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Thread: Would a Equaliser be a good hardware volume control?

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate
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    Would a Equaliser be a good hardware volume control?

    I'm in the process of planning a car computer, I'm going to start with a basic system, just with 4x20 text LCD at first, and just use it for music until I can save up enough to afford a in-dash touchscreen (I've got nowhere to mount a non-indash one suitably)...

    I'm just going to start with a Mini-ITX mobo (haven't sourced one yet) and a M1-ATX PSU (i've bought one off these forums), a smallish 2.5" HDD, and thats about it...

    The reason I want to change over now is so that I can have RCA outs to all my speakers... my headunit only has rear RCA pre-outs so I'd prefer to spend the money on a carputer than on a new headunit.

    Now what my question is...
    I've seen those 1/2 DIN equalisers... are they suitable to be used as a volume control? Can they have seperate channels in, and same ammount of channels out? eg so if i set up the PC so that is uses 5.1, then use the equaliser to control the volume? Or do the equalisers only take stereo in, and then break it up into front, rear sub?

    I saw the ZZE (01ish) Corolla on Pimp My Ride, they put a carputer in it, and they used what appeared to be a equaliser for the volume control?

  2. #2
    FLAC XC-C30's Avatar
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    Few simple words. An EQ is NOT AT ALL a volumecontrol. An EQ is used for finetuning. if you want to just control your volume, buy a USB-volume-knob.
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  3. #3
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    A 1/2-DIN "Equalizer" such as the one you mention and in the link below will work for you IF you only Use the FRONT LEFT & RIGHT RCA OUTPUTS from your Sound Card.

    They generally only take One Stereo input via RCA connectors, and then break it up into front, rear, & sub outputs as you stated. You CAN use this as a Volume Control. If you do, I would set the Sound Card/Carputer's Volume at 75%. This is generally considered a good starting point to achieve a decent output level without distortion or clipping of the audio signal.

    None of the 1/2-DIN Equalizers (that I am aware of) will work with a 5.1 Surround Setup. See the link below to get a general idea.

    http://www.clarion.com/us/en/product...643389018.html

    There are many of these types of "Equalizers" available with various features from higher-end companies like www.audiocontrol.com and others.

    They are generally not used in the Car Audio Competition circuit anymore, though the good ones were used until Digital Processors/EQs became more prevalent, such as the Alpine PXA-H701 and -H900 units.

    Every one that I have seen will only Accept ONE SET of inputs (the Front L & R Stereo pair.) And will usually offer a Pair of RCA Outputs for the Subwoofer (with a level control), a Pair of RCA Outputs for the FRONT L&R Channels, and a Pair of RCA Outputs for the REAR L&R Channels. You normally have a FADER control for the Front & Rear Channels.

    Most of them have one set of L&R RCA inputs that you can use as an AUX IN to connect another stereo audio source such as your iPod, etc. So you could have your CarPuter as the Main Source and an AUX In as a Second Source. All the functions of the Equaliser work for both Inputs.

    Most also have a MASTER VOLUME CONTROL and a built-in "Line Driver" that will Increase the Voltage Level of the Line Level RCA or MiniPlug Outputs from your Sound Card from the usual .5 Volts to anywhere between 4-12Volts. This is important in Car Audio systems as most Car Audio Amplifiers are designed to accept and use a 2-Volt to 8-Volt Line Level input to produce maximum power with minimum distortion.

    The Higher-Voltage also helps to Reduce the chance of Noise entering the signal path through the RCA Cables to your amplifier (referred to as EMI, RF, or Inducted Noise.) This is because the RCA cables can act as "Antennas" that pick up electrical noise from your cars electrical system (such as Alternator Whine, Spark Plug or Distributor Noise, and electronic Braking System Noise, among others.) It is advised to use RCA cables that use "Twisted-Pair" wire which helps to reject this type of noise. This type of noise can also enter your system directly to the Head Unit/CD Stereo or the Computer/Sound Card itself.

    The separate Passive Crossovers from higher-end Car Audio Speaker Systems can also pick up this noise, though it is not as common.

    These in-dash Equalizers commonly use "Parametric" style Equalizer controls that usually give you 4 or 5 Bands or "Center Frequencies" that you can Boost or Cut (+/-) to shape the sound from your speakers. There is usually a Low, Med-Low, Medium, Med-High, and High Frequency Dial that usually are set at about 50Hz, 500Hz, 2kHz, 5kHz, and 10kHz.

    Some units will also have a separate Subwoofer Level Control with or without an Adjustable Subwoofer Crossover that lets you limit the range of frequencies that are sent to your Subwoofer Amp via a Set of Subwoofer Output RCA terminals. This Crossover adjustment usually ranges between 30Hz and 200Hz, so depending on where you set this dial, it will only send the frequencies BELOW that point to the Subwoofer RCA Outputs on the back of the unit, and All Frequencies ABOVE that point will be sent to the Front & Rear RCA Stereo Outputs. This Crossover usually filters the frequencies with a gradual slope of 12dB per Octave, though some have steeper slopes of 24dB per Octave.

    A friend of mine bought this for $45:

    Power Acoustik PWM-19
    http://www.poweracoustik.com/pa2006/...O_addon_eq.htm

    I would consider this a "lower-end consumer" company and would generally not consider any of their products for a serious Sound Quality Car Audio install. But, I helped him install it and I am actually quite impressed with how well it works, it's features, and it's Sound Quality. It was just what he needed and wanted for his system and it works perfectly, and for the money it does quite a bit.

    If you want to use ALL of the 5.1 Outputs from your Sound Card for a true 5.1 Surround Setup, I think you will have to look at another option. Hope this helps a little bit.

  4. #4
    Constant Bitrate TheLandYacht's Avatar
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    I'm using the 1/2 (or less?) DIN eq/crossover from Memphis for exactly this.

    The caveat is that, like said previously, it only accepts stereo input. Although, in a high noise car environment, I'm not sure how much good the staging required for true 5.1 does...which is why I think stereo is fine as an input.

    It also has dual (switchable) inputs so you can plug yer puter and yer stereo in and switch back & forth for sound...outputs=4mains+2subs. The other good thing about this unit is that it's a preamp as well (a problem I had with the output of the puter was the low voltage output of the headphone jack on most mobos.) so you can gainmatch yer headunit & yer puter...and it comes out soundin CLEAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. #5
    Maximum Bitrate albysure's Avatar
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    you can buy an inline rca volume control. i have one but changed my design. got it from www.davidnavone.com

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    Hey BBfoto, I am thinking of doing the Equalizer volume control method. I don't need 5.1 so I think it's the best way to go. I like your post, and I definitely want an equalizer that can boost the incoming voltage, or "line drive" it as you say. Does the clarion one you linked to do that? I looked at it and others and can't really find a spec that says it will boost voltage... What do I look for? Thanks

  7. #7
    FLAC Jahntassa's Avatar
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    I didn't read the whole thing (sorry!) but i'm using an Alpine ERA-G320 as the main volume for my system. Stereo in from the computer and Front/Rear/Sub out. It works great!

  8. #8
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    someone mentioned a USB Volume Control?? Can anyone point me in the right direction?

    I realised i'll be needing a master volume control. Touching the screen really would be annoying. A USB volume knob sounds awesome, or maybe a numerical keyboard pad that can have alternative shortcuts?

  9. #9
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    Tercel96,

    Yes the Clarion does increase the output voltage, or act as a "line Driver." Input/Output specs below:

    Maximum Output Level: 7V RMS
    Input Sensitivity: 50mV–4V RMS

    I found the specs here:

    www.cardomain.com/item/CLAEQS746

    Clarion has been in the car audio business a long time and they make some OEM or "factory" car stereos. A few of the absolute best Car Audio CD Stereos or "Head Units" are the Clarion DRX-9255 and the newer DRZ-9255. Clarion also makes the high-end McIntosh Head Units.

    The David Navone products that were linked to above are also excellent. He supplies a great deal of audio and power "conversion" and "adapter" solutions for car audio. Very good stuff. Check them out. There's an adapter or converter for almost every imaginable car audio system.

    Just do a Google search for the Model Numbers of the products you are interested in and you will most likely find one of the Links will have all the specs.

    It's crazy, but you can usually find a more complete listing of the specs for an item from a retailer's web site (or on eBay) than what you can find on the actual manufacturer's site.

    A good place to read a lot of detailed specs and see good photos of car and home audio/video products is on www.crutchfield.com . eBay is another place that will usually list a lot of specs and info for the products.

    Look for "input sensitivity" which will list the range of the Voltage level that an audio product can accept (e.g. to match to your sound card's output.) And look for the "Maximum Output Voltage" to see how much Voltage the EQ/Preamp/Line Driver will put out or "line drive." A lower output impedance is always better, too. A 55-Ohm output impedance is an Excellent number, but this type of rating is usually only on the best of the best.

    The better EQs/Preamps/Line Drivers will have an adjustable output voltage so you can match it to the input sensitivity of your amp or other audio components.

    dee213,

    The "Griffin PowerMate Silver USB Volume Control" is a slick looking device. Do a Google search for "USB Volume Control" to see other products...but I quickly found the Griffin here:

    www.smalldog.com/product/39847/ss

    Jahntassa,

    The Alpine ERA-G320 looks great and has a lot of other great features, too! It has a separate display (looks like a detachable stereo faceplate) and a remote brain or box that you can mount near your amps. It looks like the "poor man's" Alpine PXA-H701, LOL, but it's a nice unit. It would be more expensive than the other solutions here, unless you found a great deal on eBay, etc.

    Hope this helps.

  10. #10
    FLAC Jahntassa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbfoto View Post
    Jahntassa,

    The Alpine ERA-G320 looks great and has a lot of other great features, too! It has a separate display (looks like a detachable stereo faceplate) and a remote brain or box that you can mount near your amps. It looks like the "poor man's" Alpine PXA-H701, LOL, but it's a nice unit. It would be more expensive than the other solutions here, unless you found a great deal on eBay, etc.

    Hope this helps.
    Got mine for $300 two years ago plus another $50 for the controller extension cable. Great deal? Dunno. But I sold an old Alpine CD-GPS system for about the same amount. I didn't have the cables for the GPS, so I saw it as a good 'trade'.

    I was more including my unit as an EQ that can be used well as a volume control. It definitely does it's job, though! 14-band EQ (or 7 band with surround effects, or 7-band seperate front/rear EQs) for the price was pretty good.

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