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Totally New To the Home Theater Audio Scene: Looking For Some Help

1635 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  selden
I am totally new to home theater so all help will be appreciated.
To start things off, I will explain what I have and my budget, then what I'm looking for.

This home theatre system will be hooked up to a PC with a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Xifi Xtremegamer sound card. In terms of sound cards, it is arguably the best in the sub $120 range, so it can support whatever will be thrown at it, be it 7.1 systems, or high quality sound bits.
It will be setup in my bedroom, and granted it is large for a bedroom, it is still a bedroom. Although its no living room size project, by the time its finished I want to be able to rock the house, and a few houses down the street is what I'm aiming for. For right now, my budget is a bit of a tight $500-600.
I had a Logitech X-540 5.1 setup, but I busted those, so now I'm looking for something new. At first it was a given that I would go with the Logitech Z-5500's, but lately I have been hearing that any mediocre home theatre system will blow away even the best PC speaker system.
Now, I don't want any towers, and I like the best possible clarity/base ratio as possible, with a little more emphasis on the clarity. Aesthetics are unimportant to me. I listen to LOTS of music, a bit of movies, and I do gaming. Whatever I get, I need to last.
I live in Canada, and would like to be able to test them out in store. Not sure if that will help or not, but I'm throwing it out there anyway.
At first I thought for sure I would be going with a 5.1 HTIB system, but I have been realizing that in my budget range, I just won't be getting anything satisfactory to my needs. So now I am debating whether I should get a less-than-alright 5.1 setup, that probably won't allow me any upgradability, or go with a 2.1/3.1 good quality setup, with the intention of upgrading once I have more money.

In fact, starting out with a good 3.1 setup, and planning to upgrade later has really been what I have ben leaning towards. So what are some good sub $500-600 speakers. I want a base woofer for sure, and then the 3.1 setup would be nice so I can put two beside me, and one on top/below my monitor.
Also, since I am already operating out of a PC with a pretty good quality sound card, and I won't be watching blu-ray movies, do I really need the receiver? It might be worth mentioning that my 21.5" Asus VH222H 1080p monitor will be acting as a television for my xbox as well, through an HDMI connection.

Ok, so I think thats a good amount of information to start out with, and we can work our way from there. All help is appreciated!
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First off,
Welcome to the Shack.

I'd definitely suggest 2.0 or 2.1 with that budget.
If you don't feel the need for a receiver I'd probably suggest some active monitors like these Behringer TRUTH B2030A and maybe a Dayton SUB-120 HT, these will come in under $500 or you could add another B2030A for 3.1 and still be around $600.

My preference would be a decent receiver and decent speakers as this will add flexibility to your system.
Onkyo TX-SR507
PSB Image B5
That would be about $600, then add sub and other speakers as you can afford them.

Of course there are a lot of other options out there.
There are many choices but with a budget of only $600 its going to be tough to get into anything of quality. For speakers these would do just fine (I know you did not want towers but this is a deal hard to beat).
Another option is these Yambeka's.
For a sub the SVS PB10 NSD cant be beat for sound qualty and price.
To my utter dismay, today I found out that I won't be abe to build a home theatre system because my computer sound card does not support digital output!
Since I'm not going to be upgrading my sound card, I can't be doing a home theatre setup. Although this was extremely dissapointing, I refuse to give up!
It looks like I'll be having to buy some PC speakers. Today, I went out and listened to the Z5500's, and was quite let down, considering all of the hype that constently surrounds it. I found the bass way to loose.

I also realized that there probably isn't a point in me getting surround sound in the first place, because mainly listen to music. I sometimes play video games, and I never watch movies so it turns out a 2.1/3.1 setup will be ideal.
Right now I am looking at these M-Audio Studiophile AV 40's 2.0 speakers, or the 2.0 Audioengine 5's
With the first one, all reviews praise it very highly, and although the second ones don't get as much praise, they are advertised as real home theatre speaker, but more versatile so that I will be able to hook them up to my PC.
Also, is it a bad idea to buy speakers used? The first one are available 6 months used, but otherwise I would have to order them off the internet without getting to listen to them! The seond ones I would definatley have to order without listening to because nobody carries them where I live. Of course I can just return them if I'm not happy with them, but is buying either used, or without having listened to them a bad idea?
My last question concerns a subwoofer. I really want a subwoofer, but I need one that I can hook up to my PC, and that will sound good with my speakers. There aren't many in the first place, but how do I decide which sub will go with my speakers?

My sound card is the Sound Blaster Xtremegamer btw.
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Why not get a stereo integrated amp with analog inputs?
Then you don't need to get speakers with builtin amps.

It's best to audition speakers, especially if they're used. (Personally, I refuse to waste the time needed to ship back items that don't meet my needs.) Relatively new used speakers should be fine if they aren't damaged. Make sure the tweeters still work! (They could have been fried by using an under-powered amp.) Older speakers may need to have some of the surrounds replaced: some materials degrade with time.
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