Originally Posted by mrcrazyshoes
I saw an article on CNET a while ago that showed an amplifier that was only $20 that had a simple volume, bass and treble controls and an on/off switch. This would be perfect for me but I want surround sound for my computer, right now I have two full size receivers hooked up. I would only use one but the surround inputs on both of them are only hdmi and optical. My sound card (Xonar DG) only has surround for regular 3 3.5mm connections. (the optical cable is only 2.1) So I was wondering if there was any really cheap (around $50) receivers or amplifiers that have the following abilities:
1. Have at least 4 channel surround sound
2. have the regular 3.5mm jack input (1 for front, 1 for surround, 1 for center/sub)
3. (Not necessary) Headphone port with decent headphone quality (headphone amp)
1. Quadraphonic receivers are very different from modern surround sound receivers; you could look at both here (As they'd both do what you want), but I wouldn't get hooked on 4 channel. It's a very dead format (nice vintage boxes though, if you're into that).
2. Not gonna happen - you're gonna have RCA inputs or digital (And I'll circle back).
3. Shouldn't be a problem at all with a competent receiver (here's where the quad receiver might be a better pick).
Now back to point #2: Your Xonar should have something called Dolby Digital Live, which will let you do 5.1 via optical; just enable that and select 4.0/4.1 output for the speaker map and it should do exactly what you want assuming one of your receivers has a Dolby Digital decoder (if it has HDMI it should). Alternately if your graphics card can send HDMI out with audio, that'd work too. If the Xonar doesn't do this, and the graphics card doesn't do this, I'd just suggest a soundcard that does, over another receiver.
Alternately, look for a quad, this might not actually be a bad deal:
Finally, if you're more of a DIYer, there's the Sure Electronics Class D kit amplifiers, that come in a variety of channel arrangements:
Going via multi-channel analog on a modern receiver (like that Denon) will bypass most if not all of the receiver's features; this may or may not be a problem for you or your usage needs. Basically think about it that it'll be equivalent to the quad receiver, and if you're dumping a mountain of features it might not be worth buying them (and dealing with the added power draw; some modern receivers can use >100W just to idle).