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Thread: can a carputer compete with a head unit for sound quality?

  1. #121
    Variable Bitrate SickVette's Avatar
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    Good explanation turbocad. I am trying to determine if I want to use head unit and computer or computer alone. I am still undecided but am getting close.

  2. #122
    FLAC
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    Good thread guys even if it did go off topic a few times.

    Earlier in this thread it seemed there were some different ideas thrown around about how these PC systems can be used. Talk was made about using "enhancements" in the PC to improve sound quality.

    I think we needed to seperate using a PC as a source and then using a PC to do "enhancements" like time alignment, cross overs, EQ, etc...

    Some people don't have a high end sytem and want to use the PC for all of that. I don't think the hardware or software exists for that yet. In this instance a PC would not be equal to a head unit.

    The Alpine processor that Red, and others, are using is basically a computer in itself. The PC and sound card are simply creating a digital sound output (optical or coaxial, doesn't matter) which can be of very high quality as there are no analog parts being used (basically). Even some mobo's have digital sound outputs built in.

    The computer in the Alpine takes the digital signal and does all the processing, including EQ, time alignment, etc... and then uses it DAC's to output an analog signal that the amps will recognize. That's certainly a good way to do it, but requires all new equipment, usually. Now this setup can be better than a head unit as Red has shown in competition.

    The non audiophiles get by on basic analog sound cards as the sound is pretty decent and they are not too picky. In this instance, a PC and basic sound card would not measure up to a head unit.

    I seem to fall in a different category as I already have a complete high end sound system which has a digital pre-amp, digital 28 band EQ, and digital x-overs using the Rockford EPX2. What I want to do is use the computer to replace the traditional head unit as the music source. So I need just a pure, clean output with no added processing or sound enhancements at all. Pretty much a straight in and out source. I think a PC with a professional audio card will get the job done and this setup will equal or better a head unit.

    So far what I have found is a cheap sound card, the Chaintech AV-710 for around $25-$30. It uses a mediocre 6 channel processor, but since it is a 7.1 card the 2 additional channels use a high quality Wolfson 2 channel DAC that can handle a high sample rate, capable of a much more robust 192KHz, and full 24 bit resolution. These 2 channels can be configured to act as the main outs and provide a very high quality stereo output for little money. If other people are looking for a cheap but fairly high quality sound card for their car PC, then this is worth taking a look at.
    http://www.sudhian.com/showdocs.cfm?aid=654

    http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showt...ht=av710+setup

    In a higher price range is the ESI Juli@ (julia). It runs about $140. You can read about it here:
    http://www.digit-life.com/articles2/esi-julia/

    From everything I've read, it surpases the M-Audio Revolution cards for sound quality and specs. This is the card I may go with to get the high quality sound that my CD player currently provides.

    For those that don't understand bit rates and sampling rates here's a nice little explanation that makes a lot of sense:
    http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Ha...echomia/2.html

  3. #123
    FLAC jbors's Avatar
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    Why don't you just use digital output from PC then ? Why do you need analog sound card ?
    Car pc integration with ease
    Car mediacenter

  4. #124
    FLAC
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    In my case I mentioned I use a regular CD player as a source, I need something to replace it. So the PC would need to have an analog output, just like a CD player would.

    Back when the EPX2 was made in the mid 90's there were no head units that had digital outputs. There may have been one or two, but they were rare and very expensive. So it made no sense to have digital inputs.

    It does have balanced inputs designed to work with Rockfords Balanced Line Transmiter, but you can't find those anymore. The Juli@ card I'm looking at has balanced outputs, so I contacted Rockford yesterday to see what type of voltages it accepts. The balanced outputs are like regular RCA analog but the signal is flipped 180* and the 2 signals travel together. At the other end they run through a differential filter which rejects any noise it has picked up and the 2 signals are rejoined. You get twice the voltage. Typically balanced outputs run 8-16 volts which means I'll have plenty of juice to run my gear as well as no induced noise getting into the signal cables. The regular RCA's are capable of tremendous sound quality, so they would be fine. If I could use the balance connectors, that would be even better.

    You do bring up a good point. I wonder if I could bypass the ADC in the front of the EPX, but I don't know enough about it. It would be nice if I could avoid the digital/analog conversion at the audio card and then the analog/digital conversion at the EPX, but I don't know if it is possible. Probably the only guy to know would be Wayne Harris, who invented the EPX2.

    Here's a bit of info on the unit:
    http://www.androselectronics.com.cy/...processors.php
    I also have the 28 band EQ add in card.

    For those interested, I believe this was one of the first all computerized sound systems in a car. Way back in 91 the original Symmetry came out:
    http://www.termpro.com/articles/symmetry1.html
    I remember it just blew everone away. Things sure have changed.

  5. #125
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    I use m-audio transit w/ optical out, into the alpine pxa-h701...... sound quality is awsome.... sometimes I think I can discern a difference between a high quality cd in the head(alpine iva-d300, also optical to pxa-h701) compared to same ripped to pc.... other times I sware there is no difference....

    bottom line is, if there is any difference it is negligable at best... & even side by side comparison is very hard to hear any difference at all.... unless you start ripping at like 128 or less that is.... from 192 up it gets real hard to tell a difference.....

  6. #126
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    I had the rf symetry when it came out, swore by it for years.... then went to a audiocontrol digital.... forgot what it was called (dqx maybe?) it wasn't so hot..... Then the alpine 700..... the alpine is an amazing piece... it is comparable to the top of the line f1 status processor & a fraction of the cost.... anyone who is remotely serious about there sound should really consider this piece.... there is NOTHING on the market that comes close.....

  7. #127
    FLAC
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    It's bad enough I have to buy a whole new computer as well as a screen and PSU, so I definetely didn't want to replace my EPX2. I'm a poor boy.

    Just out of curiousity, what would be the cheapest I could get that Alpine setup?
    I saw some new ones for $300 on e-bay. The controller was another $200. I guess you have to have that, so maybe $500?

    I might be able to sell my EPX2, save the expense of getting a $140 audio card (use the SPDIF out on the mobo) so maybe it wouldn't cost that much more.

    Does it have any type of interface with the PC? For instance, it would be nice to adjust those EQ bands on the PC monitor instead of that little controller.

  8. #128
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    no way to controll it on the PC - honnestly - the contriller is pretty intuitive, using the touch screen isn't really all that easy for doing stuff much more than hitting play - I wouldn't want to control volume or the EQ settings on the touch screen. It's pretty difficult compared to the little knob on the controller for the alpine - sure, it may look cool to do eveything on the screen, but I can't imagine trying to mess with that stuff while on the road....

    $500 sounds about right for the alpine piece.

    when you say SPDIF from the mobo - are you meaning toslink or digital RCA?

    because the alpine can ONLY take a tos-link in (as well as analog RCA) NOT digital RCA....
    Jan Bennett
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  9. #129
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    when you consider all the alpine does, $500 seems like a steal.....

    after all, it's the equeivelent of a dolby 5.1 processor AND 5 seperate eqt's.... one for each channel.... add to that 6 user defined pre-sets that are in non-volitle memory(the rf SUCKED BIG TIME THERE, disconnect the battery & hours of tuning down the drain!)... add to this another 1/3 octave eq for the subs in there usable bands.... add to that the time alignment features.... which are great to "center" the bass & align the phaze perfectly to the front stage.....

    now add to that one of the best x-over setups out there... with full graphical control of x-over freq, as well as slope curves for EACH driver... the pxa-h700/701 replaces half a trunk of high end equiptment... it's a no brainer really..... BUT I also think it is absolutely necissary to have access to an RTA, at least for initial base line set-up to really take advantage of the 1/3 octave eq...

    the alpine is an amazing piece.... to me it's worth at least 3-4 times what it costs .... & will make any system that much better for using it.....

    the epx2 is still worth something on ebay.... & when you use the alpine to replace it, it's like going from pong to half life... I mean it's that dramatic of a difference.... the rf symetry was an amazing piece when it came out, but were talking over 10-15 years of evolution past it at this point... if you love music & love to tweek... & know how to use it, or even are willing to learn.... the alpine is a MUST HAVE!!! there is nothing else quite like it except for alpines pxa-h900(I think that's the model #?), which is over 3 grand... f1 status stuff..... belive it or not, the 700 is really close to it in function... but doesn't alow parametric & graphic at the same time, among a few other things...

  10. #130
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    tuning without an RTA is definately possible - just have to know what you're doing.....which is why I took my car to someone to have it tuned...because I couldn't come close to what this guy was able to do....lol
    Jan Bennett
    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

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