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Connecting New Speakers to Laptop


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#1
Laxer34

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Hi there.

I just received my brand new Logitech Z-5500 THX-Certified 505-Watt 5.1 Digital Surround Sound Speaker System from Amazon. When hooking them up to my recently bought IBM laptop, I could only hear sound through the subwoofer and three of the satellites. What I'm wondering is if I need to buy a sound card for these speakers. If so, what kind would be recommended for the speakers and where could I get it? If the sound card isn't the solution, what would be your advice?

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Laxer
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#2
PedroDaGR8

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Hi there.

I just received my brand new Logitech Z-5500 THX-Certified 505-Watt 5.1 Digital Surround Sound Speaker System from Amazon. When hooking them up to my recently bought IBM laptop, I could only hear sound through the subwoofer and three of the satellites. What I'm wondering is if I need to buy a sound card for these speakers. If so, what kind would be recommended for the speakers and where could I get it? If the sound card isn't the solution, what would be your advice?

Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thanks in advance,
Laxer


Yes the sound card is the solution. Since you didn't give me a model for your laptop, I can't tell if you have an ExpressCard slot or a PCMCIA slot.

Your options therefore are an ExpressCard/PCMCIA sound card (depending on which you have) or a USB sound card. No matter what you get you need a 5.1 channel sound card. This is why your speakers are behaving as they are, you have hooked them up using a stereo source (2 channel).

An express card sound card from sound blaster:
http://cgi.ebay.com/...oQQcmdZViewItem

A USB sound card from sound blaster:
http://cgi.ebay.com/...oQQcmdZViewItem

These are just examples and these types of sound cards should be available from any online store such as newegg, zipzoomfly, geeks.com, buy.com, overstock.com etc. etc.

Common manufacturers are Creative Labs, Zalman, Turtle Beach etc.
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#3
Laxer34

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Thanks for the reply Pedro. I think I found the model of my laptop - Lenovo Thinkpad T Series 400. Which sound card type would this require?
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#4
PedroDaGR8

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OK I looked online and you have a T400 series, everything I found online says you have an express card slot. This means you can use either an express card sound card or a USB sound card. The USB is said to work with any system, the express card should work with your system.
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#5
Laxer34

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Thanks again! Last question - which would you recommend for the best sound experience overall?
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#6
PedroDaGR8

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Thanks again! Last question - which would you recommend for the best sound experience overall?


http://www.newegg.co...N82E16829102020

I would go with this one, it is USB so it should work easily and it is made by Creative Labs who is the main manufacturer of aftermarket sound cards. This one has an easy setup it appears plus an optical out for hooking it up to home theater systems or speakers that allow digital sound inputs (someone in the reviews mentions the Z-5500 having an input for an digital optical connection).

If you can, I would use the optical digital output. It tends to reduce/eliminate ground loop induced hum and transmits digitally over a fiber optic cable (aka an optical audio cable or a Toslink cable). If you do not have a Toslink cable

If you look at this image which is the input panel on the back of your control module. You can see the toslink plug with its dust cap on, it is labeled Digital Optical and it has a black plastic square dust cap.

You can get toslink cables either from newegg or monoprice (I LOVE monoprice for cheap cables). Just check which ends up cheaper with shipping. Just so you know, you DO NOT want the mini-toslink plugs, you want the regular type of toslink cables (it will say mini otherwise it should be regular). If you are a bit worried then feel free to ask.

Link to Monoprice Toslink cables Link (ignore the fiberoptic ones at the end of this page those wont work).
Link to Newegg Toslink cables here

Edited by PedroDaGR8, 28 December 2008 - 04:22 PM.

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#7
Laxer34

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Wow, you're the bomb Pedro :)

If I plan on having my sound card/receiver on my desk, would I be fine getting a 3 foot Toslink cable, or should I go with a longer one just in case? And I saw that there are two variations of the standard Toslink cable - "Fancy" and then the typical black one. Are these types the same sound quality?

And as for where to connect the Toslink cable, would I plug one end into the receiver and then plug the other end into the sound card? Sorry for all of the questions - this is my first real set...hopefully I'll have it for a while :)
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#8
PedroDaGR8

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Thanks for the compliment.

For your first question, a 3 foot should be fine, if you move it later you can buy a new one as it is pretty inexpensive, but that is up to you. As for the quality of the cables, the only difference for short distances is the looks. As long as the light gets there it works just fine. To answer the last question, yep, you plug one end into the sound card, plug the other end to the back of the control block where the rest of the inputs are.
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#9
Laxer34

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Thanks for the compliment.

For your first question, a 3 foot should be fine, if you move it later you can buy a new one as it is pretty inexpensive, but that is up to you. As for the quality of the cables, the only difference for short distances is the looks. As long as the light gets there it works just fine. To answer the last question, yep, you plug one end into the sound card, plug the other end to the back of the control block where the rest of the inputs are.



Here's what I think I'm going to go with:

-Most likely the 6 foot Toslink cable (still deciding between the "fancy" type and the black type)
http://www.monoprice.......=1&format=2

-The sound card you linked me to
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16829102020

Last question (I hope!)
I just looked at my speakers, and the input cables I have are green, orange, and black. My question is where would I put these in the sound card? There are four input slots - "Left" "Right" "Rear" and "C/Sub"

I'm assuming I put the orange input with the "C/Sub," the black with the "Rear," but I'm confused as to which to put the green one with - would it be the Left or Right one? I'm probably being a lazy arse, but would the solution be to play around until I find the right touch?

That "last" question split into three separate ones! Sorry :)
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#10
PedroDaGR8

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Thanks for the compliment.

For your first question, a 3 foot should be fine, if you move it later you can buy a new one as it is pretty inexpensive, but that is up to you. As for the quality of the cables, the only difference for short distances is the looks. As long as the light gets there it works just fine. To answer the last question, yep, you plug one end into the sound card, plug the other end to the back of the control block where the rest of the inputs are.



Here's what I think I'm going to go with:

-Most likely the 6 foot Toslink cable (still deciding between the "fancy" type and the black type)
http://www.monoprice.......=1&format=2

-The sound card you linked me to
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16829102020

Last question (I hope!)
I just looked at my speakers, and the input cables I have are green, orange, and black. My question is where would I put these in the sound card? There are four input slots - "Left" "Right" "Rear" and "C/Sub"

I'm assuming I put the orange input with the "C/Sub," the black with the "Rear," but I'm confused as to which to put the green one with - would it be the Left or Right one? I'm probably being a lazy arse, but would the solution be to play around until I find the right touch?

That "last" question split into three separate ones! Sorry :)


You are going to laugh at this. In YOUR case you don't hook them up AT ALL. The optical cable that you are buying will transmit ALL channels over the optical cable. That is one of the many nice things about it. First, you get complete digital transmission of the audio, allowing you to theoretically have a much truer signal. Second, all inputs are carried of the optical cable so there is only one cable. Third, since it is optical there is no direct electrical connection between the two, this helps prevent ground related hum.

I WILL include an answer to your question in case someone stumbles on this from google or via some other search and is hoping for an answer (I always hate when that happens to me, when I am looking for something and it isn't answered because of some reason or another). If you WERE (which you are not) going to use the analogue connections. You would use the provided adapter to join the Left and right channels together. The reason is, the left and right channels are actually RCA jacks not the 3.5mm headphone jack style plugs. The adapter will join them into ONE headphone jack, giving you THREE headphone jacks to plug into, a Left/Right jack (via adapter), a Center/Sub jack and a Rear jack.

Also, no worries about the questions. I am just glad to help. I hope that everything hopes up like a breeze and you get some amazing sound out of it. :) Of course if there are problems we are here to help.

Let me know how it sounds.

Edited by PedroDaGR8, 30 December 2008 - 01:19 AM.

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#11
Laxer34

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Oh, that is SO nice to hear. :)

I will definitely let you know how the speakers sound. I'll either be setting them up for a sound test in the next few days, or I'll be setting them up in my dorm room when I go back next week.
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