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Newbie, but surely no Dummie

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  • Newbie, but surely no Dummie

    Hello all, and greetings from the windy city.

    First off, i'd like to say that this is my first post. Second, i would like to comment on the quality of this discussion board. It is THE most informative board i have EVER come accross. Please keep it up for the betterment of the digital music era. The world needs more discussion.

    With that out of the way, I was just browsing the internet today, and I am no stranger to the mp3 world out fact, i have my own ftp server dedicated to it. (msg me if you are interested.) I found my way to this site, and I flipped. Great concept. Lets do it. however, since i am practical, i thought i would post my thoughts and ideas (having never tried a carmp3 player at all)...i do have alot of questions which i'm sure can be answered with the vast knowledge that is contained in the members of this AWESOME site.

    so here goes:

    1) After seeing the rather interesting post by Alien8 and his beginners guide type discussion, I happen to agree with some of his points such as a removable drive bay. first because of the temperature damage that a hard drive can suffer, and also because even if your friends dont have a removable drive, you can just put one in your home machine, load up napster and get whatever you want anyway. The drawback is that i dont have the slightest clue as to what kind of shock a removable drive would take without being damaged.

    2) why do 32 bit cards only output at 16 bit?...reason i ask is i'm a network consultant, and i have a very indepth knowledge of computers and such, and i've never heard such a thing.

    3) also, there is nothing wrong with ethernet as even if it takes 30s extra to boot up, who cares. it takes my car 30s to warm up before i drive it anyway, but i'm sure i will not want the wait time once i start building. although ethernet can have its advantages. the filetransfer option is excellent, but with certain programs, you can remotely administer a pc via a network connection such as pcanywhere, or my favorite is RAdmin 1.11 (search for it on way, if you have no monitor, you can work on the pc as if you were sitting in front of it. but i guess networking isnt for the average hobbyist either, so i could see both ways.

    4) even though this is very far planned for the future, i plan to write my own OS dedicated to mulitmedia and remote administration...perhaps i should call it Rynix *laugh*

    5) as for lcd screens, i'm very much in the gray area when it comes to this. basically, i think i will just break down and buy a 6" or 8" lcd screen that has a standard rca input, and use my old trident providea 9685 card to output to it. if anyone has a really indepth detailed faq or page on the different types of screens to look at, please feel free to post here. also, do i read this right?: winamp will output to a little tiny lcd screen that is like 4x20 or 2x20?.....or do you just need specific software or a plugin.....i'm a very visual person, so i'm going to need SOME way to either control the computer or at least view the songs playing and my playlist.

    6) eventually, i'm going to incorporate the following items, but for now, i'm going to just concentrate on getting digital music into my car hehe:

    a) DVD/VCD playability
    b) psx player or equivelant
    c) definitely a Global Positioning Device (its a car, and its a computer why the ***** not)
    d) perhaps if i have ENOUGH time on my hands, i'll install multiple systems, and have them networked to play internetworked can never get enough of mech 3 or quake 3

    7) I hear everyone talking about these IRMan controllers, however no one seems to talk about exactly what they do. What do they look like, how do they interface with the OS? etc...

    finally, i would just like to list the components i plan to use, and if anyone has comments, why hell, this is a discussion board, and i'm no dictator, so please feel free to discuss your points of view.

    List of components:

    Motherboard: generic at motherboard with built in sound and video if possible
    CPU: 200mhz MMX or more chip (i'm sure that a slower one would do, but if i'm going to upgrade the features later, i suppose i should start with enough backing to get it going.
    Memory: pc100mhz SDRAM 32 minimum, however i'll probably use 64 as thats the optimal ammount for windows 9x
    Operating system: windows nt workstation would be my os of choice as the 9x system seems to crash on me alot more, but given the low use of the computer, i think that 9x would suffice just fine (plus windows nt would require you to logon every time you booted the system unless you found a decent work around)
    sound card: if not built into the motherboard, probably a 32 or 64 bit card creative labs style (you cant beat a sound blaster)
    input: looks like everyone just uses a standard keypad to control winamp, so i guess i'll go with that unless the IRMan has benefits i can afford.
    i will most likely install a NIC just for the remote administration capability, and i have a dozen of them laying around the house anyway.
    hard drive: standard ide hard drive. i've got a 4 gigger laying here with no home...looks like it does now.
    no floppy, no cdrom (after initial install that is)

    well, there you have it. i'm sure i'll get flamed forsuch a long post, but i do hope that this post will give some REAL bonified newbies answers to some questions that botehred me....i look forward to your replies.

    Later all, and if anyone here is from Chicago, let me know. maybe we could get together and talk ideas.

    [email protected]

  • #2

    Only 2 comments on this one:

    1. Watch the heat, especially if you trunk mount the box. I had a 233 MMX and had to deal w/ MAJOR heat issues. I live in Houston and the trunk on a summer day can hit 130 degrees. I switched out the system /w a 166 and added 2 muffin fans. Everything is well now.

    2. NT is going to be a pig for the OS, not unless you are going to login every time you want to hear tunes. I would try to run Win95 OSR2 (for the FAT32 support) stripped down to the bone. I choose 95 because of the huge support of Winamp and plugins available. I have not had any problems so far. I have been running it for approx. 6 months w/out any glitches. From a cold boot to hearing music is less than 30 seconds.

    C' Ya


    • #3
      Wow, What can I say, for a first post you have surely given the longest one.
      Ill try to answer some of your questions

      1) I am going with a removable hard Drive. because, I want to be able to plug it into a freinds PC and take/give him songs (I have 15 gig's of mp3's on my main PC I switch like 2 gig a day with the 6 gig in the carm I cant have 2 gig on a 10 baseT).

      2)I dunno

      3)Well I dont want to sit in my car waiting for it to boot (also look at #1)

      4)I kinda run a operating system made for JUST mp3's, change the shell in system.ini to winamp instead of explorer. I even changed the splash screen to Show ZyKlon-X Winamp. I would like to see a O/S designed for carmp3's though.

      5)I chose the cheap way (B/W 9" with ISA controller) But, from what you need (GPS, DVD and big size) get the <A HREF=">COMTECH 12.1 Inch COLOR TFT LCD Monitor</A>. It is great for GPS and should be good fer DVD.

      6)look at #5

      7)IRman is a device that through a plugin with winamp contolles winamp. Just as a normal remote control would do to a TV. It can fast forward, next song and even shut down your PC <A HREF=""> IRman</A>

      I guess that covers it
      but you got think about a power supply
      there are three ways I know of

      1) Inverter
      2) Dc-Dc
      3) Laptop Power Supply

      ZyKlon X


      • #4
        Don't have much time (at work) but I'll touch on one of your questions:

        The reason sound cards advertise to be "32 bit" or "64 bit (which is a joke)" and yet only output 16 bit audio is for several reasons:

        1) Standard CD Audio isn't 32 bit, it's 16 bit stereo audio. Outputting this at 32 bits wouldn't do anything to the quality; the data would have to be converted to 32 bits, but it would sound the same since it is really 16 bits.

        2) PCI slots are 32-bit slots, meaning that they can transfer data in 32 bit words (4 bytes at a time in a single chunk). This helps speed up the data transfer to/from the sound processor and the motherboard since it can send twice as much data at one time as the ISA bus can. Plus the clock speed is higher, so it's even faster. Using a PCI interface for audio and video can reduce data bottlenecking and increase system performance.

        3) MP3 audio is 16 bit stereo audio, similar to CD audio. Again, even if 32 bits were available it wouldn't do anything to the sound quality or clarity -- you cannot "make up" detail that's not in the data to begin with.

        Some studio grade sound cards are 24 or even 32 bit cards. These have TRUE 24/32 bit architecture because they can not only play audio sampled at 24/32 bits, but they can record it at 24/32 as well. Cards such as these are used to record original material and it is actually downconverted to 16 bits when it comes time to write it to CD format.

        Things that DO affect sound quality are actually the quality of the components on the card itself. A good sound card will have high quality ADCs and DACs (Analog to digital and digital to analog converters) to sample and playback audio with. A good DSP chip also helps promote better sound quality.
        Cheap sound cards have cheap DSPs in them, and this can affect the sound quality. The DSP is responsible for mixing functions, bass and treble controls, as well as EQ functions (on some advanced cards with this capability) and spatial effects like Creative's "Environental Audio" on their Live! cards. Most of these effects are accomplished by adding echo, and delays to the sound output to simulate various environments (i.e. the acoustics of a cave vs. a theatre, etc.)

        Board design is another critical component in what makes a good sound card. Look for large ground planes and quality connectors and solder connections. Many cheap boards aren't designed properly and are designed with analog and digital signals running too close together. This is part of what causes strange noises to get in the audio path. Try turning up your computer speakers to a high volume and use your computer. You will notice as you do certain things like move the mouse or run programs that paint large areas of the screen, that you will hear buzzing, whining and other "digital" noises. This is caused by digital signals interfering with the analog audio signals. I have a studio grade card that actually has a metal case soldered to front and back of the board that covers the entire analog section of the card! It results in very clean, studio-quality audio.

        Most of the newer motherboards on the market today have decent onboard audio built-in to them. Some even have actual Creative Labs Soundblaster chips on them. Crystal sound and ESS are other common sound chipset manufacturers.

        Another thing you will have to watch out for is electrical noise in the car getting into the audio output path. I had a terrible 60Hz buzzing in my system that I couldn't figure out; turns out I had a ground loop problem. When I ran a solid ground to the case of my computer, the buzzing went completely away.

        Back to work (ack, my post was huge!)

        Jason Johnson
        Yorba Linda, California

        MPC Phase IV - *** PENDING ***


        • #5
          Ah... another chicagoland brother! Whoo Hoo!

          Well, if everything goes well I should have my player built and running this weekend. I have an external scsi drive case that I am going to squeeze everything into. Once I have it together I will get a web site up and break out the plans. The idea of my player is to be 100% transportable similar to a pull-out head unit. I am planning on mounting the 20x4 lcd right in the case with everything else... we will see how that goes!
          With the temps dropping and the snow flying I don't want to chance the drive crapping on me but I am going to start testing it little by little.

          Keep up the great posts!


          • #6
            That makes three of us chicago mp3 freaks. i am actually in a suburb, im me or email me if you guys wanna talk

            [email protected]



            • #7
              It's nice to see you have given everything a lot of thought before posting. =)

              1) Hard drives are most succeptible to shock while they are out of their happy home which is solidly mounted in a case. Quantum has a whole white paper on it here:

              2) Been answered...

              3) I run Linux and have an ftp server set up on it so I just plug the player into my hub and log in. Don't hafta hook up any monitors or keyboards or anything. Keeps hard drive safe, and its simple.

              4) hehe, you are very ambitious =)

              5) Different strokes for different folks, but I love my 4x20 display. Real easy to see important info. When you are driving, you don't have time for too much more info than that...

              6) Guess that means you want/need a color LCD display...

              7) IRman is simply a device that interperets IR signals from the IR remote control of your choice and sends it to the serial port. There are plugins for it that allow you to control winamp. I am writing my own code for it to work in Linux with my own software.

              I guess the only thing I would add: Have you considered Linux for the OS? I could talk all about it here but I have it fairly well documented on my web site:


              Enjoy and Good Luck!



              • #8
                Yes I am in the southern burbs as well. Once I everything together maybe we can compare notes!


                • #9
                  i'll just answer your second question cause i dont think it has been answered correctly.
                  these sound cards are not 32 /64 "bit" cards.
                  what this refers to is their ability to handle 32 or 64 voices at once. it is a midi thing,the ability to play more sounds at once makes writing tunes with more parts,ie instruments, orchestra sounds like an orchestra .the output of the card will still be 16 bit. as for 24/32 bit cards this is what the "DSP" chip on the card can handle. it is so that you can run echo,reverb algorythms on 16 bit data etc,it gives overhead so when you multiplying ,adding etc data streams together information isnt lost..
                  even so it is still converted to a 16 bit stream output which goes to the dac and then onboard amp then to socket...

                  Volvo V40 Phase 2 2002. T4 turbo upgrade.... currently no mp3 or carputer..... researching options


                  • #10
                    PCI is a 32-bit BUS, so the sound card mfgr can put "32 bit" on the box and still be valid. It still outputs 16 bits of audio though...

                    FYI: Voices aren't the same as the data bus width. Voices are how many simultaneous "channels" that the sound card can play simultaneously. These are mixed and sent out to a 16 bit DAC and then to onboard amps and out the connectors on the back.

                    My studio card has true 24 bit DACs on board, so it is TRUE 24 bit sound. You can't say that every sound card is 16 bits... old SB cards were only 8 bit, most cards are 16 bit, but some high-grade cards are 24 bits.

                    DVD audio and dolby digital are 24+ bits also, at 96+ KHz

                    Jason Johnson
                    Yorba Linda, California

                    MPC Phase IV - *** PENDING ***


                    • #11
                      OK, so I was a little off... the DACs are only 20 bits, but my point still stands.

                      Here's a URL if you need convincing:



                      Jason Johnson
                      Yorba Linda, California

                      MPC Phase IV - *** PENDING ***


                      • #12
                        i didnt mention bus width because that is a given and cant be changed.its part of the pci bus spec its part of the mother board.voices and channels are different... midi has 16 channels on which it sends data. polyphony is the number of voices a card can output at once.most people cant afford or need top of the line sound cards .the math involved in computing effects and mixing of 16 bit stero data can cause overflow problems in the registers of the processing chips which is why they have 20 or more bits available but the final sound output will be down to 16 bits on 99% of cards.... and who would use a 8 bit card for mp3's? or an isa bus with 16 bit data bus......
                        Volvo V40 Phase 2 2002. T4 turbo upgrade.... currently no mp3 or carputer..... researching options


                        • #13
                          had a look at that card,not your average soundcard at it says its a professional audiocard.not sure what they are worth in the us but are really expensive here in oz!!!
                          Volvo V40 Phase 2 2002. T4 turbo upgrade.... currently no mp3 or carputer..... researching options


                          • #14
                            Mine was given to me by a friend and I believe it costs around $2000.00 US or something absurd.

                            For car MP3 I recommend sticking with a good old SoundBlaster.

                            Jason Johnson
                            Yorba Linda, California

                            MPC Phase IV - *** PENDING ***


                            • #15
                              Just to add to the sound card debate..

                              Both jjohnson and spud are right.. some cards are advertised as 32 bit etc.. this is the bus speed like jjohnson said.. although when it comes to an AWE32, AWE64, PCI128 etc.. the numbers at the end are not specifying the bus transfer rate but rather the number of midi voices onboard..