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

  1. #141
    Variable Bitrate fonseca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWW
    BTW, the digital RCA connector is called digital coaxial. It looks like an RCA and uses the same 75ohm cable, but it's not called a digital RCA.
    They don't use the same cable as analog RCA if that's what you meant, and it is often referred to as digital RCA. And despite the false advertizing, except for several [expensive] examples, there's no such thing as a 75 ohm RCA cable.

    Is the computer really reduced to a "play" button? That seems like a waste. I guess you still use the PC to store the MP3's and for video's and such, huh?
    And for GPS, car diagnostics, phone control, internet access, etc. I still think that with the right software, a pc could blow away any external DSP. I've been playing with EQ settings for each track/album in Road Runner, which is pretty neat, auto loads. Let's see a DSP ever do that.

    I'm unsure on the Winamp/Windows resampling issue. I know I'm resampling at least once since I'm using Winamp for EQ, and outputting everything at 16 bit 44100 hz. I haven't even touched 24 bit audio yet, although I have quite a bit on my hdd. I'd like to know if the Alpine users here can send out their audio completely untouched from their pc, and still be able to have enough control over the sound with the H700/H701. And if there is really a noticeable benefit to zero resampling before you hit the DSP.

    Quote Originally Posted by turbocad6
    if your running a pc right into it, you should use the volume control of the pc....
    Why? Because of Alpine's poor implementation of digital volume control? I know that's a common complaint from Alpine users, does the H700 suffer as well? Do you get noise when adjusting the volume? I'd much rather use a DSP with its convenient volume knob and remote for volume, and treat Windows volume like gain. Set it and forget it.
    In progress: M10000; Travla c134; Xenarc 700TSV; Hitachi 80GB 2.5"; 256MB ULP; M2-ATX; ITPS; Powermate; iKEY SL-88 KB; Holux GM-210; Audiobahn ADD51T w/ COAX/optical converter; Road Runner; iGuidance 2.1

  2. #142
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    that's really a good processor for those on a tight budget... to have an optical input on a budget... the alpine pra-h510 ... it does dolby digital 5.1 channel surround with an optical input.... it uses a much smaller display than the din sized 700... it's a nice processor that should be around $200 on ebay more or less...

    this is a parametric eq.... it can help a system alot..... it may not have the almost unlimited tunability of the 700.... but for $200 it's a good choice..


    now the ultimate is the pxa h900....from the web..."Applying the latest and most advanced architectural acoustic science to the automobile interior - calculating the sound field, sound image, and sound quality, and digitally adjusting the audio signals automatically. This is the sonic magic of the Multimedia Manager.

    The new PXA-H900 employs sophisticated digital technology to create the absolute best in mobile multimedia sound. A groundbreaking high point in the evolution of mobile installation was reached with the onset of automated system tuning. Now, thanks to these advanced digital technologies, you can have the Multimedia Manager precision-measure your car interior and make professional-level sound adjustments to your system - all automatically - by the simple touch of a button. This system accurately corrects phase characteristics for all frequency ranges, adjusting the audio as it plays to match the car interior, provide pin-point listening focus, and tailor the reproduction of the music - in real time.

    The PXA-H900 combines high-precision analog technology with state-of-the-art digital technology to give you the finest possible in-cabin sound - the most detailed and authentic sound you've ever heard in a car! Moreover, carefully selected high precision parts enable faithful, smooth reproduction of even the quietest music passages. And with a computer running Windows(r), you have comprehensive control over all features of the PXA-H900. This stunning Multimedia Manager also gives you full compatibility with virtually any multimedia source - from DVD video to today's super high quality CDs."

    this baby DOES include a remote, as well as a computer interface!!!!! this is big brother to the 700....
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  3. #143
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fonseca



    Why? Because of Alpine's poor implementation of digital volume control? I know that's a common complaint from Alpine users, does the H700 suffer as well? Do you get noise when adjusting the volume? I'd much rather use a DSP with its convenient volume knob and remote for volume, and treat Windows volume like gain. Set it and forget it.

    I use an alpine head, the d300 touchscreen & control the volume through my alpine remote, which also does full processor control through the remote.... I have no issues with the volume & I leave my pc on 100% all the time, I only recomended using the pc so it can be controlled remotely.... it's either that, or an alpine head..

    I'm sure it would be great to use the knob as volume control, but there will be no way to use it remotely.....

    I have the 700 & the 701, I never noticed the difference in entry speed...., I'll pay atention to this next time I use the 700....

  4. #144
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fonseca

    I'm unsure on the Winamp/Windows resampling issue. I know I'm resampling at least once since I'm using Winamp for EQ, and outputting everything at 16 bit 44100 hz. I haven't even touched 24 bit audio yet, although I have quite a bit on my hdd. I'd like to know if the Alpine users here can send out their audio completely untouched from their pc, and still be able to have enough control over the sound with the H700/H701. And if there is really a noticeable benefit to zero resampling before you hit the DSP.


    there is such a thing as overprocessing... although you can get great results processing into a processor, you can also kill the natural sound of the recording

    I think it's best to try to keep the pc as flat & neutral as possible if feeding into an external processor... a lot of what the system will sound like will depend on the quality of the recording... if the recording is high bit rate & quality it helps....

    I have a huge hardrive full of mediocre quality mp3's & music videos'... an awsome collection that is extensive enough that you can always find at least a few songs from anyone you search for really... around 30,000 mp3's & 1,800 music videos... I really enjoy this media.... I listen to it all the time, & even though most are only ripped at 128, they are still great to listen to... on the highway back & forth to work.... driving around.... to the average person they sound great.......

    but at the same time, there is a difference..... it is subtle & you have to be listening for it,a lot of people that listen for it can't really hear it... but when your really in tune with your sound, it becomes easy to hear.... the difference is that it is slightly colored & muddied.... this is not to say that it doesn't sound great though..... it is all relative, & with a great system with great components & clean amps, even mediocre can sound great.... but there is a difference.....

    now I have a few selections that I have ripped myself at the highest bitrate , 3 somethin' I think..... these sound much more crisp & clean..... the quite passages are quite & the imaging is clearer & more distinct... the subtilties are the difference really.....

    now when you have a source that is of the highest quality & good material, on a system thats correct & complete...... this is when it starts to get really sweet..... the kind of sheer audio perfection that sends shivers up your spine... theres a lot more that is necisary for this than just a high bitrate though.... that's just one piece of the equation, as is the 16 bit vs 24 bit....

    these are only small pieces of the whole equation as to what adds up to perfect sound...... going from 16 bit to 24 bit won't really do that much if youve got reverbs & resonations at the doors & several different phases & point sources going on in the front stage... a few holes & peaks in the frequency response...... uneven path lengths, reflections & absorbsions also doing there part to go against this...

    the system will only be as good as it's "weakest link"

  5. #145
    Variable Bitrate fonseca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbocad6
    I only recomended using the pc so it can be controlled remotely.... it's either that, or an alpine head.
    Okay, so no remote. I could live without that though, as my center console is within easy reach. I could easily resell the ADD51T for what I paid, so I'm seriously considering an H701 + controller. The ADD51T is great, and works better than I expected considering the brand, but I have to use the Winamp EQ with it. Except for the lack of EQ, it's the perfect unit. 1/2 DIN, can adjust each channel via remote, as well as timing, etc.

    One thing I dislike about so many seperate components is the redundant volume control. For some reason it just bothers me. Going with digital out eliminates one of them at least, but there is still wave, Winamp preamp, and ffdshow has multiple volume and preamp controls. Ideally, I'd like to have a pure source as you mention, and let the DSP do everything. Either that or let the PC do everything, but keeping in line with the subject of this thread, I don't think it quite can yet, simply because of lack of software.

    I have about 50gb of music in my car now, and the number of songs is going down rapidly as I convert from mp3 to flac. Most of my CDs were ripped to 192-256kb/s mp3 using LAME and EAC, which should be cd quality, yet I can hear a difference between that and flac on many songs. It's not a big difference, and sometimes it's hard to even define, but I swear that many albums sound better in flac. Sigur Ros is one band where I notice the quality difference on almost every track. I'm losing something going to mp3. Clarity.

    As it stands, despite some issues that need sorting out, my current setup surpasses my previous one with head unit for sound quality. The speakers, amps and cables remain the same, but I replaced my Kenwood Excelon HU (long time Kenwood loyalist) and changer with a pc and DSP, and it's a big improvement. I think computers are not only up to the task, but better than a HU for sound quality, provided you are using digital out. Although I guess it's not a fair comparison since I didn't use the Kenwood HU with the ADD51T.

    Anolog sound, however, doesn't beat a HU for quality. So a pc can't do it alone. I tried several PCI and USB soundcards, all Creative Audigy, and it just didn't sound that great even through a processor; going straight to an amp was much worse. I know that's how many people here do it, but I'm used to high end systems. Head units must simply have better, dedicated hardware, and probably capacitors twice the size of those found on soundcards. Switching from analog to digital is like flipping on a switch.
    In progress: M10000; Travla c134; Xenarc 700TSV; Hitachi 80GB 2.5"; 256MB ULP; M2-ATX; ITPS; Powermate; iKEY SL-88 KB; Holux GM-210; Audiobahn ADD51T w/ COAX/optical converter; Road Runner; iGuidance 2.1

  6. #146
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red GTi VR6
    see - I don't like using the PC to control the volume - I prefer to use the knob on the Alpine display
    but that's just me
    set the volume on the PC and leave it - it's much easier to control the volume via a knob (or in your case with the steering wheel controls) rather than the computer
    The only way I can use my steering wheel buttons is if I use a device that has an IR eye on it. I can add one to the PC and most aftermarket CD players have them. I've used remotes for the last 12 or so years so reaching for the radio is just very foreign to me. I don't think I could start doing that again. I'll just keep looking for a solution.

    Quote Originally Posted by fonseca
    Analog sound, however, doesn't beat a HU for quality. So a pc can't do it alone. I tried several PCI and USB soundcards, all Creative Audigy, and it just didn't sound that great even through a processor; going straight to an amp was much worse. I know that's how many people here do it, but I'm used to high end systems. Head units must simply have better, dedicated hardware, and probably capacitors twice the size of those found on soundcards. Switching from analog to digital is like flipping on a switch.
    I wouldn't be so sure about that. I just got through with a few hours of using my new sound card, the Chaintech AV710 ($30). I'm using the good opamps/DACS on channels 7&8 and I have to admit, the sound is really impressive. My other sound card was the Hercules Game Theater and the sound quality on that really sucked when connected to a really good sound system. Most computer users probably wouldn't notice. Anyway, the new card is a winner for sound quality. I'd say it equals my headunit, which is a Clarion DRX7375 using the preamp outputs.

    You mentioned the preamp in Winamp. I would avoid using that. When I increased it's level above 0 you could hear the sound quality suffer so I'm leaving that setting flat.

    I wish I had a Creative sound card in the $30 dollar range to compare it to. Most everyone I talk to say the Creative cards are some of the worst for sound quality. What I may do is get the Juli@ audio card ($140) I mentioned before and use the balanced outputs straight into my EPX2. It is a 2 channel card designed for musicians playing and recording at very high quality levels to their PC. I need to get more info on it before I buy it especially whether or not I can get the EPX2 to accept the PRO type balanced output.

    At this point I am going to say that an all computer system using an analog out can be comparable to a headunit.

  7. #147
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    Have there been any threads on ripping CD's for high sound quality? I need to start ripping mine, but I'm not sure what program to use or what level of compression to use. I'm guessing that 320kbps would be fine for most things, but the highest quality recordings I may want to save as a wave file. That should be the same file as on the CD with no compression at all. So maybe 500-600MB for an CD. The way HDD's are getting bigger this seems like a good idea to me for certain albums. I don't know anything about LAME, EAC or flac. I know I would want a program to automatically look up the data so that the songs are named properly to speed up the ripping process. I have maybe 100 CD's or so and have been putting off converting them until I knew the right format and program to use so that I don't have to do it all over again later on. So suggestions please.

  8. #148
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    Have you looked into redoing the firmware on your chaintech? I know there is a HUGE thread on this over on the AVS forums. Look there because you can up the firmware to what would...<looking up the thread> here it is: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...ight=chaintech

    a lot of reading but it will explain EVERYTHING about your card as well as others that have similar qualities. Also, you might want to consider the Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1LT instead of the more pricy Julia.

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWW
    I wish I had a Creative sound card in the $30 dollar range to compare it to. Most everyone I talk to say the Creative cards are some of the worst for sound quality. What I may have to do is get the Juli@ audio card ($140) I mentioned before and use the balanced outputs straight into my EPX2. I think that should provide plenty of voltage so that I can turn down my gains again. It is a 2 channel card designed for musicians playing and recording at very high quality levels to their PC. I need to get more info on it before I buy it especially the output voltages and whether or not I can get the EPX2 to accept the PRO type balanced output.

    At this point I am going to say that an all computer system using an analog out can be comparable to a headunit.
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  9. #149
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    I didn't think of looking in that forum and I'm a member there!

    Oh well, thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

  10. #150
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    Forget what I said about the chaintech not putting out a high enough signal. I forgot all about the EPX2 having adjustable preamp gain for both the A and the B inputs. Turns out the B inputs I was using had the gains turned way down. So I put my amp gains back like they were and will now be tuning with the computer soon to see what kind of output levels I can get. I'll post back later.

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