Best PC 5.1 surround system under $400?

By Master Toddy
May 29, 2003
  1. I was wondering what the best PC 5.1 surround system is? I made a post earlier about which I should upgrade to - speakers or a vid. card, so I'm doing research on the two topics. Everything I've read points to the Logitech Z-680 speakers (I'd upgrade to the Creative Megaworks 6.1, but there isn't a whole lot of stuff that supports 6. 1 speakers, and I heard that some games that don't sound funny - so I figure why waste the extra money). Is this assumption correct?
  2. negroplasty

    negroplasty TS Guru Posts: 516   +12

    I suppose your assumption may be correct if talking about older games, but recently released games usually support 5.1, 6.1 and even up to 7.1!

    But if you are looking for 5.1 speakers, I would recommend Altec Lansing 5100's, which are what I have, they are not incredible powerful, but you don't need 600W speakers in a small room like my own; it depends on the size of your room, no need to get powerful speakers if less powerful ones will sound just as good ;) .

    Although, for another recommendation, I would say that Cambridge Soundworks make some very good speakers, better than Creative in my opinion. In fact, I think Creative owns them, either way; their product quality is a lot better.
  3. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 993

    You are correct Timmore! Creative does own CSW. IMHO almost all of the creative speakers except the Megaworks series sucks. I m suspicious of the quality Logitech speakers. They seem to have problems with the fuse in their subs - tend to blow all frequently, some hissing too in the Z680.

    If you're seeking top class 5.1 speakers, Megaworks 550THX/ 500THX would be a wise choice. Quality is almost equivalent to sub $1000 mini home theater systems. IMO the 6.1 you were talking about back then wouldn't be a bad choice at all, its something similar to the Megaworks 550THX but with an addition of 1 extra 100w sattelite.
  4. Julio Franco

    Julio Franco TechSpot Editor Posts: 7,023   +612

    We have reviews for some of the speakers sets you have mentioned:

    Hmmm, perhaps we should also be reviewing other sets from more manufacturers, anything in special you would like to see reviewed?
  5. negroplasty

    negroplasty TS Guru Posts: 516   +12

    I wouldn't mind seeing some reviews on some of the latest speakers from Altec Lansing ;) . Maybe the 641's or something similar? I am very happy with my Altec’s; they do their job very well which inspires my interest about other sets which they make. I think it would be a good addition the reviews section of TS if we saw some Altec Lansing speakers, if it's not too much trouble of course, I don't want to cause any inconvenience.

    Thanks a lot Julio!

    BTW, this is just a suggestion; the decision is yours in the end of course ;) .
  6. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 993

    I've got a set 641, wanted to review a few months back during my summer holidays...Ended being busy throught the whole break ;).

    BTW, Master Toddy, if you are into the speakers and can't really decided which to purchase, then go down to your nearest store and have an audition with your favourite tracks, throw in as much cds as possible. This way you can make a better judgement. Let your ears decide at the end as sound is very subjective.
  7. JSR

    JSR Banned Posts: 592

    you can't beat nforce 2 soundstorm 6.1

    onboard for the cost of the motherboard..................screw soundcards.........audigy 2 can't beat bottlenecks
  8. Master Toddy

    Master Toddy TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 55

    Well, you see, I'm more into movies and games than music, so music wouldn't really effect me. I want what's best for movies (like Lord of the Rings and Attack of the Clones) and games (like Battlefield 1942 and Morrowind).
  9. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 993

    There no such this as the BEST in sound. As i have mentioned earlier sound is very subjective. Not everyone has the same view as which is the best set of speaker.

    We can recommend you different sets of speakers. The finally decision is up to you, you need decide yourself what is best to you by judging them through a demo.
  10. Arris

    Arris TS Evangelist Posts: 4,587   +278

    Re: you can't beat nforce 2 soundstorm 6.1

    Well in the case of CPU utilisation in general the Soundstorm beats the Audigy2, but for best use of EAX Advanced HD the Audigy2 is best.
  11. aoj145

    aoj145 TS Rookie Posts: 82

    I've got the Creative Megaworks 650 THX 6.1 speakers and they're awesome.

    I don't hear anything that sounds funny and I've already seen alot of games that support 6.1 sound. America's Army is really awesome with the Audigy 2 and the 6.1 speakers.

    Actually, I had bought the Megaworks 550 5.1 at CompUSA (CrapUSA) for $350. The next week Creative released the 650 6.1 on their website for $400 plus free shipping and a $75 rebate.

    I returned the 5.1 to CrapUSA and bought the 6.1's. Ended us costing me $325 which was cheaper than the 5.1.

    DVD's, MP3's and Games sound awesome with that combination. Some of the audigy 2 software sucks (i.e. Mediasource), but so far I've been happy with that setup until the next best thing comes out.
  12. novicegamer

    novicegamer TS Rookie Posts: 89

    I cant get my puter to recognize my audigy2 so I installed the audigy with live drive and put the audigy 2 back in spare puter
  13. Elcarion

    Elcarion TechSpot Paladin Posts: 169

    I agree totally, especially when it comes to computer speakers. You must hear them with your own ears and make the decision yourself. Use this information to determine with speakers are worth taking the time to listen to. Bring music that you've hear on good speakers to help determine where they fall short.
    With speakers, size matters. However, overall sound quality depends on the entire package, mainly the drivers, crossovers, and enclosures. These 3 areas are where most speakers, especially computer speakers, fall short. I have yet to see a tweeter crossover that is more that just a single capacitor. While this can be ok, forget about a corresponding low-pass crossover on the midrange to match it with the tweeter. Hey, who stole my soapbox? eom
  14. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 993

    And one more thing Mastertoddy, in speakers, figures and ratings don't matter very much. Please always keeep that in mind too.
  15. Master Toddy

    Master Toddy TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 55

    Yeah, that's what I hate about speakers. With video cards, you can look at comparisons between the Radeon and GeForce cards and say, "that's the best" but you can't with speakers. Though, 500 watts on the Logitech speakers is quite a bit :).
  16. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TS Evangelist Posts: 4,345   +11

    Most hifi-wannabe devices are advertised having hundreds of watts of power.

    These values are almost always measured as PMPO, which means Peak Music Power. Peak is the keyword here. This is not the true power of the amplifier, it's just used to make it look good. Basically, it's what the amplifier can output (or the speaker can handle) for very short periods of time - thus, peaks.

    An example:
    What you should look at is the RMS power - Root Mean Square power. That's the average sustained power output of an amplifier (or again, what the speaker can handle).

    Another thing that bugs me off is when people say speakers (passive ones!) have this and this amount of power.. they don't have anything, they can handle it.
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