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Current "preferred audio setup"?

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  • Current "preferred audio setup"?

    Long...LONG time lurker - firs post.

    I've done some searching and read about ways to hook up your PC to an AMP, but all of the posts were pretty old and had some pros/cons - I'm hoping some of the Cons are fixed now.

    What sound card is preferred for a high-quality system? I love good sounding setups. In some of the searches that I've done, it was mentioned that a lot of software couldn't do fade/balance very easily with some cards.

    Is using the spdif to a DAC still a consideration or does it not matter with todays 5.1 compatible sound cards?


  • #2
    What is good to me may not be good to you.
    Personally, I use onboard sound and am very happy with it. Others prefer a more audiophile setup.
    I suggest at least trying the onboad sound to see if it is adequate for you and your tastes. If no, then look into another setup.

    And as far as I know SPDIF to a DAC is a very good solution.
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?

    Under normal circumstances, a signature would go here.


    • #3
      You mean SPDIF > DAC > Amp? Or what about just getting an amp with SPDIF in and a motherboard that has SPDIF out?


      • #4
        They have amps now that have SPDIF in?? Doesn't it seem like that would be a good way to go? How would you control fade/balance/sub volume like that?

        I was thinking SPDIF > DAC > AMP but as I look around, I don't see any DACs that support 5.1 for the car. Yes, I just threw that in there - I'd like 5.1

        My first thought was to just use a good 5.1 sound card and break out to RCAs - then I'd have front/rear Center/Sub but I just don't want to go through all this to be dissapointed in the sound quality.

        I am trying to decide between just getting a Kenwood DD HU or building a PC. I've been in IT for years, and am a tech geek, so the PC appeals to me, but I wouldn't do it "just" to do it if I had to give up a lot of flexability over an HU.

        Thanks for the help guys.


        • #5


          • #6
            Can you actually hear the difference between a high quality DAC using RCA out and pure digital SPDIF? Especially in the car where you have to deal with road noise and such.


            • #7
              I don't know. I have a bad habit of over-doing stuff though. I hate doing things twice.

              That Alpine unit looks pretty nice but it's not cheap and I would still need to buy the $250 controller to be able to change anything on the fly. That makes for an $800 add-on and an extra in-dash piece just to get 5.1.

              From these answers (which I appreciate!) spawn more questions

              1 - By going out of my way to buy the above Alpine processor to achieve surround - am I shooting myself in the foot in anyway as far as quality music playback is concerned?

              2 - Is digital out of a soundcard/MB purely 1s and 0s? I mean, at that point, has it been processed at all? If I was going to buy an expensive processor like this Alpine, it seems like I would want an unmodified signal going to it to begin with, or whats the point, right?

              3 - Basically, any frontend that I use will only control the volume then, right? I'd do the rest from the controller/processor?



              • #8
                Are my posts being moderated? I posted earlier and it never showed up.


                • #9
                  I'll try to remember what I typed..

                  The Alpine processor above looks nice but I have to get a controller as well and the prices really add up. I'd like to avoid the extra piece of equipment (controller) in the dash as well.

                  Still - IF I went with the Alpine setup above, do current frontends allow fade/balance/volume control of the SPDIF out? Could I get away from the Alipine controller or would that defeat part of the advantage to having the Alpine processor? Also, will the digital audio exiting the SPDIF already have been processed somehow or can you get a "raw" signal?

                  Thanks guys - just trying to make sure I've got my thinking straight before I throw some $ at this thing


                  • #10
                    yes Jeff, you post was moderated, but has now been approved. You may have a word in there that the filter picked up on.
                    Never let the truth get in the way of a good story


                    • #11
                      Cool - thanks I tried to remember what I typed before but the original looks better


                      • #12
                        I ran a Creative X-Fi sound card in my first CarPC. I'm building a miniITX based computer now and am wondering similarly about if the onboard Realtek sound will be adequate or if I'll want the X-Fi. Only testing will tell.

                        Personally, I use a 4.1 setup. The PC is configured as 5.1, so that my subs get dedicated LFE and I can fade from front to rear. It's also nice because you can change the crossover frequency and bass boost in software (well I could with the Creative control panel anyway). For movies I use AC3Filter and configure my system as 4.1, and it mixes the center channel in with the left and right front speakers.

                        Some say 5.1 is overkill, it really just depends on what you want to do with your system. There's nothing wrong with wanting to experience movies when you're stopped somewhere. Especially since you don't have to worry about your neighbors getting upset.


                        • #13
                          check your current motherboard setup for the DAC bit rate.. I had hard time choosing for customers until I found out most were only 16bit. I quickly upgraded to a less CPU intense Creative PCMCIA Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Notebook Sound Card they make them PCI also. Anyhow if your onboard is 24bit then Live sound and theatre quality will not be a problem.. my opinion on onboard DAC amps.. I would suggest staying away.. why send a digital signal to a amp and have the amp do the processing.. you have a computer that is more than capable of ensuring the quality is there if setup properly. keep the amp to do what a amp is made to do. The best theory would be filter clean and then boost with amp, pc is so deverse in digitizing and sharpening the signal that the amp would be like a tube radio in comparison. save money on features of a amp that you already have.
                          I installed 5 amps all running @fullrange setting the preamps are filtered frequences through the PC Before it hits the amp. I feel theres less signal degragation the amp can do it's part without hampering the 24bit quality.
                          Center channel is L+, R+
                          from Mobiltronix.
                          Did it.. Done it... now I got to keep the neighbors kids away!!