support, full dolby and dts support.. :D

Chris Byatt

Sep 30, 2013
As promised here's a pic of it all set up :).

I think I've got my bi-wiring wrong though on the rear and centre speakers though so I'll look at that tonight. The front two are bi amped and I'm fairly certain I've got that done correctly!

Are your speakers bi-wired? if so could you show me how they're wired?


no. my speakers only have two binding posts for normal 2-wire speaker cable.

i cannot tell you much about bi-wiring but from what i've read on avsforum it seems as though some people think it really doesnt improve a whole lot. if you have time to do it some say its worth doing but that its not required.

they say that bi-amping however is worthwhile.

honestly i'm not super familiar on either bi-amping or bi-wiring.


those are some large speakers... looks like overkill in that small space haha.

i'm using satelites in a space like that and they sound fine.

they should sound great though. and you have the option to move them into a large room later on.