PC sound: Receiver & Speakers or computer speakers?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald.C, Aug 5, 2002.

  1. Ronald.C

    Ronald.C Auditioning

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    I've searched through the various message boards, and have yet to find a decent discussion regarding this. Here's my situation:
    I'm using two very crappy pc speakers right now. I also want to buy a surround sound receiver for watching DVDs.
    Could / should I use the receiver for computer audio also? I don't care about getting surround sound out of the computer, or anything like that, and would much rather put the $50-$100 I'd spend on PC speakers into my HT budget for a receiver and speakers.
    Could I attach a 5.1 speaker system to a receiver for watching movies, and then another set of speakers to use at the computer, or something similar? Or would it just be better to buy a set of pc speakers and keep all my HT stuff seperate?
    Oh, and the tv and computer would be about 15' apart, as measured along the walls running cables. I play games, but dont' care about surround sound. Just decent sound [​IMG] And listening to my mp3s, of course. And then just general computer sounds, as well.
    I hope this is enough information, and sorry if it's worded awkwardly. I'm a bit tired [​IMG]
    Thanks!
     
  2. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    there is no doubt in my mind that you will get better performance if you run an external receiver/5.1 speaker package. now there are some pretty decent 5.1 computer system packages, but there is just NO WAY they'll compete to a regular HT setup.

    of course, your cost for a receiver/speaker combo is going to be significantly higher, but you're getting a dedicated ht setup. those decent computer speakers cost 300 bucks anyways...that'll get you the receiver.

    then spend a few hundred more on some decent ht speakers and you are golden!
     
  3. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Ronald, I have an old Pioneer (circa 1990) stereo receiver in my computer/office room at home with a Sony cd changer hooked up to it and a pair of Cambridge Soundworks Newton M50 bookshelf speakers. I also run a long RCA L/R audio cable from my soundcard to the VCR/TV input on the receiver. There is no comparison between the sound this way and the old way (with a pair of $50 computer speakers) - especially if you use your computer to listen to cds or MP3s or any other music format. I'd definitely go that route instead of spending the money on a higher end computer speaker pair.

    cheers,


    --tom
     
  4. Ronald.C

    Ronald.C Auditioning

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    Ted:
    Again, this is what I figured. That's why I wanted to use it for computer sound also, so I'm not putting money into two different areas.
    ThomasL:
    I'm glad to hear that you're getting good sound out of running an RCA cable. Hopefully that'll work for me, too. What about the question I asked above? Would I be able to run a seperate speaker set off of the receiver, to use near the computer?
    Thanks for the responses, guys!
     
  5. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Ronald, as far as a second set of L/R mains, there are two basic ways to do this.

    One is to buy a receiver that has multi-zone/room support such as the Denon 3802 I believe.

    Another is to buy a speaker selector switch from a company such as Niles. Then you simply connect both sets of L/R mains to the switch and switch between them.

    I actually do the latter in my home theater/family room so that we can also play music in the kitchen and the living room.

    Also, as for the soundcard to receiver connection, I have a basic soundcard that just has a mini jack. If you have the same, you'll need a mini-L/R RCA converter device. Radio Shack sells these. Of course, you can probably also get soundcards that come with analog L/R outs as well as digital outs. I'm not up on the latest soundcard technology.

    cheers,


    --tom
     
  6. Ronald.C

    Ronald.C Auditioning

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    ThomasL:
    Neither am I, so I'll have to look into it more . But before I buy another soundcard for digital I/O, I'll probably just try running a RCA cable. It'll be cheap, and if I'm satisfied with the results, there no use in buying something else.
    Thanks, you told me exactly what I needed to know.
    ~Ron
     
  7. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    also, most receivers have an A/B switch (in addition to mutli-zone support) so you could utilize the B position for next to your computer.

    if you're not up on your sound-cards, post a question in the pc forum. lots of knowledgeable guys there. i think the audigy comes pretty highly regarded. better the the soundblaster live...though i'm not sure why.

    [edit] regarding the niles (or any speaker switchbox) - the problem is when people try running too many speakers are once...you lower (or is it raise? i think it's lower) the impedance to something the receiver can't handle. as long as you're only running one set at a time you'll be fine. also, i think some brands (including niles) have built in circuit protection of some sort anyway.
     
  8. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Ronald, I think there are two issues with speaker selectors. For real audiophiles, it is another set of connections to go through and possibly degrade the signal. The other issue is one of impedance. The more speakers you hook up to an amp, the more power is needed. The amp sees this as a lower impedance. Too many and you can overload the amp. I've never had a problem with either of these. With two sets of speakers, if you never run them at the same time, you have nothing to worry about - the amp will be fine. If you do run two sets and they're both 8 ohm speakers then the receiver will see the total load as being 4 ohms. This means more current will be drawn. It still shouldn't be a problem since most receivers can handle 4 ohm loads at moderate listening levels (i.e. non-deafening levels) but this also depends on the sensitivity of your speakers.

    Anyhow, the Niles selector switch has a protection button that you can turn on. It esentially introduces a 2.5 ohm resistor into the circuit. Thus in the case of two pairs of 8 ohm speakers running at the same time, with the button pressed in, the receiver will see a 6.5 ohm load. Of course, it is more complicated than this since 8 ohm is really just the nominal impedance of the speaker and during its actual use, the ohm's presented to the receiver will fluctuate.

    If you never plan on using the pair at the same time, then an A/B switch on the receiver would be fine for you.

    hope this helps,


    --tom
     

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