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Upgrading my speakers / sound card?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I was thinking, my Creative Inspire 5.1 5200 surround sound speakers were purchased over 7 years ago - should I be looking at something newer for a better surround sound experience? Maybe something that uses a digital output on the back panel rather than analog? Would that also mean upgrading my onboard sound card too or should my Gigabyte motherboard do just fine? I also have a Creative Audigy 4 sound card but haven't really used it - perhaps there is something better I should be looking at instead?

How much better will the sound quality be if I do make any of these upgrades? Or maybe I'm fine with exactly what I've got?
Just trying to get a feel for what's out there and how much I should be expecting to spend for the entire upgrade. Perhaps the full audio experience of 5.1 analog to 7.1 digital will be just as big of an upgrade as HDD to SSD, or maybe not that noticeable at all?

Thanks!
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post #2 of 6
Sound quality generally scales with price range.
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post #3 of 6
I'm not going to go into your speakers, but it seems you don't know what you need to know about analog and digital in terms of audio. Anything coming from your speakers will be analog, i.e. an electronic signal in wave form that gets directly translated into the speaker moving. Digital is the audio in it's bit form, i.e. 11001010010101. So your computer must process audio in its digital form, and a huge area where sound quality can be lost is the transition from digital audio to analog audio, which happens in a DAC (digital-to-analog converter). You motherboard has a very basic DAC, so it's analog output will be "meh" at best. If you buy speakers with a digital input, then you get to skip your mobo's DAC, which means that your computer will give exactly the file's bits, leaving the conversion to the DAC in your receiver/speaker system, which I can almost guarantee will be better. It may not change the world, but if you plan on spending big money on speakers/headset, then avoid using your motherboard's DAC.

Phew. Sorry for the essay, but I really hoped I helped you clear some things up for you.
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nickum32 View Post

I'm not going to go into your speakers, but it seems you don't know what you need to know about analog and digital in terms of audio. Anything coming from your speakers will be analog, i.e. an electronic signal in wave form that gets directly translated into the speaker moving. Digital is the audio in it's bit form, i.e. 11001010010101. So your computer must process audio in its digital form, and a huge area where sound quality can be lost is the transition from digital audio to analog audio, which happens in a DAC (digital-to-analog converter). You motherboard has a very basic DAC, so it's analog output will be "meh" at best. If you buy speakers with a digital input, then you get to skip your mobo's DAC, which means that your computer will give exactly the file's bits, leaving the conversion to the DAC in your receiver/speaker system, which I can almost guarantee will be better. It may not change the world, but if you plan on spending big money on speakers/headset, then avoid using your motherboard's DAC.

Phew. Sorry for the essay, but I really hoped I helped you clear some things up for you.

Thanks, Nickum32
+rep!

Can you recommend a good set of PC / Mac surround sound speakers with DAC included in them?
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post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by revlimiter View Post

Thanks, Nickum32
+rep!
Can you recommend a good set of PC / Mac surround sound speakers with DAC included in them?

just get a good sound card for your pc, pick up a good amp and speakers and you'll be set.
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post #6 of 6
Many speakers will not come with a DAC in them, for that you probably need a sound card, like DzillaXx said, or a full stereo receiver. You really don't need to spend a lot to improve over your mobo sound. How nice of speakers you buy should determine how much you spend on a sound card. And for product recommendations, I can't do much better than what is already here on OCN's Most Recommended Audio Products page: http://www.overclock.net/t/1014902/ocns-most-recommended-audio-products
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