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IS 2.1 OR 5.1 better?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

OK on another forum I read frequently, a user is saying that ANY 5.1 system is superior to 2.1.

Is this true?  I don't know much about audio.

 

He says Logitech Z-640 surround system is better than ANY 2.1 system?  Is it true?

 

I looked it up and Z-640 is from 2002!

What can you tell me about 2.1 and 5.1?

post #2 of 21

Superior in what way? As far as sound quality is concerned, the best I have ever heard was actually a 2.0 setup.

If someone has the sound filling in every corner of the room as the only criteria, then indeed most 5.1 setups would do that better than 2.1.

 

Each configuration has it's purpose and place.

Most 5.1 systems are home-theater oriented, and indeed enhance the movie experiences, especially if the soundtrack is in surround sound.

For audio applications where most of the sources are stereo i.e. 2-channel, the artificially produced surround sound is, well - artificial.

post #3 of 21

There's no reliable way to say a 5.1 would be better. And how do you define 'better' ?  

The 5.1 setup you'll typically find is made for movies and games, which require a particular sound (bright and thumpy).

 

2.1 and more accurately, 2.0 is more music oriented.

That said, you can find 2.1 setups where a single speaker costs way beyond the cost of the best bundled 5.1s (like Logitech),

and performs way better in terms of music reproduction.

Or you can create your own 5.1 as well. (B&W, Dynaudio etc)


Edited by proton007 - 9/14/12 at 2:26am
post #4 of 21

Anyone who uses Logitech as a basis for comparision ought to be automatically disregarded as a source that knows what decent SQ actually is deadhorse.gif Once we move to decently built speakers that dun sound cheap/muddy then we could zoom in on what the user intends to use the set up for i.e surround sound DTS-HD/Dolby True HD for movies or 2 channel music, etc


Edited by trog - 9/14/12 at 8:04am
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 

From a music point of view what is better than the Logitech Z-640 surround sound?  I listen to a lot of music - rap, death metal, classical, flamenco, etc.  I can't say I have had a speaker system that matches up to my Sennheiser headphones.

 

Looks like this 2002 Logitech system went for around $100 in the day.


So what 2.0 system is better than that for the sound quality?

post #6 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by barksdale View Post

From a music point of view what is better than the Logitech Z-640 surround sound?  I listen to a lot of music - rap, death metal, classical, flamenco, etc.  

 

That's a wide variety of genres there. I think if you had to search, you should go for something that is neutral, so that it won't favour one genre and sound crap with another.

 

 

 

Quote:

I can't say I have had a speaker system that matches up to my Sennheiser headphones.

 

What headphones are those? 

 

 

 

Quote:

Looks like this 2002 Logitech system went for around $100 in the day.

 

So how much is it now? Is it even available? It's kind of moot to discuss a great product if you can't have it.

post #7 of 21
A pair of Indignias or Overnight Sensations (both DIY builds, but I believe PE may have both available as kits or possibly even pre-fabs) and a good chipamp (DIY, Topping, good Dayton boxes, some like Tripath) will blow that away on the music end of things. Unless of course you are using these at a larger distance or need them to be really loud. Both are small speakers and I'm talking about 25-50W amps so you can't expect miracles, but for nearfield or desktop stuff, this setup would be plenty for really nice sound. That setup would be double the Logitech price you quoted at least though (I know a guy that probably spent $600 on an Indignia build alone, though they can be done for around $100)

It will not have the bass extension of a setup with a subwoofer, but it will be clean and tight rather than the bloated mess that most surround setups end up being for music.
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric_C View Post

 

That's a wide variety of genres there. I think if you had to search, you should go for something that is neutral, so that it won't favour one genre and sound crap with another.

 

 

 

 

What headphones are those? 

 

 

 

 

So how much is it now? Is it even available? It's kind of moot to discuss a great product if you can't have it.


My headphones are Sennheiser pc 160s.  They are meant for gaming but sound so great for music.  Going on 7 years with these headphones and no complaints.

 

I don't own Logitech Z-640, I just want to understand why it's better than any 2.1 for music or just what makes it so good.  You probably can't get them anymore unless you search craigslist or ebay.

post #9 of 21
If you have music recorded in stereo (2.0) reproducing it with surround (5.1) is either combining the two for center, and doubling it in the rear with all lows passed to the subwoofer, or it's not actually using them all. Regardless, you're altering the input quite a bit from the original 2 point source to a new multi-output setup.

2.0 or 2.1/2.2 with a good musical subwoofer is going to be a better option for reproducing things recorded in stereo regardless, especially when you go from the little drivers in a surround bundle, to properly tuned (for music) speakers with bigger better drivers.

Without getting into too much detail, the crossovers for music and the crossovers for theater are generally designed quite differently, so they perform well at their intended job, and adequately at the other. Some crossovers allow for a very versatile speaker, but these are generally more easily found in the higher end, neutral sounding gear.
post #10 of 21

Yes, I get that you don't own the Logitechs. It's just that it's kind of pointless to discuss how good it is if it's not even available. From the reviews I could dig up, the Logitech speakers just seem to be "good for gaming/movies" and with "uneven midrange that makes them bad for music".

http://www.ign.com/articles/2002/12/12/logitech-z-640-review

http://www.digitaltrends.com/pc-speaker-reviews/logitech-z-640-review/

 

If even sites like IGN and Digital Trends withheld their praise for the speakers' music performance, it's a good bet that they're not that fantastic.

 

Your headphones are apparently regarded as "decent".

http://www.trustedreviews.com/Sennheiser-PC160-Gaming-Headset_Peripheral_review_sennheiser-pc160_Page-2#tr-review-summary

 

But like proton said: there's no way to say that "5.1 is better". In fact, you can't even really argue that 2.1 is better. You have to drill down to specific setups vs specific setups, and bear in mind that music is generally recorded for stereo (2.0) playback. That's all there really is to it.

post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 

So 5.1 is generally better for movies and gaming then.  Although I would only use headphones for gaming.

 

Is it possible to get a quality 2.1 system for music for as cheap as $100?

post #12 of 21

I dunno. That really depends on where you live and what's available around you: maybe you have stores nearby with a wide selection, maybe a great system is being sold secondhand. 

Have you tried Googling?

 

https://www.google.com.sg/search?q=2.1+%24100&aq=f&sugexp=chrome,mod=5&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric_C View Post

I dunno. That really depends on where you live and what's available around you: maybe you have stores nearby with a wide selection, maybe a great system is being sold secondhand. 

Have you tried Googling?

 

https://www.google.com.sg/search?q=2.1+%24100&aq=f&sugexp=chrome,mod=5&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8


no I didn't google anything, I wanted to hear from other audiophiles.

 

I order all my computer stuff online.

post #14 of 21

Its hard to find something for 100 bucks that sounds good, but you can be lucky if you're able to find something in the second hand market.

I used the Altec Lansing MX5021, 2.1, pretty good for 150 bucks (when it was new). Maybe you can pick them up somewhere for cheap.

Or you can try a 2.0 like AudioEngine or M-Audio.

post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by barksdale View Post

I wanted to hear from other audiophiles.

 

That can be one of the worst things you do, haha. This is one of the most inclusive forums I've seen, and as a result there's dozens of opinions on almost every thing here, with more praise than criticisms across the board. And that's just for headphones--which most users here do have experience with.

 

Get into speakers and there's even less experience, so if I were you I'd trust most speaker discussions here even less.

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