New Hi-Fi for PC and CDs?


New member
Aug 10, 2019
Dear All,

I've recently become a regular reader of What Hi-Fi and am trying to learn as much as possible about all the various bits and bobs which make up a sound system.

At this point in time I have (don't laugh) a Technics SCHD510 mini Hi-Fi as my main music system and also as a speaker system for my PC which I use for music playback and occasionally some games. It's getting on a bit now (I bought it when I first started University about five years ago) and as I now have a job I was thinking about buying myself an upgrade as I am sure that I am not hearing the full potential of my music.

Despite reading What Hi-Fi for quite a while, I am still a little unsure of what I should be considering as there seems to be so many choices! I think that as my main interest is listening to music then I am not in the market for a surround system at the moment.

If it helps, I normally listen to FLAC format music (I can't stand MP3s) and would like some decent bass response through a (don't laugh again) Creative X-Fi. I was wondering as this had a digital out whether I could somehow use this to improve the quality of connection between my PC and my potential amplifier?

At the moment, I am not sure about about a CD player, although it could/would probably be something I would add later.

My budget is about £800-1000 (for at least an amplifier and some speakers to match).

I'm sorry if this sounds a little ambiguous and confusing - this is why I would like to ask the experts here what they would recommend for me (if it's possible!)

Thank you very much for any input you can give to this, it would be appreciated.

Andrew Everard

New member
May 30, 2007
There are few if any stereo amps out there with a digital input, so you're probably best thinking in terms of a conventional amp, connected with analogue internconnects, and perhaps a better soundcard for your computer. In the £800-£1000 arena, you could buy an amp such as the Rotel RA-04 or RA-06, the Pioneer A-A6J, or the Cambridge Audio Azur 640A V2, which would leave you a decent amount of folding for some good speakers and that soundcard upgrade.

Speakers worth considering? The new B&W DM685s, Acoustic Energy Aegis Neo Three or Quad 11Ls, or if you fancy some floorstanders the Monitor Audio Bronze BR5s. They're all around £400 a pair.

Anyone care to advise on a better soundcard?


Dear TimE,

I am very committed to using a PC as primary (but not sole) music source. I am planning to do a post in one of the other threads about my experience in developing a music server based system.

I also tried the X-Fi route a year or two ago, and was generally dissatisfied. It was best (or least disapponting) after I turned off all the software which was supposedly 'improving' the output, like the Crystaliser.

If a PC based approach is how you want to go then based on my experience try a USB DAC - this takes the music files out on the USB cable and then lets an external box do the conversion before passing the analogue to any regular hifi system, away from the adverse PC environment. Additionally, such DACs are designed for audiophile purposes, not by the marketing department of a gamers' manufacturer.

Incidentally, on this basis I am finding 320bps MP3s pretty acceptable although I am sure FLAC does indeed give that bit extra.


New member
Jun 25, 2007
Dear TimE,

Simon was right that you need an external DAC or sound card - a better option than most internal sound cards... However I might have some good news for you - and you might do away with the sound card for good... AVI - a company with a fantastic reputation in the hifi world (high-end even) - has just released a pair of active speakers - that besides the usual power amplification include preamplification (with volume control) PLUS an included DAC PLUS a sound card interface. All you need to do is connect these to the PC, and any sound card you are using will be bypassed, the digital signal being taken straight to the (high quality) internal DAC of the AVI speakers. At just 1000 quid It seems like a fantastic deal! A review from WHF is yet to come - however there have been very positive impressions on a thread earlier on this very forum - check that out!

These speakers come in two versions: a USB one which you can connect straight to any PC; or a tosslink version for which you need a digital electric output from your PC (or other sources). Generally the Wolfson DAC used in the tosslink version is best viewed in Hi-Fi circles, so since your Creative card allows you to take out digital signal you could go for that version - although the difference may not be that great after all...

Please consider that option. AVI is a company which - despite its sometimes boisterous and radical claims - has produced some of the best hi-fi products of the decade (I guess all WHF readers will agree to that).

Good luck!




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