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Old January 10, 2009, 10:52 PM
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Question Torn between sound cards (and speakers)

Having the spent some time in the past few months familiarizing myself with all of the main components that go into a computer, I completely neglected the audio, except for noting that my P5Q Pro has onboard sound. It's been over 5 years since an upgrade (well...massive overhaul) and I just assumed onboard sound had come far enough to compete with the low to mid-range sound cards. Turns out I'm wrong...very wrong

My old rig has a Hercules Fortissimo III pumping sound out of my Logitech Z5300s. After years of moving around I 'misplaced' the rear speakers for the 5.1 system and at this point am wondering if I should just go for a set of the Z5500s and pair the old set with my ancient rig-turned-HTPC that will be set up in the living room. Anyone owned or had enough listening experience with both models to comment?

Getting a good sound card is trickier. I've heard Asus Xonar is great for movies but lousy for games - due to poor support for a number of titles. Then I turn to Creative Labs for their more reputed compatibility with gaming, then hear that they suck hard in the support department too, this time for Vista. How are they for XP? Is there a happy medium?

I do a lot of gaming, but will also be using this new build for latenight screenings and pumping tunes. My budget is around the $100 mark and caps out at $150.

Thanks for your time
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Old January 12, 2009, 09:49 AM
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Do you mean budget of that price for the sound card? If so I highly recommend the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi xtreme gamer. It's a very nice card for the price, and sounds excellent. I'm using it with XP with no problems at all. You won't be able to afford the Z-5500 with that, but they can be had pretty cheap now-a-days (tiger direct has had them for a good price lately not sure about now)
I actually have it paired up with the Logitech Z-5500 as-well, which are VERY nice speakers. People complain that they have too much bass but with the creative software I found a setting not too long ago that helped that, you can lower the crossover frequency to the subwoofer (I have mine at 84hz) and it sounds better than ever now. The Z-5500's are amazing, super loud with awesome distortion free bass, really clear and crisp sound (only with a sound card though) and are just solid. I have them up loud all the time and have had them so loud that you cannot sit between them and run them like that for hour periods and they haven't even coughed. There is a built in overheat sensor that shuts them off if they overheat which is cool. They are the only computer speakers that I heard that you can turn up really loud and sound even better that way, no crackles, no disappointment. The Z-5300 is a decent speaker system too, although I haven't had as much experience with them since I don't own them, but I assure you the 5500 will be a worthy upgrade.
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Old January 12, 2009, 02:29 PM
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I use the Z-5500 system myself. I've had this for several years and the only way I would "upgrade" from them is if I invested $1000-2000 in a real home theater setup. Quite honestly in my experience, the Z-5500 is the PINNACLE of PC sound.

As for sound card, I've used a couple here, too. I've used the Creative Audigy 1, 2, 2 ZS, X-Fi XtremeMusic and now I have the Auzentech Prelude X-Fi.

I have never heard better PC sound than the Prelude + Z-5500. Make sure you feed the Z-5500 speakers with analog output from the Prelude. This sound card specifically excels in analog output because of the high-end components that it's built with. Of course, it can also do digital coax output and optical output.
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Old January 12, 2009, 04:26 PM
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I'm two keystrokes shy of ordering the Z5500s. I've heard nothing but rave reviews about these beasts ... can't wait to draw the ire of my neighbours :D

Now it's down to the soundcard. It'll probably end up being the Creative Labs Titanium that ends up in my shopping cart. For overall sound quality and engineering the Xonar comes out on top ... but the compatibility issues that keep cropping up in reviews and threads are too much for me to risk ... I game more than I watch movies and listen to tunes. Besides, I'm sure I can live with slightly inferior audio ;p
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Old January 18, 2009, 10:18 AM
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Then go with the Prelude conencted through analog to your speakers.

Did you buy your cards and speakers?
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Old January 18, 2009, 03:37 PM
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The Z-5500 speakers are amazing! You definitely wont be disappointed. Like Jake HT said, lowing the bass definitely makes for better quality. I'm running the realtek onboard 5.1 chann system and the sound manager has a little checkbox for 'Bass Management' which automatically takes out all the loud thumping bass.
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Old January 18, 2009, 03:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by element291 View Post
The Z-5500 speakers are amazing! You definitely wont be disappointed. Like Jake HT said, lowing the bass definitely makes for better quality. I'm running the realtek onboard 5.1 chann system and the sound manager has a little checkbox for 'Bass Management' which automatically takes out all the loud thumping bass.
The z5500s are far from amazing.

They are decent at best and unfortunately there isn't anything on the market at this point to really compete with them.

If you don't have the room to properly setup 5.1 your better off getting a set of 2.1 speakers that Edifier currently does sell.
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Old January 18, 2009, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
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The z5500s are far from amazing.
I'll disagree, for the $300 price tag, I don't think there is a speaker than can compete with the power. Maybe the sound quality, I'm not sure, but with the features these speakers have (optical, coaxial, or 6ch direct), included sound settings for each, easy control panel to adjust center, subwoofer, and surround channels... there just isn't a speaker system that can compete, which makes them amazing, in my eyes at least.

And they're well built too, they've stood up to my constant abuse, and have had them overheat plenty of times, but the overheat sensor kicks in and shuts them off so they don't fry. I'm totally in love and I haven't heard a better system that is anywhere near the price range. I suppose it helps wonders to have a nice sound card to pair up to them, they don't sound well with onboard, from what I've experienced.
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Old January 18, 2009, 03:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake_HT View Post
I'll disagree, for the $300 price tag, I don't think there is a speaker than can compete with the power. Maybe the sound quality, I'm not sure, but with the features these speakers have (optical, coaxial, or 6ch direct), included sound settings for each, easy control panel to adjust center, subwoofer, and surround channels... there just isn't a speaker system that can compete, which makes them amazing, in my eyes at least.

And they're well built too, they've stood up to my constant abuse, and have had them overheat plenty of times, but the overheat sensor kicks in and shuts them off so they don't fry. I'm totally in love and I haven't heard a better system that is anywhere near the price range. I suppose it helps wonders to have a nice sound card to pair up to them, they don't sound well with onboard, from what I've experienced.
1) Power is totally over rated on the z5500
2) Sound quality is very lacking; I've heard them on dvd and audio and was not impressed.
3) Features yes that's about the only thing it has going.

And like I said unfortunately at this point in time until the Edifiers are released can anything really dethrone the z5500s

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Old January 18, 2009, 04:20 PM
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Thanks for the replies.

I made the 'mistake' of visiting headfi.org to look into headphones and ended up delaying my decision until finally, one night, after a few glasses of wine I hit the 'Submit Order' button for a pair of Audio-Technica A500's. Speakers are still on the horizon but I don't plan on picking up a set until after this summer, at the earliest.

As far as sound cards I decided to go with an Auzentech Prelude. It seemed like the nice, yet pricey, middle ground between audiophile quality sound and game compatibility.

Both are pieces of hardware I expect to hold on to and not upgrade for many years to come, so I can justify the cost that way.
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