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surround-sound questions.....

Old 01-30-01, 01:15 AM
  #1  
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I'm sick of hearing my games and DVDs on my computer in stereo sound.....I want surround sound now dammit. I gots a few questions...
First of all, I have a DiamondMX300 sound card. Does that support surround sound? If not, or if it isnt' that great, what should I get? One of those Creative Labs Live sound cards?

Also, I of course need surround-sound speakers, four speakers + a sub-woofer. What do you guys recommend? I don't want to spend too much money, but I want something that's...well...at the very least decent.
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Old 01-30-01, 12:37 PM
  #2  
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The MX300 will do surround sound. However, the surround is only 4.1 (2 front, 2 rear, and sub). This is perfectly fine for PC games (Half-Life anyone?). If you are watching DVDs tho, you won't get the full 5.1 dolby digital sound (2 front, 2 rear, 1 center, 1 sub). The card will downmix the 5.1 dolby digital to a 4.1 analog signal. If you want 5.1 dolby digital on your computer, you first need something like the Creative Labs 5.1 sound cards (comes in different flavors) and you would need speakers that have 2 fronts, 2 rears, 1 center, and 1 sub (Creative Labs and other companies also makes a few of those).

(too many numbers? )

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Old 01-30-01, 01:05 PM
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Is there really that much of a difference between 4.1 and 5.1? It looks like 5.1 would end up costing me a lot more in more ways than one, and with the way my setup is I don't even know where I'd put a center speaker.

But just in case, if I did get one of thost CL Live cards, which should it be? I see $99 versions and $199 versions....would the $99 one be sufficient?

Oh one more thing( ), is there a site (either a review type site or an online store) that has tons speaker setups with info on them that I can look at?

Thanx for the help.
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Old 01-30-01, 02:13 PM
  #4  
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for difference in 4.1 vs. 5.1--for me personally i'd say yeah there is a difference but that is comparing a computer setup to a full-on home theater setup. I haven't heard 5.1 on the computer so I can't give an opinion on how it compares to 4.1.

for reviews of all things computer sound related, i check out 3dsoundsurge.com. Very thorough reviews.

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Old 01-30-01, 04:31 PM
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But in general.....you'd say the extra center-speaker makes that much of a difference?

Another thing- I already have a good subwoofer/2-speaker setup. For 4.1 surround sound, do I really need to get a whole new speaker setup or can I just use what I have for the front speakers and get another set of speakers for the rear? Is that possible? There ARE three other inputs on my sound card, they better be good for somethin'.
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Old 01-30-01, 04:54 PM
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Well, in a larger sound field (where the front speakers are about 5-7 feet apart) i would say the center channel speaker helps alot. But when the speakers are only 1-3 feet apart (computer), i don't think it would make that much of a difference.

Also, if you stayed with the MX300 card, you couldn't get the 5.1 signal anyway b/c it doesn't do dolby digital.

Re: speakers--there are two outputs on the MX300 used for speakers (output 1 is for front, output 2 is for rears/headphones). (the other plugs are for mic, line-in, and joystick). yes, you can use a different set of speakers for the rears but it is a pain in the ass to get the sound to mix at the proper volume (adjust front, adjust rear, readjust...etc). With a speaker set with all four/five speakers, the volume is much easier to adjust.

(i can do this all day )

--HN

p.s. I am no sound expert. this is all info from an average joe's 2.5 years experience with the MX300 and 1 year's experience with home theatre. (but at least i won't throw around technical, uncomprensible mumbo jumbo )


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Old 01-30-01, 06:28 PM
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My speakers are about 3 to 3 1/2 feet apart. So I guess a center speaker isn't that necessary?

I have some more questions.
I already have two pairs of speakers. One is relatively small but pretty damn good for its size, and the other, for my purposes, is extremely good. I have a two-speaker subwoofer but I plug all four speakers into them (I have two speakers per channel, the small speakers sitting atop the larger speakers). My question is, are there four-speaker subwoofers I can get seperately without any speakers and just use the speakers I have now? Do you think it'd be alright if the rear speakers weren't as powerful as the front? I could still get another good pair of speakers if that were a problem.

Also, and this isn't as important, but if I did go this route, would there be any way I could put my current two-speaker subwoofer to good use? Or would it just be useless.
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Old 01-30-01, 06:36 PM
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sorry, having a hard time seeing this...could you split up each speaker set you have?

i.e.
set 1) 2 speakers...
set 2) 2 speakers + 1 sub...
etc.

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Old 01-30-01, 06:55 PM
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What do you mean exactly? The end of the wires for both sets are the open kind you clamp into the subwoofer, so it's not like I can just plug them into the sound card....if that's what you mean.

I was lookin around, and for the subwoofer-only option I was talking about above, would something like this be good?:
http://www.crutchfield.com/cgi-bin/S...SAW305&o=M&a=0
pics:
http://www.crutchfield.com/cgi-bin/S...SAW305&a=0&o=M
http://www.crutchfield.com/cgi-bin/S...a=0&display=XL
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Old 01-30-01, 06:56 PM
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oh, is that something I can plug into my computer?
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Old 01-30-01, 07:04 PM
  #11  
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Oh i get it now.

That subwoofer pictured is only able to accept two satellite speakers (look close, there's a left/right in and a left/right out). if you connect all four speakers into it, you'd only still be getting 2 channels.

what you could do, is get something like that one you have shown and combine it to the set up you have now:

output 1(front channels)-->subwoofer + 2 speakers

output 2(rear channels)-->subwoofer + 2 speakers.

yes you can connect the one shown at crutchfeld via a plug that has 1 end with 2 RCA connections (red/white, red/black same thing) and the other end with a miniplug connection (the one that fits into the sound card).

--HN


[This message has been edited by HN (edited January 30, 2001).]
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Old 01-30-01, 08:04 PM
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...but then I'd have to hassle with adjusting the balance of the front/rear volumes, right?
If I just went with a regular four-speaker subwoofer, would I only be using one input on the soundcard or that second one too? Are there any four-speaker subwoofers I can buy seperately?

Also
quote:
Also, if you stayed with the MX300 card, you couldn't get the 5.1 signal anyway b/c it doesn't do dolby digital.

What exactly IS dolby digital? Is that something you can get with one of those Sounblaster Live cards? Can you get DD with only 4.1 anyways?
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Old 01-30-01, 08:50 PM
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Okay this is getting a little too confusing. What if I just got this?:
http://3dsoundsurge.com/reviews/DTT2500/DTT2500.html

Is that a good setup? WOuld I be able to get a nice rich and full sound considering it's in a pretty small rom? Keep in mind it'll mostly be used for watching DVD movies, on my computer.


Okay nevermind.....how does that compare to this:
http://3dsoundsurge.com/reviews/DTT3500/DTT3500.html
.....which seems to be like a newer version or something.

[This message has been edited by tha_dvd_man (edited January 30, 2001).]
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Old 01-30-01, 10:22 PM
  #14  
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sorry bout that, had to leave work.

anyway...dolby digital is basically a digital audio signal that sends a discrete signal to each speaker in the 5.1 setup.

now, if you were sending a DD signal to a 4.1 speaker setup, the signal would have to be downconverted (i think that's the word) to create a "phantom" center channel. This could all be much better explained (tho maybe a little more wordy) by the folks in the Home theatre hardware forum.

Now, for the simplest, not necessarily cheapest, solution to get full/true dolby digital surround sound-->grab the DTT3500 speaker setup and a Creative Labs 5.1 sound card (flavor of your choice). then you can crank it up, have neighbors complain, lower it, repeat...

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Old 01-30-01, 10:34 PM
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Actually I've been reading a lot of bad things about the 3500, about it not having powerful sound (from at least two sites I really trust). MaximumPC.com gave it a 5/10 for example.

What about these? ...
S4 Midiland 8200 ( http://www.maximumpc.com/reviews/index.html it's listed under Speakers) or
Videologic DigiTheatre: http://3dsoundsurge.com/reviews/Digi...giTheatre.html

They both seem to get really good reviews, and are apparantly great for DVDing. The DigiTheatre seems really good, but over a year old. Any good alternatives to that, or is it pretty much as good as it gets?

By the way, are there ANY places online that sell these kinds of sound systems? I can't even find any sites that sell those two sound systems I mentioned.

Thanks for your help man, it's greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-30-01, 11:24 PM
  #16  
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i can't seem to find the videologic either.

did a quick search on mysimon to find lowest prices for the midilands you mentioned. funny, the lowest price on there is 299+ shipping. i went over to outpost and they had it for 279 w/ overnight shipping. however, i think that may be more than you originally intended(?)

and yer welcome, glad i could help in some way

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Old 01-30-01, 11:29 PM
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If you meant "more" as in price (and not overall quality), I've decided it would be worth it to get such great sound.
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Old 01-30-01, 11:37 PM
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yeah....."more" as in price. don't forget, you need the sound card too

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Old 01-30-01, 11:39 PM
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yeah I know, but I'm probably gonna get a Live off of ebay for around $50.
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Old 01-31-01, 04:49 PM
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Okay hehe, one more question (hopefully).
I got this from a review of the Klipsch Promedia 400 (http://www.systemlogic.net/reviews/hardware/speakers/klipsch/v2400/index.php)
quote:
What can I say, I love these speakers. The only problem I have with them is that they don't support 5.1 Dolby digital decoding. I can always get a separate digital decoder if I'm really craving the Dolby stuff


What exactly does that mean?

[This message has been edited by tha_dvd_man (edited January 31, 2001).]
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Old 01-31-01, 05:30 PM
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the decoder he's talking about will be something like the Creative Labs MP3+ 5.1 you are getting. However...when the signal is sent to the Promedias, it will be downconverted to 4.1 channels instead of 5.1.

Another however--I'm not sure if that signal is still a digital signal that the promedias are receiving b/c i'm pretty sure they don't have a digital input.

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Old 01-31-01, 06:37 PM
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No it's analog. Does that mean it doesn't matter then?

Oh yeah, yet another quick question( ), if I did get those speakers would I somehow be able to add another channel?
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Old 01-31-01, 06:51 PM
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You can actually add another speaker but you won't be able to get to act as a separate channel (i.e. it will take the role of the what port you connect it--front right, front left...etc.)

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Old 01-31-01, 07:02 PM
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Eh I figured that, I thought maybe I could plug another speaker into the Live! and make it a center.

Oh well, I'm gettin picky.
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