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Thread: Audio advisor suggests using PC as head unit is horrible...

  1. #1
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    Question Audio advisor suggests using PC as head unit is horrible...

    I wasn't sure where to post this, but since it's directly related to the audio portion of the pie, I figured this was best.

    I recently spoke to a customer service rep at an audio products company, (I'll leave them unnamed, don't want to unnecessarily call anyone out) and informed them of my plan to get rid of my OEM head unit and replace it with a PC, which would then be amped to the speakers.

    They advised me this was not a good idea and that the sound quality from PC to amp is horrible. I've seen people on here do it, so I'd like to know what the results are in the real world and suggestions on getting the good sound

  2. #2
    North of the land of Hey Huns
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    There are a great many things that contribute to the quality of the audio when a computer is involved. The quality of PC power, shielding on cables, quality of the mp3/audio that is being played, quality of the sound driver in the PC, quality of the amplifier....

    Done wrong, yes it can be worse. Done right, it can possibly be better than a stock headunit (possibly).

    My guess is the audio adviser thinks he won't make any money off you if you put a PC in your car :P

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    I thought about that too, after telling him I was OK with my stock system but a little upgrade couldn't hurt he suggested keeping my head unit and installing 4 Boston Acoustics S85s, totaling $240.

    So, I'm a little dubious of the advice, rightfully so I believe. Earlier in the day I had an email chat with a different advisor where I mentioned ditching the head unit but keeping stock speakers and they gave me a list of stuff:

    Stereo Mini to RCA Adapter, Kenwood KAC 6404 Amp, Amp wiring kit, 4 RCA cables from PC to amp, Speaker wire to go from amp to stock speakers. This seemed to be a much more thought out response, and afterwards I figured maybe I should at least upgrade the front speakers.

    If anyone else is interested in giving advice or critiquing the advice I received, the PC I'm building is using the D945GCLF2 motherboard, so the 5.1 sound on there is what is available to me.

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    Maximum Bitrate pcpete's Avatar
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    For good SQ i recommend, NO INVERTERS, have pc as close to amp as possible, preferably do not use integrated audio, and lastly ...overground the ***t out of everything!!

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    Maximum Bitrate bratnetwork's Avatar
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    you can get very good sound quality out of a PC if you use a digital output into a good sound processor then into amps, but this method can be very pricey. A high end sound card will give you a good sound, or even a decent integrated can give pretty good sound if you use a hardware processor / eq to tune it right. If you're not looking for audiophile sound then just using the integrated sound into a some amps and some tuning in software EQs will produce a better sound than most OEM sound systems

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    That's kind of what I thought. There's no way people are doing this and living with crappy sound. I'm not an audiophile, most of my music is on my iPhone so it's compressed anyway. I'm happy with the sound from my stock stereo, I just figured if I'm gunna ditch the head unit, I might as well upgrade just a little.

    I mean using that Kenwood amp the other advisor suggested and upgrading the speakers will probably result in audio that is superior to my stock unit, wouldn't you think?

  7. #7
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    For decent quality sound, get a sound card.

    RedGTIvr6 wins SQ competitions with her computer based sound system, so it can be done.
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  8. #8
    CwF
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    Why no Inverters? Maybe not certain types/kinds?
    06 Silverado LBZ wants onboard everything...

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    Maximum Bitrate pcpete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CwF View Post
    Why no Inverters? Maybe not certain types/kinds?
    I'm not an expert, but the sine waves of the current created are square like, not smooth.

    This can induce really bad noise and whine into the audio. I have used one with a laptop, and the noise was unbearable.

    The cost of a really good one plus the cost of an atx psu will probably be double the cost of a decent dc-dc regulator/psu.

    With the dc dc regulator/psu you also get pc startup and shutdown control. Mine can also delay the power up of my amps to protect my speakers from the pc startup 'pop' .....

  10. #10
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    Why no Inverters? Maybe not certain types/kinds?
    Most inverters use a modified sine wave which causes a buzz in the speakers. There are expensive pure sine wave inverters which would probably be okay to use but you lose efficiency and theres no guarantees that it will be perfect. It's pointless to go from DC to AC to DC again which is essentially what you're doing when hooking up a computer through one.

    They advised me this was not a good idea and that the sound quality from PC to amp is horrible.
    I would advise you to use some form of a hardware pre-amp. In my car if I plug my mp3 player directly into my amplifiers, it sounds okay, but if I plug it into my head unit and plug my head unit into my amps, it sounds much better as the head unit is tweaked to provide the best sound for a car environment.
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