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Why does (MY) audio suck?

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  • Why does (MY) audio suck?

    I have an 01 Stratus R/T with the Infinity setup which I removed. The vehicle currently has:

    2x Infinity Kappa 692.9i (6x9 in the rear)
    2x Infinity Kappa 63.9i (6.75 in front)
    JL 300/4 powering all 4 speakers.
    Intel D945GCLF2D board with with Realtek "HD" audio
    Using Winamp w/ RideRunner.

    Here's my history:

    Got the car used, and while the stock Infinity system sounded great for the most part (I didn't want to modify the car), the front 6.5s didn't work, I think due to a faulty amp, but everything else was good. So I went and put in stuff from my last car, the JL amp and some MB Quart speakers, ran new wiring, etc and put in my old Kenwood eXcelon headunit, and 2 twelves. Everything sounded great in my opinion.

    I got the bug to build a CarPC and so I did, I kept everything the same, sans headunit. I was using a Via Epia EN-15000G with onboard RealTek sound and I didn't think it sounded that bad, but it wasn't as great as with real stereo equipment as I'd find out in the future.

    Last summer I upgraded to the Infinity speakers and dropped the subs. The speakers naturally sounded a little better, but nothing I was excited about. Sometime into fall I was having issues with the CarPC so I took everything out and drove around with my MP3 player hooked up to my amp. My Kenwood headunit managed to stop working so the only other option was the factory stereo, but I didn't want to put the factory amp/speakers in. Eventually I got a line level converter and hooked it to the stock stereo and to the aftermarket JL amp and it sounded GREAT. The radio only had two EQ settings, bass and treble, and the 6x9s really thumped. The sound was clear, crisp, I was pretty happy with everything, except the fact that it was a stock stereo with little else to offer.

    3 weeks ago I started having issues with the stock radio, and eventually it died. I was going to put my CarPC back in since it was the cheapest option at the time (free) until the motherboard died. I began pricing new boards/headunits/used factory radios and found the new Intel board for cheap so I decided its time to go with the CarPC route again. One of the driving factors behind this was I was given a creative USB soundcard with RCAs out. I figured this would have to sound far better than anything onboard. Alas, I was wrong.

    The USB audio was horrible, the sound was weak, any of Winamps EQ settings barely carried through. I was really irked, so for giggles I tried the onboard sound, and it was much better than the USB audio, however it's still not great.

    So my questions are:

    Why is the audio quality so different among all the different output options?
    Is the Winamp EQ really a piece of crap?
    Can I really ever get great sounding audio out of PC for a car?
    Am I doing something wrong?
    Is there a cheap solution?
    Should I can the CarPC and buy a used factory stereo?
    (technical question) Why does the audio sound great indoors when connected to a PC speaker setup?


    I've heard people mention to get a physical EQ which I've considered but I've thought garbage in, garbage out. If the quality from the PC is crappy to begin with then it wont sound much better going through an EQ.

    Unfortunately I'm not a sound expert, and reading up on the forums sometimes confuses me. I do know what sounds good and what doesn't in my car and have experience installing/wiring things so I'm not totally hopeless. At this point I can live with how it sounds, I guess. But I'll be wanting more and certainly not getting the most out of my speakers.

  • #2
    I think the first question I'd ask you is:

    Is it possible to explain what exactly is bad about it? What's the difference that you hear? Is it tinny? Does it sound like it's mushy and everything blurs together? Sound quality is too crisp? Too quiet? Not enough bass? Too much bass? Not enough treble? Not enough adjustments?

    There are people (at least one I know of) on this forum that compete in IASCA-type events using a CarPC. I'll leave the troubleshooting and whatnot to the pros, I just wanted to try to clarify what the exact problem is. Maybe it's a simple technical fix, maybe it's a perception. Either way, I'm sure an answer will be found. I'd maybe guess the line level output from the PC isn't nearly as high as aftermarket radios. I remember you used to be able to buy a line level amplifier that would increase the voltage of your RCA outputs, creating a better S/N ratio, but I don't know if there's still any around, or if they'd help. I don't think I've heard anyone mention them on this forum before. Might be a reason for that. /shrug

    Cheers,

    Kris
    How Much Horsepower Can I have And Still Go To Heaven?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Superduck View Post
      I think the first question I'd ask you is:

      Is it possible to explain what exactly is bad about it? What's the difference that you hear? Is it tinny? Does it sound like it's mushy and everything blurs together? Sound quality is too crisp? Too quiet? Not enough bass? Too much bass? Not enough treble? Not enough adjustments?

      There are people (at least one I know of) on this forum that compete in IASCA-type events using a CarPC. I'll leave the troubleshooting and whatnot to the pros, I just wanted to try to clarify what the exact problem is. Maybe it's a simple technical fix, maybe it's a perception. Either way, I'm sure an answer will be found. I'd maybe guess the line level output from the PC isn't nearly as high as aftermarket radios. I remember you used to be able to buy a line level amplifier that would increase the voltage of your RCA outputs, creating a better S/N ratio, but I don't know if there's still any around, or if they'd help. I don't think I've heard anyone mention them on this forum before. Might be a reason for that. /shrug

      Cheers,

      Kris
      Good question and I apologize for not clarifying that in the original post. With the USB audio solution the sound was weak, muffled almost. There was virtually no noticeable treble/bass. I guess maybe it sounded a little compressed. With the onboard sound, it's less compressed, but the bass/treble and other EQ options are still lacking. Cranking the volume up doesn't help much. I guess for the same volume level output (db if you want to be technical) the amount of bass/treble is far lacking. You can only boost the Winamp EQ so much, but that doesn't seem to help too much before it starts to distort. It's not as crisp as with the original setup I had, not tinny either. Bland is a good description.

      Comment


      • #4
        i can immideiatly think of a couple of things that would cause this--first, the bitrate that all your songs are saved as-- the lower the number, the worse the sound (i once ripped all my cd's to 64kbps to try to save space,the audio sounded like speakers behind tinfoil, underwater..) the second thing, what are your crossovers set to? and what other audio devices have you tried?

        i think that you might be ripping all your cd's at too low of a bitrate(or downloading ones taht are too low bitrate...) and that is the cause, not the computer.
        My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
        "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


        next project? subaru brz
        carpc undecided

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by soundman98 View Post
          i can immideiatly think of a couple of things that would cause this--first, the bitrate that all your songs are saved as-- the lower the number, the worse the sound (i once ripped all my cd's to 64kbps to try to save space,the audio sounded like speakers behind tinfoil, underwater..) the second thing, what are your crossovers set to? and what other audio devices have you tried?

          i think that you might be ripping all your cd's at too low of a bitrate(or downloading ones taht are too low bitrate...) and that is the cause, not the computer.
          I try to keep my collection at at least 192 CBR. Some are high quality VBR now though. Essentially though the collection is the same as what is on my MP3 player and it sounds fine. Storage has never been an issue so I never opted for low quality.

          I don't think I have any cross overs enabled on the amp, I'd have to check. Not sure if it makes huge difference given that the audio was great with the factory/aftermarket headunits.

          Comment


          • #6
            Does Winamp's EQ effect 4 channel audio?

            Comment


            • #7
              hmm, great to see the bitrate isn't the problem...
              i really am only using 2 channel audio(no reason for 4 channel output), and use other programs for audio processing, but so far, the only difference in sound quality between my carputer, and a standard headunit, has been the output volume-- i will soon be fixing this with some jl audio cl-rlc preamps...

              after seeing 'ambiophonics' in one of the recent threads though, it gave me a idea-- some of the newer boards have sound effects that are enabled from the factory(i have never understood why you would want it to sound like you are in a tunnel/under water...)-- try to see if these are what is causing it.
              My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
              "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


              next project? subaru brz
              carpc undecided

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by soundman98 View Post
                hmm, great to see the bitrate isn't the problem...
                i really am only using 2 channel audio(no reason for 4 channel output), and use other programs for audio processing, but so far, the only difference in sound quality between my carputer, and a standard headunit, has been the output volume-- i will soon be fixing this with some jl audio cl-rlc preamps...

                after seeing 'ambiophonics' in one of the recent threads though, it gave me a idea-- some of the newer boards have sound effects that are enabled from the factory(i have never understood why you would want it to sound like you are in a tunnel/under water...)-- try to see if these are what is causing it.
                Are you using a splitter for the 2 channel audio to feed into all 4 speakers? (assuming you have 4 speakers in the car)

                Comment


                • #9
                  check for the latest audio drivers, use the intel website not realtek's. reason is, these onboard audio solutions are really just jacks- the audio processing is all done via CPU. i noticed, that even win7 installed my realtek HD drivers by itself, the sound was unacceptable, it sounded like **** to be honest and i couldnt figure out why. once i installed the drivers myself, the clarity cleared right up and it seems to be fine now. they do specify you get the drivers from the mainboard manufacturer- likely since audio is all done in software you need to make sure the mainboard is handling it properly.

                  you CAN get great sound from onboard adudio- all it needs to send is a clear signal, its your amplifiers and speakers that really change the way it sounds.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'm running the on-board HD sound out of an Acer Aspire One into the auxiliary input of a Pioneer head unit then through a DSP then onto the amps, and I gotta tell you the sound quality is absolutely amazing, as in competition good. Provide as much info as you can to describe the issues you are having and how it all is connected, there must be a simple explanation as to why it sounds so bad because it shouldn't.
                    Data911 M5 system
                    RR and iGo8PC
                    Pioneer head unit
                    Pioneer DEQ-9200 digital processor
                    Phoenix gold line drivers
                    Ultimate and Visonik amplifiers
                    SMT 3 way active front stage
                    Digital Design sub woofers
                    3 runs of 0 gauge wire

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by thewizard View Post
                      I'm running the on-board HD sound out of an Acer Aspire One into the auxiliary input of a Pioneer head unit then through a DSP then onto the amps, and I gotta tell you the sound quality is absolutely amazing, as in competition good. Provide as much info as you can to describe the issues you are having and how it all is connected, there must be a simple explanation as to why it sounds so bad because it shouldn't.
                      I had pondered this, had my old head unit still worked. It had aux-in. I thought about getting a cheap headunit with aux-in then but wasn't sure if it was feasible.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        i think your problem is either with the AMP, or the way your sound driver loads. if you are hibernating, try mute and unmute when you resume. i had a similar situation, but making the system reload the driver after resume fixed it. if this problem apears from cold PC start then i recommend to rewire all audio wires and double check your AMP with another sound device.
                        ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
                        2007 Toyota Tundra Double Cab SR5
                        >"Say what you mean and mean what you say"<

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think the problem is the output level from your soundcard. Try adjusting the input level on your amp. If that doesn't help then try using the speaker level inputs on your amp. If it still isn't satisfactory then you need to pick up a preamplifier, something like the Line Driver from AudioControl which will increase the voltage from your PC outputs so that your Amplifier gets a strong and clean signal.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Small update:

                            I changed some config settings in Winamp's in_mp3.dll, and tweaked some EQ settings in the Realtek dashboard and things sound a lot better than they did, not quite as good as I hoped for but it's something I'll get used to shortly.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by nitefallz View Post
                              Are you using a splitter for the 2 channel audio to feed into all 4 speakers? (assuming you have 4 speakers in the car)

                              no, i am using a sound card with rca outputs, and am running a 3-way active setup(each speaker is crossed over in the computer).

                              but, i have used a creative usb card that i had to use the 1/8 stereo-to-rca adapters on, and had no noticable difference in sound quality from my current setup.
                              My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
                              "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


                              next project? subaru brz
                              carpc undecided

                              Comment

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