Sound Cards and Home Stereo Systems

Mar 8, 2018
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Hi. I'm looking to upgrade my computer from PC to home theater system, and want to upgrade my audio to 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound. The idea is to have a projector for movies, sports, games, etc... to make the environment more immersive, and I want a sound system to compliment that. The problem is that I know very little about audio hardware. I can put a computer together, but have never been an audio guy, so my knowledge on the subject is really limited.

Do I need both a sound card and a stereo receiver? Which devices should I be looking at? What should I be looking for in those devices? Which connections (and cables) are preferred? What are some good speakers that aren't going to break the bank?
 

madmatt30

Honorable
Yes all intel or amd igps , & older discrete gpu's will pass digital 5.1 audio no issue , newer integrated cpu's will pass dolby atmos home theatre as will most newer discrete gpu's.

I run 7.1 from both an old lenovo tiny pc (integrated intel 530) & from a gtx 970 gaming pc.

Ypur issue here is budget $200-300 will get you very very decent 5.1 integrated all in one pc spehrated amp/speaker setup.

It will not get you a seperate home reciever & speaker/sub setup unless you find a second hand bargain.
 

fredfinks

Estimable
Oct 21, 2015
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You dont need a sound card if your motherboard handles it. (and alot of motherboard audio handles it very well, i rememebr seeing a review where the onboard audio was better than some discrete cards)

Youd connect to your home thatre receiver via optical cable. Then its up to your receiver and speaker selection. Thats a whole different ballgame with a million choices. Go to an audio shop & listen to some speakers.

Regarding playback you want to watch blurays (or their ripped files via makemkv). You want DTS sound over standard audio.
 

fredfinks

Estimable
Oct 21, 2015
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Forgot to mention, unless things have changed in past 2 years, bluray playback software on PC is atrocious. Thats why i rip my collection to mkv file. Theyll play with your media player app such as MPC-HC or VLC.
It takes about 30 minutes to rip and uses up large amount of disk space (20-30gb) but make do with large hard drives.

I suggest posting/reading to the home theatre section on these forums (if there is one) and /or home theatre specific forums such as 'avforums.com'

Lots of useful info such as good tv tuners PVR recording, remote controls etc etc
 
If you mobo HDMI output will pass surround sound then you don't need a soundcard. Connect the HDMI output to the receiver and the receiver HDMI output to the projector.
For a budget receiver take a look at Onkyo.
Speakers are harder to do on a tight budget.
https://www.amazon.com/Energy-Classic-Theater-System-Black/dp/B001202C44/ref=pd_lpo_vtph_23_tr_t_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=A4QPAC57G7ST8KCB40G4&dpID=41XvXkQp00L&preST=_SX300_QL70_&dpSrc=detail
https://www.amazon.com/Pioneer-SP-PK22BS-Theater-Speaker-Package/dp/B00LBI88IQ/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1520621572&sr=1-3&keywords=pioneer+5.1+speakers
If you can't swing these kind of prices then you can start with a 2.1 or 3.1 set up and use cheaper speakers for side and rear later. The L/C/R fronts and the sub are the ones to spend your money on.
 
Mar 8, 2018
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Thanks for the answers! I double checked my MoBo and found that it already has everything installed for 5.1 and 7.1 stereo systems, so I really just got to pick out the speaker setup I want and make sure I have all the proper cables to connect them. I may just try running my HDMI through the receiver as suggested. Will that also work if I am using a video card and not the MoBo for HDMI? I am assuming it would, but I wouldn't want to go that route unless I was sure.

Initially I am looking to spend around $200-300, and can always upgrade to higher end stuff down the road.
 

madmatt30

Honorable
Yes all intel or amd igps , & older discrete gpu's will pass digital 5.1 audio no issue , newer integrated cpu's will pass dolby atmos home theatre as will most newer discrete gpu's.

I run 7.1 from both an old lenovo tiny pc (integrated intel 530) & from a gtx 970 gaming pc.

Ypur issue here is budget $200-300 will get you very very decent 5.1 integrated all in one pc spehrated amp/speaker setup.

It will not get you a seperate home reciever & speaker/sub setup unless you find a second hand bargain.
 

robert600

Distinguished
Jan 19, 2012
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I'm not saying you shouldn't get the above recommended receiver but ... be aware that the claim of 4k is very misleading - it is not HDMI HDCP 2.2 Compliant so 4K pass through will not be possible. I know that it is very unlikely that your projector will be 4K (they are still ridiculously expensive) but ... in terms of 'future proofing' your receiver - 2.2 compliance is most definitely the way to go. Here's a 7.2 (2.2 compliant) that when coupled with those speakers won't put you too far over your budget (you can always add a pair of rear speakers later) when you can afford it. I think this receiver is a much better choice. Note that there is an 'open box' one for $21 less.

https://www.bestbuy.com/site/sony-1015w-7-2-ch-4k-ultra-hd-and-3d-pass-through-a-v-home-theater-receiver-black/4914601.p?skuId=4914601

 
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