I was recently shopping around for a new set of speakers for my PC because I’ve been increasingly dissatisfied with my current low-end Labtec set. They’re not bad for what they are, they just don’t have very good low end response when listening to music. I was really thinking about going 5.1, even though I mostly think it’s pointless to have surround sound for your computer desk.. I guess unless you’re a big gamer, of which I am not. However, the other reason is that my laptop docking station has a digial coax spdif output, which would be awesome for 5.1 surround.
My budget was under $100, and I really had a hard time finding anything with 5.1 surround for that price, and impossible with a digital input. That is, until I found this little gem on eBay. This Cambridge DTT2500 system [pdf manual]was originally $300 MSRP back in 2000, but I got it for $50 shipped, and it sounds awesome.
So, this also lead me down the path of properly configuring Windows XP to support 5.1 surround. Easier said than done of course. Whenever I set up a new surround sound system, my favorite test clip is the “Lobby Shooting Spree” scene from The Matrix. Not necessarily because it has the best surround effects, although they are good, it’s just an awesome loud shootout.
As I’m playing this, I notice, I’m not getting the 5.1 surround using my favorite media player, VLC. After a bit of research and experimentation, I found this cool AC3Filter that works with Windows Media Player Classic, which has a misleading name. It isn’t really the old Microsoft Media player… it’s an open source look alike that is way better. I’ve used it some in the past with some really cool tools like Real Alternative and QuickTime Alternative. So, a little tweaking and I had the full 5.1 surround of the shooting spree… and I think I may have a new favorite media player.