Need help upgrading my desktop setup

Hi there, so I’m pretty clueless when it comes to anything beyond a 2.0 set up. I’m looking to upgrade to eventually upgrade to a 5.1 system, but definitely want to add a center channel as soon as possible.

I do my music listening at my desk and I’m satisfied with my speakers at the moment so I have some questions.

What feature or connection do I need in AVR so that it can essential work as a DAC/AMP combo for my computer? Is this possible?

How much will adding a center channel change my music listening experience, for better or worse? If worse would it be easy to switch it off (and in the future rear speakers) and on depending what I’m doing?

I didn’t expect I’d be looking to upgrade so quickly when I configured my room, so space is pretty limited for placement. I would much prefer to not move things around, so right now placing the center channel above my monitor seems like the move for me. How bad would this be? My main reasoning for wanting a center is I’m having difficulty hearing audio when watching movies and TV. Would this placement help that at all?

Here’s a pic of my current set up

Hope I’m getting my concerns across properly, thanks!

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You should be able to hook an AVR to your PC via HDMI (or optical, if you like). Just make sure to set your sound settings to use the AVR’s DAC rather than your PC’s sound drivers.

On the AVR itself, you can set it for Surround 5.1 or Straight/Direct for 2.0. These settings may be useful if you ever want to listen to music and switch seamlessly to watching movies.

Some people enjoy 5.1, but typically some others frown upon it. Mainly because it’s processed and encoded, whereas 2.0 is direct. Up to you to find out which you like better!

@Veritas did a good job answering the connection questions. He’s also right that 5.1 music can be hit and miss if the original source music is not encoded in 5.1 initially. Sometimes I enjoy Dolby Pro Logic II Music mode, sometimes I don’t. It depends on the music and mood, really. I do find concerts that were recorded in 5.1 to be quite enjoyable, though.

confuses me a little bit. What do you mean by hard to hear in this case? Is dialog missing? Do L & R main channels seem really quiet until action happens then everything is extremely loud? If so, your computer may be trying to put out 5.1 channel audio and your L/R speakers are only playing 2 of those 5.1 channels. I’ve run into that issue in the past when trying to play DVDs or Blu-Ray discs on a computer. It can be fixed by going into your software player’s settings and telling it to downmix 5.1 audio to stereo. Or is the issue something else entirely?

I wouldn’t recommend just a center channel speaker for music unless you’re planning to listen to 5.1 channel music fairly often. Especially since you want to put the center channel above the monitor, your soundfield might get really wonky.

Awesome, this is what I was hoping for. I’m guessing this is a really common feature?

This is exactly what’s going on. I’ve looked all over for settings and nothing really seems to fix it. Kodi has a feature that lets me boost the volume on the “center downmix” or something like that and it does the job, but other apps like Netflix don’t have anything similar.

Thanks guys! Been really helpful.

That definitely seems like you’re having a software disagreement between a 5.1 channel signal (Netflix audio is surprisingly good with its 5.1 channel Dolby Digital Plus) and a 2.0 channel output. We just have to track it down. We can fix this issue and help you with a system upgrade at the same time :slight_smile: Are you using Mac, Linux, or Windows?

I’m running Windows. Right now my set up is this:

Jamo S803 connected to SMSL AD18.

AD18 is connected to my computer via USB which is where I do my music listening. Its also connected to my Nvidia Shield TV via Bluetooth which is what I use to watch TV/movies.

On the Shield, I use Kodi and the usual streaming apps most everyone uses. Kodi is the only one where I don’t have to turn up the volume really high to hear dialogue well (using the center mix level feature). Can get pretty frustrating trying to find the right volume - especially at night.

netflix has audio settings inside the app itself that lets you set it to stereo.

@JornViggo What Joshua said should help with your issue.

I couldn’t find anything in the Netflix app. But I did some digging in the Shield’s settings and found one that forces it to never play 5.1 and I THINK it may have done the trick. Thanks guys!