Coax or 3.5mm for computer surround sound


New member
Username: Ohlen

Post Number: 1
Registered: Oct-05
Hey guys and girls.

New to the forum and all, and I hope you wont tease me for my flawed english.
I need help deciding on what cables to use. Im using the Logitech Z-5500 system with DFI lanparty motherboard and the soundcard it rode in on (some Realtek AC'97 card). It has 5.1 surround output and all. Im not hightech enough to understand everything that has to do with sound, so what I need to do is decide whether to use SPDIF out on the mobo to the Digital Coax in on the Z-5500 or the direct 6Ch option with 3 of the 3.5mm connectors. Im looking for stability and sound quality, and Id rather not tamper with every program I install to get the sound working. Thanks in advance!

Silver Member
Username: Hd_fanatic

Boise, ID

Post Number: 159
Registered: May-05
I have that same exact speaker system. Do you love it as much as I do? It really rocks! If your video card will output digital, then do it. I have heard from others that it makes a BIG difference with this system. Unfortunately for me, my audio card has a digatal out via a 3.5 mm mini plug, but I have not been able to get it to output a digital signal. I have the Audigy 2 ZS sound card. So I just have the three 3.5 mm mini plugs hooked up and use the direct input with the stereo X2 effect. The only bad thing about that mode is the center speaker does not output anything.

Unregistered guest
Hey someone with exactly my setup. I also have an Audigy 2 ZS and Logitech Z-5500 speakers. Have you even found a cable to connect between the speakers and the soundcard? To you now where to get a cable with the 3.5mm miniplug to coaxial? If you do or find out please tell me!

Unregistered guest
Hi, I've got a similar problem... my budget Logitech Z640s only have three 3.5mm stereo jacks (electrical, not optical) as input, but my DVD player uses a coaxial S/PDIF connection for its surround sound output. Can I buy something to convert the S/PDIF into something my speakers will understand? Thanks for your time!

Unregistered guest
You have to use the analog connection (the orange/green/black cable) in order to get EAX sound from games. If you use the digital connections (coax or toslink, then you can get discreate 5.1 channels, like for watching movies, but your games won't sound as good (unless the game specifically has Dolby 5.1).

In order to connect the Z-5500 coax cable to the digital out of the Audigy 2 soundcard, you need a MONO RCA to 3.5mm plug adapter. A stereo adapter will not work. It has to be MONO. Like this: ca+adapter&parentPage=search

So, just for reference, what do you guys think would be the best sound card to use with the Z5500 setup?

Assuming I want to use the best possible 5.1 digital signal, from the comp to the speakers....I know that the Audigy 2 is not really suited to the Logitech, as they've designed it to be for their own range of speakers, rather than the competition's.

Any thoughts?

Unregistered guest
Hey, i have a similar problem. i am a dj and want to record me own mixes but on the back of my turntable i have one orange RCA/coaxial "digital output" and on my Audigy Soundblaster 2 ZS Notebook card i have one 3.5mm (1/8 inch) optical input. i have no idea how i can connect between the two. please lemme know.

yeah i'd really like to hear what people recommend for these speakers.. i use an old audigy with the digital out but want to upgrade...

Unregistered guest ct=14191
this is a home theater connector for your soundcard. connect each of the three sound cards 3.5mm plugs to the device and output it to coax or optical. the problem is it uses DTS encoding so your decoder may not decode it.

i'm guessing it can also be used as a splitter. i don't think you can connect your comp to the device and speakers simultaneously.

please forgive any spelling errors. (i didn't bother to check)

Unregistered guest
Kind of a same dealie with me. I have the logitech z-680's (the pre-z-5500's), mostly because of the refurbished cost of 173 CAD in total =). It works well so far and I wanted to do a digital coaxial output instead of 6-chan direct. Now, my soundcard isn't too fancy shmancy, computer is fairly old, was the best when p4 just came out... so yeah, pretty bad. My soundcard has the 6-chan direct support with the three 3.5mm jacks, and I have a AC'97 controller to change the jacks to 5.1. Now, I don't know if it outputs digitally, so would a digital coaxial cable work for me? (of course using a mono 1/8' to RCA adapter).

And if it will work, which i hope it does, here's the other thing. The AC'97 has the option to "align the phonejack". Basically, I need to turn this on to get sound from each of the three jacks after I select 5.1. But in this case, since I'm only using one of the jacks for the digital coaxial, would I need to keep this on?

Thanks =D and I will greatly appreciate any help. My head is just going nuts right now!


Alex C
Unregistered guest
I just purchased the Creative X-FI Xtrememusic card and I'm thinking about purchasing the Z-5500's as well. Would this cable work to connect the two digitally?

Unregistered guest
Hi, I have logitech z 5500 and Audigy 2 ZS and have hooked them up via coaxial with phono (RCA)on 1 end and 3.5mm Mono to Phone Adaptor on the other. You can purchase the cable from maplins - 'Nikkai Connect'. Hope this helps.


Unregistered guest
To answer Alex C's Q, the Creative X-Fi Xtreme stupidly doen't have SPDIF or any digital out. You need the other higher end X-Fi versions or the Audigy 2 ZS - what i have.

Unregistered guest
Ok, since you guys are discussing cables and the Z5500, I'll ask my question here.

I want to hook up my new Z5500 to my new computer, along with a dvd player and possibly another (rca stereo) source.

One way to do this is to use the optical digital input for the dvd, one of the stereo mini plugs for the rca, and the digital coax for the computer.

Another solution would be to hook up my other audio source to the side jack and use the 6 channel direct sound hookup.

So, my question is what produces better sound? Is it the 6 channel direct or the digital coax?

I assume for games or other sounds rendered by the computer, the direct is better, since the signal is already separated (and in fact would only be correct if when it was combined into a digital signal, it gets combined as a dolby digital signal... do sound cards do that? Forgive my ignorance)

How about for DVDs? I assume with the digital signal, the speakers handle separating the signal and with the direct, the soundcard handles it... which is better?

Finally, I screwed up the order of my computer and accidentally checked the wrong sound card... so now it is coming with the integrated soundblaster audigy. This card supports direct and digital connections and has dobly digital surround, but unlike the higher end sound blasters, it is not "thx" certified (lower signal to noise rating).

Finally, for plain old mp3 music, I assume the digital would be better since it is virtually lossless... On the other hand, I doubt there will be that much loss in the 6 feet connecting the system to my computer.

So, in summary:
What is better, 6 channel direct from sound card to speaker system or digital connection?
Which is better for computer sounds? Which is better for DVDs? Music?
If I have a mediocre sound card, is it better to let the speakers handle the digital signal?
Should I spend the extra 110 bux now that I accidentally ordered this card to get a better sound card? (upgrade to a Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic)

And one final question. If you go the direct route, do you just buy 3 separate mini to mini wires? For RCA direct 6 chanel cables, I have seen them boundled... I know this doesn't matter for quality, but simply for the aesthetics of have the wires in a neat boundle... I haven't seen any 3.5 jack wires boundled. Do these not exist? I would think it would be a fairly standard way of connecting computer speakers to sound cards(I have only looked in audio stores...)
I'm not an audiophile, but I would like to know how to get the best sound within reason.

Thanks for the help. Sorry if my questions are stupid.

ps. Just for some more information... I am primarily going to be using this system for dvds, and music. I might at some point play a game, but I am not a huge gamer... but if the direct produces better sounds for games and is comparable for music, I will go that route. I also use the computer as a dvr, tv tuner, etc., but the sound quality for those things is sub-par to begin with. I do have a dvd player(optical hook up), but I might get rid of that if the sound from the dvd player in my computer is comparable.

New member
Username: Bigstu2006

Post Number: 1
Registered: Mar-06
Just got z5500 today, havnt messed with it much but i plugged the 3 plugs into my motherboard sound on my asus motherboard (ac97) it supports up to 7.1 so i plugged the front rear and center plugs in and the speakers work. but i hear static when no sound is actually coming out at about 1/4 volume. Wondering if other people did or if i used a digital connection if that would fix it. Thanks

New member
Username: Tdm

Post Number: 1
Registered: Apr-06
Draco is correct, you do require a coax cable ($12.99) and a MONO RCA to 3.5mm plug adopter ($2.99) to connect the Z5500 and Audigy2 ZS soundcard.

However, below is my experience in this matter.

1. No assistance from Creative with process. The toll-free line tech help is crap. Not only did they recommend that only a Creative special cable at $69.99 was required, but entire process of trying to speak with them is hopeless. It sounds like the call centre is running VOIP over 56k dial-up. I work in IT and know a bit about sound-cards, which is more than I can say for Creative Tech Help. I was advising the two tech support people I spoke with how it actually worked.

2.On a more concerning note, after finally getting the Z5500 and Audigy2 ZS working, it sounded the same as my motherboard built in sound-card!! If you motherboard supports Intel High Definition Audio, then do not waste your money and time on the Audigy 2 ZS for the quality of sound is the same from Intel High Definition. Further, Intel High Definition supports both optical and coax digital where Audigy 2 ZS only supports coax digital. (If Audigy2 ZS supported optical - then this entire post would not exist for the connection is easy).

3. On a final note, I returned the Audigy2 ZS to the vendor. Explained the entire process was frustrating for Creative is looking to gain extra $$$ from property cable, does not even support optical, and my motherboard soundcard is actually superior.

4. As you can see, a bit frustrated. So I called Creative Public Relations and asked about this situation. They recommended, with no hint of sarcasms or irony, that I try the X-Fi series of sound cards for they are more advanced. (Actual quote, "it is like our Audigy 2 and 4 are PentIV and the X-Fi is a PentV" Did not realize PentV was being released!!!)

5. I now play Half-life 2 and Battlefield2 on the Intel High Def, with optical digital and the quality is exceptional.


New member
Username: Tdm

Post Number: 2
Registered: Apr-06
Has anyone tested Z5500 on Optical Digital and on Coax Digital? Any difference?

New member
Username: Vizionblind

Post Number: 2
Registered: Apr-06
why a mono adapter? wouldnt a stereo one be better?

New member
Username: Bitmapbob

Lebanon, Pa Usa

Post Number: 1
Registered: Jun-06
When I'm playing 5.1 games and movies I get no sounds in the rear speakers. I contacted Logitech and they sent me new speakers the Z-5500. I have them hooked up analog and with a monster coax cable. I hooked them up today and I'm getting sound out of all the speakers just not 5.1 or DTS when playing a movie. I did the creative speaker calibration and followed direction so I'm getting sound out of the rear , so the speakers are hooked up correctly and are working, but when I do the creative speaker settings and have checked 5.1 synchronize with control panel - digital output only - NOT ENABLED and then click "Channel" the front and center work but when she says "rear right" it comes out of the front right speaker and same with the left speaker - comes out the front. I don't understand what happened, I had the systems set up for a year to work with 5.1 games and digital coax movies. I also bought a new exact sound card, thinking it was the card. Creative has asked me to do the following and I did but not 5.1.

Try the following procedure:

Go to Control Panel > Add / Remove Programs and uninstall the software
for the Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS card. If it shows a screen to reboot
choose NO.

Try running CTZAPXX from the installation CD for the Sound Blaster
Audigy 2 ZS sound card.

Choose the Uninstall option and uninstall the WDM drivers for the Audigy
2 ZS sound card.

Then reboot, and re-run the CTZAPPXX from the installation CD for the
Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS sound card. This time choose the install

Then reinstall the software from the installation CD.

The CTZAPPXX program should be in the Audio\Drivers folder on the
installation CD.

Creative Sound Blaster Audigy, Audigy 2 series and Audigy 4 series
Driver 02.08.0004 (34.26 MB)
Filename: SBAX_WEBUP_LB_2_08_0004.exe

If the issue is not resolve, you may also wish to check if there is any
resource conflicts with the devices installed on your system.

1. Go to Start > Control Panel > System > Hardware
2. Click on the Device Manager button to open up Device Manager
3. Go to View > Resources by type
4. Open up the IRQ section
5. Find the main listing for the card
6. Check to see what IRQ the card is listed on.
7. Check to see what other devices are listed on the same IRQ
8. Shut down windows
9. Power off computer
10. Switch the slot of your card
11. Boot the system, and reinstall the drivers for the card.
12. Repeat steps 1 - 5 to check the current IRQ for the card.
13. Note the IRQ listed now. Has it changed?
14. Check to see what other devices are listed on the same IRQ
15. If the IRQ has not changed, or it is sharing with another device, we
may need to switch slots again. It also might be necessary to reserve
or assign resources in your motherboard BIOS.

- still not working...

Desperate Bob

New member
Username: Tdm

Post Number: 3
Registered: Apr-06
Hi All,

After being really disapointed with the Audigy ZS and extremly put-off by Creative Labs so called tech support, guess what I did? Played the role of a fool and went out an bought the X-Fi Extreme Music. Funny, huh?

I have not bothered with attempting to get digital from the Audigy X-fi for the boys at DickSmith have indicated the Analog on the X-fi to the Z5500 is just as good. That is, you can not hear the difference with human ear.

To summarize my experience in this entire process:
1. I will never buy anything from Creative Labs again. They claim this and that, but either it does not work or is not really "all that".
2. Even if Creative Labs did have quality products, which they do not, I would not consider then again for the support line is the worse I have ever used. They are idiots, rude, and most un-helpful.
3. If you are really a audiophile, then "Yes" the X-fi during gaming and playing music via Analog is Amazing. Having said this, the Z5500 are Amazing all by themselves with basic sound-card. So the X-fi Music has increased the quality of sound by 10-15%, but decreased my wallet by $205 (AUS), and caused much grief for they advertise Digital - but no chance in hell of getting anything digital that is of any quality from this sound-card.

New member
Username: Tdm

Post Number: 4
Registered: Apr-06
Oh, I sent a link to this forum to Creative Labs support for them to read and comment. No comment yet..... I would love for them to explain to the public how to get digital from the X-fi Music sound card on the Z5500 speakers. More importantly, do they really believe it is "true digital experience" they are marketing? From my testing and research the Analog sounds better than the digital from this card.
« Previous Thread | Next Thread »


Shop Related Deals


Main Forums

Today's Posts

Forum Help

Follow Us