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Thread: Amping that Surround Sound

  1. #1
    Newbie Zennoa's Avatar
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    Jul 2005

    Question Amping that Surround Sound

    So I'm planning out my ThunderPC right now (95 Thunderbird, currently needing a new engine so that's why I'm just planning) and I've gotten to the audio section. My current mainboard has the Realtek AC 97 audio codec and it supports 8 channel surround sound (7.1, 6.1, 5.1, 4, 2 speaker setups) and I'm wondering what the best way to hook that to an amp is going to be. For one thing my car does not currently have an amp in it; it's built into the stereo so I know I have to pick one up. If I wanna be cheap about it I once used the amps out of two different 2 speaker setups to drive some 4 inch speakers and that worked well enough but this time I'd rather do things the right way rather than the hacked shortcut way.

    Now I'm rather certain my car already has a 6 speaker setup (2 rear, 2 door, 2 dash) so I'm wondering what the best way to go about this is gonna be. I may be a computer afficianado but I'm a complete noob when it comes to car audio (though I'm pretty good at home theater). And yes I considered throwing my home theater system in there and driving the speakers with that.

    --Zennoa the white wolf spirit

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Little Elm, Texas
    you aren't going to want to go directly from the onboard sound. The line level voltage isn't NEAR enough. You can use a line level booster or something along the lines of an EQ (which will boost the voltage to something respectible). Then from there out to your amps.

    Otherwise, you would just use a 1/8" phono to RCA Y. But I wouldn't recomend doing it that way.

    As for the home theater thing, don't. Most home audio systems are 8ohm, most car audio systems a 2 - 4 ohm. If you use home audio speakers in the car, you will be shorting yourself out of the power that the amplifiers are capable of (essently halfing the power output because of the 8 ohm config of the speakers). Get car specific equipment. There are SOME speakers out there that some people use that are a crossover from the home audio world to the car (I'm one of those people - Focal Beryllium), however, most of those speakers are VERY high end and are VERY expensive, and they are worth it.

    As for your speakers in your car...forget about them. I'd replace them. A lot of stock stereo systems have built in crossovers on the speakers and the speakers are all kinds of funky (like 2 ohm with the amplifier built onto the magnet structure).

    Hope this helps!
    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!

  3. #3
    Low Bitrate scfountain's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Southeast Texas
    Why would you put a home theater system in a car? Certainly do-able, but not logical. Also, there's a contradicting statement in your post..."I wanna be cheap..." and "I'd rather do things the right way..." Those two phrases don't mix very well when you’re talking a carpc audio solution. Also, installing a home theater system in your car definitely isn't the "right way."

    Now to touch on your question a little bit, take Red GTI's advice, don't go directly from the line-out on your board to the amp. The voltage is way to low. The best method would be to use your boards optical out, if it has one, and connect it to a DSP, something like the Alpine PXA-H701. Then you can connect that, using RCA cables, to your amp. That's the "right way." If you want the "cheap way", get yourself some 3.5mm x 2 RCA plugs and connect from the line-out on your board directly to the amp just as Red GTI advised not to do. Expect ****ty sound and interference due to the low line voltage.

    For your speakers, if you are planning driving them with an amp (not like you have much choice), replace them. You will more than likely blow the factory speakers if not, especially if they are the factory 1995 versions. And if you want to keep all six, there are plenty of 6 channel amps on the market that would be much better than using a home theater amp.
    Don't hold your farts in! They travel up your spine, into your brain, and that's where you get crappy ideas from!!!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    i wouldn't say so, "cheap" and "right" add together when you do a little thing called "research". Mix in a little patience and you have a golden formula. Start with the speakers now and don't install anything until you have the setup complete and ready to be put in. That will give you the time you need to get everything at prices that you wouldn't believe and space everything out so that you'll have the cash to jump on them. Cash out, i exepct to pay about $600-$700 to finish thhis project- and that includes my stereo system. And don't say that's impossible- i'm running Infinity reference throughout with streetwires and lights...and the only thing i need to finish off this project is the LCD, which i'm saving up for a motorized indash, the distribution block and stereo wiring (because i want to, not because i have to), and some new 6.5's which i had to put on hold in getting quite yet. All in all, i've spent <$180 for my system thus far. Research. Patience.

    Also, listen to GTi...she knows her stuff far beyond me...and her price range is far beyond mine. She's a competition builder and i just want good sounds. SC's advice shows he knows his thing too, but i would be wary of optical out if you don't plan on going that high end. Everything they said is worth bit for ounce in gold. If you have that much cash, by all means, go for it. With my advice, in advanced, if i'm completely wrong on something, i apologize, but i'm working off sound knowlegde that should be, at most, up for debate.

    Car dynamics are different from home theatre dynamics. That's why they say 86 the home threater (HT)idea, but keep the surround sound idea, its been done and can work. HT and car audio are barely on ths same playing field with thier dynaimcs and power ratings, like football, soccer (football) and rugby. There's a ball involved, some rules are simliar, but far from the same game. Some say that your front speakers are what you need to focus on. Your rear speakers are considered the fill speakers, though they can be more than that. It is true though, but not for what you're doing.

    You have a 6 speaker set up already, which is limiting you to a 6 channel amp for your speakers with crossovers, like SC said, IF you want the full surround sound. You can get away with a 4 channel if you wire it right (the center and fronts in series or parallel depending on the speakers you get, with the rear on a seperate channel). Its messy, its not fully what you desire, you'll probably overpower the rears completely without balancing, but it will work if you find yoruself short on the green. you will need an amp if you're getting some subs. That one, dont' get caught up in the hype or you'll kill the quality that you're trying to pull off. You dont' need a 1000Watt amp to drive 1000watt subs. The infinity basslink, what i'm using, is a 10" 250 RMS sub. The Kenwood wOOx is a 5.25" sub. They sound superior to 10" and higher and everything's prefabed for you. Look into them if you want cheap and amazing. At $300 or so list, its a bargin, and you can definitely find it cheaper if you lok around

    As for wiring the amps to the computer, the CHEAP way the 1/8-RCA cables for the time being, but plan to upgrade to a full out EQ in the future if you're not doing that starting off. You'll get tired of it, and if you don't wire it the well enough, you'll get too much of the interferenace everyone warns about. I admit i've never relied highly on those cables in my set up, but they haven't failed me yet...infact, they impressed me compared to the alternatives of its application. They're about $18 for 3 a RS. That's a pretty cheap test. There are also a more heavy duty set form monster or RS for $20 each. THe Monster is designed for car audio though. Plus, RS allows you to turn your items so the most you'll spend is gas money.

    IF you're using your computer as your head unit, you can try it. The best idea i can give you is to put your amp and your computer under yoru seats if you can do it with the appropriate heat clearance. It should reduce some interferenace. If you're using a head unit, run out stereo from yoru computer to yoru head unit's AUX IN. I've done it before using laptops and pocket PCs, and its very satisfying for the average guy and an expereince for those who are a casual listener. There are a few calculations you need to know as you do not want to underpower yoru speakers at all. If you need help wiht the calculations, PM me or GTi or someone else who's name i'll edit in later since i forgot it. Don't rely on your local audio shop too much if you want cheap except for car audio knowledge. They're good for that and only that. Even the kids at Radio Shack thought i was crazy when i told them what i was up to (computer wise). You WILL need a dsitirbution block. Im trying to get a bulk order among freinds for all the wiring for amultiamp stereo. If you want to get in and save a few $$ on streetwires PM me. I'm looking at $40 -$70 for over $130 worth of euqipment to rewire my entire stereo system. Also, i have a few friends who have some goodies at great prices out here.

    Stereo, if you do it right and without any outrageous deals, including a set of subs, will run you about $500-$800 on ebay for good stuff including EQ, amp, 6 speakers, subs, and, the ebay "taxation" of exhoribant handing and shipping. I'm talking Reference, Kappa , Clarion, RF, and BA. Add a $200-$400 screen and about $200 for what ever extra supploes for the computer you'll be using and you're running 1.2-1.4K total for EVERYTHING for your first attempt. That's about how much some peopel pay for their cpc setup, and assuming that your computer is already picked out and present. You'll be paying out of your nose for the amp since good amps don't go cheap, so check the forums. Don't be ashamed of second hand if its in good working and cosmetic condition. You'll probably be the last person to see your amp or speakers for a LONG time unless you show it off.
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  5. #5
    Maximum Bitrate Fusion-One's Avatar
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    Dec 2002
    Montreal, Quebec
    I just wanted to mention that it depends on the motherboard, and even the drivers installed for how much voltage the motherboard puts out on the onboard sound. The one I'm currently using puts out enough to power small unamplified speakers. I have all my gains turned down almost as far as they can go because of this.

    Test it out first, see what kind of sound you get from it.. you might be suprised.

  6. #6
    tja is offline
    Variable Bitrate
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    sydney, australia
    yeh i totally agree... you may be surprised with what ur pc can do.

    i have my audio coming out of a cheapo $15 4 channel soundcard, going straight into a 75WRMSx4 channel amp, and then into the standard factory speakers. I have to have the gains turned right down on my amp! the sound is noticeably better than what i was getting with my stock head unit and the same speakers.

    theres no noise, no whine, just clean and loud.

    and i this is comparing it to when i had $300 speakers in my old car running off the same amp run off rca outs from a headunit.
    2005 Nissan Xtrail
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Little Elm, Texas
    those $300 speakers dopn't mean jack if they weren't installed properly, if the amp wasn't installed properyl, if the amp wasn't high quality and if the head unit wasn't high quality.

    Doesn't mean jack if you have $300 speakers and a $50 head unit. doesn't mean jack if you have $300 speakers and the entire system wasn't installed properly, etc, etc.
    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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