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Complex 5.1 Sound System Setup – How Do I Do It?

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I am not sure if this has been asked before, but I’ll give it a go anyway.
So I have this Yamaha MG10XU mixer, and it is a great little mixing box. I purchased it long ago for a myriad of reasons.

The first one being, I own an acoustic guitar and a friend of mine installed a little microphone inside it, and I couldn’t plug it into my desktop computer directly, because the “mic in” (pink jack) at the end of my CPU was smaller than the plug at the ends of the guitar cable I purchased. I eventually found and purchased an adaptor pin that converts one male fitting to a smaller male fitting that fits into the “mic in” of my desktop computer’s CPU, but then I heard a lot of delay and a little “hiss” noise that was being caused by the CPU’s “mic in” jack, and that was frustrating as all hell.
So after going through tons and tons of forums, remedies and software pages online, I almost gave up. That’s when another one of my friends told me to spend a little more than I am used to, and get this mixer that he owns. I took that risk, and surprisingly, my PC’s sound quality was upped by like a billion times. I even got a cable with it that split my tiny little computer speakers into a left and right channel, which I plug into the mixer, and it sounds great.
The second reason why I purchased that mixer is that my siblings also play music as a hobby, and own some electrical instruments. This mixer has all the inputs required to accommodate all of our instruments during family reunion performances, plus it has 24 effects that are very useful.
I am not a professional musician, so I was really skeptical about getting one of these huge and expensive things just for these reasons, but this mixer really proved me wrong. It isn’t all that expensive, and it sits perfectly on my table, right under my PC’s monitor screen.

So anyway, that’s why I have the mixer. I am sorry for consuming a lot of time of your’s already, but I promise, I’ll try to finish asking my problem in as less number of words as possible.

So, I have just two average multimedia speakers right now, which means it’s a 2.0 sound system. If I wanted a 2.1 system, it would be easy to add a sub-woofer into the equation, connect it to the mixer, and then connect the two smaller speakers to the sub-woofer. However, I don’t want a 2.1 system, I want a 5.1 system.

I play games, and I believe that a 5.1 sound system would really give me a virtual reality kind of feeling, with the game’s environment and open world just creating a 3D sound kinda thing in my room. I know all games aren’t compatible with 5.1 sound systems, but I am really willing to go through this extra trouble of making it work because it would totally be worth the thrill.

Also, as a person who loves and enjoys playing and listening to music, the 5.1 sound system would really light up my room. I can’t emphasize enough how much I love the bass sounds in EDM tracks. I can have parties by myself within my room if I get a proper 5.1 sound system.

Finally, I also love watching movies. The only thing is, I don’t have a TV, or a DVD player, and I don’t wanna watch movies on a TV, with a DVD player. I would prefer watching it on my computer, without any DVD player blinking the movie title in my face, on it’s LED screen.

That being said, I have 3 questions.
1. Which 5.1 sound system should I purchase to meet my requirements?
2. How should I go about connecting the 5 speakers and 1 sub-woofer to my mixer?
3. Where should I place all of these speakers in my room?

To whoever read all of it, thank you for taking the time to read this. I really appreciate it. If you have any doubts, confusions or questions regarding what exactly I have or am trying to achieve, please do ask me for clarification. To those who are gonna make suggestions about the sound system, please don’t be afraid to suggest systems in the relatively expensive range ($100 to $150, approx.), but at the same time, please don’t go overboard (with a system as expensive as $100,000 or something like that). Also, I request the admins to not close this topic till I get the solution arranged and tested in real life.

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2 Answers

  1. You would need a mixer with at least 6 different busses for outputs. I’m betting your is most likely a two channel bus for stereo mixing. Some 2 channel mixers will let you split between 4 channels (sub 1 & 2 or 3 &4) but that would still leave you without a 5th channel for the sub bass. You could run the bass through the monitor channel and turn it down in the mains but that would really not be the best solution. That being said you are going to need different equipment.
    The cheapest way to do this (you’re looking at several thousand for a mixer that would meet your needs) would be to purchase a sound card that is capable of 6 output busses. Then use recording software such as Adobe Audition. This is the cheapest mixing software with great features that won’t break the bank. Some sounds cards even come with light versions of mixing software so you may not even need to spend money on that. Head down to your local music store (musical instrument store) and talk to the sales people about your needs, you can get descent multichannel sound cards in the $300-$500 range.

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  2. Hi Christopher,

    1. What should I purchase first? A mixer with 6 busses, or a sound card?
    I would go for the soundcard first. Having a mixer capable of 6 outputs isn’t going to do much good if you only have a 2 channel sound card.

    2. Which brand and model mixer/soundcard should I purchase?
    For mixers, Yamaha, Allen & Heath, Mackie Designs, or Behringer would be my preference.
    For sounds cards, that could be a little more difficult. If you want surround in gaming and movies, something like Asus, or Creative Labs/Soundblaster. They have cards made for 5.1 and 7.1 surround and work good with video playback software that supports multi-channel surround. The inputs are not the best on these types of cards for inputs. They use stereo mini plugs so you would need to use adapters to get the plug size right and Y adapters to plug two input sources into one jack. Same with the outputs, you would need Y adapters to take 2 channels from one stereo mini jack.
    The alternative would be to get a sound card made specifically for pro use/musical instruments. The downside to this type of sound card would be that it may not have all the proper codecs needed for multi-channel playback of games and movies.

    3. After purchasing the right mixer/soundcard, which sound system should I purchase?
    That’s completely up to you. It all depends on your budget vs. the sound quality you want.

    4. How should I go about connecting the cables and setting up the software for it to work properly with my “Windows 7 Ultimate” computer?
    That will depend on what equipment you purchase. We’ll cross that bridge when you decide what you going to get.

    5. Why do I need recording software? I might sound dumb, and forgive me for that, but what does a recording software have to do with using a 5.1 sound system for gaming, movies and music?
    You wouldn’t for gaming or movies but I assumed you wanted to record music. Just playing an instrument though a 5.1 system isn’t really going to do anything for surround effects. It’s just going to be a mono signal. When you mix down your instruments in a recording, you can pan to different channels, create stereo effects like chorusing, delay, reverb, etc.

    message edited by THX 1138

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