Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Surround sound on the cheap

I'll get back to my blabbing about sound formats like "DTS", "Prologic decoders" and "Lossless Bitstreaming" a bit later on.

But for now, a couple of things have happened.

Firstly, I'll not be buying any of the current crop of AV Receivers, my reasoning is that HDMI 1.4 is going to become common and the socket is different.

Although I'm not really all that excited by 3D television, it would seem a bit short sighted to buy something that only does 1.3 when replacing my 1.3 graphics card with a 1.4 will cost maybe $60 once 1.4 becomes widespread.

I'd want to avoid being 1.4 in the HTPC, 1.3 in the receiver and 1.4 on the TV... why set yourself up for compatibility problems if you can avoid it by waiting a bit?

Anyway - I looked into using the s/pdif output, but the cheapest 5.1 surround sound speakers that do this sort of digital input are the famous Logitech Z-5500 - but even then they are still in excess of $400. Secondly I checked to make sure that PowerDVD8 supports "lossless bitstreaming" - a fancy way of saying Dolby TrueHD and the DTS Master formats - and no, it doesnt - I'd need to upgrade to PowerDVD10  - according to one person in Cyberlink... however, this site says it does.

Now there is a better than even chance that Cyberlink  just wants me to upgrade, but its sort of strange.

I also suspect that with anything less than multi-thousand dollar speakers, the difference between going lossless digital and plain old analogue will be undetectable.

Anyways... to cut a long story short, today I bought some cheapish Logitech X-540 5.1 speakers from Dicks Smith (negotiated down to A$98). I've gotta say, that so far I'm pretty impressed.

OK - they are not studio quality, but its a giant leap forward from using the television speakers. Watched a bit of Collateral Damage with the volume at 50% and the sound of explosions and bullets wizzing past was pretty engaging.

Choice Magazine has also reviewed them and said they were good value as well.

I can certainly recommend them as a way to add surround sound for under a hundred dollars.

1 comment:

  1. Fwiw, the Onkyo 608 avr will support hdmi 1.4 and should be widely available in the states in about 2 weeks.