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Old 07-09-2004, 14:29   #1
ThinkOfTheChildren
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Surround sound suggestions?

Like my alliteration? ;e

Anyway, I'm looking to get a surround sound system and have no idea where to start or how much this is going to cost me, let alone what brands or products to buy, so I figured I'd consult the masters ;f

My requirements are simple, I want something that I can have both my computer and my standalone DVD player plugged into which will provide surround sound for a small room. I don't need something hard installed into the walls/ceilings, just standalone speakers.

So where to start?
What products/brands do you recommend?
Do you recommend wired or wireless? Is there much of a cost difference between the two?

This system will be for enjoying DVD movies with friends. It doesn't need to be super fancy or top of the line.

If I haven't provided enough info, please tell me what else to provide. As I said, I'm totally new to this.
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Old 07-09-2004, 15:25   #2
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A lot of sound cards in computers these days come with digital outputs, either optical or coaxial. However, I am not sure how many (or if any) of them are capable of encoding a surround sound signal. They can relay such a signal from a DVD drive, since that is pre-encoded on the disc, but when it comes to multi-channel games and such, you will most likely need a receiver that can accept each channel in analog form. Otherwise, you'll only be getting 2-channel sound through the digital output.

I bought a Pioneer receiever for exactly that purpose. It has the standard optical and coax (digital) inputs for my standalone DVD player, as well as multi-channel (analog) inputs for my computer (i.e. use a separate RCA cable for front left, front right, center/sub, rear left, rear right). It has really good sound quality, and was not that expensive.

I think this is what you will need to get surround sound from both sources.
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Old 07-09-2004, 15:48   #3
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Ok, thanks for the info. Just to clarify, I don't need surround for games. The reason that I want surround for the computer is for AC3 sound. As far as I know, that's a digital signal just like from the DVD player. Would that change what I need?

Could I run the digital signal from the DVD to the line-in on the computer and then run the line-out of the computer to surround speakers? Is that realistic or am I just being crazy at this point?
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Old 07-09-2004, 16:09   #4
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AC3 files should work ok through the digital output of the sound card, since the receiver will then decode the signal into its separate channels.

Where you might encounter a problem is playing DVDs on the computer. If your player software does not passively relay the native signal to the receiver, you will be stuck either with audio downmixed into 2 channels, or a signal decoded by the software into the separate analog channels (which would bring up the need for a receiver with multi-channel inputs). Since you have a separate DVD player though, I guess that won't be a big concern.

The misconception I had when I got my first surround sound card was that I could use the digital output to replace the 6 separate analog channels. That is only true for sources that are already encoded into a multi-channel digital stream.

For your purposes, it sounds like any digital receiver will fit the bill. Just connect the digital output from your computer to the digital input on the receiver.
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Old 07-09-2004, 16:10   #5
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If it makes any difference, here are the jacks on my sound card and DVD player, respectively:
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Old 07-09-2004, 16:15   #6
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With that setup, run your computer to the digital coaxial input on the receiver, and the DVD player to the optical input.
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Old 07-09-2004, 16:18   #7
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Thanks for all your help!!
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Old 07-09-2004, 16:35   #8
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Is this overkill for the receiver?
http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProduc...103-401&depa=0

And what speaker packages do you guys recommend?
http://www.newegg.com/app/searchProd...1&InnerCata=60
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Old 07-09-2004, 18:28   #9
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I have one of these, it rocks.
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Old 07-09-2004, 18:43   #10
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I put a lot of hours into what we have in our living room. Please don't tell my wife how many hours. You need a good surround sound amplifier. Please notice I did not say an expensive amp. Start looking at the ads in the Sunday paper. Get at least 75 watts per channel, 100 is better. The other number I rely on is the "Total Harmonic distortion", THD - The lower the better. Mine is .009

Do you have any speakers? The closer matched the better but any is better than none. Use what you have and can borrow to get started. You will learn more as you talk to others that have surround sound.
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Old 07-09-2004, 19:51   #11
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Now Hear This speakers...

You need to leave more than 50% of your budget for speakers

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Old 07-10-2004, 11:56   #12
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EDIT -
Nevermind, figured out the answer to my question.

Looks like I'll be picking up a Klipsch ProMedia system sometime soon. Thanks for the link, grantglock!
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Old 07-12-2004, 10:11   #13
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GE

recently i had constructed my own surround sound system consisting of copmputer speakers and a busted 8 track player. after realizing the usslessness in that i went to wal-mart (:( ) and purchased a ge system with built in dvd player and two audio imputs, for 1oo$
so far i have had no problems with this system and am acually listening to it right now.
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Old 07-12-2004, 12:02   #14
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Another recommendation for Klipsch. I don't have the Pro-Media, but I have an entire surround system by them with a Denon receiver. Very efficient speakers. Do you have an American Appliance where you live? They have a good sale on all products going on right now. Good luck.
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Old 07-17-2004, 19:45   #15
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Got the ProMedia GMX D-5.1 yesterday. It's perfect for me. The first thing I had to do (of course) was experience the gun battles from Heat, Way of the Gun, and Bad Boys 2, all in surround sound ;f
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