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4.1 PC Audio vs 5.1???? (1 Viewer)


Second Unit
Jul 10, 2000
I am just starting to look at getting speakers for the computer I just built, all I have now is just two old crappy speakers. I have heard good reviews for the Logitech Z-560 speakers, and have found them at a good price (~$120 shipped) but they are 4.1. So my question is... how does a 4.1 system compare to a 5.1 system connected to a PC for playing DVD. I have C-Media on my motheboard (Asus P4B266) which will output 2/4/6 channel analog audio, and my Video card (AIW Radeon 7500) can output digital through the SPID/F connector.

Does the 4.1 system create a simulated center channel? I don't *need* 5.1 of course since it's just for the bedroom, and I like the price of the Z-560 system. Is there any reason to really stay away from a 4.1 system? Since I haven't actually heard a 4.1 setup I just don't know how it would deal with dialog and surrounds. I realize the the C-media will be creating the 4 channel output, but I'm just not familiar with how it works. The Z-560 does have some mode where you can input 2 channel audio and it will create the surround effects, but again, how is the center channel/dialog handled.

If anyone can give me some insight I would appreciate it.

Chris Tsutsui

Feb 1, 2002
I'm a big 4.1 fan for HTPC. The two main speakers produces a "simulated" center due the soundstage. All the vocals will be localized between the 2 main speakers on the monitor. The advantage this has over a center is a seamless transition of sound from the left and right mains. Another benefit is the sound comes from the monitor itself, and not from above or below where a center channel would have to be mounted.

The big benefit a center channel has is that multiple people can watch a movie on the HTPC and have that "vocals from monitor" effect.

The biggest drawback that a 4.1 HTPC has is there is very small sweet spot and that is right between the speakers. If somebody is just a little bit to the left or right, the "simulated" center is thrown off balance to one side.

I personally don't care a whole lot for center channels since the sound transfer from left to right is no where near as good as having 2 mains with a good sound field. The one time I do like center channels is when they are well matched and are behind or real close to the screen so it sounds like the dialoge is coming from the ppl speaking.

If you plan on watching a lot of movies by yourself for HTPC, 4.1 will be fine. I believe that 2 or more viewers requires the use of a center channel.

Eric Samonte

Mar 31, 1999
I have 4.1 and while 5.1 would seem better, I don't think it would justify the extra cash for me. Why? Because I don't really watch DVDs on this PC...just play games and other stuff. Now if ur planning on DVD watching, then investing in 5.1 spkrs would be warranted.

I cannot really say which is better 4.1 or 5.1 because I have not had the latter "auditioned" yet. I suppose if its gonna be DD then it would kick ass.

BTW, those Logitechs r getting good reviews. If I hadn't gotten these Klipsch, those would be my choice.

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