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

  1. #21
    FLAC IntellaWorks's Avatar
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    Kingtut: Let me clarify what was thinking. Judge puts in a cd and clicks play, your play button then "on the fly" (programming expression which means no inturuptions, or in real time) Takes the CD media and runs it through an audio codec that can enhance the audio further. Say, by converting the audio into AC3 (if your audio system is set up with a center channel for dolby digital) . While It's converting the audio it can also play what it has converted. (depending on the media you are converting it to) This is all happening in real time behind the scene. Instead of playing the song from the CD its actually playing the rip (from the HD)

    I use this now in my car system, If I play an audio CD my puter is actually ripping the song as I play it and compressing it to .mp3... It's also actually playing from the HD instead of the CD. I can get away with this because .mp3 allows you to play the file even though it's unfinished, compression takes only a few seconds per song, the duration it takes for the song to be compressec will never exceed the duration of the song.
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  2. #22
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    Interesting idea, I'll do some research on the subject.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by edscholl
    as i said, exactly how much processing do you think you need? it ain't a whole lot if you want to reproduce accurate sound, versus process the sound to make it sound different than the original source. this is because the information (imaging, sound stage, etc) you're using needs limited processing to begin with- it's simply included in the source.
    Well, that's the point. A good HU these days does much more than "reproduce accurate sound." It's easy to play a source and make it come out of speakers, the trick is to come as close as possible to making a ridiculously imperfect accoustic evironment (your car) sound as close as possible to a recording studio. Processing power can help.

    This is also complicated by the fact that most cars are space limited (like my S2000) so it is not possible to design the kind of loudspeakers you would use in a lager space. Heck, you end up using your doors for speakers in most cars. If your space-limited speakers don't reproduce all frequencies perfectly (and they don't) you need to "process" the sound with an equalizer to compensate for those imperfections.

    In cars you also have the problem of reflections and resonance, and further processing can help compensate for that as well.

    My Alpine HU has a parametric equalizer, electronic crossovers, and six position time correction. That is "processing" beyond simple playback, and those are things to make the sound sound better in a less-than-perfect environment.

    I always used to "center the sound" using the Balance and Fader controls. I had no idea what I was missing until I experienced Time Correction in a car (The proper way to balance sound is with both Time Delay AND Balance/Fader--you want the speakers that are NOT equidistant from your head to SOUND like they are equidistant.)

    I think computers have MUCH more capacity to process music than a HU. I think the main limitation will be software, and the expense of good software. To be honest I don't know what all is out there but there are a lot of audio hobbiests and musicians. Combine that with academia and maybe there is some good free or low-cost audio software out there...

    And yes, try to go USB with your soundcard. From what I have read it is far better to remove all analog portions of the sound from the noisy electrical environment of the computer. Digital signals are FAR less susceptible to picking up audible noise than analog signals, so keep everything digital inside the computer box, and have the external USB DA converter make it analog just before it enters your amp or preamp.

    M-Audio makes some great external audio solutions, (I have the M-Audio Transit and I love it.)

    Many computer soundcards are analyzed these days with RightMark Audio Analyzer, a free software package LINK TO FREE SOFTWARE . There is some excellent info at that site, and the user forums have a wealth of knowledge and many reviews.

    Good luck!

  4. #24
    My Village Called 0l33l's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LATEOTT
    I always used to "center the sound" using the Balance and Fader controls. I had no idea what I was missing until I experienced Time Correction in a car (The proper way to balance sound is with both Time Delay AND Balance/Fader--you want the speakers that are NOT equidistant from your head to SOUND like they are equidistant.)
    You can do all this with the kXProject for creative sounds cards. No USB support though. I wouldn't want to hog the USB bus anyway with audio.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by 0l33l
    You can do all this with the kXProject for creative sounds cards. No USB support though. I wouldn't want to hog the USB bus anyway with audio.
    Thanks for the link, I'll check it out though it wouldn't work with any of my cards if it is Creative only.

    Hog the USB bus??? You know you can actually do video through your USB bus, I think that is more likely to fill USB bandwidth...although from most reports it is electron sucking that is the biggest problem. However, I have never heard of USB soundcards "taking over the USB" and that is not my experience.

    Another pleasant development is that modern MoBo chipsets leave the chipset southbridge to handle USB<-->RAM duties so CPU cycles are spared for more important things. What exactly are you saving your USB bandwidth for?

    EDIT: And now that I think of it, don't we use USB 2.0 for things like wireless networking, ethernet, video capture, and DVD writing these days??? I hardly think audio is gonna "hog" the interface.

  6. #26
    My Village Called 0l33l's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LATEOTT
    Thanks for the link, I'll check it out though it wouldn't work with any of my cards if it is Creative only.

    Hog the USB bus??? You know you can actually do video through your USB bus, I think that is more likely to fill USB bandwidth...although from most reports it is electron sucking that is the biggest problem. However, I have never heard of USB soundcards "taking over the USB" and that is not my experience.

    Another pleasant development is that modern MoBo chipsets leave the chipset southbridge to handle USB<-->RAM duties so CPU cycles are spared for more important things. What exactly are you saving your USB bandwidth for?
    I'm one of those people who wouldn't do audio over USB. I looked hard for my 1/8" mic just to avoid it being USB.

    Anyway, check out the kXProject. Those are the professional drivers for creative PCI cards.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by 0l33l
    I'm one of those people who wouldn't do audio over USB. I looked hard for my 1/8" mic just to avoid it being USB.

    Anyway, check out the kXProject. Those are the professional drivers for creative PCI cards.
    To each his own. I actually went to USB because I had no Line-In on my laptop. Now I have that along with optical in/out.

    I can see how that might not be an issue with a purpose-built PC. But again, from the tests and reviews I have studied, sound quality is better with external audio devices.

    Thanks again for the link.

  8. #28
    Constant Bitrate dingofarmer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LATEOTT
    To each his own. I actually went to USB because I had no Line-In on my laptop. Now I have that along with optical in/out.

    I can see how that might not be an issue with a purpose-built PC. But again, from the tests and reviews I have studied, sound quality is better with external audio devices.

    Thanks again for the link.

    I have the M-Audio Sonica, great card, I was running digital, but now am running anolog. Anolog sounds just as clear as the dig did. My prelude is small and my Primeir dex-p1r has time alignment in pro mode, I think I'll flip the Pro switch, get a tape measure and set up the alignment. The Usb do a good job and hogging up some resources, but as long as you have a quick pro, I don't think it would be a problem.

  9. #29
    My Village Called 0l33l's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LATEOTT
    To each his own. I actually went to USB because I had no Line-In on my laptop. Now I have that along with optical in/out.

    I can see how that might not be an issue with a purpose-built PC. But again, from the tests and reviews I have studied, sound quality is better with external audio devices.

    Thanks again for the link.
    Yeh, to each his own. But USB takes more CPU time

    Have fun studing the kx project drivers. These drivers give full control over kX based cards. I beleive that they give you more control than the m-audio cards.

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by LATEOTT
    Well, that's the point. A good HU these days does much more than "reproduce accurate sound."
    that is absolutely NOT the point if you're into SQ! SQ, from a purely technical perspective, is ALL about accurately reproducing the sound of your source.

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