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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Pardon if this is long. Also hope this is the right forum for these questions.


I have a desktop PC w/ AMD Athlon XP 1667MHz CPU, Windows XP with motherboard audio AVANCE AC97 Audio for VIA (R) audio controller; mini-jack MIC, Line IN, and Line OUT connectors. Currently I only have crummy stereo mini-speakers.


I'm considering upgrading to Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speakers (Dolby DTS, THX, etc.).


I can't see how I would be able to connect the 5.1 speakers to the mini-jack connectors on the PC (one stereo Line OUT mini-jack to 5.1 speakers?).


I can see how to go into XP Control Panel, sounds & audio devices, audio, sound playback, advanced, and then select 5.1 surround sound speakers - but I think that's just an XP thing that won't change the physical out-put.


I'm guessing I need to upgrade with a PCI audio/sound card with 5.1 capabilities. Do I need to? Will it plug and play and automatically override the current audio? What do I need to watch out for regarding compatibility? Are there any particular features I should try to get with the card? Can anyone recommend any cards?


I'd like not to have to pay $100 for a card. I'm hoping I can get one with the needed features for around the $25 range. So far I've seen cnet, newegg, and the usual brick and mortar chains as possible sources.


While I'm asking, do y'all think I can run a cable from the PC to the speakers, say 25~30' long without problem [due PC in bedroom & want speakers in living room]?


Would greatly appreciate yr various comments!


Doug Stewart :eek:
 

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The Logitechs that you want will have three plug-ins to make the 5.1 (total of 6 inputs). Your motherboard may be capable of changing the three audio ports in the back of your computer to 5.1 out instead of the normal Mic In, Line In, Speaker Out ports. You may have to go into the bios setup screen right when the computer boots up to make that change.


You may even have a motherboard that supports DD output thru coax or optical. Look on the back of your computer. If so the bios screen or your sound control panel may be able to help you set that up.


If your motherboard is really old you may be hosed from that standpoint, but there should be many reasonably priced USB or PCI cards that can do 5.1


As for speaker wires ... you can alway splice as long as you don't mess up the polarity. The ones you want may be RCA connectors and then you just have to buy longer RCA cables. If you are running sound to anther room you may want to running the sound cables, not the speaker cables room to room so you have control of the speakers with the Logitech remote.


Just my two cents.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Tks BV for the comments.


I'm scared to mess with the bios trying to make the 3 mini-jacks function as 5.1. I have no coax or optical outputs on the PC.


I'm interpreting your encouraging words regarding a new sound card to mean I CAN install one (even through usb external !?) and plug and play; overriding the motherboard audio.


I'd still like to hear if there are any particular features to seek in a new card, anything to avoid, and/or any compatibility issues to watch out for. Any suggestions for particular cards or sources (other than newegg or cnet, or local CompUSA & such)?


I understand the spkr wire comment to mean that I CAN string a long cable (about 30' max) from the PC line OUT (5.1 once I get a new card) to the Logitech base unit and not suffer bad audio because of length. The wires from the Logitech base unit to the individual speakers will not be especially long (max 18').


Anyone else care to chime in?


Doug
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Tks, BigguyZ

The Chaintec AV-710 sounds like just what I was asking for.


Can I use a 30' (max) optical cable from the card/PC to the Logitech spkr's base unit? Is there such a cable? (one more thing to look up & shop for...)


Doug
 

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dlstwart

You will need to use analog connections for all multichannel media sources that are not DD/DTS compression encoded. For example: PC gaming.

If it's just movies then you are ok using digital.


You are better off putting the PC in the same room as HT if you can put up with the PC's fan noise. Optical cables that long (if available) will be expensive and prone to break if you tripped over it or closed the door on it. Coaxial would be better for length and 'wear and tear' but kinda of expensive at that length also. Only you know your budget and rooms.

Also how are you gonna route this cable unless you plan to drill a hole in the dividing wall? No need to answer - just getting you to brainstorm a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Tks a ton, ton80!


I don't game. Just play music files, CD's, internet radio, movies, and DVD's. So, it sounds like the Chaintec card with both optical and coax will be good.


Tks for making me think deeper about routing the coax or optical cables. We've got no kids to worry about for one thing. I'll probably route it under the edge of the rug near the walls. The most vulnerable spot will be going out the bedroom door and around to the opposite side of the wall into the living room.


Hmmm... perhaps something to cover it? Duct tape! My wife will love that.


Doug
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ton80
dlstwart

You will need to use analog connections for all media sources that are NOT DD/DTS encoded.


Not true. It'll just pass a PCM bitstream.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Sounds like I am still in good shape with the Chantech AV-710 sound card.


I just ordered it and a NEC ND-3540A DVD burner. Hope this all goes together well...
 

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If you own your residence you could drill a small (1/2 inch, 3/4 inch or so depending on the cable end fittings) hole in your wall near the baseboards or even through the baseboards away from the power outlets of course ;) :eek: . That is if your PC and HT system locations are approximately on the same side of house with a dividing wall in between. Take exact measurements on both sides of the wall in order for the two holes to match up and feed thru.

Could shorten the length by 10-20 ft. That's what I did for my cable internet line for my bedroom where my PC is at and my inbound cable comes in at my HT system location. I was able to avoid the doorway problem that way.


You could even hide the cable behind the baseboards. There's usually a small enough space behind the baseboards. Depends on if the drywall doesn't meet flush with the floor.


This might be easier for cable management if no powers tools are available. Use these or something like these available at your favorite hardware store on your baseboards. Keeps you from having to pull the edges of carpet up.
http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showd...number=359-050

Just some ideas for you.
 
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