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

  1. #451
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWW
    Really, Jan's (RED) is the only car that may be close to what you mean. She is going to be getting some Focal amps ("dual monitor" model) that have the EQ and x-over software built in. They connect to the PC through USB cables. You would control each 2 channel amp through the PC. That would be similar to what you are describing, but it would be cost prohibitive as each amp is $3000.
    Actually, I never said I was getting the DMs, I only mentioned them and how bad *** they were and that I wanted them in the future. The only Focal amps I mentioned we would be getting were the regular Focal amps. But that's since changed...see here: New Amps!


    Also, have you already researched the Pioneer ODR systems? I know they are clubs out there that talk about them all the time. A used ODR system MAY come close to what you need.
    This is another option: http://www.dbxpro.com/
    But it requires converting the psu to 12v, which has been done. I've considered making the move to it when we move up to the advanced class next year.
    Jan Bennett
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    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

  2. #452
    Low Bitrate Aetherion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JasonWW
    Aetherion, how many channels of sound are you going to be using (not the rca's going to the amps) from the source? You know, like a 2 channel stereo source or a 5.1 surround sound source?

    Are you going to be needing time alignment for all the outputs you say you need?

    Have you seen the PC software EQ's? They are very expensive and even then I'm not sure they would have enough individual channels as you need. Were you going to buy this type of software or have someone make something custom for you?
    Trying to write your software for EQ and x-over is a real can of worms, you may end up hurting the sound quality or get the signals out of sync between the channels. That's why the Alpine processors are so good, they maintain that high quality sound which is oh so important.

    Really, Jan's (RED) is the only car that may be close to what you mean. She is going to be getting some Focal amps ("dual monitor" model) that have the EQ and x-over software built in. They connect to the PC through USB cables. You would control each 2 channel amp through the PC. That would be similar to what you are describing, but it would be cost prohibitive as each amp is $3000.

    I would start looking at professional recording equipment. Computers are beion used more and more in that field. There may be some software and sound cards that at least my have an EQ for each output. x-over functoin can be set by the amp.

    Also, have you already researched the Pioneer ODR systems? I know they are clubs out there that talk about them all the time. A used ODR system MAY come close to what you need.

    Also., tell us again why you specifically need more than the 8 channels that a cheap Alpine H700 has? Is it a unique install or something?

    Did you read where the 5.1 setups in a car isn't all it's crackd up to be? I assume you plan to make yours 5.1?

    Try and explain what you want to accomplish in the end. Maybe there is a way to make the H700 work for you that you didn't realize.
    To start with I will be using 2 channel, but I want to have the option of expanding to 5.1 or even 7.1 in the future. I believe I will need time alignment on all my ouputs, yes. Will I need that many outputs? Possibly not. Is the Alpine unit able to time align every output? If so, then it should be factored into this project. When I first came across the idea of a carPC I made some assumptions regarding functionality, based on what a PC should be able to do, especially after looking at what the Alpine units are capable of. After reading through the 25+ pages on this thread, and reading opinions elsewhere, I have come to the conclusion that there are people being limited by the Alpines, and that there is a definite want/need for this type of functionality to be integrated into the carPC (Jan for one ). It is very true that an Alpine may do most of what I NEED, and I will definetly go that way if I can't get this to work, but it won't do everything I WANT, so if I can find a better way, then I will.

    As far as software functionality, I have a couple of friends who are serious Audiophiles, as well as heaps of friends who do recording/mixing/playback at very high levels, for their own use, mastering CD's, and live venue concerts, so I am going to make full use of their knowledge while tackling this project to make sure everything is up to scratch and that (hopefully) all the functions needed are there. As far as actual writing of software goes, I am going to Uni at the moment and have a few friends who take programming, plus my Dad has over 30 years programming experience in more languages than anyone I know of (and I'm not talking him up because he's my Dad. Getting him interested enough to take time to help may be a problem though...). If I can't get it done that way, I will go talk to all the Computer Science and Music teachers and see if I can get them to use the project as some sort of task for their students and get it done that way. Failing that, I will try to find people online who can do it. I am thinking that open source software will be the best way to go on this project, simply so that it can keep evolving and grow functionality wise. If you put something this cool out and make it open source, it's gonna get cooler, I guarantee that.

    Hardware shouldn't be a huge limiting factor I think, as long as very good quality components are used at the computer end and the converter at the amp end is done right. If I could figure out a way to remove the converter from the equation without having to add multiple outputs at the computer and/or optical abilities into the amps, I would, so if anyone has any ideas on this line, please interject.

    Even if this project is sucessfull there will always be a place (in the immediate future at least) for Alpine style processors, especially for those out there who don't want a carPC. The idea behind this project is to make a carPC as functional as it (in my mind) should be, music wise. At this point it will be 6 months at least before I have the money to start installing my system, so I might as well use that time to see if I can make the system even better. If I can make something like this work, then I won't need a Poccessor, EQ, etc. If it doesn't work, oh well, time to fork out some extra cash, or spend less on my amps and speakers. That is what I'm really trying to do. Ensure that anyone who is building a system that is going to have a carPC has as large a percentage of their cash as possible to put towards the parts that really matter to sound quality. I know I would rather do all the EQing and Processing on a PC (even if it was a little harder to use), and have extra money to put into quality stereo gear if possible. That was what attracted me to the carPC in the first place - the ability to play better than CD quality sound. Sure, DVD's are a nice bonus, but if the sound quality was going to be the same on a PC, I would just stick with the HU I have and buy a H701 or H990 and call it a day.

    Wish me luck, I'm probably going to need it...
    Let's see how much a carPC can REALLY do...

  3. #453
    Low Bitrate Aetherion's Avatar
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    Hmmm, just had an idea. With a carPC controlling all the sound features and the right software, it should be possible to do a CAD map of the inside of the car (including the acoustic properties of each surface if you wanted to go that far), and control the sound in real time to provide the biggest possible sound stage and best quality sound possible, as well as providing the ability to use heaps more speakers than is feasible now and still having it soung great. Just a thought...
    Let's see how much a carPC can REALLY do...

  4. #454
    Low Bitrate Aetherion's Avatar
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    Update: ADAT Lightpipe might work better than SPDIF. Anyone know much about it? I'm researching it now...

    Update: For a hardware solution that is already available, check this website:
    http://www.frontierdesign.com/

    ROFLMAO - with that Dakota Soundcard you can have 16 separate channels of audio per soundcard.... 16 fully adjustable speakers anyone?

    With the Dakota+Montana+Tango24 bundle you can have 32 channels of sound output from the PC and 8 RCA outs at the Tango 24 for US$999. I wonder how much extra it would cost for another 3 Tango24's so you can have 32 RCA outs? Or just another 1 in the bundle for 16 RCA outs, and another 16 expandability...

    Not looking like a real cheap option though...
    Let's see how much a carPC can REALLY do...

  5. #455
    MySQL Error scott_fx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aetherion
    Hmmm, just had an idea. With a carPC controlling all the sound features and the right software, it should be possible to do a CAD map of the inside of the car (including the acoustic properties of each surface if you wanted to go that far), and control the sound in real time to provide the biggest possible sound stage and best quality sound possible, as well as providing the ability to use heaps more speakers than is feasible now and still having it soung great. Just a thought...

    reminds me of protools and their 5.1 design software.


    there are pro cards out there with a bunch of outputs, it the drivers and software that aren't tailored for what you need. Check out the Echo soundcards. they have some firewire breakout boxes with gobs of outputs.
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  6. #456
    Low Bitrate Aetherion's Avatar
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    Here's another option:
    The CreamWare A16 Ultra Professional 16-Channel AD/DA Converter
    http://www.creamware.com/
    You can convert 2 ADAT inputs into 16 Analogue outputs, plus if your computer has Firewire, you can bypass the 48khz limitation inherent in ADAT and transfer at 24-bit / 96 kHz through creamware's proprietry z-link format. THAT has potential, especially seeing (and correct me if I'm wrong on this...) you wouldn't even need a soundcard, just 2 Firewire ports. Still not cheap at between US$800-$1000, but it's a darn sight cheaper than the H900, and to my knowledge you have to go with the H900 or H990 if you want to connect multiple units and have more than 8 channels (please let me know if you CAN daisychain the H700/701...).

    Now to start work on the software side of things...
    Red, you probably have a better idea of whats required in this respect than me. I have a list of features I've been writing out, but some of it is the same thing worded differently I'm fairly sure, and I also may be missing necessary functions. Would you (and others too if you like) be willing to make a list of all the features we need in the software if the PC is the only proccessor?
    Let's see how much a carPC can REALLY do...

  7. #457
    Low Bitrate Aetherion's Avatar
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    Did a couple of important revisions to that last post, so just wanted to make sure anyone who is subscribed to this thread and already looked at it takes another look - would love to hear any feedback on that option too. What do think, would it work?
    Let's see how much a carPC can REALLY do...

  8. #458
    FLAC
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    Well, I can answer a few of your questions on the H700/1 units. They can't really be daisy chained, but you can run 2 or more if you split the SPDIF signal. Each H700 would recieve the same signals, but their outputs can be tweaked for your needs. Since each H700 has it's own volume control, you would have to leave their volumes at a set level and control the volume at the PC. The only down side to that is the noise floor might be a tad high. They were really designed to use their built in volume knobs.

    Still, I think one H700 can be enough. It can be configured like this:

    8 output channels total

    7 channels each have 31 bands EQ
    1 channel (sub) has 16 bands EQ

    All 8 have their own x-over freq. and slope

    All 8 have their own time alignment

    Lets look at the rear surround channels for instance. Lets say you plan to use a mid and tweet in the left rear and right rear. Now you don't need 4 seperate channels. You can use 2 channels from the H700, fed to 4 amp channels. Use the amps x-overs to make them 4 active channels. The EQ is adjusted for the mid and tweet together, that will be fine. As long as the mid and tweet are close to each other (and they should be) then you only need 2 channels of time alignment.

    So you see, you might think you need 4 seperate channels there, but they can be handled by only 2 channels from the H700. The only tiny downside I can see is that you can't program different x-over points for your 6 different presets. I doubt you would want different x-over points though.

    The same situation can be done for the center channel as well if you plan to use a mid and tweet combo.

    Now the front left and right can have a dedicated 4 channels just in case you have the tweet and mid far apart and need independant time alignment. If you think your going to need a 3 way front, you can group the 2 closest speakers to share a channel, time alignment and EQ and then use the x-over on the amps to split them and give them their own frequencies.

    That's 12 channels right there, then the sub would be the 13th. Hopefully you will only have 1 subwoofer system and not 2 seperate sub systems. 2 seperate systems are rare, but I used to run 2 of them back in the day and could switch back and forth. So, aside from that, I think you might be covered by the H700.

    Don't forget, those Alpine guys are pretty smart.
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  9. #459
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    Wow, I just read every post, and every page.

    I'm currently looking to build a carpc and wanted to go the sound quality route. I currently have an eclipse 5561 H/U, but was thinking about getting rid of it after reading about the alpine 701 and spdif benefits.

    I didn't think a computer could outperform a high end h/u at first, but now that i think about it, and after reading this thread, it's obvious that it can.

    Only thing i'm still fuzzy on is which sound card to get. I have a mcintosh amp powering dynaudio 3way components, and want to get the best quality. Off to searching i go!

    Thanks just wanted to post my thread reading accomplishment

  10. #460
    MySQL Error scott_fx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flampy
    Wow, I just read every post, and every page.

    I'm currently looking to build a carpc and wanted to go the sound quality route. I currently have an eclipse 5561 H/U, but was thinking about getting rid of it after reading about the alpine 701 and spdif benefits.

    I didn't think a computer could outperform a high end h/u at first, but now that i think about it, and after reading this thread, it's obvious that it can.

    Only thing i'm still fuzzy on is which sound card to get. I have a mcintosh amp powering dynaudio 3way components, and want to get the best quality. Off to searching i go!

    Thanks just wanted to post my thread reading accomplishment
    i want to hug this noob! you read and didn't ask a question....can we give noob's of the year awards?

    just an fyi
    with a pxa-h701 you dont need a soundcard all you need is digital output. most via epia board have this built in (but you need a cheap converter)
    New System in progress:
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    My Car Pc Install
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