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Guidance on a 5.1 "entry" level system with a focus on music

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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2019, 08:37 AM - Thread Starter
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Guidance on a 5.1 "entry" level system with a focus on music

Hello fellas.

I'm starting to explore getting a set of speakers for my room to substitute the, to be gentle, limited set of logitech z5500 I got as a present many years ago, and since I know very little in the world of audio quality I've little choice but to ask around here for you to guide my hand a little.

So first of all, to set the boundaries, I'm not too picky. I'll be happy with just a decent sound quality, not looking for awesome (or to spend "awesome money", I'm not setting a precise budget, but we're talking ballpark of 5-600 € or so).

The thing is I don't know what is the best approach, or what is even viable.
The idea is to set up a 5.1 set for my room (so no need for much power) that can do games and movies without too much flare, but geared with a nice pair of front speakers that can do the music at least some justice, which is after all where most of the time will be spent.

I'm guessing most people, given enough money, would just get some good speakers or monitors for the music and a separate surround system for the "home theater" aspect of things, but I have neither the room nor am I willing to spend the money for that (or need to, for that matter. As I said, I'm not that picky). So I don't really know what the best approach is.

Is it viable to spend most of the money on a basic competent amp + speakers + maybe subwoofer to build a good base for the music and then just add 3 cheaper satelites? Can you get it to sound balance like that?
A straight up whole 5.1 would be good enough?


I'm guessing music taste is more of a factor when talking headphones, but my type is somewhat wide, starting with prog rock/metal/fusion/whatever (varied enough a genre as it is), and going through rock, metal, jazz, blues, folk... occasionally going outer still into general symphonic or classical, for example.
I tend to equalize on the side of balanced, I prefer to listen to it "as intended", so to speak, no need for, say, crazy bass. I just want to actually be able to hear everything going on in the music.

In terms of gear I don't really have anything worth keeping. I'm using a Xonar DX right now to run the z5500 and for my few headphone needs, I asume everything would run throgh the amp/reciever in this new hypothetical set.


So... what do you fellas think is the best way to go about this?

Last edited by Molitro; 03-21-2019 at 08:43 AM.
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2019, 08:48 AM
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yamaha or emotiva
yamaha for budget all in one
emotiva for seperates
both yamaha avr with emotiva amp
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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-21-2019, 03:16 PM
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Dayton surround set?
Floorstanders: https://www.soundimports.eu/en/t652-air.html
Bookshelfers: https://www.soundimports.eu/en/b652-air.html or https://www.soundimports.eu/en/b452-air.html

Then add something for the center and sub. The center speaker for Air series isn't available in Europe at the moment so you have to improvise. As for sub... something cheap like this?
And finally an AVR that fits the remaining budget, as you have Xonar DX (that has DDL encoding for optical) you can even get an older used receiver that doesn't have HDMI support to cut costs.

Ppl should learn to add more info to their posts when they ask for help...
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2019, 03:30 AM - Thread Starter
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The consensus I see everywhere I go seems to end up being that probably the best way to go is to focus on the amp and speakers for the music and then just add the satelites.

I'll see what I come up with that way.

Thanks.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2019, 05:53 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Molitro View Post
The consensus I see everywhere I go seems to end up being that probably the best way to go is to focus on the amp and speakers for the music and then just add the satelites.

I'll see what I come up with that way.

Thanks.
Just wondering where you have been reading this?

Amp really should not matter (unless you get really inefficient speakers [usually the high-end/full range stuff (speakers that can hit <30hz @ -3dB)]), so long is it has the inputs/outputs you want (HDCP 2.2/4K/HDR stuff). If you just need 1080p, a cheap used AVR should be more than enough.

The front 3 are the most important speakers, but honestly, for a budget I would rank things in this order: Center channel, sub, left and right, receiver, rears/sides. For gaming/movies/TV, the center channel is going to be in use like 99% of the time. The sub is (imo) the most important part of movies/games, but it is also one of the more expensive components. L+R are important for music more than they are for most other things, but with a subwoofer, you can get away with 'lesser' speakers. As far as the rear speakers go, really the just need to not sound so bad that they take you 'out' of the content.

What are your options for purchasing? How do you feel about purchasing used?
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2019, 06:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by Jedi Mind Trick View Post
Just wondering where you have been reading this?
Just what I've picked up generally speaking taking into account the most important part would be the focus on music.
I mostly agree with what you're saying in terms of priority, side/rear speakers being clearly the least important, although as I said the music is the main part, so left and right and sub should be more important than center.

In terms of AVR there's no importance at all on the V part of it. It's a computer run system, the video side is done by the PC. Same thing could be true about the audio for that matter if it was a better way to go about it. Using the Xonar DX for the processing and just getting a simple amp to move some decent speakers and subwoofer, maybe? Is that a thing?

I'm in Spain, so I can pretty much buy in any european shop. I'm also not closed to buying used, but the main "problem" right now is basically me not knowing much at all about specifics in terms of models and brands, so I've pretty much all the work ahead of me to actually decide what to buy (hence the asking for help )

Last edited by Molitro; 03-22-2019 at 07:37 AM.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2019, 07:51 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Molitro View Post
Just what I've picked up generally speaking taking into account the most important part would be the focus on music.
I mostly agree with what you're saying in terms of priority, side/rear speakers being clearly the least important, although as I said the music is the main part.

In terms of AVR there's no importance at all on the V part of it. It's a computer run system, the video side is done by the PC. Same thing could be true about the audio for that matter if it was a better way to go about it.

I'm in Spain, so I can pretty much buy in any european shop. I'm also not closed to buying used, but the main "problem" right now is basically me not knowing much at all about specifics in terms of models and brands, so I've pretty much all the work ahead of me to actually decide what to buy (hence the asking for help )
I can't read! Missed the focus on music. I still think that unless you have some crazy inefficient speakers the amp is pretty much not going to change much (unless you are going from a really anemic amp to something that can actually power the speakers).

Not sure where you can go to look for used equipment (something akin to craigslist/kijiji), but an older receiver with analogue inputs is what I would look for IF (big if) you cannot use your Z5500's sub to test things. From what I can tell, the speakers are plugged into the sub directly (which means you can upgrade little-by-little: L+R -> center -> receiver -> sub -> satellites). An HDMI receiver will force you to have a 'ghost' display if you do not have any intention of having it output to a display (HDMI cannot send audio without sending video, so you cannot disable the display in windows).

For your L+R, I haven't seen much I like at prices that make sense to me (probably too used to the options we have here), but I like what Tiihokatti suggested: https://www.soundimports.eu/en/b652-air.html I have used Dayton speakers before and they are nice for the price.

Also, (these are a little on the small side) seem to have great reviews/aren't too expensive and you can get a matching center/another pair for rears later down the line. https://www.amazon.es/Mission-LX-2-B...ay&sr=8-3&th=1

For music/the time being, your current sub (assuming it isn't blown) and satellites should be fine depending on how big your room is (if you want to 'try' the speakers before committing to something).

I really have no idea where to look for speakers in Europe. I just hopped on AVForums and looked at their reviews for stuff.

If you want to get the LCR first, the missions are ~180 euro and the center is ~130. That leaves you with 290 to find a used AVR (an AVR is cheaper than just buying a 'nice' speaker amp)/save up for a better sub. Personally if you do want a sub, I would save up for a more substantial unit than anything in your current price range. I cannot imagine anything sub 300 euro being that much better than the one included with your Z5500. I have owned a lot of subs (budget/mid range assembled subs; medium-high DIY subs), and short of finding something like the on a good sale/getting a nice used sub, most budget subs are not great for movies and are pretty close to each other for music [well content that bottoms out around 30/40hz; stuff like bassotronics that dips in the the teens/single digits will not sound good].

With music being the main focus, I would buy the LR speakers first; see how they sound with your current "amp" (connect them to the Z5500). I highly doubt you can find an AVR that powers them less than what the Z5500 will, so if they sound good there, they should hooked up to almost anything. If you find they sound good, try to find a matching center (doesn't have to match exactly, but you will want it to be pretty close spec wise [sensitivity and frequency]). With the front three out of the way, I would definitely reuse your current satellites and save up for a better sub if your current one does not sound good for movies. Otherwise, I would just pocket the money for other things.

FWIW, I like bookshelves with a sub more than I like towers. If you get a sub to go with the towers, you probably could have just spent more money on better (different) bookshelves in the first place (if you have a sub, $200 spent on bookshelves can get you better speakers than $200 spent on towers [from the same manufacturer]).

Edit:
Other brands to look for: Canton, Mission, Q Acoustics, Acoustic Energy, KEF, Wharfedale

Last edited by Jedi Mind Trick; 03-22-2019 at 07:55 AM.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2019, 08:13 AM - Thread Starter
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That was very nice, exactly the kind of guidance I hoped to get starting the thread, thanks.

Back in the day I thought about just getting a pair of nice speakers and hook them up to the z5500, but I really wasn't sure even if that would work at all (as I said, I know little about the technicalities of music equipment, I just know some **** on the music side of things, and I'm more or less content with my Creative Aurvana Live! headphones, it's just that most of the time I use speakers (my ears don't seem to be too comfortable with that type of headphone for prolonged times, while I can blast my face with speakers for hours on end no problem, and I just prefer the feel of music through speakers in general, and the z5500 ones just aren't that good).

Most likely I would go with bookshelf speakers and a sub even if it's just for space reasons, so it's starting to look like that will be the way to go, just find some halfway decent pair of speakers and see how it goes with the z5500 amp. Then look to upgrade the amp+sub, and center, and who knows, maybe even keep the 2 z5500 satelites (the thought had crossed my mind before).
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2019, 08:35 AM
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Quote: Originally Posted by Molitro View Post
That was very nice, exactly the kind of guidance I hoped to get starting the thread, thanks.

Back in the day I thought about just getting a pair of nice speakers and hook them up to the z5500, but I really wasn't sure even if that would work at all (as I said, I know little about the technicalities of music equipment, I just know some **** on the music side of things, and I'm more or less content with my Creative Aurvana Live! headphones, it's just that most of the time I use speakers (my ears don't seem to be too comfortable with that type of headphone for prolonged times, while I can blast my face with speakers for hours on end no problem, and I just prefer the feel of music through speakers in general, and the z5500 ones just aren't that good).

Most likely I would go with bookshelf speakers and a sub even if it's just for space reasons, so it's starting to look like that will be the way to go, just find some halfway decent pair of speakers and see how it goes with the z5500 amp. Then look to upgrade the amp+sub, and center, and who knows, maybe even keep the 2 z5500 satelites (the thought had crossed my mind before).

We all start somewhere! Just don't go too far down the audio rabbit-hole. I currently have more subs than I know what to do with (and I just sold some)! I agree completely about the headphone thing (speakers > headphones). Though, it is also possible that you may have had too bright (treble-heavy) headphones that were causing ear fatigue (assuming it wasn't the comfort levels that were the issue). The headphone rabbit-hole is also a 'money sink' (I started giving headphones away to family and friends)! Though hobbies in general are likely just money sinks (looking at you room filled with random components; pretty sure I have an addiction to buying stuff I don't need and a hoarding problem)...

Sounds like a good idea to me! If you have a local place that doesn't charge you restocking fees, it might be a good way to figure out what kind of speakers you like (warm, bright, forward, etc). AVSForum (US based) and AVForums (UK based?) are great places to do research/find owner threads so you can talk to people more familiar with whatever speakers. But keep us posted on whatever you get/how it works for you.

Good luck!
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 03-22-2019, 10:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote: Originally Posted by Jedi Mind Trick View Post
Though hobbies in general are likely just money sinks (looking at you room filled with random components; pretty sure I have an addiction to buying stuff I don't need and a hoarding problem)...
You don't have to tell me.
It's crazy the amount of things we can hoard over the years, especially us in the computer world.
I just changed my case, and just for that I've gotten another set of fans, to add to the collection. And don't get me started on what's now my main sport, mountain biking XD
Luckily a while ago I went over the phase of buying just to buy, and now sure, I can end up spending a bit too much, but it's always justified stuff I'm actually gonna use.

And on the audio world, with all the, we could say, mysticism there is, we're really talking serious money sink.
But in this case I'm not gonna spend much, I've endured the z5500 for years after all, and am happy with 50€ headphones, even if the CALs are particularly nice headphones for the price.
So I'll drop a few hundred to get something that sounds just good enough and be done with it (you could call music my main hobby, and every time I go from the CALs to the z5500 it kinda pains me that I'm not hearing the music as it should sound like, but oh well... I not gonna go pretending I can hear all these kinds of subtleties that would justify spending thousands on gear. Hell, I doubt most people can actually hear those kind of differences to begin with).


I'm gonna go searching for the speakers, I'll probably get the pair soon seeing as I'm gonna go incrementally about this (then again knowing me it won't be long until I get the rest of the stuff xD)

Seriously tough, thanks for being so helpful.

Last edited by Molitro; 03-22-2019 at 10:50 AM.
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