Looking for a Home Cinema Surround sound system to use with macbook

LERsince1991

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jul 24, 2008
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Hi,

I've got all my desired equipment I want now in my uni room except a sound system (speakers).

I would like to have a really good set, (good volume, clarity, depth and bass).
Pretty much all of the PC speaker systems arent that good. Me and my friend went shopping today for a system each, he bought some logitech x-530 which are pretty good but they're about the only good ones but I'd like a better system than that.

So we went to a hi-fi store but it's way out of my budget to buy some really expensive speakers, then a sub then an amp!

SO! I thought the best solution would be a home cinema setup and just plug my Macbook in (L/R).

Would anyone have any recommendations on home cinema systems purely for music please?

Budget is like £100... I'm not sure
Luke
 

thegoldenmackid

macrumors 604
Dec 29, 2006
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dallas, texas
If you are just listening to music, you don't need surround sound.

The best quality at that price point will likely come from a pair of cans.

As for speakers, I'd highly recommend checking out anything from Swan or getting a set of bookshelf's and an amp. At your price range any home theater system is going to be mass crap, but that's just my opinion.
 

Tomorrow

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Mar 2, 2008
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As I understand it, the only way to get surround sound out of a MacBook (or pretty much any Mac) is either (1) a digital set of 5.1 speakers using an optical cable, or (2) an external sound card.

I believe if you go with the X-530's you'll need an external sound card to get true surround.

Also, thegoldenmackid speaks the truth - music isn't going to play at 5.1 unless it's a DVD Audio disc.
 

Ti_Poussin

macrumors regular
May 6, 2005
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At the price point your aiming it will sound like crap, your best bet would be Z-5500 from logitech, I got the old Z-680 for 8 years now and still rock solid. But those are around 500$ or you can look for a used or sale, it would worth the price.

The big advantage is the inputs options, coax, optical (MacBook), direct, mini-jack. It worth the investment.
 

LERsince1991

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jul 24, 2008
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Thanks for the recommendations and advice.

The reason I wanted a 5.1 system is because I wanted the music the be coming from every corner of my room instead of just the front. I setup my friends X-530's today and you get a 3x stereo jack into x2 L/R RCA splitter with the system so we bought a simple stereo jack to RCA and merged all the channels basically, which is what I want.

I'll look into the recommended systems you've said in a minute.
I was thinking if the logitech x-530's are 70W RMS/140W Peak and most home cinema systems are at least 300W RMS... Then I want the home cinema system :D

I was looking at a 5.1 phillips system which looked alright for £125, didnt ask for a demo though (they never have good music to test it and never turn it up!)
 

LERsince1991

macrumors 65816
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Jul 24, 2008
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Right, the Logitech z-5500 look pretty good but they're out of my price range and theres no way I can reach anywhere near that budget.
The swan M10's look sweet but I cant find them available in the UK?
Also the RMS from the M10's looks low (cant find a total RMS figure though) but if the z-5500 is 500W RMS and the home cinema systems were between 300W-1000W RMS then I think the M10's may not be loud enough?
 

Tomorrow

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Mar 2, 2008
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Right, the Logitech z-5500 look pretty good but they're out of my price range and theres no way I can reach anywhere near that budget.
The swan M10's look sweet but I cant find them available in the UK?
Also the RMS from the M10's looks low (cant find a total RMS figure though) but if the z-5500 is 500W RMS and the home cinema systems were between 300W-1000W RMS then I think the M10's may not be loud enough?
Power != volume. Unless you're going into an absolutely enormous room (like a gymnasium or concert hall), 300 W will sound just fine.

Remember, you will not get 5.1 sound out of a Mac unless you're (1) using an optical cable with digital speakers like the Z-5500's, or an external sound card (another $100 or so), AND (2) playing a movie or audio DVD. iTunes, etc. will NOT output sound in 5.1 surround. I use Z-5500's and I can confirm this from experience.

You might be better off putting your money toward a home theater if you want 5.1.
 

LERsince1991

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Original poster
Jul 24, 2008
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Power != volume. Unless you're going into an absolutely enormous room (like a gymnasium or concert hall), 300 W will sound just fine.

Remember, you will not get 5.1 sound out of a Mac unless you're (1) using an optical cable with digital speakers like the Z-5500's, or an external sound card (another $100 or so), AND (2) playing a movie or audio DVD. iTunes, etc. will NOT output sound in 5.1 surround. I use Z-5500's and I can confirm this from experience.

You might be better off putting your money toward a home theater if you want 5.1.
I would have thought if I connected the macbook to the amp/dvd player in the system then it would detect that its just L/R and merge the channels to play out of all speakers. We merged the channels with my friends system today for a 5.1 setup.

I know 300W is a lot, my friends system today is 70W RMS and is pretty loud in our small rooms but not loud enough for me -_-
I guess I'll go to comet and test the systems with my iPod a bit.

Something like the samsung HT-TZ325 could be good, 1000W RMS is way more than enough (always good), this system is £200, so maybe something cheaper but similar.
 

thegoldenmackid

macrumors 604
Dec 29, 2006
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Watts are irrelevant.

This full stack will blow you away, has only 100 watts.

Do you want quality or volume? If it's the latter a used guitar amp or a boombox is the better solution.
 

ttopp

macrumors regular
Mar 1, 2007
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save for a better one

£100 wont even get decent speakers for a 5.1 but u could get a small low quality but gets the job done all in one. u could try a dvd player 5.1 that has an input..

also 5.1 systems have settings for cd surround sound its not digital 5.1 more like a virtual 5.1 that sorto separates the sound like the first pro logic used to..

you canny beat digital so save for a better one you can look at richersounds.com for decent cheep systems
 

Tomorrow

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I would have thought if I connected the macbook to the amp/dvd player in the system then it would detect that its just L/R and merge the channels to play out of all speakers. We merged the channels with my friends system today for a 5.1 setup.
Respectfully, if you merged the channels then you didn't get a true 5.1 setup - you just got sound out of 5 speakers, which isn't even close to the same thing.

If you think that a set of $100 speakers is really what you're after, there's probably not going to be any talking you out of it.

And of course you want quality and volume - but you're not likely to find it at that price, depending on your definition of "quality."
 

silentnite

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Apr 21, 2009
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I'm using a set of Logitech Z5500 and will say they are one of the best for what your looking for. Last week I thought I blew the amp but it turns out it just over heated & all I had to do is turn them off and wait a few. After things cooled down I was back in business.

Amazon seems to have the best price right now but you can search the web, many dealers carry them. They are also good if your into gaming and just listening to your Mp3 collection. I plug em into my earphone out on the side of my computer and they sound great. My brother has a sound card which makes his set sound out of this world.
 

Andy348

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May 18, 2009
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I'm using a set of Logitech Z5500 and will say they are one of the best for what your looking for. Last week I thought I blew the amp but it turns out it just over heated & all I had to do is turn them off and wait a few. After things cooled down I was back in business.

Amazon seems to have the best price right now but you can search the web, many dealers carry them. They are also good if your into gaming and just listening to your Mp3 collection. I plug em into my earphone out on the side of my computer and they sound great. My brother has a sound card which makes his set sound out of this world.
Won't those be out of his price range?

Last time I checked they were like 500..
 

silentnite

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Won't those be out of his price range?

Last time I checked they were like 500..
Yeah! they would be out of the price range but I have to say, somethings like sound & graphics you just can't get around it. If the guys looking for surround & bass etc. where can you find a cheap set the delivers all that for under $300. I'm one of those guys that don't play when it comes to my sound. If you buy a Beattles CD or something like Led Zep any of the digital remasterd stuff, even some movies & video games. you'll need something to not only boost the sound a bit but you'll need something that will allow you to reshape it, so it sounds like something. No surround system for $100 will do that. You have to spend on the sound unless you don't mind hearing half of what's going on. This is why I always wish apple would make a IMac, etc. with a sound card option for those of us who love our digital music etc.
 

thegoldenmackid

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Dec 29, 2006
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Yeah! they would be out of the price range but I have to say, somethings like sound & graphics you just can't get around it. If the guys looking for surround & bass etc. where can you find a cheap set the delivers all that for under $300. I'm one of those guys that don't play when it comes to my sound. If you buy a Beattles CD or something like Led Zep any of the digital remasterd stuff, even some movies & video games. you'll need something to not only boost the sound a bit but you'll need something that will allow you to reshape it, so it sounds like something. No surround system for $100 will do that. You have to spend on the sound unless you don't mind hearing half of what's going on. This is why I always wish apple would make a IMac, etc. with a sound card option for those of us who love our digital music etc.
I am so lost by your post? They are not really in LER's price range. But then again, if LER is satisfied with the quality of sound in the Logitech X530's then the Z-5500's are mroe then enough.
 

silentnite

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They retail for $399.99 (directly from Logitech) and have dipped below $200 before. When they first came out they were at that price...but they have been $300 for a while...
From time to time if you watch Amazon, they dip into $240. range and if something goes wrong they will ship you another set. you also get 2 years warranty with them. They are very well made, THX & you'll get a piece of mind knowing your covered. Tha is worth the extra $140 or $150 if you don't mind & have it to spend.
 

silentnite

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Apr 21, 2009
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I mean at that price range, you are in trouble. Might I suggest the Klipsh Pro Media 2.1 or saving until you get a tad bit more money.
My very first set of speakers were the Klipsh pro media 4.1 surrounds they no longer make them because they had a problem with the amp & so many people returning them. In fact when my amp blew out they refused to help me knowing they had a ton of complaints on that model. I still have the 4 satellites but have since tossed the amp. I remember getting about a year or less use with them and the amp begin to smoke & buzz. I had an extended warranty but the WIZ which is the place I got them went out of business. So I will not recommend those.
 

thegoldenmackid

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Dec 29, 2006
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My very first set of speakers were the Klipsh pro media 4.1 surrounds they no longer make them because they had a problem with the amp & so many people returning them. In fact when my amp blew out they refused to help me knowing they had a ton of complaints on that model. I still have the 4 satellites but have since tossed the amp. I remember getting about a year or less use with them and the amp begin to smoke & buzz. I had an extended warranty but the WIZ which is the place I got them went out of business. So I will not recommend those.
The 4.1 are notorious for that problem, the 2.1 are not so known for that. I am lost what you do recommend.

And merge post...
 

silentnite

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Apr 21, 2009
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Outer sight.. Outer mind
As I understand it, the only way to get surround sound out of a MacBook (or pretty much any Mac) is either (1) a digital set of 5.1 speakers using an optical cable, or (2) an external sound card.

I believe if you go with the X-530's you'll need an external sound card to get true surround.

Also, thegoldenmackid speaks the truth - music isn't going to play at 5.1 unless it's a DVD Audio disc.
Yes, this true. However, DVD concert disk are very popular because you get the concert feeling & the music tracks together so you have a lot of people buying into them, a perfect example of that is John Mayer, any giving Thursday or Cream - Royal Albert Hall, Dream Theater - Live at Budokan
I'll stop now, because I don't wish to confuse anyone. The Logitech Z5500 is a good way to go when trying to achieve true surround sound.