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  • Best possible sound quality

    All,

    First I want to say that I have been reading this forum for a little bit and have so far found it incredibly useful and has answered many of my questions. With that said, my question is as follows...

    One of the primary design goals of my project is to have the BEST possible sound quality but have no head unit and instead only use a sound card. The reason for this is the fact that I can modify so many of the properties on the sound card through an interface I am writing and not have to be concerned with a headunit. My real question lies in getting the sound from the sound card to the amps. I would like to use the SoundBlaster Audigy 2ZS Platinum Pro which has center, front, rear and sub (through 1/8" connectors). I am planning on using a multiple amp configuration so would I still get good sound quality by using 1/8" to RCA converters and sending them to a line driver and then to the amps?

    Thanks!

    AdamR

  • #2
    I doubt you'll need a line driver with the Audigy 2ZS.. I have that going to my amps w/out a line driver, although some people live and die by line drivers, so who knows.. It depends how high your noise floor is to begin with.

    Get that down first.. Make sure your grounds are GOOD.. REALLY GOOD! That way, no power will run into your computer/speaker setup, and you won't get any "white noise" or background noise aka "line noise".

    Also, if your computer is in the trunk with your amps, then you will be lucky, like me. You will have really short RCA runs (mine are 2.5') so you won't get much interference. You can buy double-shielded high-resolution video RCA cable, too, and put some good ends on it. It will take a while, but that RCA cable is good stuff.

    Or you could do optical out, but I doubt that would help much.

    Get good components up front, and align them properly for best imaging. To get good imaging, talk to the guys on caraudioforum.com, and get the speakers in phase at your ears. You may need a time delay device (sound blaster has this in their software!!) or you may need to swap the phase on one side of speakers in your car.

    Get a good crossover to kill some spikes and resonances, and get the signal really flat, for good sq..

    I hope this helps. Let us know how it turns out!

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks so much for your insight! Its always nice to talk to someone who has a lot of respect for SQ and doesnt just settle for the sound of a 96k MP3 As far as the line driver goes, I know the SB only outputs 1-2V on the lines which makes me REALLY want to get that closer to 4 or 7. You mentioned the optical out on the SB. This was something I was thinking of but the optical out would have all 6 audio channels muxed on that line, right? And wouldnt it have to have an external decoder like an Alpine PXA?

      Again, thank you for your response!

      AdamR

      Originally posted by sq_geek
      I doubt you'll need a line driver with the Audigy 2ZS.. I have that going to my amps w/out a line driver, although some people live and die by line drivers, so who knows.. It depends how high your noise floor is to begin with.

      Get that down first.. Make sure your grounds are GOOD.. REALLY GOOD! That way, no power will run into your computer/speaker setup, and you won't get any "white noise" or background noise aka "line noise".

      Also, if your computer is in the trunk with your amps, then you will be lucky, like me. You will have really short RCA runs (mine are 2.5') so you won't get much interference. You can buy double-shielded high-resolution video RCA cable, too, and put some good ends on it. It will take a while, but that RCA cable is good stuff.

      Or you could do optical out, but I doubt that would help much.

      Get good components up front, and align them properly for best imaging. To get good imaging, talk to the guys on caraudioforum.com, and get the speakers in phase at your ears. You may need a time delay device (sound blaster has this in their software!!) or you may need to swap the phase on one side of speakers in your car.

      Get a good crossover to kill some spikes and resonances, and get the signal really flat, for good sq..

      I hope this helps. Let us know how it turns out!

      Comment


      • #4
        The best solultion is to use an Alpine processor!!!The PXAs you mentioned??
        It depends on you and wether you can afford it!!!
        I am waiting for my PXA-H900 to arrive!!!
        With this processor you can avoid passive systems!!!
        Each speaker has it's own channel with digital crosoovers for best SQ!!!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by sq_geek
          Get that down first.. Make sure your grounds are GOOD.. REALLY GOOD! That way, no power will run into your computer/speaker setup, and you won't get any "white noise" or background noise aka "line noise".
          How to get ground really good?


          Also, if your computer is in the trunk with your amps, then you will be lucky, like me. You will have really short RCA runs (mine are 2.5') so you won't get much interference. You can buy double-shielded high-resolution video RCA cable, too, and put some good ends on it. It will take a while, but that RCA cable is good stuff.
          Or you take a USB soundcard like Audigy II NX to the trunk. That way u'll have short RCA runs too. I prever USB nyway, no interference from sound-unfriendly PC environment.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by DjBac
            The best solultion is to use an Alpine processor!!!The PXAs you mentioned??
            It depends on you and wether you can afford it!!!
            I am waiting for my PXA-H900 to arrive!!!
            With this processor you can avoid passive systems!!!
            Each speaker has it's own channel with digital crosoovers for best SQ!!!!
            As nice as that processor is, it really hurts some of the design goals of the system. While it does a great job of decoding, I lose volume control (because of the digital feed) which is a big consideration. How is your system going to be setup with the H900?

            AdamR

            Comment


            • #7
              Bump Any more comments on this? Would it even be possible to use the digital out to feed anything w/o having a processor? Also, do you know of any SDKs that would allow me to control EQ parameters from within my application for the card.

              Thanks

              AdamR

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ST43LTH
                Bump Any more comments on this? Would it even be possible to use the digital out to feed anything w/o having a processor? Also, do you know of any SDKs that would allow me to control EQ parameters from within my application for the card.

                Thanks

                AdamR

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ST43LTH
                  Hi,

                  Dont bother with a digital processor, unless you are using SPDIF out on the soundcard and have a digital amp (with processor). All you will be doing is going:

                  Analog -> Digital Proc -> Analog

                  You would be better off eq'in using software or hardware eq.

                  Line drivers are ok, but generally not needed - if you amps good and can take low level inputs then keep your RCA's short and go direct from the soundcard to the amps.

                  Regards

                  John

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    BTW monster cable makes some high end stereo 1/8" mini to RCA cables for going from your sound card to your amp. Check their site as there are two models.

                    moltensilver

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Do you think I will still get the best possible audio quality after going from a mini plug to RCAs?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well, I read avsforum.com (a huge home theater and HT computer site) and there has been many debates regarding the SQ (sound quality) issues of mini plugs.

                        Basically from what I have gathered is that the analog travels on the the PCB of the sound card in an even smaller copper lead than the mini plug therefore the mini plug itself does not affect SQ.

                        The main issue of 1/8" mini plugs is the durablity of unpatching and repatching which should not be an issue in a car computer.

                        For more info I suggest you do a search on the avsforums particularly in the HTPC section.

                        moltensilver

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          If you truly are looking for the best possible sound quality the issue is with the D/A conversion.

                          Perhaps your best bet would be to move to a studio quality sound card or any sound card with digital outs (spdif, toslink, ADAT ) and do the digital to analog D/A conversion with an external unit similar to how high end recording studios do (ie protools converters etc). Then run the balanced analog outputs of the converter to the amp (if possible)(I am unsure if car audio amps have balanced +4 dBu inputs) .

                          Even if you can't find an amp with balanced inputs you can still run unbalanced from the converter to the amp and receive the benefits of studio grade D/A conversion.
                          Apogee is one of the many companies the produce high end D/A and A/D converters.

                          I consider myself an expert in computer recording and recording studio technology
                          If you need more info pm or post on this thread and I will help you out.

                          moltensilver

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The PXA-H900's come witha RS232 computer connection. Does anyone know what all is possible to control through this connection? That opens up a lot of possibilities for that DSP if you have the MAD $$ for that kind of item.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              thanks all for your comments

                              If I use an outboard DAC, then I lose the onboard Dolby decoding, correct? The only way I could get around this would be to keep the line digital as long as possible and then to an outboard DAC/Decoder, correct?

                              This intrigues me but I lose a lot of the functionality that I desired and that is the ability to control EQ and decoding settings with my software.

                              Thanks

                              AdamR

                              Comment

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