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Need Advice - Audio Setup For my Future Hack . . .

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Need Advice - Audio Setup For my New Hack . . .

*** WARNING!!! *** NOOB ALERT!!! ***

When it comes to building computers, it's not problem. I can build any kind pretty much with my eyes closed and 1 arm tied behind my back . . . OK, I might need both arms . . . but when it comes to audio equipment, I'm mostly a noob.

So, I'm looking for suggestions on an audio setup for a Hackintosh I'll be building soon. I've pretty much decided on a Gigabyte GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5 mobo that has an ALC1150 sound chip. I've decided I'll be using the mobo's TOSLINK connection running out to whatever audio setup I finally decide on (TOSLink is best audio connection because of the optical cable I believe, no?) I'm such an audio noob.

Some back story: I previously had a set of Logitech Z906 speakers, but sold them about 6 months ago since I'd been unemployed. Loved those speakers, and I bought them based mostly on NewEgg reviews and because they were expensive (if they're expensive, they must be good).

I've started working again recently, so I'm building up ye olde bank account, and trying to keep any computer hardware purchases affordable (though I prefer higher-end parts of coarse). So, as far as quality audio for the Hack, if I can get something good for about $150, awesome, but I might go as high as $350. I initially thought about the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 setup for $150 (Great rep of Klipsch, but ruled those out since they don't support TOSLink). So, what next:

*** Still undecided about a 2.1 4.1 or 5.1 Setup ***
*** Depending on amount of speaker wire I want to deal with ***

Option 1 (pricey): Will getting a standard audio receiver (Harmon Kardon, Denon, Yamaha, etc.) work, running the TOSLink cable from the mobo to the receiver - and if so, this is probably overkill & expensive once I add a good Subwoofer and at least 2 Speakers. At this point I might as well get another set of Logitech Z906's for $350.

Option 2 (affordable): Ditch the TOSLink idea (which I really like) and settle for the $150 Klipsch ProMedia 2.1's

Option 3 (more affordable?): This setup I found in post#8 by our own neihart seems interesting and fairly low-cost: http://www.tonymacx86.com/polls/154328-what-speakers-do-you-use.html#post965833 - Would I be able to connect a subwoofer to the Lepai amp neil mentions in addition to speakers. Hopefully neilhart will find this post and chime in on the sound quality of his setup.

Option 4: I'm open to any and all recommendations.

As far as usage, I'm not an audiophile, but I think I'm pretty good at determining what doesn't sound good to my ears. I want to have clear, strong, distortion-free audio when I play games and listen to music (about 50% of the time total between the two when I use a Hack), but I'm also considering getting into audio programs like ProTools or Logic Pro X - but I'm sure that would be a totally different discussion.

PS: What specs should I look for when it comes to speakers & subs?
Speakers: Impedance, lower is better I'm assuming? Frequency response, broadest range as possible?
Subs: Power in watts, what else? This seems like a good sub, right? http://www.bestbuy.com/site/pioneer-subwoofer-black/5086873.p?id=1218610014537&skuId=5086873
 

Going Bald

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I am currently using a set of Behringer MS40 Near Field Monitors connected via optical toslink. Better audio than the off-the-shelf desktop speakers for under US$100.

I think I paid about US$150 for the pair at Amazon.

One thing about an active system like these - the controls are located on the right side monitor. You cannot adjust volume with the computer controls or via remote.
 
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Thanks Going Bald,

What made you go with these speakers, as opposed to some of the more powerful speakers I saw on Behringer's website? It looks like they have a ton of speakers, every type you can imagine.

They seem high-quality. True?
 

Going Bald

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Thanks Going Bald,

What made you go with these speakers, as opposed to some of the more powerful speakers I saw on Behringer's website? It looks like they have a ton of speakers, every type you can imagine.

They seem high-quality. True?
I went with them because they were the best I could get for the room they were going to be used in. Given the acoustical quality of sound in the room it made no sense to get anything more expensive. OTOH, I wanted something better than the pair of Bose Companion 2 desktop speakers I had connected to an older build and I did not want to disassemble the stereo system to move it or the speakers to the other room.

The reviews were good and the response specs looked decent, so I went for them. For their use, they sound very good. I just have to make sure the closet door is closed and the curtains are closed if I crank the volume up very much:mrgreen: (closet gives the room a slight echo effect and the doorway is in the direct path of the sound and the windows give the sound too much "bounce")
 
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Thanks, Going Bald.

The Behringer MS40 is one option for my sound setup.
But what if I want a 5.1 system on my Hack?
Do I have to buy an AV Receiver? I already have a pair of Polk R150 bookshelf speakers, which I might use for the rears that I got for $49 on sale at Frys. Might get some good floor-standing speakers for the fronts when those go on sale at Frys, and of coarse a sub, but I'm not really looking to spend a ton of money.

I guess I'm looking to brainstorm, but I don't have a ton (very little actually) of audio knowledge. I can go either USB out, or SPIDIF on my new Hack (build details coming soon :D).

Found this company which seems to have interesting products, but nothing I could find that would give me a 5.1 setup for fairly cheap:

http://schiit.com/guides/choosing-a-dac

My budget is anywhere from $50-$300 total, but I want bang-for-buck.
 
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I like my Klipsch Pro media 2.1, One the the best investments I have made in my home computer system.

I think these sound better than Bose companion series and at a fraction of the costs. You can buy these at "Bestbuy stores"

I use a creative labs Audigy 2zs sound card with Toslink connected to my Home AV receiver and standard wirred connection to my Klipsch.
Works fine under MS Windows and OS-X Yosemite. ( DTS, THX, Dolby Digital, Surround sound, 7.1, 7 Channel Stereo ).
Link Here

audigy_2_zs_platinum.jpg

I just ordered a Behringer UCA202 USB Audio Interface for $23

I have not received it yet.

I tried one before and it produces good audio quality. Works and sounds good with Klipsch pro media 2.1 system.

I can't confirm that the toslink connection works with OS-X however. It is suppose to work out of the box with Windows, Linux, and OS-X.

You might be able to use this along with Klipsch Pro media 2.1 speakers and Home AV receiver via Tos-link connection. It is suppose to work with OS-X and Windows and Linux out of the box.

51ud+Goy8KL._SL1000_.jpg 0016.jpg

As for Stereo Monitor Speakers I wanted to buy Some Klipsch bookshelf speakers because I really like the sound of the Klipsch however they are much to BIG for my small desk.

So I went with the smaller Klipsch Pro Media 2.1 speaker system.

They sound Great! Highly recommended compared to anything else on the market.
Has Great Base too.....Balanced sound.

These Vibrate and shake my entire room. ( We have wood sub-floors ). The subwoofer on the Klipsch sounds better than my 10-inch 7.1 surround sound system subwoofer.

61Te1WisYNL._SX522_.jpg
 
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Okay, I just received the "Behringer UCA202 Audio Interface" and I can confirm that it works out of the box with MS-Windows and OS-X Yosemite. No drivers or kexts to install. Toslink Optical works with an AV receiver. Since the toslink connection passes a digital signal to the AV receiver, My AV receiver was able to process the signal in ( DTS, THX, Dolby Digital, Cinema, 7 Channel Surround Sound, Pro logic, etc. )

Works with 5.1 and 7.1 Surround sound receivers.

Sound quality is a okay. A little heavy on the base. You will need to adjust treble/base to your taste.

This device appears to be a good inexpensive way to connect your home surround sound AV system to your computer.

Now you can listen/watch any internet content in home cinema surround sound.

You can also register and download free audio creation software.
Works with Garage-band , Pro-tools, Sony sound forge, Acid, etc.

Model# UCA202
 
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