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Revamping the audio on my desktop PC

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

I have a nice, new desktop PC that I use for watching movies, listening to music and gaming. It's not bad as it stands right now, but I have some spare speakers that I'm not using, so I figured I might as well put them to use. My equipment consists of:


  • Asus Z77 LK. The onboard chipset provides 6 analogue outputs, 2x S-PDIF, HDMI & DisplayPort.
  • Creative GigaWorks T20 PC speakers, hooked up via 3.5mm stereo to the PC. They have an integrated amp. Bought them at around $100.
  • Sennheiser HD 598 headphones. I use them when I'm up late or want to be more discreet.
  • Gathering dust in the closet: a pair of Paradigm Studio 60 V3 floor standing speakers.


What I'd like to do is get the Studio 60's up front instead of the T20s, and possibly put the T20s as the new rear surround speakers for a nice 4.0 system. I don't need too much volume, and I'm only going to use the surround for movies & gaming, so I'm not too worried about the T20s "spoiling" the Studio 60s' sound. My planned budget: $300 or below.


I can either get an external DAC + amp, but that only gets me the front stereo surround. I couldn't find any 4-channel DACs within my budget. Is there a way to split 4.0 sound between a stereo DAC and my integrated sound?


Alternatively, I can get a sound card + one stereo amp. What's the current opinion on internal sound cards (such as Sound Blaster Z / Asus Essence)? Are they comparable in quality to similarly-priced DACs?


Lastly, I can get a used ~$200 - $300 receiver (Denon AVR 791 or H/K AVR 130 come to mind). With this option, I'm worried that I would be sacrificing audio quality for bells & whistles that I don't need.


What's the preferred option that gets me the best audio quality within the budget? Any other suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Edited by DarthShader - 2/4/13 at 8:33pm
post #2 of 3
If you want to run surround sound, then a Denon receiver and passive speakers can be a very good choice as long as your mother board or graphics card has HDMI out with audio. The Denon you are looking at (equivalent to the Denon 1911) has Audyssey MultEQ. Using the microphone that comes with it, Audyssey will measure each speaker's response from the listening position, set channel levels, delays, and then apply EQ filters to smooth the in-room response. And if you end up with a sub, it will also EQ the sub. Then the bass management on the receiver will let you control individual crossover points for the speakers for where they crossover with a sub.

But to get the benefit of that, you'd want to run rear passive speakers and add a sub. Those Studio 60s are awesome speakers to start off with, but the T20s are toys in comparison. You could really build something awesome around those Paradigms. Even a 4.1 with phantom center would sound phenomenal as long as you have the room to properly place the Studio 60s.
post #3 of 3

If you want your headphones to sound good, for music, movies and gaming, your going to want to get a sound card.

The Creative Labs Sound blaster Zx will sometimes go on sale for around $120.


And for the Studio 60 V3, get a simple 2-channel speaker amplifier or a used receiver, budget $100?

You would run 2-channel analog from the SB Zx sound card to the analog input on the speaker amplifier or receiver.


You could run an analog cable from the SB Zx's rear speaker jack to the GigaWorks T20s.

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