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HTPC Audio Help, Please

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
Hello,

I am not sure if I am posting this in the correct forum, so I apologize in advance. Hopefully, a friendly mod will relocate it if it is not in the right spot.

Here is my situation:

I have this motherboard:
Gigabyte GA-F2A78M-HD2

It has an HDMI port and audio 3.5 ports, but it does not have an optical audio port. I would like to get some sort of home theater/home audio system going with my TV. Would I need to get a receiver or an amp to make that happen? Do I need to get a sound card of some sort, or can the on board audio handle surround (specs says that it can)? Do I have to get a receiver based audio system or can I use "quality" computer speakers?

I have no idea what to do. I am extremely new at home audio and, after purchasing my TV and components for the HTPC, I am on a pretty limited budget. I hope that made some sort of sense. I am a bit confused myself.

Thank you in advance for any and all help, advice and/or suggestions that you all may have for me.

Thanks!

Testudo
post #2 of 3
If you're happy using your tv speakers and assuming of course it has hdmi sockets and assuming your motherboard can output hdmi audio (if they were bought within the last 5 years that should be the case) then you should only need a hdmi cable to get stereo sound out via your tv.

If you want full on surround then some sort of av receiver and speakers will be required. I personally wouldn't touch pc speakers, even "quality" ones with a barge pole.

Of course you'll need more than just a motherboard to build your computer but I'm assuming you know that already!
 
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Intel Core i7 3820 P9X79 PRO Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI 
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Reference EVGA GTX 780 TI Samsung  Corsair Force 3 Samsung BD-ROM drive 
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post #3 of 3
Like Pharcycle said, it depends on what kind of sound you want and what your budget is. Do you already have the PC built? If so, do you have a GPU with an HDMI out? You can run the video and audio signals thought the one HDMI port of the GPU (provided it's a nvidea 9000 or ati 4000 series or newer,) to your TV or to an AVR (receiver.) I haven't heard of many people doing this through the motherboard's HDMI out but not saying it isn't doable either...I'm just ignorant of it.

I'm guessing you want full on surround sound for movies and games. If this is the case, then an AVR with speakers is your best route. The AVR will process the sound with its internal DACs so sound will be better than the onboard audio of a MB. Plus, you'll need the amplifiers inside the AVR to power the speakers. Sites like crutchfield.com and accsessories4less provide good prices on all sorts of AVRs. Prices can range from $200-$300 for low-end, $400-$1000+ for mid-range. Depending on what you want as far as features and name brand usually seta the price.

If you want some great advice on speakers for your budget, you probably won't find better info than AVSforums or audioholics forums. STAY AWAY FROM BOSE lol!!! Rip-off speakers and anyone that knows audio will agree.

You'll want a decent 5.1 speaker package or more (5.2, 7.1, 7.2 ext.) Generally speaking, 5.1 is just fine as all the other extra speakers are usually for audio nuts that want an actual theater in their home. You'll want you front three speakers (left/center/right,) to match timbre so they should all be from the same line. Your surrounds are usually smaller and aren't as important in matching the fronts. They generally don't get used as much but are there for side duty in surround effects. Plan at least a couple hundred here for decent speakers.

The ".1" in 5.1, is for the subwoofer. Most people have no idea how important this component is in a theater system and cheap out here. The low-end frequencies take the most amount of power to drive which is why most subs have their own amps. This will take a HUGE strain off you AVR be eliminating low-range freq (usually 80hz and below,) from your main speakers. You'll then be able to drive the rest of the system louder, cleaner, without distorting or 'clipping' the amp (when the amp runs out of power - this can damage speakers.) You said you budget is low so you may not like this but, an entry level sub that is worth its salt is going to start around $400-$500. Granted, you can go cheaper...especially if you get a do-it-yourself build kit, but for enthusiasts....this is the entry bracket for pricing. Room size plays a huge factor with subs too. The larger the room, the bigger the sub you'll need to 'pressurize' the room and give you that 'thump' in the chest. Cheaper subs will go down to around 35hz. Good subs will play down below 20hz. The average human ear can't hear frequencies below 20hz. However, movies are often engineered during certain scenes to have audio below this 20hz point...explosions, crashes, helicopters, or sound effects in a horror movie. While you may not 'hear' this, the point being - with a good sub - you'll 'feel' it instead. This is the optimum goal for most in setting up a good home theater. One more thing about getting a good sub...this will eliminate the need for floor standing tower speakers since you're cutting out the low-range frequencies. A pair of bookshelf speakers will do just fine for your front main L/R speakers and are cheaper than towers.

The cheaper route than anything I mentioned is just getting a HTIB (home theater in a box,) from best buy or something. Can find a total package system for a couple hundred...but you get what you pay for.

And even cheaper than that is getting a 5.1 computer speaker system. There's more options now than there were a few years ago. You'll need the staple 3.5 audio outs for surround sound that are on the motherboard or a dedicated sound card in your PC.

The HTIB and/or computer speakers will do most people justice...but that's because they've never experienced a well-built system from someone who knows audio.

Hope this helps. Any more questions, just ask.
Edited by Trace - 4/11/14 at 12:51am
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