Complete Audio Noob

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Mar 10, 2010
Hey Techies!

Last year I built my very first computer (woohoo!) and I have a question about sound.
Right now I'm using some PC speakers: Altec Lansing '5.1' setup, into the audio jack in the back of the mobo. I have an Asus P7P55D-E Pro

These speakers are an old setup I had kicking around the house from my other store-bought PC setup. I've noticed my little brother's sound system which includes a receiver of some kind, dvd player, blue ray player, and some sweet speakers. He's got a center channel, a couple front speakers, some rear speakers and a sub. This setup sounds a million times better than mine and I'm wanting to upgrade myself.

I'm assuming I can get something of the same setup, a decent receiver with good speakers. My question is connections. For good sound, would my best bet be to purchase a system with a receiver and speakers and connect via optical? Sorry for the noob question, I really know next to nothing of sound, just that I like it loud. So far all the rear channel computer speakers I've heard barely have any sound output at all, which is why I tend to stick with my in ear canalphones.

This would be something I'd want to have the versatility of connecting to not only my PC, but perhaps in a different room entirely, to a big screen tv (via HDMI connection).

I'd probably want to spend under $500 or so..

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Thanks in advance,



Oct 15, 2007
a receiver will connect to a computer.
a receiver has an A/B switch for the front speakers, so you could run some speakers in another room.
the source is assumed to be close to the receiver.

the receiver isnt going to do you any good in the other room for the television without running cables back and forth.
this means extenders and probably a wireless transmitter repeater so you can control the radio from the other room.

receivers dont have the option to switch all of the speakers over to another room.. only the front speakers.
if you wanted all of them in another room, you would have to use an A/B switch for each speaker.
the output from the receiver goes into the switch.. the computer speakers go on A or B .. and the speakers for the television room go on the other letter.
whenever you leave the PC room to watch television, you would have to switch the dial for each speaker.

if you use HDMI to connect the video to the television.. you might not get a chance to send the audio to the receiver.
it depends on the source box.. whether it is a dvd player or bluray or cable/satellite box.
sometimes these boxes have the option to turn off HDMI audio and use the optical/coax audio option.
sometimes you are only allowed to use one or the other.

it would be a real pain to run an hdmi cord from the television room all the way to the PC room.. and then another hdmi cord from the PC room to the television room.
that is like $50 - $75 in cords.. plus you would need TWO extenders for the hdmi cord.
would be like $250 - $300 to run the cords back and forth.

easier to use the three rca jacks for video to the television, and then the digital audio cord to the receiver.
even then, you might need a booster or extender for the digital audio cord.

maybe it would be easier for you to buy two different home theater's in a box.. at $250 each, i wouldnt expect the quality to be very good.
there are other options.
a used receiver for like $50 - $75 off ebay for the PC room.
some used speakers to go with it (but you might not ever know if the speakers you are buying sound any better than what you already have)

the same used option for the television room would keep you under $500 .. but it would be a real guess as to what the sound quality is you are getting.

maybe your altec lansing speakers sound bad because of the soundcard they are connected to.
a different DAC can make a world of difference, because real trash can make anything look better.
are the speakers connected to the analog outputs .. or are they connected with a digital connection?
the analog outputs could prove to be a chance for you to upgrade the sound from the speakers you already have.. but how much better is usually a situation like this:
1. you get an improvement from any mid-range or high-end soundcard that goes on and on about sound quality.
2. you spend a large amount on a standalone DAC (but these are usually only stereo anyways, and it is better to find a home theater receiver for surround sound capabilities)

with a $500 spending limit.. you would be lucky to find a SINGLE home theater in a box setup that really shows a lot of improvement over what you already have.
and if you do..
it might have everything to do with the digital to analog convertor (and sometimes the amps are made to produce sound better)

the american dollar has gone down in value.. $500 today is like $250
and back then $250 really didnt get you much at all.
usually some generic sounding amp with speakers that had sound quality that matches the effort you put into the project.
and that can be an annoying thing when you worked hard for the money.

consider what i said about the difficulty making the receiver work from the other room.
and also consider how much it is going to cost for new speakers for each room.


Mar 10, 2010
Thanks for the reply anwaypasible,

I think I worded my original post incorrectly..

a receiver will connect to a computer.
- This is what I was getting at. Knowing this, what is the best quality signal -or- connection method to do just this. I assume it's going to be optical? Sorry, I know next to nothing about audio.

Also, I think I was misunderstood. I'm not looking to connect my PC and a TV up to 1 system in 2 separate rooms. All I'm after is 1 system that I can move from room to room if/when needed. I.E. A receiver + speakers setup.

But it sounds like
it is better to find a home theater receiver for surround sound capabilities)
this is what I'd be after. So any suggestions on where to start looking for these? I don't need some flagship receiver. Just something entry level that would give me clear digital sound and strong 5.1 sound. When I say strong I'm just after some LOUD sound, more than what my Altec setup is capable of.

Again, thanks for the assistance!



Oct 15, 2007
moving the setup from room to room was on my list of recommendations.. but for most people, it isnt worthwhile to be doing this two or three times a week (or month).

optical or analog has nothing to do with the quality of the audio.
it is which digital to analog convertor is being used.
if you use analog from the soundcard, you will be using the DAC on the soundcard.
if you use digital from the soundcard, you will be using the DAC in the home theater receiver.

it is simply a matter of which one has the higher quality.
most of the newer home theater receivers have equal or better sound quality when compared to the soundcards.
onboard soundcards that are integrated onto the motherboard are as low as it gets.
and if you go back a generation or two, those pci soundcards are not all that worthwhile either.
there are options.
and it goes pretty much like this:
1. the home theater receiver has a higher signal to noise ratio with less distortion, but the slew rate isnt very high.
this means there is no noise audible, but the amount of audio that pours out of the digital to analog chip is less.
2. the soundcard has a lower signal to noise ratio, and maybe even more harmonic distortion, but the slew rate is higher and more sound comes out (along with some 'background' noise)

there are some other things, like stereo crosstalk that can be less or more.. so you really have to listen and decide which one you like more.
to say that everybody wears pants.. people must choose for themselves what color the pants are and what material they are made out of.

you should be going to your local store to listen to the home theater in a box setups.
maybe there is something there that gets loud and sounds better than what you already have.
no sense asking the store clerk which one is the right choice.. because they have no idea what your altec lansing speakers and soundcard sound like.
if nothing sounds like the improvement is big enough, dont waste your money.
see where the next store is, how far away and how much it would cost to take a trip to go there to listen to the displays.

kmart and walmart have some home theater in a box setups still?
i wouldnt believe they are really good.. and i dont expect them to cost anywhere close to your $500 limit.
best buy is one store that is popular.. circuit city closed down, so i dont know what else is available in your area. has stores you can go to, and maybe you can take some exotic trip on a train for like $40 to go shopping through what they have at the store.
there are stores in six states.. so maybe it is too far away.
there has got to be something else close by.
we have smaller stores, and really.. i can only think of one.
i know there used to be two, but i dont know if the one is still open.

so.. places for you to go and look.
best buy
maybe even a pawn shop
and whatever other electronics stores are nearby

if nothing good comes from any of those, you are going to have to build your own piece by piece (receiver and speakers seperately)


Mar 10, 2010
Again, thanks for taking the time Anwaypasible!

Really, anything is an upgrade to what I have. From just doing a couple days worth of research I want to steer away from a 5.1-in-a-box setup. Little satellite speakers won't give me the sound I'm after. So far, all of those setups leave the rear channels lacking, I can barely hear anything coming out of them.

I'm leaning towards building a piece by piece system, looking for a receiver + bookshelf speakers / sub / center channel setup.

I suppose my next question would be whether or not to invest in a sound card. For some reason I was under the impression that the onboard sound wouldn't matter with an optical connection to a separate receiver.. Again I'm no pro, and was only able to build a computer based on reviews and how-to's from this website.

Again, this is my Mobo: Asus P7P55D-E Pro



Oct 15, 2007
i would not want to pass by on all of the home theater systems in a box.
because if i did,
that means all of the people who buy them are really really suffering and it shows clearly that the audio industry doesnt give a care for those people.

i would much rather think there are some home theater in a box systems that do actually sound good, but there is always something else that should be a 'no-no' for the person to buy it.
when somebody makes a choice, that says something about the person.
so if the speakers and amp sound good.. maybe the cost is too high for the lack of features on the receiver.

a lot of getting confused with the sound presets.. and none of the real tools that people need to make their system sound better.
kinda like hiring some person to do some work for you, and the person shows up with all of their tools in ONE plastic case.
i really havent ever seen a tool set that has everything.

i thought i would work on my car with the tools i have, and as it turns out.. i needed some torx sockets that were bigger than what i had.. needed some deep dish sockets that were smaller than the ones i had.. needed a giant allen wrench that was bigger than what i had.
also needed to drop the ratchet and use a wrench sometimes.
i was not as prepared as i thought i was.

a real equalizer that can be adjusted.. not some punk parametric eq.
some real time alignment for each speaker.. not some nonsense that is for both speakers at once.
the ability to adjust each speakers loudness individually.
these are real tools for serious construction of tweaking the sound for the room.
without these, it is like the person is a child with a toy.. because you cant fix a car with a screwdriver and some tape.

about your issue with wanting loud.. you probably only need 100 watts per channel.
and yes, home theater in a box receivers sometimes have less watts for the rear channel.
i would say, for an upgrade.. it is worth looking at the products for sale, and maybe expect to pay an extra $75
i remember back in the day, you couldnt find a home theater in a box system for $300 or more.
they usually stopped at $250
so a system for $300 - $400 (or even $500) doesnt seem like such a thing, since the value of the dollar went down.

i would tell you to grab a used 5.1 receiver that doesnt have the bluray support.. people are selling these as they buy new receivers.
the problem here is.. you dont know if the receiver sounds average or above-average.
and if you had the choice to spend $150 - $175 for two different receivers.. the price might be the same, but getting the above-average sound quality would obviously be better for your listening room, as well as your wallet.
as another person might simply want 5.1 functionality and not be as concerned about the sound quality.. one goes to you and one goes to the other person, it would work out well.
time will bring change and the receiver's will sound better and better when you buy 'em used.
maybe i am pushing on an industry that doesnt have the same plans to go forward.
the new surround sound formats are supposed to be an improvement, but they were recently released and there is no word of when the industry will improve again.

you could try to read reviews on the older receivers for sale.. i suppose some of the better receivers will have reviews that hint towards the receiver being above average.. but that doesnt mean what is for sale is going to have those reviews.
kinda like going to a garage sale and expecting something to be there, you really cant do it because the distance between what you want/need and what the person is selling for 'old junk' is way too far apart.
it is a matter of chance and luck.
and it would be the same chance and luck when you try some of those home theater in a box systems.
i am in a situation like that myself.. but for headphones.
i would be willing to try anything with my ears, no matter what price or brand name.. simply looking if something that makes me happy is out there some where.
and when the stores keep the headphones in the package, it gets real hard trying them out and bringing them back.
people get embarassed.. people waste gas going back and forth.. and some stores refuse to give a refund, only store credit.
if i ever did find a pair of headphones for a lower price than i expected.. or from a brand name i didnt expect to satisfy me, i would take those headphones and treat them like my pet.

it isnt easy when you are buying new and dont have the money to make a quick grab for something expensive.
there are products out there that punish people who DO have the money to make a quick grab for something expensive.
a person does no research and thinks to themselves 'you get what you pay for'
and with the internet, it is supposed to be 'you get what you research for'
i have browsed the internet for information myself, and i have learned first-hand.. the information isnt really there.
only a bunch of articles that dont really teach you anything except a brand name or a model number.
otherwise they use generalized terms without going into detail about why they are important, sometimes leaving out some of the most important details that must be learned before you can make an informed choice.

do yourself a favor and listen to those home theater in a box systems.. because you might be embarassed if you pay for each piece seperately and the home theater in a box sounds about the same, but for $200 less.

wouldnt it be odd if the home theater in a box sounded about the same as the seperate pieces you bought for $200 more.. and the sound didnt really get any better until you spent like $300 - $400 more?
one would think you are supposed to look and find out for yourself before that happens.

just like a vehicle.
you change the oil and put all 5 quarts inside of it.
later that day or the next day you see the oil light blink.
you have the choice to say 'i just put oil in it and it cant be all gone'
you could look under the vehicle and on the ground for oil that has been dripping out.

the person who looks is going to know if the oil light was a liar, or if the car has a leak and needs more oil.
as the person who didnt look is going to take a chance driving the engine with no (or little) oil, causing damage to the engine.

people cannot stop doing things for themselves and expect somebody to do it for them.
some people dont know.. some people dont care, and that is why they dont know.. and some people will buy something expensive and demand they get something of high quality for their money.
maybe the person who spent a whole lot of money gets a receiver with a bunch of extra features they dont need or use.
if they would have done the research and looked at the feature list, they would know about the features and what they do.
cant just go into a store and shove the most expensive box into your shopping cart.
the rich get punished for being dumb and lazy.. and the poor get rewarded for all of their research (well they are supposed to get rewarded, but i dont feel they do)
maybe if they research and dig deep for long enough, they might find something that they have to save up for.. but at least it is supposed to be worth it.
if the product they save up for is ment to punish rich people.. then the whole thing goes foul, as all that research and effort and saving money went down the drain.
people would stop being interested with the product.. or really angry/depressed for a while.

to say those home theater in a box systems arent very good.. the same thing can be said about all of the speakers they sell at the stores too.
maybe they are a little bit better.. but a whole lot more expensive.
and when the chance of finding something good for less money is like 1 in 30 ... people start asking other people for advice as to which one is the best out of the 30.
obviously we didnt find it yet.. otherwise we would be giving you a model number to go buy.
this has proven to fail in the past.. people recommend something that isnt very good.
my mother and i went through this back in the early 1990's before i was 10 years old.
she was messing around with cleaning products and asked other people what they thought was better than most.
sometimes the person would come back with a product that my mother hadnt tried yet.. and when my mother did try it, she quickly found out that the product recommended wasnt as good as what she already knew.
then she would contact the person and say 'this product is better than what you suggested to me'
and sometimes people would be skeptical or argue.
cant help people who dont want to be helped unless you force the help onto them.
so when i see people asking for 'which product is the best' .. i am thinking they want the help forced onto them.


May 27, 2009

hdmi or spdif optical are your best choices in terms of quality.

if you plan on running your monitor (or using a tv as a monitor) with the following setup:
then you could carry the audio over the hdmi line directly if: your pc using hdmi out ports, or if you have dvi ports but your video card supports sound out over dvi.

if you plan on hooking up your monitor to the pc seperately and having just an audio out with the following setup:
then if you have spdif optical out that would be best.


technically you could connect all the equipment in both rooms to the receiver, but as A.P. stated with your low budget its not worth the cost. keep in mind that you could always set up your pc room now, and upgrade (buy cables, etc) to connect the other room in the future (on a seperate budget). that would probably give you the best solution.


you have to watch out for some home theatre in a box solutions. the ones that come with a dvd/br player often will have less ports and options available than one that comes with no dvd/br player.

htib solutions also typically come with pretty cheesy plastic speakers which you feel like you're just going to snap in half. for $300-400 i certainly expect more than most give. not saying they will not work, just saying to be careful of what you buy.

buying a seperate receiver, and either seperate speakers or a speaker set is probably the best as far as quality is concerned. though, things tend to cost more (but you get more too!)

when choosing a receiver look for the amount and types of inputs you want. avoid sony at under $500, i've heard decent things about onkyo but i've never had one.

for speakers, its best to listen to them in a home theatre room at local stores (best buy or something) if you can help it. there is always the option of going small (3.1) and adding 2 speakers (for 5.1) in the future if you want to buy quality.

if you want a cheap speaker recommendation i know used to sell a sony tower speaker, black, that was about 3.5 feet tall for about $120. they have like 3-4 speakers under the mesh screen if i remember right. i bought the same speakers from circuit city and two came in one box for the price. at such a cheap price you'd expect crap but even unamplified these things are beast. it was a present for my parents one year.


the reason you're hearing more 3.1 on a 5.1 system is because most computer audio is not surround sound. the only things that are surround are typically games and whatever movies you may play. you can change the settings on your pc (or receiver) to duplicate the front audio to the back for times when you wont be using surround. its a simple switch to get it back to surround. i use this when playing audio over the pc speakers from itunes.


Dec 19, 2009
a punk parametirc qualizer???

what are you talking about... parametric is the best out of the 2, its the only one that can control specific frquency as well as a band of frequencies at YOUR choice. graphics are fixed... if u want to change a certain freqency, the choice might not be there, because the variables are fixed...

there is no cons or pros to balance the 2, parametric is always been the best... unless you like to put the price as con, but who does that, u pay for what you get...

"the ability to adjust each speakers loudness individually. " msot receivers are fine at doing this.


Oct 15, 2007
yep.. giving me three or five choices of bands isnt enough.
and some receivers have preset bands too that you can scroll through.
i've had better luck with a 10 band equalizer than i ever did with a 3 band parametric.
using them together helped more.

it is a feeling of 'punk' when i have this annoying peak that i cant trim because i am out of equalizer bands.
right now, i am using only a parametric eq.. there are some peaks i cant get rid of, and some dips i cant boost.
my receiver only gives me 3 to choose from.
to say that the three are quick and easy.. the results are also sounding 'simple' and 'quick'
i'd always reach for a parametric on the receiver first, then flatten those results with a 32 band eq.
and if i had to choose one or the other, it would be the 32 band eq.
speakers dont always have smooth frequency response curves that can be flatten rather easily and nicely.
mine looked horrible before any eq.. but maybe it is because i have three ways that are expected to get down into the 20hz area.
if i had some two ways that stopped at like 80hz.. i might have been able to flatten the frequency response some more with the third band.

if parametric was the best.. i wouldnt have had better sound with the 10 band eq on top of the parametric.

i know i am not being totally fair to parametric eq's.. because some of them have a large number of bands that can be used.
but these are not found in home theater receivers as the average 'gift'
i've seen software parametric eq's that allow for much more bands.. but when you are stuck with three, its not enough to get the satisfied feeling of flattness.

perhaps i would be totally willing to say that a parametric eq on the receiver is the 'bust' since it starts the beginning of tweaking the frequency response.
and i could see how 'bust' and 'best' could be pronounced the same.

what i really want to get my hands on is an equalizer that changes the phase of whatever frequency i want.
i would keep some of the amplitude exactly the same as it was before trying to tweak the frequency response, and adjust some of the frequencies phase.
this would prove to make some amplifiers better than others.

when you see your speakers individual frequency response, and you see the line is already pretty flat.. your amp should also be pretty flat.. meaning there is no need to adjust amplitude for different frequencys.
the frequency response recorded with the microphone would show different than what the frequency response graph of the speaker shows.. and those are phase problems/differences because of the room.
i would expect the speaker to be under stress with the phase changes way before the amplitude changes.
and when you adjust the amplitude because of the room.. when you trim it, that is simply asking the room to play the frequency.. hardly the speaker doing all of the work.
the sound is potentially better either way.. depends on the speaker and its design to work with the room.

for example..
the other night i was at an automotive shop until about 1am
they were using the klipsch promedia 2.1 speaker system in the office.
i pointed the satellites out the door and propped the door open.. the sound was much better in the other room than it was if you stood in the office listening to the speakers closely.
some of the sounds will be bloated from the speaker to sound better when you are listening to the wall reflections only.
nobody really needs to be mixing wall reflections with sounds coming directly from the speaker.. the choice should be one or the other to get the higher uniformity, and thus perfection.
dolby and dts also has to make the choice of using only the speaker or only the wall reflections.
technically.. those two technologies are all about using the wall reflections to create their effects.
and somebody needs to aim for a room that doesnt allow the speakers to bloom from the wall reflections to keep the frequency response flat.
sometimes a sound will come and go faster than it takes for the sound to be reflected off the wall.. and that means your frequency response is going to be wrong, as well as the amplitude of the sound.
you might get lucky to 'extend' the duration of the sound with some attack or sustain (or both) .. if it is enough to add the duration needed to get the soundwave to touch the wall.
maybe you touch one wall, but need to touch another wall to get the real 'bloom' effect needed for the frequency response and amplitude to stop having any dips or voids.
real systems would use a limiter of the time domain setup custom for their wall reflections.
that way you could run everything into the walls and stop the time after the last wall has been touched by the sound wave.
the final custom part is when the duration of the sound is longer than the time threshold given by the walls.. and instead of allowing the time to go beyond, you would want some amplitude added.

you can point a speaker to a corner and ask your preamp to play sounds faster or slower in the time domain so that when the soundwave hits the corner.. it takes perfect shape.
you could stand 5ft - 8ft away from the corner and be amazed.
it is all about the size of the soundwave, and how it doesnt fit into the corner as well as other soundwaves.
so when you need to compress it, you would play the wave faster in the time domain.
if you played it slower, the soundwave would go way behind you like a violent richochet.
and when you adjust the speed.. you also need some time-pitch correction.
the time-pitch correction should be everything you need to keep the audio at the perfect (normal) playback rate.

so with that said.. you would point the speaker at the corner and find the frequency that fits into the corner 'naturally' by size.. then anything higher would need to be stretched out, and anything lower would need to be stretched.
when you are done.. the sound will be emitted from the corner without any bleeding out (or bleeding in).
it sounds like $30,000
and if you dont agree, then consider that price being paid to the person who setup the speaker and programmed it.
i dont have the programming knowledge to do it myself.. otherwise i would be sitting here trying to perfect it.
to get the 'natural' sound from the corner.. you need to play a frequency response sweep with a speaker that has perfect linear phase (at least for the frequencies that fit in the corner) ... because the microphone would pick up the area of frequency response as being perfectly the same without deviations.
that is how you pick what frequency bands is the neutral middle.
you will probably find that most of the cheaper generic tweeters are already bloated.. so using them in the corner would help expand the treble.

have you ever seen an audio project setup as a museum display to sound perfect within the constraints of the object used to create the reflections?
they use all sorts of odd objects to put speakers inside of.
otherwise they use the speaker rather openly with some simple forms of reflection and no box for the speaker.
pretty much.. you could go through some pictures of speakers that look like they are trying to sell the speaker.. some of those have been made into such a museum display.
you plug in the preamp into the amplifier and plug the speaker in a press play exactly how the speaker is setup in the photo.
the bass might be light and perhaps non-existant to people who like room shaking bass.. but you can still hear it.
supposed to be a thing of beauty and art.. not maximum functionality in any room.
these are best displayed in rooms that are large with high ceilings, so the audio isnt ruined by other reflections heard.

it is pretty cool.. because when you look at it.. for example the corner.. it sounds like there is gas in the corner and the audio is coming from the gas.
when there is an object on the floor or table.. it sounds like there is gas covering the object and the sound is coming from the gas.
you cant always walk all the way around it and get the same output.. but if you stand in the right spot, it is impossible to point where the sound is coming from (as long as the speaker is hidden from view).


Dec 19, 2009
"yep.. giving me three or five choices of bands isnt enough."

i hope ur not talkin about BLUECAT digital para. equalizer...

you get three additional bands (this is including the cnetrral freuqnecy) for each frequency you can assign, so that is pretty much any number of bands the model allows... some are digital, and can allow how ever many frequency bands you want, depending on the size of tis memory. you will see most PRO decks, always have PARA. EQs sitting under their compressors and limiters, and its amazing how much bands you can assign.

in other words (using the avg eq.) you can get more then 30 bands... with ONE. and i know you... the person with many equalizers lol...


Oct 15, 2007
it is true that a parametric eq. can boost as many bands as the Q allows, and you can overlap the Q enough to stretch the boost, thus being like as many bands as you want to call it by saying each frequency (100hz 101hz 102hz) is a band included.

people dont always get the pleasure of zooming into their frequency response and seeing that all of the frequencies are flat within 1 or 2dB
they usually range between 3dB and 5dB
the difference is huge.

parametric and graphic equalizers are inferior to digital room correction anyways.
because the digital room correction is literally solving the problem for every single frequency.
if you have 20khz top end frequency and start at 10hz .. the digital room correction is the same as 19,990 bands.

a preference is really misunderstood by the situation.
if i had the choice of six parametric eq's with 3 bands each.. that is 18 bands of guaranteed correction.
i would choose that over a 10 band equalizer, as long as the quality of the boost and cut was the same for both.
the situation i brought up was the choice of one parametric eq. with three bands, compared to one graphic eq with 10 bands.

what the receivers offer for an equalizer is the downright truth, usually only a small number of bands that isnt enough.
giving reason to why i said the parametric eq. is 'punk'
because who is going to be happy with an eq. that only adjusts the treble only?
it isnt pointless when you use it correctly, it leaves much to be desired without doing the rest of the frequency response.

if you can get your system to sound flat within 1dB using a parametric eq. .. i will be satisfied that you are satisfied.
i believe people wont get their frequency response that flat.
if you had the choice of a graphic eq. with more ability to grab ahold of the frequency response compared to the parametric.. choose that one.
i do doubt the home theater receiver industry gives graphic equalizers as a feature, i havent looked through them all.. but i am thinking there are usually only these three options:
1. a parametric equalizer with at least 2 bands short
2. a simple bass/midrange/treble eq.
3. the digital room correction

a lot to be had from the simple bass/treble eq. from the radios of the 1990's ??
people from the 1960's and 1970's will tell you that those two knobs are teasing and abusing the real tools.
so then they added a midrange slider to the eq. as 'normal' .. found in many of the stock radios for vehicles.
this gave new light to vehicle drivers.. and a lot of blown speakers.
to say that the speakers were blown all of the time is to say the people used the eq. given to them.
the only step forward is to add more bands or have it preset at the factory already.
and this was also done on some of the stock radios for vehicles.
just like all of the home radios that came with a 6 or 8 or 10 band graphic equalizer, people never ever used them.
it would be like 1 out of 20 people who adjusted the equalizer to make the sound different.
they didnt use a microphone to get real results, they left the knobs at what they thought was 'good enough'

only a matter of seeing what it could be and seeing what people dont care to realize.
imagine you having a calibrated microphone and a laptop (with high quality usb soundcard) sitting around.
you see somebody with an equalizer that isnt using it at all.
doesnt that tempt you to show the person what they are missing?
chances are, they will say something like 'well i no longer see any reason to get rid of these speakers'
'i guess i will be keeping these speakers for a while'

if we could hold an experiment to see how many people who are looking to buy new speakers would change their mind if when we put an equalizer onto their old radio and calibrate the equalizer, would the person still want to buy new speakers?
i think there are some people who have junk speakers that wont do the entire frequency response.. and these people are probably looking at subwoofers and such, meaning they shouldnt count towards the experiment.
anybody with a three-way system would probably say something like 'maybe i will wait a little longer before i buy some new speakers'
and yes, maybe they realize the speakers are old and sound like old technology.. and maybe later on they would buy new speakers.
the chance that the person stops and pauses is going to be there.
it isnt fair to talk about some sound design 3-way tower speakers from the 1980's
any of the cerwin vega or jbl or sony or something like that from the 1990's would provide a start.
i really didnt catch what they were selling around the beginning of 2000.
probably more polk and infinity speakers then.. along with some more sony speakers.
i remember back in the 1990's .. lots of people had some fisher 3-ways with 15 inch woofers.
these types of people who havent heard their speakers on the newer radios with an equalizer would be amazed that those speakers could sound cleaner than they did for all of those years.

if i was selling speakers.. i would hookup and equalizer to their old system and let them hear what they could have had for all of that time.
at least then, the person would feel like they got their money's worth from the old system.
and i would probably give the option to let them keep the calibration and return the new system they just bought .. because some people might have a 'love' for their old system because of memories and stuff.
of course, it would be wise to setup the new system and calibrate the eq. again to show them how good the new system sounds.
then charge them for the speakers, and charge them again for the calibration (new equalizer too).

equalizers and room optimization tools to me are like a vehicle that has a block under the gas pedal.
if people drive around with a block under their gas pedal.. they never really know what it is like to press the gas to the floor and go.


Dec 19, 2009
eh? most receives im sure have at least 5-band equalizer. my denon 1910 amp, has a 9band eq, assuming my speakers dont have horrible response, i think 9 band is pretty much covered.

anyway i dont think most people aim for a flat frequency, but try to aim for a house curve, like in theatres and cinemas.


Oct 15, 2007
parametric equalizers have higher priority over graphic equalizers because there are many frequencies to choose from when selecting which one to boost or cut.
and that means the chances are higher that the person gets their frequency response 'fixed' and closer to flat.
if i handed everyone the same 6 band graphic equalizer, people would be complaining that they dont need any of those bands.. and the bands that they do need are not there.

it is an 'everybody is happy' type of thing.
but a graphic equalizer can get you within 1dB if you use a parametric to start the process first.
there will still be chunks of dips and peaks, and you could use either type.

and here is the kicker..
if you get another graphic equalizer, you are stuck with those bands.. even if you dont need them.
with the parametric eq. you could put the center frequency exactly where you need it and then adjust the Q to as wide or narrow as you need it.

a graphic equalizer would be a waste if you had 10 bands and only used 3 or 4 bands out of all 10.
usually a parametric equalizer to get you started, and then a graphic equalizer to get it as flat as you can.. it results in all of the bands of the equalizer being used.
but again,
you should be looking at the frequency response on a display to see if a graphic equalizer or another parametric equalizer is the 'perfect' solution to the problem.

MEgamer is right.. and above and beyond the fact that some parametric equalizers dont give you the chance to center the frequency where you need it.
if you use up all of the 'bass' bands.. you might not get the 'midrange' band to center on another 'bass' frequency.

and i am equally wrong to say that a graphic equalizer is going to be better when you dont need all of the bands available.


Jul 15, 2008

Yes, a high end audio setup should have a soundcard.

Also, you are too concerned about rear channel speakers, remember they really don't get any low frequency signals...not really due to the amp but mostly the source. Modern blu-ray movies are specially designed for 5.1/7.1 setups where all the bass goes to the subwoofer, and the mids/highs go to the center, fronts, and surrounds. I don't care how large or how powerful your front towers are or if your rears are the size of the empire state building, a regular movie will still send all low-frequency sound to the subwoofer and there really is nothing you can do the change that, most people have a sub with tiny satellite speakers so if a movie sent bass signals to those tiny speakers, they would sound like farts and would ruin sound quality.

And also, from the setups you heard and say the rear was lacking, was the rear positioned correctly?...if not positioned properly it can ruin sound, the high frequency sound heading towards rears is extremely directional for your hearing, the surrounds should be almost directly to the sides of your at ear level in height, otherwise it will lack a lot.

If you listen to music, thats a whole different story, for movies all your bass will be handled by the sub for the most part, in music, you want good fronts.


Dec 19, 2009

no its not the movie taht sends a low signal, to the sub, its the amplifier crossover settings that does that, the rear speakers recievers full range signals, and it dose have a lot of bass. if you set your speakers on the amp, to large, so taht it receivers full signals, and the sub receives true .1 signals, (and no crossovered 80hz-full range crap) then u will notice that the rears to get a farily large amount of bass, ESPECIALLY in action movies, such as explosions or even helicopters flying past behind you.

if your amp, doesnt have the setting for large speakers so that the speakers must always be crossed over, then you can set your cross over to a very low frequency and hear it then.


Jul 15, 2008
^Yes, large speakers can be used to make loud bass at "not so low" frequencies, but subs go below the frequency range of regular tower speakers which usually cap out at 35-40hz (I haven't seen/heard many that can go lower and be able to keep it at a "feelable" volume)...below that, down to 25hz and lower is handled by the sub.


Mar 10, 2010
Well thanks much for all the opinions, I kind of just went with home theater instead of anything to do with my comp, for now.

I saw some Polk Audio's on sale recently and read good enough reviews about them and just went for it.
So it'll be Monitor 70 series II for fronts, 50 series II for surrounds, the CS2 series II for center and I'll be using my brother's paradigm ps-1000 for the rumbles. I guess it's receiver time now :)
I was going to just do their bookshelf sets for the rears / surrounds but for the price of those + decent stands, I got the 50's for the same cost.
We'll see..



Jul 15, 2008
If you have a good budget, I recommend getting your equipment as separates (amp, preamp). As you might find better deals for each that are more specific to your requirements and end up saving money as well as getting better equipment for yourself in the end.

And Polks are amazing, you won't be disappointed (I hope). <<<Proud owner of polks.


Oct 15, 2007
full range goes to the rear speakers, no different than the full range that goes to the front left/right.
the center also gets full range.

no sense punishing people who have 12 inch woofers for each speaker (including the center channel).

LFE is not bass..!
it is pressure.
the LFE channel can have the same bass as any of the 7 speakers in a surround sound set.
the sound producer might decide to add specific unique sounds to the LFE channel because many people have a subwoofer.
the politically correct agenda is to provide vacuum and pressure for the room.

this is audiophile territory where standing in the doorway can knock a drunk person over.
the pressure isnt the same tickling effect that you get with lots of in's and out's from the cone.
it is mastered to be solid rise and fall of positive and negative pressure.
the reverb of the room doesnt allow any in/out movement.. and that means your ears can take it a lot more.
and when the pressure gets violent enough, you will need some ear studs.
meaning, if you have to temporarily glue some heros into your ears so they dont fall out.. that is simply what it is going to be.
and that also means more power to the speakers to be loud enough to be heard over the ear plugs.
and it also means a custom microphone with the same designed ear plug in the way to capture the frequency response.

receivers have the option to mix the LFE output with the main speakers.
obviously not all of the receivers have this 'feature' .. but some do.
it is important to have when your speakers can play the role of a pressure pump AND a subwoofer at the same time.
this should be where the filthy rich are having a problem.

it is all a matter of what the sound producer does with the LFE channel.
you might setup the room and realize that there is nothing but normal subwoofer bass pouring out of the LFE channel.
and this would be like saying.. 'the movie audio soundtrack simply does not have a true LFE channel'
it should prove to be annoying and expensive to see your equipment go to waste.

and if the audio producer doesnt know any better.. they might be fooled into mixing the true LFE output with the LFE channel and the surround sound speakers.
that means more mixing and mastering at the house to try and discover what is what, and then send that audio to the appropriate speaker.
might be worthwhile for your favorite movie, but i wouldnt want to do it.
simply trying to guess what is an explosion and what is ment to pressurize the room appears to me as a long battle of struggle.


Mar 10, 2010
So if anyone is interested, which receiver would you pick with above posted speaker setup?
pioneer vsx-921-k or yamaha rx-v571BL?

Honestly I'd rather spend about $100 less but I'd be up for spending more than budget if it'll be much more worth it.


Oct 15, 2007
you should probably ask yourself one serious question..
will you be listening to music more often
will you be watching movies with dolby or dts more often?

looking at the design characteristics of the advertisement pages from the websites..
it appears that the YPAO technology is specifically tailored to speakers of a different distance.
see the article here:

the emphasis put on the time alignment is crucial, and the above article goes on and on about the time alignment.
secondary comes the flat frequency response.
since the technology age is so inheritantly structured to upgrade.. i wouldnt be suprised if the yamaha raises the frequency response.. swelling the room more, and then trimming peaks off to keep the sound loud and coherent.
as i said in another thread, if you are listening to the reflections of the walls too much.. it can make the sound muddy.
picture a glass of water and you add a dash of salt.
i dont really want to say a dash of salt.. i want to say how many little grains to put into the glass to begin changing the flavor.
because that is what the walls do to the soundwaves.

pioneer's MCACC goes straight into the talk of frequency response.
perhaps i have been mislead.
since the wording goes like this 'Pioneer's exclusive Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration system (MCACC) provides a near studio-quality'

and to break that down into sub-text says this 'grade-A *near* .. to that of studio quality'
i cannot be said to decipher such misleading coded context.
the next list of words is 'multi-channel'
putting emphasis that it does not say multi-channelS .. with the S being important.
when all of the speakers are time aligned really good.. there is sound coming from all of the speakers, but they form together and create a solid 'one'

yamaha on the other hand goes into great detail about how the frequency response is adjusted.
it was said that there is a 7 band parametric equalizer.

both of them must have the higher audio quality.. one for the price tag, and two because of the audio demands of blu-ray audio.

since you asked me..
you take on the same confusion i am faced with.

some word of advice..
i wouldnt go to the store and ask them to use the calibration feature to try it out.
their ceilings are way too high to promise the same results at home.

truth be told..
either way you do it, time-alignment or frequency calibration, they both provide 'new' results for people that have gone without either one.
most important?
very very hard to say.
the experts would tell you to use your own ears and make the decision.

i would probably go with frequency response first, and then time alignment second.
i have had the pleasure of using both, and i have lost the capability of using either one.
with that said, i wouldnt want to lose either one of them.

a calibrated frequency response is only as strong as the person who enjoys the new sound.
i would say go with the time alignment first.. but if you havent heard a calibrated frequency response ever, it might be exactly the thing you are thirsty for.
sometimes the time alignment is much better since people have never heard a frequency response that is much flatter.
and the improvement is astounding.
some people might say.. 'is a calibrated frequency response really that good?'
maybe somebody would say no, but that is generally from people who havent heard full range audio.
REAL full range audio.. stuff that goes down to like 10hz and up to like 30-50khz

as i said, both of them have the power to create a very serious sensation of 'new' technology, and a new love for audio.
which one is like asking a person what their favorite color is.

the true point is this..
if the frequency response is dependant on the blooming and swelling of the amplitude to then later trim the peaks to keep all things coherent.. it really isnt going to work superbly with dolby and dts.
maybe dts works with the blooming effect.. i really havent had enough examples to make a decision about it.
dolby is certainly the one to use the walls for enhanced 3d sound.
you dont want to break that if you watch movies more than listen to music.

some might say 'HEY.. blooming the room will make those 3d effects louder!'
and to that i say..
you will never ever get the same soft ambient effects that appear like water pouring into the middle of the room as all of the water runs out equally in all directions, and continues to go after it hits the wall.
all of that pumping up of the room is one thing, and the sidenote requires some extensive re-designing of today's speaker assortment.

the blooming method can make music sound better than stock.
but the results are windy and air-y sounding.
if you enjoy leaving your volume up high to overcome some background noise.. fine.
it isnt the same as listening to audio with much more silence.
blooming can allow the superb stop and go effect, and this is what makes the music sound better.
losing the soft subtle touches can also be a very big loss.. especially when transients are involved, the loss is even bigger.
cant get realism with windy air-y sound.. not with todays current speaker selections.
because when it is all said and done, when things are supposed to drop to silence.. it simply wont happen with the room blooming.
meaning we need more impulse response correction to appreciate the audio industry to its full extent.
there will then be choice A and choice B
each letter giving grade to the results.


another thing..
a calibrated frequency response will make your speakers appear to be more expensive.
a calibrated time alignment will make your receiver appear to be more 'technologically advanced'

if you are having trouble deciding which one to aim for, consider the above summerization to make it easier.
for what it is worth..
when your receiver makes your speakers sound more expensive, you kinda get the feeling that your receiver is also more 'technologically advanced'
so maybe you get both feelings of satisfaction from one choice.
time alignment doesnt make the speakers sound more expensive, it is only good to show that the person doesnt realize how amplifiers work.
stereo crosstalk doesnt always get the attention it deserves.


Mar 10, 2010
you should probably ask yourself one serious question..
will you be listening to music more often
will you be watching movies with dolby or dts more often?

As far as use is concerned, I'll be watching movies most often, followed up by gaming (PC), then music.
Man you go deep into explanations, and although I absolutely thank you for, I have a hard time understanding most of it. You have to understand although I know a little bit about computing, when it comes to home audio I know next to nothing.

I just want to make sure I'm powering my speakers efficiently and have the features / technology to enjoy what I'm watching / playing with full, rich sound.


Mar 10, 2010

It's between these models:

Denon AVR 1712

Yamaha RXV571BL

Pioneer VSX-921-K

Pioneer Elite VSX-40

I guess I'm leaning towards the Elite based on what I read about the Elite lineup. Any thoughts?


Jul 15, 2008
Don't be so fast to jump to the pioneer, don't get me wrong, they are great. I'd actually pick Denon and a few others over any other brand just in general for a variety of reasons. Out of the ones you listed, I think the Denon will be the best one. Reason being is that its between a personal favorite brand and a brand that makes receivers and amps of the absolute highest quality and highest standards.

However, again, it depends on what features you require and whats most important for you. Yamaha is also great so don't jump on denon either. Im just your average denon fanboy.


Oct 15, 2007

some would say 'to understand is to disagree'
and others would say 'to understand is to agree with clear and concise focus'

i really dont know which one to talk about.
i would be interested in trying all of them to do my own personal comparison.
since each of the receivers is ment for blu-ray audio.. it should be safe to assume the audio is going to be better than previous designs.
i would suppose some of the worst of the big name brand offerings is going to be about the same as some of the older generations mid-range (or high-end) products.. not to be confused with top tier things that cost more than $1,000.

personally.. i think dolby and dts have their requirements before the audio quality is allowed to be stamped with their logo.
without meeting those specifications, it should prove to be quickly known once you get the receiver home and hook it up.
to say that one has met the lowest requirements, compared to another one that has met all of the suggested requirements.

video games and music are two of the same, unless your video games output dolby surround sound specifically.
very few of them do, so i would say that.

the room optimization is fairly new to a lot of people.. and only some of the experienced ones will want to pick and choose between them for the best choice.
perhaps you are new to them too.. but i tried to give you the opportunity to select one over the other for a reason.
i dont know what reason to tack onto what receiver.
i havent tried ANY of those auto calibration setups.
and i know better than to try and do it at a store with really tall ceilings.
10ft ceiling could prove to be enough to throw off the results when the auto calibration is done with a 7.5ft ceiling.
maybe it isnt, and those two heights (and anything inbetween) are already compensated for.
most stores have a ceiling that is like three times that height.
i dont think they are 30ft .. more like 50ft

you should be blessed with knowledge if you find a store that has lower ceilings that are something like a house.
these usually are not the 'name brand' stores.. but the smaller locally owned stores.
and if you have some speakers on a shelf.. that isnt always the best opportunity either, because there arent any walls to create the room.
when the distance from one wall to another is like 50ft - 100ft .. that is going to ruin the results of the auto calibration.
you shouldnt use those results and think they will work the same at home.
what you need is a real room built inside the store.. use the same speakers for each auto calibration.. and then compare the different receivers to see which one does something your ears like the most.
and dont forget to listen to the speakers without the auto calibration, since that will really help you get an idea of what is going on.
you really shouldnt have to listen very hard.. maybe closely for a moment to take a mental image to compare two of them together.. but if you are listening that close, it doesnt always matter that much.
truth be told.. if you stand there listening closely for 5 - 10 minutes .. you are okay.
if you are listening there closely for 10 - 20 minutes .. you are trying too hard and are wasting your time, as the results you get arent going to be loud and clear when you bring the receiver home.

you should be prepared for the listening experience.
that means being stress free, no different than the same stress you might think about at home.
some people say clear their heads, and i dont always agree with that.. because if you completely clear your head.. you might have some stress at the house.
when your head is too clear, you can hear things that you dont normally hear because you are not normally that clear minded.
it is rotating around to the same point.. if you try too hard you will make a mistake.
and it is absolutely true, if you get yourself into this 'super human listening mode' things can sound louder than they normally would.
you can also turn off your hearing quite a bit to prevent pain or annoyance.
take a person with a saw.. the person doing the cutting might not think the saw is very loud, because they are in control of the saw and they expect the noise to happen 'when'
the person watching the cutter from the side, that person isnt always prepared and in control to 'flush out' the sound.
it can lead to the person closest to the saw not complaining about harmful sounds.. and the person 4ft away is saying something about not wanting to listen to the saw because the noise went up into a harmful zone.

i wish people the best.
not everybody can get the excitement of lifting a rock to see what bugs are under the rock.
and not everybody is going to know ahead of time that there can be a lot of disappointment when you lift the rock and find nothing but some dirt stuck on the bottom of the rock.

people are always talking about the improvements.. but they dont talk about how they get there.
to say each person has a vehicle with an engine..
one person simply adds a turbo.
the other person does bigger fuel injectors and bigger coils.. and gets a performance chip for the computer.
the turbo might make the engine run a lot hotter, and it might be something you want to avoid.
when each person hands you a receipt for the drag racing times.. both results look better than the stock engine.

maybe you dont need the persuasion.. maybe you do.
if you do get lucky enough to find a store with a listening room, and the store has the receivers you are looking at.. make sure you listen to each one in the same position with the same decibel level.
i am at the point of making myself giggle.. because i wonder if people are this crazed when they buy a new vehicle with like 10 miles on the odometer.
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