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  • car audio optical amplifiers

    i have been trying to figure out how to get a great sound and ease of use out of my future car pc setup.
    from what i understand there are few ways to do this.

    sound card>preamp>car amplifier
    usb DAC>preamp>amplifier
    usb soundcard>preamp>amplifier
    sound card with optical output>optical amplifier

    and then i need software to set the crossover and adjust eq from the PC

    for example alpine MRA-F350 5 channel digital amp with optical input.
    is that same type of optical input or is the standart for car audio optical different from normal PC optical.
    can i just hook up that amp to an audio card with optical out or a DAC?

    or does it only work with alpine units with optical out?
    since it has crosover and EQ buit in.



    from what i understand the less processing you have in line the better sound.
    so then the best sound quality would be an optical output going directly to the amplifier and then second shoice would be a USB DAC >preamp > car amplifier.




    the cheapest way to get great sound would be?

  • #2
    I am using a PC with onboard sound and optical SPDIF out (optical is nice for eliminating ground loops!) into the Alpine PXA-H701/RUX-C701 setup which has optical inputs and then ananlog outputs for each channel (it can do things like 2xStereo for rear speakers, or even DTS/Dolby is you can output it) then I take the analog outs to my amps (components on JL 300/4) and it seems to work pretty well.

    The way I did it is like:
    PC/Sound Card --(Optical)--> Alpine DSP --(RCA)--> Amps
    I opted to use the DSP at all because i wanted some 'hard' volume control and as far as car-based stuff goes that alpine setup is pretty slick, it really does some cool stuff (but it is pretty damn expensive too!)

    I guess you can really do it any way you want, you listed a few ways. See what kind of budget you are on and then you can probably start figuring out the road to take.

    As far as your question about the amp with optical input it will for sure support PCM (2-channel audio, prtty standard), and MAYBE support DTS/Dolby (Multi channel), you will need to check specs!

    Also remember that an amp with digital inputs just has a DAC inside of it and STILL does the AMP stage in analog just like any other amp.
    -James
    Car: 2004 GTI VR6 24v Turbo 2.8L, GT35R, 630cc, Unitronic, Bosch 044, etc, etc..
    Main PC:i7 [email protected], 6GB DDR3, MSI X-58 Pro-E, Win 7 x64 RTM, Scythe Mugen2, 128GB G.Skill Falcon, 2x ATI4850 512MB Crossfire, Auzentech X-Fi Forte, Grado Labs SR-80

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    • #3
      anyone else can help me out?

      can a car PC be made to output a PCM wav sound thru usb so i can connect it to the headunit's usb?

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      • #4
        man this is killing me .

        the fact that i am good at both car audio and pcs.

        im a car audio installer and i have built many pcs.

        yet i cant figure this thing out for some reason.


        is there still no options for people that want digital signal all the way to the amplifier?

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        • #5
          A year and a half, and you still haven't made any decisions?

          the cheapest way to get great sound would be?
          You have to compromise somewhere.

          can a car PC be made to output a PCM wav sound thru usb so i can connect it to the headunit's usb?
          No. The USB port in a headunit are meant to read media files only, not accept audio signals.

          is there still no options for people that want digital signal all the way to the amplifier?
          There are amps w/ built-in DSPs, but you're still running the signal through RCAs.
          This JBL unit is one example.
          Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
          How about the Wiki?



          Under normal circumstances, a signature would go here.

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          • #6
            The only amp I've seen with a digital input is the Alpine MRA-F350. If you want digital all the way to the amp, then get a soundcard that has a toslink output and send it directly to the Alpine.
            1999 Mercury Grand Marquis GS with: ASRock E350M1 w/4GB RAM, 80GB Intel SSD, Opus DCX3.120, Visteon HD Radio + HDR-USB, PL-18N wifi, OBDLink Scan Tool, BTA6210 BT, BU-353, Win 7 Ultimate, CF 4.0, Alpine MRP-F240 + MRP-T220, RF Punch 1572s, Kicker 8" Comp.

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            • #7
              so the alpine amps use standard toslink optical connection not something specific for alpine units?

              i had a chance of getting one for super cheap but wasnt sure if it would work.


              well theres another reason i didnt do anything for a year. i was hoping that a FLAC capable headunit would be available by now. but it seems like it would never be available.



              right now i am considering the PC in my del sol.

              i have a kac-x4r digital amp with onboard crossover,eq, and time alignment.
              with a 2009 crv OEM radio.

              i was thinking of having the PC separate and running through aux input but thats kinda ghetto.

              maybe an EQ in dash so that i have a volume control and then fron EQ RCA to the amp since there isnt many options i guess im gonna have to settle for that.

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              • #8
                Here's a link to the F350 manual.

                http://a248.e.akamai.net/pix.crutchf...500MRAF350.PDF
                1999 Mercury Grand Marquis GS with: ASRock E350M1 w/4GB RAM, 80GB Intel SSD, Opus DCX3.120, Visteon HD Radio + HDR-USB, PL-18N wifi, OBDLink Scan Tool, BTA6210 BT, BU-353, Win 7 Ultimate, CF 4.0, Alpine MRP-F240 + MRP-T220, RF Punch 1572s, Kicker 8" Comp.

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                • #9
                  Did ya' try this thread link?-----------> http://www.mp3car.com/car-audio-faq/...inputs-12.html

                  I use (Made in USA) old school Hifonics Amps the GenX line with Zed brand internal componets(5,000 watts RMS NOT PEAK!) all into a 4ohm load. I don't know if a 5.1 is what your looking for and I don't know if these newer ones are any good compared to Zed stuff. Good luck.

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                  • #10
                    so it seems theres not that many available
                    alpine, and those few listed in the other thread.
                    if we could only have an amp witn USB input.
                    i think its time to retire the RCA cables.
                    all these companies need to get up to speed and stop calling their very limited units "digital media players"
                    because the only digital media they play is 3 audio formats and ipod...
                    try selling a portable media player like that, or even a home media server that only supports 3 formats.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by raverx3m View Post
                      if we could only have an amp witn USB input.
                      Considering it takes additional hardware, as well as software to decode audio over USB, I don't think that amp manufacturers are too keen on implementing something like this.

                      i think its time to retire the RCA cables.
                      all these companies need to get up to speed and stop calling their very limited units "digital media players"
                      because the only digital media they play is 3 audio formats and ipod...
                      try selling a portable media player like that, or even a home media server that only supports 3 formats.
                      So put the pressure to the car audio companies.
                      Let us know how that works out for you.
                      Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
                      How about the Wiki?



                      Under normal circumstances, a signature would go here.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by raverx3m View Post
                        so it seems theres not that many available
                        alpine, and those few listed in the other thread.
                        if we could only have an amp witn USB input.
                        i think its time to retire the RCA cables.
                        all these companies need to get up to speed and stop calling their very limited units "digital media players"
                        because the only digital media they play is 3 audio formats and ipod...
                        try selling a portable media player like that, or even a home media server that only supports 3 formats.
                        People that want optical and USB input on a car receiver are in the minority. Head units don't ship with USB out, and they don't ship with optical out, because quite frankly there is no need to do it. Why would a company spend money to put features on an amplifier (or a head unit) that no one would ever use?
                        1999 Mercury Grand Marquis GS with: ASRock E350M1 w/4GB RAM, 80GB Intel SSD, Opus DCX3.120, Visteon HD Radio + HDR-USB, PL-18N wifi, OBDLink Scan Tool, BTA6210 BT, BU-353, Win 7 Ultimate, CF 4.0, Alpine MRP-F240 + MRP-T220, RF Punch 1572s, Kicker 8" Comp.

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                        • #13
                          In order to utilize digital all the way to the amp, then there needs to be multi-channel amps. The problem is decoding this is more expensive than simple analog electronics and is pointless in 2/4 channels amps. It's easy and cheap to get a clean analog signal using differential inputs.

                          So what standard should be adopted?

                          Digital coax/toslink?

                          HDMI?

                          Networked audio?

                          My vote would be networked audio, but again the cost is >>> analog, and unless car audio decides to adopt this new standard in headunits, amps and processors don't count on it. Good concept for distributed sound and pro-audio, but expensive solution for car audio and not many people require > 8 channels let alone good sound to go with it, so the market is a tiny tiny sliver. No cash cow.

                          Why such the necessity for digital? Scared into thinking analog is bad? Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see a complete shift but I am a minority and am not willing to pay the high costs for something that doesn't have a huge benefit.

                          The car environment (acoustics) is going to cause much more harm to your "signal" than any electronics. If you are so worried about keeping your signal in tact, then you should be doing the audio processing on the PC (or none at all-don't wreck that "perfect" signal), then there is one D/A conversion in the soundcard as it converts and sends the signal directly to the amp. Done. What difference does it make if it's done at the amp or the source?
                          Last edited by durwood; 03-31-2011, 08:51 AM.
                          System always under construction


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                          • #14
                            the reason i mentioned USB is because it allows the components to be controlled from another unit while still beeing able to send digital audio signal.
                            optical, is able to do both in some cases.



                            i mean think about it.

                            USB is a standard in home/PC and many other systems( dont need to invent that)
                            there are USB dacs available on the market already( dont need to invent that either)
                            car stereos use USB for external devices already

                            car stereo converts digital signal to analog to send it out to RCAs or internal amp.



                            and now we also have digital amps as well with their own sound processing.

                            i mean given that engineers would have to kinda work and make something new instead of rearanging faceplates like they been doing last few years.

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                            • #15
                              as has been said already, there just isn't a demand for it.

                              i have spent some time in almost all of my local car audio shops-- all of them make a living on 'bumpin' subwoofer systems, car alarms, and cheap decks that do one or two things the factory deck didn't, or because the factory deck died.. and when a customer plays a audio track, most of the equipment is used with files that the end user downloaded from itunes at 128kb/s quality...

                              with the advent of music downloading, everyone is pushing the audio quality/size ratio because to most people, large audio files are useless when "this other file is 1/2 the size, and sounds the same"... so from the largest group-- the general consumer level--they don't feel high end audio interfaces are needed..

                              so at this time, the people that desire higher-end audio need to pay to play....
                              My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
                              "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


                              next project? subaru brz
                              carpc undecided

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