Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

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Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Wed Dec 23, 2009 8:22 pm

Ok, so I've been researching 2.1 and 5.1 systems to use on my year old MacBook Pro in my college apartment. The best systems I've found rating/review wise have been logitech systems like the z2300 and z5500. However, I'm thoroughly flustered by their age, as they came out in 2005. I was hoping someone could tell me if there are newer systems that have come out since then that are better than the two I've mentioned (I don't see how they can't be having a 4 year technological advantage). I should say that I'm leaning heavily towards a 2.1 system due to space. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help me here, and any advice you have in regards to buying a speaker system for my computer will be greatly appreciated, as this will be my first purchase :D .

Edit: I should add that I plan on using these speakers for videogames, but the real reason I'm buying them is for movies and music (I listen to hiphop/R&B, as well as a little rock and indie).
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Wed Dec 23, 2009 9:38 pm

well, speaker 'technology' does not really evolve at a fast pace
what does change is the components inside of an amplifier
this will give you the prologic, prologic IIx, trueHD, etc.
so keep in mind your motherboard must have decent onboard sound or you might need a sound card

the very first thing you must consider is your budget. for 300$ you cannot beat the logitech set.
if you want to spend 800$ we can talk about selecting individual components
now, is logitech better than the other newer brands is what you want to know?
well, the value cannot be beat. but is a subwoofer a must have for you? If not you can drop the price to a smaller package.
just stay away from the 3 speaker packages that are just L/R and a sub.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Wed Dec 23, 2009 9:58 pm

potatochobit wrote:well, speaker 'technology' does not really evolve at a fast pace
what does change is the components inside of an amplifier
this will give you the prologic, prologic IIx, trueHD, etc.
so keep in mind your motherboard must have decent onboard sound or you might need a sound card

the very first thing you must consider is your budget. for 300$ you cannot beat the logitech set.
if you want to spend 800$ we can talk about selecting individual components
now, is logitech better than the other newer brands is what you want to know?
well, the value cannot be beat. but is a subwoofer a must have for you? If not you can drop the price to a smaller package.
just stay away from the 3 speaker packages that are just L/R and a sub.


The top end of my budget is probably around $300 (college student ftw). I'm not really concerned with the brand name of the set I buy, but from my research I've found that the 2 best 2.1 speaker systems are the logitech z2300 and klipsch promedia. A lot of the hiphop/r&b songs have nice bass-lines that I'd very much like to hear. For example, the first bass-line that comes to my head just because it's powerful, not because it's creative or anything, is the bass-line that comes in at 0:13 in "A Milli" by Lil' Wayne. Also why is it you say to stay away from 3 speaker packages, which is basically all I've looked in to. Finally, I know Klipsch just came out with a wireless version of the 2.1 ProMedia, so it's these wireless speakers and the z2300 that are at the forefront of my options at the moment.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:25 pm

I have the 3 piece Logitech Z4 2.1 setup and it sounds pretty good.
I'd get the Klipsch without the wireless tho If I were you.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:35 pm

I have two sets of the Z5500's. One set is connected to my computer the other set is hooked up to my TV. The sub with the z5500's is fairly large so you need to think about that. Also if you have neighbors and turn the speakers up much they are going to hear them. What kind of sound outputs does your laptop have ? If it doesn't have a 5.1 out of some kind you are basically turning the speakers into a 2.1 set.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:08 pm

Hance wrote:I have two sets of the Z5500's. One set is connected to my computer the other set is hooked up to my TV. The sub with the z5500's is fairly large so you need to think about that. Also if you have neighbors and turn the speakers up much they are going to hear them. What kind of sound outputs does your laptop have ? If it doesn't have a 5.1 out of some kind you are basically turning the speakers into a 2.1 set.


Ya I've basically ruled out a 5.1 set as I don't think it's necessary for me and because I probably don't have the space necessary. I just got the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 from Best Buy just to try out and return if I didn't like them. They sound pretty awesome and the bass can handle every song I've thrown at it so I'm incredibly happy with it. I'll probably still return this one and get it cheaper online, but I definitely like what I see with the Klipsch. Only question now is whether or not the z2300 is better, but I don't seem to need anything better than what I saw with the ProMedia so I may just end my search here! Thanks guys.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:10 pm

You can peruse my thread for any additional information if you want. Pretty much anything I have to say, I've said in there.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Wed Dec 23, 2009 11:20 pm

Zoomastigophora wrote:You can peruse my thread for any additional information if you want. Pretty much anything I have to say, I've said in there.


Thanks I already have :D . I think my only remaining question is how the wireless will affect the sound quality of the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1, as this is the feature in their new version which is about 40-50 dollars more. To be clear, the system is not a wireless battery operated system. Instead the subwoofer is plugged into the wall, the satellites are connected via wire, but the system as a whole receives its input wirelessly from a usb attachment to your computer.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Thu Dec 24, 2009 1:09 am

For your budget, I would suggest the M-Audio AV40s from Provantage:

http://www.provantage.com/m-audio-99005 ... AUD00V.htm

And probably the 12-inch Dayton subwoofer here:

http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdet ... er=300-635

That should total up to $274.91 not including shipping. All together that should be a pretty decent 2.1 setup. I'd like to say it would defeat any Logitech or Klipsch set, but since I haven't heard those I can't say that with any certainty. But just based on user experience from various audiophile forums, it should sound great.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Thu Dec 24, 2009 2:01 am

I have to agree with Kuretsu, z5500 are LOW END. Another set to consider Swan M200MkIII They are a new model, hard to say when the price will start to drop.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Thu Dec 24, 2009 2:48 am

i would suggest the razer mako although expensive its one of the best 2.1 speakers available http://www.razerzone.com/gaming-audio/razer-mako/
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Thu Dec 24, 2009 3:08 am

I've got the Z2300's. Good bass, decent mids and highs. The bass can be a little overpowering sometimes especially when gaming. Numerous times I have had the volume set to where character voices in cut scenes are just audible and still had my girlfriend complain that the walls of our apartment were shaking.
As Potatochobit pointed out, the acutal speaker technology isn't going anywhere fast( there's only so many ways to send a current through a loop of wire in front of a magnet after all) so I wouldn't worry about the age.
For the money I would say the Z2300's are a good buy, especially if you have good on-board sound or a decent sound card.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Thu Dec 24, 2009 3:06 pm

sironomus wrote:I've got the Z2300's. Good bass, decent mids and highs. The bass can be a little overpowering sometimes especially when gaming. Numerous times I have had the volume set to where character voices in cut scenes are just audible and still had my girlfriend complain that the walls of our apartment were shaking.
As Potatochobit pointed out, the acutal speaker technology isn't going anywhere fast( there's only so many ways to send a current through a loop of wire in front of a magnet after all) so I wouldn't worry about the age.
For the money I would say the Z2300's are a good buy, especially if you have good on-board sound or a decent sound card.


I'm pretty sure my MacBook Pro uses the Intel HD Audio sound card, although I'm not sure what the specs are. Anyone know how to find out? I went through my System Profiler but the only information I could find was a device ID that was a hex number: 0x106B00A3; probably just the number the card was at the factory or something.

Also, my cousin has a $550 dollar 3.1 system (sub, 2 sat and center) that was bought a year ago and never used that he's willing to sell to me for $100. The speakers are Mirage and I'm assuming he bought them separately because I've never seen a system sold as a 3.1. I'll hear them tomorrow and it seems like that'd probably be my best bet, after all its a 500+ system which is waaaay more than I was going to spend. Only thing I'd have to do is get a Y-cable to drive the audio into my computer, I think.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Fri Dec 25, 2009 2:08 am

Only thing I'd have to do is get a Y-cable to drive the audio into my computer, I think.


From looking at their website, it seems like Mirage make unpowered (no integrated amp) speakers. So you'd need some sort of amplifier (unless your speakers have integrated power amps). Your cousin has a bunch of speakers; does he have an amp? (in home theater the part that includes the amps is often called a "receiver")
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Fri Dec 25, 2009 2:25 pm

UltimateImperative wrote:
Only thing I'd have to do is get a Y-cable to drive the audio into my computer, I think.


From looking at their website, it seems like Mirage make unpowered (no integrated amp) speakers. So you'd need some sort of amplifier (unless your speakers have integrated power amps). Your cousin has a bunch of speakers; does he have an amp? (in home theater the part that includes the amps is often called a "receiver")


I'm pretty sure the amp is in the sub. I'll post pictures of the speakers so if any of you want to you can help me figure out how good they are.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Fri Dec 25, 2009 2:45 pm

Ok here's a picture of the subwoofer; the model is a Mirage FRX s8 and it says it contains an amplifier right at the top: http://img69.imageshack.us/i/photo50h.jpg/

The 2 satellites say their Mirage AVS-200 on the back, and a Mirage FRX C-1 or FRX Center is the centerspeaker, although I'm pretty sure my Macbook Pro's sound card can't handle surround sound, so I don't think the centerspeaker is useful but I'd take it anyway. All in all it seems like a great system but I was just wondering if you guys knew anything about these speakers.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Fri Dec 25, 2009 2:48 pm

It seems to me that only the sub is powered, that is you still need a receiver (amp) for the remaining speakers.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Fri Dec 25, 2009 2:56 pm

morphine wrote:It seems to me that only the sub is powered, that is you still need a receiver (amp) for the remaining speakers.


If the satellites are plugged directly into the sub can't the sub work as the receiver? Sorry if this is an ignorant question, again, this is my first time researching speakers.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Fri Dec 25, 2009 3:21 pm

ILikePineapple wrote:If the satellites are plugged directly into the sub can't the sub work as the receiver? Sorry if this is an ignorant question, again, this is my first time researching speakers.

No, not really. Many "HTIB" (Home Theater In a Box) setups work exactly this way, wherein the sub actually has the amplifier in it. However, looking at that photo, it seems that there are only connections for input into the sub, not output from it. I Googled and found an ebay sale page with the specifications, it mentions that there are no outputs. So the amplifier is for only the sub itself, which will take a line-level signal.

Further explanation: you can buy a passive sub or active sub. Passive means that you amplify elsewhere and feed it an amplified signal. Active means the speaker has a built-in amp (such as the case with that Mirage), and it's intended to be fed a normal line-level signal, and it takes care of the rest.

So you still need a receiver. If he's throwing that whole set on you for $100, do jump and take it with hands and teeth, it's being given away.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Fri Dec 25, 2009 4:34 pm

Ya I will take it thanks morphine; and that explanation was exactly what I needed I appreciate it. Do you know of anywhere I can read up on receivers and/or anywhere I can read about speaker systems in general? Also I'm assuming, because my laptop's sound card is not able to output signals in surround sound, a receiver will have no affect on this and the centerspeaker will still be unusable when I'm hooking this system up to my computer?
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Fri Dec 25, 2009 5:02 pm

ILikePineapple wrote:... because my laptop's sound card is not able to output signals in surround sound, a receiver will have no affect on this and the centerspeaker will still be unusable when I'm hooking this system up to my computer?

Yes. You'll get left, right, and sub (not even a dedicated channel at that, as the sub will take whatever's fed to the main speakers), and that's it. If your laptop has either a digital audio out or an HDMI output, however, you can output 5.1 sound. If you really *have* to use the laptop, you may want to consider a cheap external soundcard for it.

As for your other question on "where to read on this stuff": http://www.avsforum.com/
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Sat Dec 26, 2009 1:16 am

I believe the Macbook/Pro audio out port is a dual-purpose one (or maybe more); it should also handle SPDIF output which I assume is multi-channel. But I don't know what SPDIF is so I could well be wrong.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Sat Dec 26, 2009 11:55 am

SNM wrote:I believe the Macbook/Pro audio out port is a dual-purpose one (or maybe more); it should also handle SPDIF output which I assume is multi-channel. But I don't know what SPDIF is so I could well be wrong.

SPDIF is the digital output he'd be looking for. It would at least allow him to get 5.1 sound out of movies, if not games. If the MacBook soundcard driver has Dolby Digital Live or DTS-Connect support (I have no idea if this is the case), then he'll be able to get 5.1 out of any sound that is played.

Pineapple, have you checked the MacBook specs/docs to see if this is the case?
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Sat Dec 26, 2009 12:20 pm

Prologic runs off 2 channel, so you could technically get surround sound like from a nintendo Wii :wink:

this is the macbook pro specs, I personally have not tried using any of these features, but I do use the mini-dvi thing

Audio
* Built-in stereo speakers
* Built-in omnidirectional microphone (located under left speaker grille)
* Combined optical digital audio input/audio line in (minijack)
* Combined optical digital audio output/audio line out (minijack)
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Sat Dec 26, 2009 5:06 pm

potatochobit wrote:this is the macbook pro specs


That link brings you to the MacBook Pro's after my design. Mine's a little over a year old and is the complete silver model. I tried looking at the System Profiler as mentioned before to check what sound card I had but couldn't find anything. I'll look online to see if I can get the specs for my macbooks model, although its possible mine has the same specs and the new model that's only slightly different.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Sat Dec 26, 2009 5:32 pm

Ok I believe my model is the MA896. Every specification list I've looked at only says that is has a sound card, not what the name of the sound card is. It does have everything potatochobit said however:

Built-in stereo speakers
Built in omnidirectional microphone
Combined optical digital audio input/audio line in (minijack)
Combined optical digital audio output/audio line out (minijack)
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Sun Dec 27, 2009 10:21 am

It's now clear that your minijack is a combined stereo/digital output. So you can get 5.1 sound, at least in movies. What you want to look for is to see if the MacBook supports Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Sun Dec 27, 2009 11:59 am

I found this quote in an AppleInsider forum thread: "The digital out supports both Dolby Digital and DTS, you have to get a sound card if you want analog 5.1 output..." This specific post was made in 2006, so if macbook pro's had them then mine must as well. There was also this quote: "The MacBook Pro supports 5.1 with any speakers that use optical input such as the Logitech® Z-5450 Digital 5.1 Speaker System you just need to also get a mini TOSLink cable." There was also one user who said you may need a DD/DTS decoder unless there's one built in to your computer?

Edit: link to thread http://forums.appleinsider.com/showthread.php?t=66540
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:10 pm

This thread has been going on for a while, but, I'd like to add a few cents:

Surround-sound for PC gaming can be nice, but I've found it largely pointless. I use a headset for positional audio, and it works great even with the integrated Realtek codec. Also, as you mentioned, surround-sound (>2.1) systems are larger and will have lots of wires no matter what you do; and I'd stay away from wireless unless your situation absolutely requires it. Wires are reliable.

If you want a good sound system, the M-Audio stuff that Eric linked above should be good, but they are expensive- for the price, Klipsch's 2.1 system cannot be beat. It's not a true audiophile system, but it's close, and for the price it will sound incredible and shake adjacent rooms in every direction.
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Re: Need Some Serious Help Choosing Computer Speakers

Postposted on Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:38 pm

ILikePineapple wrote:I found this quote in an AppleInsider forum thread: "The digital out supports both Dolby Digital and DTS, you have to get a sound card if you want analog 5.1 output..." [...] There was also one user who said you may need a DD/DTS decoder unless there's one built in to your computer?

Point A: you have a digital out. That's all we're sure of for now. With that, you can set your media playing software to output your movies and other videos in 5.1 sound. The sound will pass encoded through the digital out onto the receiver, which will decode it. Dolby Digital or DTS are two types of sound encoding used on DVDs and Bluray discs. The receiver will take care of that.

Point B: Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect, however, are similar-but-not-the-same things. Both are types of encoding that, if the MacBook Pro's soundcard and software support it, allow you to encode all of your computer's sound, regardless of the source material, onto a DD/DTS stream, once again, for your receiver to decode.

So, in summary: in scenario A, your digital output will pass through already-encoded audio from movies onto your receiver. In scenario B, it will do that *and* encode any audio source, from anywhere, onto a 5.1 stream for decoding. This would be the ideal scenario but as of yet, I'm not 100% sure that the MBP does it. Perhaps some digging into the audio panels and mixer will show some options regarding this? I don't have a Mac myself. In that thread your linked to, there's some indication that we're talking about scenario B, but some real digging is required to be completely sure.
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