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5.1 speakers vs DH/SC/etc.

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

As the title says, I'm curious what people think of a 5.1 speaker system vs headphones using Dolby Headphone, Silent Cinema, etc.

 

I normally game on my mixamp > Lyr > HE-500, or Titanium HD > Lyr > HE-500 setup (I also have a Buttkicker, lol), but recently something happened. Basically, I had to return my HE-500's and it took an entire month to get a replacement. In that time I gamed exclusively on a pair of RS621 speakers and used a standard Xbox mic for voice chat. The sound wasn't as detailed or intimate as it is with the HE-500's, but there's just something about having the sound fill the room vs go straight in to my ears. I'm imagining that a 5.1 setup would be pretty awesome.

 

At this point I'm seriously considering buying a 5.1 receiver, or possibly this combo: UMC1 + UPA-500 , but IDK. The HE-500 is so good already, but the experience I had with the speakers was so amazing as well.

 

Another major plus of the speaker setup was that I only had one cord coming off of my head, vs 3 with the HE-500's. One for the mic, and two for the headphones. The HE-500's are pretty heavy too.

 

Also, I don't have to turn anything on when I use the speakers. I just turn on the Xbox/PC and go, as my current amp has an auto-on feature. When I use the headphones I have to: Turn on the Lyr and wait 20 seconds for it to warm up. Plug in my headphones. Turn on my microphone preamp (I use a rather nice mic which requires a preamp, as I got sick of the issues I was having with cheap ones), and turn on the Buttkicker amp. Then I do the reverse when I'm done gaming.

 

If I sold the HE-500's, Lyr, stereo amp, and Buttkicker amp I could probably afford to go straight to a 5.1 system. I'd be buying DIY kits from Parts Express, as I've had good luck with them so far.

 

Any thoughts?

post #2 of 25

Good question.

 

Personally, I wouldn't recommend selling your headphone gear for a 5.1 setup. I'm a big fan of loudspeakers over headphones, but 5.1 is overrated IMO. I've listened to quality 5.1 rigs, and while good, my humble 2.0 rig(s) are very capable in comparison. Moreover, 5.1 is not suitable for a desktop environment. You really need a big room and correct speaker placement to get the best out of surround sound.

 

That being said, I agree with you that having speakers is great. Headphones can be really immersive for both music and gaming, but speakers have a more natural sound and are less fatiguing for long sessions. I'd recommend upgrading your speakers if anything. PartsExpress has a ton of great kits and there are plenty of other 2-way "monitor" DIY designs out there. I built the Overnight Sensations MT myself. DIY is certainly where the real value is.

post #3 of 25

Just get an all in one home theater (receiver and 5.1 speakers).

Prices start at $200

 

For around $600

Yamaha RX-V671 A/V receiver.($385)

Klipsch HD500 5.1 speaker set ($220)

 

Yamaha RX-A700 or RX-V667, $300 or less

 

I like Yamahas because their receiver usually come with headphone surround sound (Silent Cinema).

Also I know the models listed above come with fairly decent amplifiers built in.

 

Check your local Craiglist, might find a good deal on a receiver & 5.1.

post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 

Each one of the speakers I have right now costs almost as much as that whole speaker kit. :O

 

Maybe I'll just upgrade my 2.0 setup for now and move the current speakers to the living room system that we're building. Then we'd only need a center channel and sub to round out the living room.

 

These kinds of decisions are hard to make when you can't audition anything.


Edited by Rebel975 - 8/3/12 at 11:52pm
post #5 of 25

Unfortunately, the speaker system in my house is far from ideal. Not only is it subwoofer-less (it's notorious for amp failure due to parts inadequate for the job, and we just never bothered to repair it), but the left speaker is in completely the wrong place since our HDTV is where that left speaker should be.

 

Worse off, the room is open toward the right side, which leads to the dining table. I can't imagine that being very good from an acoustic standpoint.

 

While I can't rule out that a good 5.1 speaker system can deliver very good sound indeed, the cost to do so is outright prohibitive when I take into account the room they have to be placed in. Even worse is that I'd probably want the speakers to be something like Quad ESL-57s or ESL-63s, given all the great things I've heard about them, and they don't come cheap. For the costs involved, I could probably upgrade to even better Stax gear than what I'm using now.

 

For me, it's just more practical to stick a pair of good headphones on my head, turn on some sort of binaural mixing tech, and play away. It's even better in that this approach does not limit me to a mere 5 sources of sound positioning with gaps in between, but anywhere in 3D space that a binaural mix can fool my brain into thinking that's where the sound came from.

post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Just get an all in one home theater (receiver and 5.1 speakers).

Prices start at $200

 

For around $600

Yamaha RX-V671 A/V receiver.($385)

Klipsch HD500 5.1 speaker set ($220)

 

Yamaha RX-A700 or RX-V667, $300 or less

 

I like Yamahas because their receiver usually come with headphone surround sound (Silent Cinema).

Also I know the models listed above come with fairly decent amplifiers built in.

 

Check your local Craiglist, might find a good deal on a receiver & 5.1.

 

Do you really think a HTiB can compare with a good pair of stereo speakers? At $200, you're going to get five cheap little satellite speakers and a cheaply built amplifier. Even if you spend a bit more on a HTiB, you're still not getting good value. If you're going to put together a 5.1 setup (buying retail) it should cost you a few grand, and you should piece the components together individually instead of buying a HTiB. Maybe $1000 on a HT receiver if you don't want a processor + discrete amplification. I'd probably spend another $1000 on the FL and FR, because the fronts are always the most important part of the rig. Throw in the center and surrounds and a quality subwoofer for another grand.

 

Yes, a quality HT setup will cost a hell of a lot more than a good stereo setup. Is that so hard to believe?

post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by OJNeg View Post

 

Do you really think a HTiB can compare with a good pair of stereo speakers? At $200, you're going to get five cheap little satellite speakers and a cheaply built amplifier. Even if you spend a bit more on a HTiB, you're still not getting good value. If you're going to put together a 5.1 setup (buying retail) it should cost you a few grand, and you should piece the components together individually instead of buying a HTiB. Maybe $1000 on a HT receiver if you don't want a processor + discrete amplification. I'd probably spend another $1000 on the FL and FR, because the fronts are always the most important part of the rig. Throw in the center and surrounds and a quality subwoofer for another grand.

 

Yes, a quality HT setup will cost a hell of a lot more than a good stereo setup. Is that so hard to believe?

I do not think a HTiB ($200) compares at all to "good" speakers.

But he is looking for something to use for 5.1 gaming and I just trying to find a good value (like $600) for his needs.

I do not think gaming audio quality would improve that much with a $2000 audio system.

Your too busy gaming to pay attention to finer details in the audio quality.

 

My home audio (receiver + 5.1 speakers) would value over $2000 (But I bought them at a close out for under whole sale price).

But my system is overkill for my needs.

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by OJNeg View Post

 

Do you really think a HTiB can compare with a good pair of stereo speakers? At $200, you're going to get five cheap little satellite speakers and a cheaply built amplifier. Even if you spend a bit more on a HTiB, you're still not getting good value. If you're going to put together a 5.1 setup (buying retail) it should cost you a few grand, and you should piece the components together individually instead of buying a HTiB. Maybe $1000 on a HT receiver if you don't want a processor + discrete amplification. I'd probably spend another $1000 on the FL and FR, because the fronts are always the most important part of the rig. Throw in the center and surrounds and a quality subwoofer for another grand.

 

Yes, a quality HT setup will cost a hell of a lot more than a good stereo setup. Is that so hard to believe?

 

 

 

^Pretty much. And on that note, I've decided that I'll keep my headphone rig for now, and add a subwoofer to my speaker kit to give myself a pretty good 2.1 setup. NamelessPFG got me thinking about my room, and it's way less than ideal for a 5.1 setup. I can manage a 2.1 for sure, though.

post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

I do not think a HTiB ($200) compares at all to "good" speakers.

But he is looking for something to use for 5.1 gaming and I just trying to find a good value (like $600) for his needs.

I do not think gaming audio quality would improve that much with a $2000 audio system.

Your too busy gaming to pay attention to finer details in the audio quality.

 

My home audio (receiver + 5.1 speakers) would value over $2000 (But I bought them at a close out for under whole sale price).

But my system is overkill for my needs.


Fair enough. I had assumed this would be in his living room and would also be used for movies. As I said before, 5.1 is not meant for a desktop/gaming environment IMO. Positional audio (for shooters and the like) is done much better with headphones, or even a good stereo mix on speakers. And when I consider the price of a good surround sound setup, it's obvious to me where the value is.

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 

I'm building a 5.1 system for the living room which will be used for movies/TV. Then I have my own separate gaming den. The system being discussed here is purely for gaming.

 

Anyways, here's a shot of the current set up if anyone is interested. We just built the desk last night. redface.gif

 

 

1000

post #11 of 25

Very nice! Your room reminds me of my own a bit. I built my desk into the corner of my loft although I used light wood grain instead of black. I might have used the same legs though. Is that an Emotiva amp that I spy? I was going to get the same one but I chose a Parasound Z-amp instead. My head gear and computer specs can't touch yours though blink.gif

 

You should try building some shelves to mount the speakers on. As far as I can tell, you could fit them nicely on the wall. I did exactly this for my desktop setup and I can guarantee they'll look and sound better when you elevate them off the desk.

post #12 of 25

Speaking of speaker elevation, isn't the usual advice to make sure the tweeters are on the same elevation as your ears for maximum sound quality?

 

At least, that's the usual advice I hear with those old Quad ESLs due to the way the sound disperses from them.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rebel975 View Post

^Pretty much. And on that note, I've decided that I'll keep my headphone rig for now, and add a subwoofer to my speaker kit to give myself a pretty good 2.1 setup. NamelessPFG got me thinking about my room, and it's way less than ideal for a 5.1 setup. I can manage a 2.1 for sure, though.

 

I've actually thought about adding a subwoofer to my headphone setup for some real bass extension, but the cost for one that can properly reproduce 20 Hz and make everything on up through the sub-bass spectrum distinct would probably be quite high.


Edited by NamelessPFG - 8/4/12 at 3:41pm
post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 

@OJNeg: Yep. The speakers are being driven by an Emotiva a100 amp. Below it is a NU3000DSP amp which is currently only driving a Buttkicker. It will be driving a passive subwoofer soon as well.

 

 

@NamelessPFG: Yeah, I've come to accept that any sub I get won't be flat down to 20Hz. 25Hz is attainable for me, though. Something like this will only set me back ~$200 and some elbow grease, as I already have the amplification covered.


Edited by Rebel975 - 8/4/12 at 4:09pm
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rebel975 View Post

As the title says, I'm curious what people think of a 5.1 speaker system vs headphones using Dolby Headphone, Silent Cinema, etc.

 

I normally game on my mixamp > Lyr > HE-500, or Titanium HD > Lyr > HE-500 setup (I also have a Buttkicker, lol), but recently something happened. Basically, I had to return my HE-500's and it took an entire month to get a replacement. In that time I gamed exclusively on a pair of RS621 speakers and used a standard Xbox mic for voice chat. The sound wasn't as detailed or intimate as it is with the HE-500's, but there's just something about having the sound fill the room vs go straight in to my ears. I'm imagining that a 5.1 setup would be pretty awesome.

 

At this point I'm seriously considering buying a 5.1 receiver, or possibly this combo: UMC1 + UPA-500 , but IDK. The HE-500 is so good already, but the experience I had with the speakers was so amazing as well.

 

Another major plus of the speaker setup was that I only had one cord coming off of my head, vs 3 with the HE-500's. One for the mic, and two for the headphones. The HE-500's are pretty heavy too.

 

Also, I don't have to turn anything on when I use the speakers. I just turn on the Xbox/PC and go, as my current amp has an auto-on feature. When I use the headphones I have to: Turn on the Lyr and wait 20 seconds for it to warm up. Plug in my headphones. Turn on my microphone preamp (I use a rather nice mic which requires a preamp, as I got sick of the issues I was having with cheap ones), and turn on the Buttkicker amp. Then I do the reverse when I'm done gaming.

 

If I sold the HE-500's, Lyr, stereo amp, and Buttkicker amp I could probably afford to go straight to a 5.1 system. I'd be buying DIY kits from Parts Express, as I've had good luck with them so far.

 

Any thoughts?

I've gamed on a Logitech Z5500 5.1 speaker system for a few years and loved it. The positional audio was excellent and the immersion was fantastic too.

 

In terms of comparison with a headphone setup - I've recently replaced my Z5500 with a DT990 and DSS2. I haven't tried the headphone combo yet but from the reviews I've read it should blow my Z5500 out of the water. I've got to admit I'm a bit skeptical. I remember using Aureal Vortex 3D back in the day (an old virtual 3d algorithm) and found that it was pretty crap compared to actual speakers spread out around you. Fingers crossed!

 

I remember trying some Bose noise-cancelling headphones in a store recently, and when the demo started I thought someone behind me in the store was talking to me, the sound staging was so good. And the DT990 should blow the Bose ones away...

post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 

^I had the Z-5500 for a couple years as well. It was the first real system I had. I really liked it at the time. redface.gif

 

Well, it's been a while. I did end up selling the headphone rig and moved on to a speaker setup. I only have a 2.1 right now, due to money and space issues. However, it's way more convenient (the Emotiva UMC-1 is so awesome) and honestly it does sound better than the HE-500 setup.

 

Besides- building the Eton S7 speakers and sub was a lot of fun. biggrin.gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now I've started doing some minor modifications to the NU3000DSP amp. It came with an extremely loud stock fan, so I replaced it with a quieter fan and am supplementing that with some stick on heatsinks.


Edited by Rebel975 - 12/17/12 at 11:17am
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