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  • High end signal processing options

    I'm about to order my mac mini for a head unit-less install. I have been researching my options for signal processing. I have thought about using the optical output directly to an external DAC/EQ/crossover, but I haven't found any viable options. Another consideration was to use either a usb or firewire sound card, preferably with RCA outputs. If needed, an S/PDIF output and a DAC can be used, and if that is necessary, I will keep my Denon DCT-A100 and use the digital coax input on it. I considered the M-Audio firewire 410, but that just doesn't seem like the best choice for this install because of the lack of RCA outputs. Again, I'm looking for high-end components only, this is going in a true SQ setup.

    Any suggestions?

  • #2
    There are cheap enough converters to go from 1/8" to RCA connectors in the case of the Firewire 410.

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    • #3
      im doing that at the moment..

      eventually I will make my own 1/4" connections that go TR ~> RCA The adapters make the connectors way too long.

      I run windows, use audiomulch, and a variety of VST plugins. currently i have 3 EQ's (overall tonality and dual mono setup), time delays, phase adjustments, and crossovers. Im running a 3 way front stage with mono rear fill and mono subwoofer. one note of caution.. the maudio 410 does make noise during startup until it initializes.. then it makes a huge pop. make sure you have your amps turn on AFTER it has already initialized.
      Carputer HIFI car stereo project!
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      • #4
        Originally posted by miztahsparklez View Post
        The adapters make the connectors way too long.


        Originally posted by miztahsparklez View Post
        one note of caution.. the maudio 410 does make noise during startup until it initializes.. then it makes a huge pop. make sure you have your amps turn on AFTER it has already initialized.
        I use the turn on delay feature on the Carnetix 2140.

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        • #5
          Just buy a toslink converter box (you can get them that convert to SPDIF and/or AES) and pick the DAC of your choice.

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          • #6
            Startup issue of the 410 noted.

            I'm aware that there are ways of going from 1/4" to RCA, but the adapters/cables usually aren't very high quality. The adapter would also make it stick out way too much, which I don't want. This would probably be my last option.

            What I'm really looking for is crossover/equalizer/DAC combo with an optical input. Is there such a thing, or should I just go for an external sound card to a normal crossover/eq combo?

            Edit: Actually, let me eat my words here. I've been doing a little research on direct 1/4" to RCA interconnects and I'm actually finding some pretty high end cables. This option could possibly work out for me.

            Edit 2: While I'm at it, does anyone know the preout voltage on either the Native Instruments Audio Kontrol 1 or the M-Audio Firewire 410, and does anyone have personal experience with both? I'm torn between the two, leaning towards the Native Instruments unit.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Machinehead View Post




              I use the turn on delay feature on the Carnetix 2140.
              im using a p1900.. the delay isnt long enough to overcome the pop. you would need at least 30 seconds..


              second (to thejimbo), dont waste your money on expensive cables. thats only what they are.. expensive. id get decent cables.. but honestly the difference it would make is negligible. those adapters also work perfectly fine. i do caution that the really cheap ones have a higher defect/inconsistency rate. if you can, try to build your own.


              preouts on the maudio is VERY low. however, i did not have to use a line driver with my amps (alpine PDX). i also have ZERO noise issues (besides the initial turn on pop, which i have already partially fixed with a manual switch).

              If you plan to use digital output, dont waste your money on a sound card unless your current sound card does not have an output. i believe alpine or one of the other big stereo companies make processing units that use optical inputs. the only downside to this is that they are very expensive... and i mean VERY.

              the Native Instruments card you listed is USB based and only has 4 channel output. thats great if you only have 4 speakers.... the m-audio has 8 channels. be sure that any card you pick is ASIO capable if you plan to do on computer processing.
              Carputer HIFI car stereo project!
              [XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX-]
              95% COMPLETE! FINALIZING SOFTWARE PLATFORM!

              [XXXXXX--------------]
              30% COMPLETE! CAPUTER Version 2.0! Hardware FAILING! CARPUTER BLEW UP! AND NOW MONITOR TOO! WTF?!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by thejimbo View Post
                I'm aware that there are ways of going from 1/4" to RCA, but the adapters/cables usually aren't very high quality. The adapter would also make it stick out way too much, which I don't want. This would probably be my last option.
                No, you missed the point - there are high end (bit accurate) devices such as this that wouldn't require anything but a 5v supply to operate flawlessly and would allow you to use any cable you like.

                Besides, once you get the impedance right, the 'quality' of the digital cable has zero audible difference.

                What I'm really looking for is crossover/equalizer/DAC combo with an optical input. Is there such a thing, or should I just go for an external sound card to a normal crossover/eq combo?
                I guess you need to define what 'high end' means to you. Back when I worked at a shop that did serious SQ cars, it wasn't uncommon to incorporate high end studio/home audio gear into the system as few, if any, auto manufacturers build stuff anywhere near that quality. I figured you were going to get a nice studio quality DAC and incorporate that into your rig - there's zero chance any auto DAC will sound as good as your typical studio DAC.

                Will you hear that difference in your car? Doubtful.

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                • #9
                  Just FYI, I'm running the following audiopath and am quite happy with it:

                  PC-> MAUDIO FW 410 -> JL CL-RLC -> SYMBILINK -> CH1/2 ZAPCO DC360.4 -> TWEETS
                  PC-> MAUDIO FW 410 -> JL CL-RLC -> SYMBILINK -> CH3/4 ZAPCO DC360.4 -> MIDS
                  PC-> MAUDIO FW 410 -> JL CL-RLC -> SYMBILINK -> CH1+2 ZAPCO DC500.1 -> WOOFER

                  I use JL CL-RLC as line drivers and remote gain control for each stage.
                  The Zapco symbilink also boosts the signal, so by the time it hits the amp I'm at around 10V preout.

                  I've still got 2 ch on the fw410 if i want a 3 way front stage down the line.

                  I have a carnetix 2140 and can configure the amp 'remote on' for quite a long time, I have mine set to 100s, so no thump.

                  It's good to isolate your audio away from usb, such as fw, i've got 10 other usb devices hogging usb bandwidth.

                  I think with the fw410 you get the most flexiblity and possibilties.....
                  Sig, smig...

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                  • #10
                    I didn't mean extreme high-end cables, it's just that I had only seen cheap radio shack level 1/4" to rca adapters. These are the cables that I think I will be using.

                    I think I'll just use the 410 directly to the amps. Exactly how low is the output voltage?

                    Also, can I do all processing functions such as eq, crossover, etc, on the mac with the 410?

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                    • #11
                      its about no more than a volt if i remember correctly. but again, i have ZERO noise (no hiss or anything) my sound card is also within a few feet of the amps, so id say theres hardly any chance for noise to get in. (previously i was using balanced line drivers and such, but i figured id try it out without a line driver this time)

                      im also using those cheap adapters. believe it or not, the ratshack adapters are some of the higher quality ones.
                      Carputer HIFI car stereo project!
                      [XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX-]
                      95% COMPLETE! FINALIZING SOFTWARE PLATFORM!

                      [XXXXXX--------------]
                      30% COMPLETE! CAPUTER Version 2.0! Hardware FAILING! CARPUTER BLEW UP! AND NOW MONITOR TOO! WTF?!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I ordered adapters from Partsexpress, they're on the cheap side, but I don't get any noise either.

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