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  • the BEST pc audio setup?

    opps, i ment to make a ? instead of a !. since this is my first post ever i thought i should make it here because in the end its all about cruisin with the tunes. i have been surfing this forum for a week or two for hours at a time. first a little background about me and my cars.... i just finished swaping a lt1 t56 into a 87 mazda rx7. she has all the tricks of the trade put into her so far. aluminum ds, aluminum rad, coilover suspension, adj struts/shocks, camber/caster plates, enkie rims, hooker supercomp short ceramic headers, 2-1/2 duel exhaust w/balance tube, high flow cats, borla muff, ds safety loop, deltec coil pack sys, autometer ultra-lite guages set in carbon fiber, etc etc etc.

    now my original idea was just to put in an eclipse dvd/nav system but then with my love of computers decided to look into the idea of a carputer. i didnt even know there was one, let alone this many geeks (like myself) out there. nice. when im not working on my million projects i usually just chill out online playing counterstrike or unreal. anywayz it comes to this... has anyone successfully installed a laptop into their car without the alternator whine and a sound quality that they can actully say is better than a top of the line hu?

    heres what i dont have:
    laptop hooked up to dockstation. dock permantly mounted and powered by Carnetix CNX-P2140. lilliput7". here is a big problem, sound. usb creative sound split to my amps.
    and what i have:
    amps= one is 1000x2 and other is 500x4 w/ crossovers both soundstream. speakers are all alpine 4" front, 5-1/4 rear. 12"fosgate subs.

    pro carputer ideas:
    obd1 direct hook up with programs
    gps
    harddrive full of music and videos
    custom touch to the car
    laptop=lower power consumption

    con carputer ideas:
    i dont usually use gps in a fun race car
    power consumption
    poor sound quality reported in forums from electrical interferance


    so those are my thoughts. is there anyone who is completely happy with their laptop setups sound quality? ive heard over and over about ground loops and inverters making hums, harddrives makin sounds, thumps from delayd amp turn-ons, etc. i understand there will be bugs to work out. BUT IS THERE ANYONE HAPPY WITH THEIR COMPLETE SYSTEM? HAS ANYONE WORKED OUT THE BUGS? if so, what system did you piece together? i am starting to get discouraged
    *disclaimer* NOOBIE ON THE LOOSE

  • #2
    Originally posted by paradillusional View Post
    has anyone successfully installed a laptop into their car without the alternator whine and a sound quality that they can actully say is better than a top of the line hu?
    though not a laptop, I think a quick look at my sig will answer your questions here.

    There's a few of us on here who are true audiophiles. I truely believe that set-up correctly, a CarPC can outperform all but the highest of end head units.

    heres what i dont have:
    laptop hooked up to dockstation. dock permantly mounted and powered by Carnetix CNX-P2140. lilliput7". here is a big problem, sound. usb creative sound split to my amps.
    and what i have:
    amps= one is 1000x2 and other is 500x4 w/ crossovers both soundstream. speakers are all alpine 4" front, 5-1/4 rear. 12"fosgate subs.
    Given your set-up, you're not going to have a problem getting the most out of your equipment with currently avaliable products and techniques.

    poor sound quality reported in forums from electrical interferance
    Here's the deal on that. Many installers out there know where they can and can't cut corners on an install. Let's face it. Every shop has to cut corners on every install, else they wouldn't be in business. They have to save money and time where they can.

    The deal with CarPCs is that you cannot cut corners. CarPCs force you to use proper install techniques. 9 times out of 10, if someone has noise, it's because their install techniques were not absolutely spot on.
    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!

    Comment


    • #3
      btw - I edited your title...hope it's ok
      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!

      Comment


      • #4
        first off, nice car

        second; what you want is very doable but even if you opted to go with a high end head unit you won't notice that much of an improvement. you have 4" fronts and 5.25" rears in stock locations (i assume) so you must have the fronts x-overed pretty high while the rear speakers and subs are pulling your soundstage way behind you.

        If you want the BEST pc audio setup then first you should address your component choice and location (add kickpods with a larger bass/midbass driver if possible) Then look into which soundcard or dac you are going to be using. if your amps have a healthy x-over and passthroughs then you can go with a simple 2 chan dac (usb dac?) and have a nice sounding system. If you had the money then you could always opt for the alpine pxa-h701 processor for an easy solution for great sq.

        and to be honest, i wouldn't go with the laptop route. the most proven system has been the low power via boards. This will give you the least amount of problems while having the biggest support community on the net.
        New System in progress:
        M10k
        Phaze TD1500 ~> Dynaudio MD130
        Phaze TD1500 ~> Seas g18rnx/p
        Zapco Ref 500.1 ~ 12" tc-9
        Behringer DCX2496 ~ Envision Electronics psu
        Transflective Xenarc

        My Car Pc Install
        My Boat Pc worklog

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by paradillusional View Post
          so those are my thoughts. is there anyone who is completely happy with their laptop setups sound quality? ive heard over and over about ground loops and inverters making hums, harddrives makin sounds, thumps from delayd amp turn-ons, etc. i understand there will be bugs to work out. BUT IS THERE ANYONE HAPPY WITH THEIR COMPLETE SYSTEM? HAS ANYONE WORKED OUT THE BUGS? if so, what system did you piece together? i am starting to get discouraged
          Tip 1:
          If you want great sound with a laptop use an external card. Hint there is a sticky here with plenty of options. For great sound look at the pro cards, not the consumer cards.

          Tip 2:
          There are plenty of ways to avoid turn on noise, if its there there is always a way to get rid of it, even if it requires relays. Trust me on this. I have an old amp that thumps/clicks on turn on even with the greatest of all headunits. Relays at the speaker output of the amp level take care of this. (It's sure fire way of getting rid of turn on noise)

          Tip 3:
          Ground loops can be avoided with proper wiring. No cutting corners like Red said.

          Tip 4:
          This is a hobby and anyone serious about sound quality is never satisfied. The computer only amplifies this addiction. Yes I am happy I put a computer in my car, satisfied it works, but there are alwyas upgrades. From your first post you should understand that. If you don't want another hobby then don't do it.

          Added: Three years of anguish and satisfaction with a carpc.
          System always under construction


          Comment


          • #6
            Ground loops can be avoided with proper wiring. No cutting corners like Red said
            i will do a search on this but what do you mean? high grade insulated cables run separete from power lines. keep power inverters or high electric fields away from computer and audio lines. some of the basics. but are there any "tricks of the trade" that are known? like use only (blank)cable in (blank)feet with (blank)blahblahblah? or only use this type of dac or...?

            i know that most of these types of questions are opinionated but would like to get the cleanest system possible the first time out.

            originally i wanted to go this route just so i can build a computer and place into my car. but then i started thinkin about how a docking station with a laptop might be more funtional and multicar applicable. i have never owned a laptop and thought i would never. i dislike the slow small buggers.

            first off, nice car
            ty ty. its been a labor of luv hate as all hobbies are.
            *disclaimer* NOOBIE ON THE LOOSE

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by paradillusional View Post
              but are there any "tricks of the trade" that are known? like use only (blank)cable in (blank)feet with (blank)blahblahblah? or only use this type of dac or...?
              Good install techniques might be considered a trick of hte trade...lol

              proper crimping techniques, clear away any paint for the grounds, 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!

              Comment


              • #8
                i will do a search on this but what do you mean? high grade insulated cables run separete from power lines. keep power inverters or high electric fields away from computer and audio lines. some of the basics. but are there any "tricks of the trade" that are known? like use only (blank)cable in (blank)feet with (blank)blahblahblah? or only use this type of dac or...?
                Here are another few things that help avoid noise
                -Avoid Invertors
                -Avoid ground loops by grounding all electronic audio equipment including car PC PSU to a common point.
                -If you must run audio cables over/by power lines, do it in a perpendicular way, don't run them parallel to each other. I believe the rule of thumb for parallel runs is a separation distance of at least >18", but it depends on how much current is being drawn with relationship to magnetic fields...

                Other ways ot avoid noise in your audio system
                -High Voltage Outputs from the source lowers the noise floor (i.e. line dirvers at the source.)
                -Balanced Outputs from source eliminate nosie by canceling it out
                -Optical/Coax Digital output directly to an AMP or outboard processor.

                The easiest way to do great sound is the Alpine PXA-H701 with optical IN. There are other processors but no one does it easier than ALpine. It's tried and true. For a list of processors and external soundcards, look in the CAR FAQs
                System always under construction


                Comment


                • #9
                  The easiest way to do great sound is the Alpine PXA-H701 with optical IN
                  that is an expensive piece. so your running a soundcard -> optical cable -> pxa-h701 -> rca cables -> amps -> speakerwire -> speaker?
                  curious cause when i look up pxa-h701 it say it needs a controller. are you using a computer program to control it? i dont know if i am willing to drop that kinda money. i would rather invest in a nicer laptop and a pimp soundcard. maybe. nothing is ruled out yet.
                  *disclaimer* NOOBIE ON THE LOOSE

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by RedGTiVR6 View Post
                    Good install techniques might be considered a trick of hte trade...lol

                    proper crimping techniques, clear away any paint for the grounds, etc.

                    Find your car's common ground (in my car it is under the rear seat bench) and ground everything here - and I mean everything - including your display.

                    Tap power in only two places - battery and one switched power tap for power-on triggering. Split everything off the one main power tap using distribution blocks and dedicated fuse panel(s)/bus-bars. Check marine supply stores for these.

                    Find a way to optically isolate the computer's digital signal from the analog side of things (amps etc.) for as long as possible. Keep the analog runs as short as possible.

                    I use an HDA Xplosion sound card with Toslink out to a Clarion DVH-940 DSP optical-in which feeds 3' Kimber Kable RCA interconnects to the amps. I get PLII, DTS Connect, Dolby Digital (AC3), PCM pass-through to the DSP at 24bit/96kHz. Awesome sound that is as good as/better than most high-end HUs.

                    Here's my fuse panel and that is fed from a distribution block and the bus bar which is switched power from a cargo 12V outlet:

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Speaker connections, etc. Spade connectors for fuse distribution, etc.

                      Soldering everything isn't always an option...

                      Originally posted by StaggRLee View Post
                      Find your car's common ground (in my car it is under the rear seat bench) and ground everything here - and I mean everything - including your display.
                      Or, do what we've done and run a ground all the way back to your battery then to a ground distribution...

                      Here's my fuse panel and bus-bar that is fed from a distribution block:

                      Looks oddly familiar...

                      From my old set-up, cleaned up a good deal now, will have pics up soon:

                      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!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by paradillusional View Post
                        that is an expensive piece. so your running a soundcard -> optical cable -> pxa-h701 -> rca cables -> amps -> speakerwire -> speaker?
                        curious cause when i look up pxa-h701 it say it needs a controller. are you using a computer program to control it? i dont know if i am willing to drop that kinda money. i would rather invest in a nicer laptop and a pimp soundcard. maybe. nothing is ruled out yet.
                        I'd do a bit of searching on here about the 701. The controller issue has nearly been beat into the ground...lol

                        You have to have it to tune, but it doesn't have to be perminately connected. It's a single din height and only like an inch deep.

                        Your other option is to research the tuning thread that we've started...because nothing else will get you close t what the Alpine offers in terms of tuning....and if you're looking for the best audio...you MUST consider the tuning...else you're wasting your time.
                        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!

                        Comment


                        • #13


                          You did say the BEST right? Althought "the best" is purely an opinion. If you think that is expensive, I could easily show you even more ways to make it BETTER, but at what cost? You could easily spend thousands on the processor part alone, not to mention a couple of thou on a really nice DAC.
                          System always under construction


                          Comment


                          • #14


                            man - there are times when I truely wish I didn't know any better...I think about the money I would have saved, the other things I would have done....hahaha

                            but I don't think I'd ever give it up.
                            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!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              ya you get to a point when you just have to say ok, that's perfect. I was plenty happy with old setup. THen my buddy talked me into the H701. Then I was happy with that, then I see this software thread, then the dac thread...then the gears start spinning again. I have to convince myself everyday my amps are fine, they don't need upgrading...

                              It helps if you have someone to keep you somewhat grounded
                              System always under construction


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