View Full Version : Speakers issue: JBL ESC 360 or Logitech Z-5500? Help!

05-14-05, 01:46 PM




My problem with legacy soundcards (like AWE64 or AWE32) is poor support with PC-designated speakers. Most 5.1 PC speakers (particularly cheap ones) have four channels analog input (front L/R and rear L/R), which is designed to work with front/rear output from most modern soundcards. In most cases, when I connect my legacy soundcard to those, only front speakers are on. The rears are mute.

However, a dedicated surround receiver is still out of question, since I would be likely to move in near future. What I really need now is a "packaged" set of speakers, which is small in size and easy to pack everytime I move.

So these are my considerations in deciding between the two:

(1) Sounds coming from all speakers. To play plain stereo music and such. I'm tired of having the rear speakers muted everytime I use the DOS-legacy soundcards; which only has "plain stereo" output.

To be fair, some models like Altec Lansing 4.1 can "duplex" plain stereo input if the rear inputs are not being plugged, but being an older model, it doesn't support Dolby Pro Logic nor Dolby Digital 5.1.

(2) Dolby Pro Logic. There are old games already support Dolby Pro Logic long before the days of EAX or Aureal 3D. Examples are Comanche 3 and Assault Rigs. Pro Logic II would be nice.

(3) Surround emulation of plain stereo signal. "Fake surround" would be nice since there are not many games supporting Pro Logic. Is "fake surround" an inherent feature of Pro Logic II (or Pro Logic), or it's an "extra" feature only offered by high-end, dedicated surround receivers?

(4) 3D sound effects in modern games. Actually, this one is for modern soundcards, to enable 3D sound effects in games like WarCraft 3. Y'know, EAX, Aureal 3D, and the likes.

Some months ago someone told me that "game surround" has nothing to do with Dolby; the front/rear sound effects are separated by the game engine, and each being channeled to the front and rear output of the soundcard respectively.

So in order to enable 3D surround sounds, I guess I would need to connect through four channels analog input (or six channels) which is common in PC speakers today. The problem is: JBL ESC 360 only has stereo input, coaxial input, and digital input.

Can the 3D "surround" in games also channeled through S/PDIF output, which is common in high-end modern sound cards? Or they're only channeled through the sound card's four channels analog output? If that's the case, then I guess ESC 360 is out of question?

I also gathered limited informations on each candidate, and I still have issues with both:

JBL ECS 360:

Like I said, it doesn't have four (or six) channels analog input. Also, I have downloaded the manual, and what I've found is discouraging:

Surround(18 ), Phantom (19) and 3-Stereo (20) are available listening options for Dolby Pro Logic. Stereo (21) bypasses the surround processing and outputs sound through the right- and left-front speakers only.

In Surround mode, all five satellites and the subwoofer will play. In Phantom mode, all speakers except the center channel will play. In 3-Stereo, all speakers except for the two surround speakers will be active.


Use this mode for films recorded using DTS, Dolby Digital or Dolby Pro Logic Surround.

This mode creates surround sound from stereo recordings. The center channel is not used and the surround channels have a 20-ms delay.

3-Stereo Mode
Use this mode to play back Pro Logic-encoded films when you do not want the surround channels to play.

This mode plays a recording in traditional two-channel stereo.

Whoa, so what those are supposed to mean? Does it mean I would lose the sounds if the source signal is plain stereo? (like most old games I'm playing)

But the manual said we can select the surround mode. So what happens if I enable "surround", but using plain stereo input signal? The manual (http://www.hci-services.com/tech_doc/documents/JBL/Home/Speakers/ESC/ESC%20360/Owner%27s%20Manual/ESC360%20eng.pdf) is only 14 pages and not very detailed.

Logitech Z-5500:

Well it has six channels analog input like most PC speakers today, which supports 2, 4, or 6 channel PC sound cards.

6 channel direct (3 stereo-mini connectors) for 2, 4, or 6 channel PC sound cards

So I guess it would support my AWE64, huh? But when I went to the store and made the question, the storekeeper called the dealer, and the dealer told that all speakers only work when using six-channels soundcards.

Yes, when connected to a soundcard with plain stereo output (no rear channels analog output), the rear spakers would go mute. At least that was what the dealer told me.

So is there anyone more knowledgeable with either speakers? Is that true that, for example, Z-5500 would mute its rear speakers when connected with plain stereo output from older soundcards?

Does one of those models meet my requirements list? Or actually both? Or neither?

If neither products meet my list, then what should I use? Should I use a dedicated surround receiver?

If there's a mini-sized surround receiver, then I would go for it. How about "external audio soundboards" like Cavit RP U100 (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=3701&item=5194430575) or Sound Blaster Extigy (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=44981&item=5195616398)? Can they meet my requirements below? (of course the USB will be unplugged since I'll only use them as surround receiver).


05-16-05, 10:51 AM
the dealer is a moron. the z5500 has user selectable dolby prologic II or stereox2 upmixing.

05-16-05, 12:55 PM
I don't know nothing about the JBL's, but I do know that I love my Z-5500 TO DEATH! even more than my Klipsch 5.1U which I sold.

05-16-05, 07:30 PM
I love my 5500's. Top notch at a low cost.

05-16-05, 07:45 PM
I'd go with the 5500's. I have the 5300's and I love them. Plenty 'o' power and they just sound great. And no I don't think any games will output 5.1 on the S/PDIF. What soundcard do you have? Sounds to me like you have an old one? If you're willing to spend this much on the speakers, spend the bit extra to get a new sound card. I have an audigy2 ZS and it's awesome.

05-16-05, 10:12 PM
Love my 5500's. No regrets here. I think you should buy a new soundcard as stated above. You can find some decent deals now for both an Audigy 2zs and the 5500's.

05-21-05, 07:07 PM
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