View Full Version : custom suround sound.

09-20-2010, 04:07 PM
hello everyone i have a question. how do you do a custom suround sound for you computer. right now i did it the ghetto way and bought some cheap speakers ripped the board out. and just wires 2 small front speakers and 2 big ass floor speakers s to it. but i want a real surround sound. so please some one elaborate this for me. what do i need to use my floor speakers and all that jaz.

09-20-2010, 05:34 PM
If you have a multi-channel sound card they sometimes have a separate stereo connection for front/rear/side/etc.

09-21-2010, 09:46 AM
i have that on my computer but how do the speakers get power adn what do i need for those connectors.

09-21-2010, 09:49 AM
Oh, you just have normal speakers, not PC speakers? So, you would need a driver board...if you want to go cheap, check some of your local thrift shops for an old set and rip the electronics out.

09-21-2010, 03:53 PM
pick up a logitech x-540 system for like $70 on ebay and call it good :D

09-21-2010, 04:26 PM
i have that on my computer but how do the speakers get power adn what do i need for those connectors.

Unfortunately, pc speakers generally come with their own amp. The sound card outputs a little bit of power, but probably not enough for anything much larger than headphones. You'll need an amp to boost the power to the speakers. If the speaker wire is bare at the end you'll need connectors to put on the end.

Unless you're doing this for fun, I'd recommend getting a sound system that was designed to work together for the following reasons:
-probably cheaper
-guaranteed to work
-will sound better

-no bragging rights
-not as fun
-no satisfying DIYer feeling

But don't read this and think 'Hey, this guy knows what he's talking about' because I don't. Seriously.:D

09-21-2010, 05:07 PM
If you really want to drive a large surround system with a PC, then you need a few things.

1. A source. Yes, most PC soundcards now support multiple channels of audio out. HOWEVER... just connecting it doesnt mean that you automatically get surround sound. Whatever you are playing/listening to/watching must support multichannel output also, or you just end up with 2 front speakers (or the same 2 channels being pushed out to the rears as well.. sort of "simulated" surround sound).

2. Speakers - duh. For a 5.1 setup you need... five speakers and a sub. Why is a sub called the "point 1"? The subwoofer recieves only a small portion of the frequencies that the other speakers get, roughly about 10%... or "0.1". There are also other configurations, 7.1, 8.1, 10.1, etc etc etc... your source material/hardware needs to be capable of those outputs in order to drive those channels. Which brings us to...

3. Amplification. Speakers need power to move. It's really that simple. Each speaker needs a signal to make sound from. SO.. 5.1 speakers means you need a signal for each one of those 5.1. Most home audio subwoofers are "active", which means that they have an amplifier built in already, so no amp needed for them. However, some do exist that are "passive", which means that they need an amp. Typically however, passive subs rely on the audio signal for the front two speakers to "pass-through" the sub in order to drive it. This is less efficient (and quieter) and inconvenient to wire. Stick to active if you can, or get a dedicated amp to drive the sub.

Most home theatre amps (up to 10 years old, some even older) can be used here. You are looking for anything that will drive the required number of speakers (for example, 5 + a sub, or 5, and a subwoofer output to connect to the sub amp), and has a built in surround decoder.

Why a built in decoder? If you want to use optical output, or digital coaxial, you need to have a decoder in the amp, or a standalone decoder to make that signal into the number of channels you have, and assign the sounds to the right speakers when you are watching/playing something.

Some amps have no decoder built in (typically older and/or cheaper ones.. almost a rarity these days, but just be aware of this fact), and instead rely on multiple audio inputs. This means there is an input for each channel of audio (front left, center, front right, rear left, rear right, subwoofer - for a 5.1 system).

With many onboard soundcards offering 6 channel output (the same as 5.1, just wired a bit differently), you could use an adaptor cable from each 3mm jack on the mobo to connect to the RCA inputs on the amp. Adaptors are fairly cheap, but I'd try to go with a digital setup (optical/spdif) if you can, since it's ONE cable from PC/soundcard to the amp, and there's almost zero chance of signal interference. (Again, this means your amp needs to have an optical/digital input, and a decoder built in.)

09-21-2010, 05:13 PM
Part 2:

Now, that may make it sound like the best thing to do is to get a home theatre amp, and some speakers, and rig it up to the computer, the end. Yeah, that's usually the best way to get a system that is infinitely upgradeable, and definitely louder than your regular computer speakers, but it's certainly not the only way.

Another idea is to take advantage of the multiple outputs on your onboard sound/soundcard, and plug in a set of speakers to the fronts, rears, and center/sub channels. This would be the ultimate in cheap surround, since regular computer speakers are pretty much available everywhere (including dumpsters, garage sales, unattended desks, etc). The only thing to watch here is that the center channel and the sub output are on the same jack, so one of the speakers will get the center channel, and the other.. might blow up due to the subwoofer output. I'd suggest starting with the volume low. ;)

Now this doesnt exactly help with your idea of using some regular speakers that you already have, so the next option is to use a cheap set for the rear channels, a decent set (or your floorstanders) for the front left/right channels, and a dedicated center and sub for those channels.

Some sources allow for a 4 channel surround, which is just the front and rear left/right combo, so that could be a good compromise.

All you need is a cable to adapt from the mini plug output to the rca inputs on some sort of amp, and use that amp to run your floorstanders, and you are done.

And so to conclude my novel, there are many ways to achieve surround sound on a budget. If you have any questions about anything I've said here, or I wasnt clear enough (I'm sick as hell right now.. my head hurts) just ask. :)

09-22-2010, 08:46 PM
ok guys here is what i did. my step dad was goign to throw out his 2.1 channel altec surround sounds and i figured hell that sub has its own amp so maybe that would power my floor speakers. well sure enough it did. now i can blast the **** out of my speakers. it unbelivable. when i get time i can post pics up if you guys would like but luke i am goign to try your method when i get som ecash.