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Thread: A lot of questions: An Audiophile Computer in the making?

  1. #1
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    A lot of questions: An Audiophile Computer in the making?

    A big hello to everyone reading this thread. It's been a dream since a very very long time to have a CARputer, and this was almost impossible till just last year when I got a new car and 'did it up' with some serious car audio equipment.
    I have always thought to myself, "A good source is THE key to car audio."
    You can have a $4000 setup in the car, but it still might sound like crap if it's not getting the correct signal (quality of the data and strength of signal, both.) THIS is exactly the reason why i intend to have a carputer. EXPRESSLY FOR AUDIO.
    To feed some serious equipment like Alpine SPX-17PRO components upfront (fed by a DLS reference series RA20), Morel Tempo 6*9 Rear fills (fed by a JBL GT5-S644) and a JBL W12 GTi (fed 1250W of RMS power by a Clarion DPX11551) in a ported enclosure tuned to 36 hz. All this was powered by a VERY SPECIAL head unit, the Eclipse CD7200MKII with 8V preouts and a copper chassis (along with it's deadhead nature) The Eclipse is one of the best head units one can ever own and it has a lot of wizardry built into it, to please to most serious audiophiles. WHY did I decide to make the change? I need something that does LOSSLESS. Period.
    That's the PRIMARY reason why I am about to commence my first ever car PC this week, and I have a HUGE cache of questions that I must ask, since I am still in the dark about quite a few things about Carputers.

    I intend to use the following configuration:
    --Intel Core i3 530 + Msi H55 E33 motherboard
    --M4 ATX power supply for 250W of power
    --Onboard audio (Realtek ALC889) / Creative XFi Fatal1ty Pro Xtreme Gamer sound card (whichever is easy to tune)

    My questions.
    1. HOW am I going to feed 3 amplifiers from my soundcard? What interface will I use and HOW will my soundcard know it has to output the lower frequencies to one amplifier, feed the fronts with one of them and feed the signal for the rears to the third? I am very confused about this.
    2. What will be the strength of the Preout voltage signal from the sound card?
    3. Time Alignment: Now, this is my LARGEST worry. I intend to time align my speakers. That is the most important step in tuning my system, and the audio just doesn't sound the same without TA. HOW am I going to go ahead with the time alignment bit if I use a NON creative soundcard? I have read the Wiki about the ASIO etc. But I still can't get the hang of HOW my soundcard is going to know which signal it is feeding to which amplifier, so only that signal can be modified. I am highly confused. So much so, that every time this tuning bit comes to mind, a small amount of depression creeps in!
    4. I intend to use Centrafuse for the interface. Will it place undue load on the CPU and cause the audio to stutter? Should I get an interface which consumes lesser resources?
    5. I intend to play a lot of lossless audio. Which player would you recommend for the same?
    6. I am very nervous about how it is going to sound. If I tune it well, CAN I BEAT MY $600 head unit in terms of sound quality, imaging and soundstage?


    An avid request. I have read through this forum numerous times. I STILL can't find the stuff that pertains to my setup and my soundcard. Please do not ask me to and search. I have tried my best. This is the reason why I have put up this thread. I am really really keen to have the best sound from my car. I think a CARputer is the way to go. I just the correct amount of guidance, and the best people to give it are on this forum.
    Thanks in advance. I have many more questions, but I am somehow at a loss for words right now (writer's block, LOL)

  2. #2
    Neither darque nor pervert DarquePervert's Avatar
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    Try reading the FAQs. Link is in my signature.

    1 - Answered in the FAQs.

    2 - If output voltage is a concern, I'd look into either line drivers or an EQ capable of increasing the voltage to a satisfactory level.

    3 - Beyond my knowledge.

    4 - I would check into whether Centrafuse will make use of ASIO with the integrated audio player. I don't know if it will or not.
    As far as CPU load, I would think for CPU-based audio processing, you'd want to use as much of the CPU cycles as possible for the audio processing. Would CF use too many CPU cycles for you and what you want? Only you can answer that.

    5 - I would think any player than supports ASIO will be suitable. Foobar is a popular choice, but I know it is not the only player available with ASIO support.

    6 - Ask RedGTIVR6. Maybe she'll show you her trophy collection.
    Have you looked in the FAQ yet?
    How about the Wiki?



    Under normal circumstances, a signature would go here.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert View Post
    Try reading the FAQs. Link is in my signature.
    Oh man. I didn't see that damn FAQ section!!

    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert View Post
    2 - If output voltage is a concern, I'd look into either line drivers or an EQ capable of increasing the voltage to a satisfactory level.
    Would the Asus Xonar D2X be having ENOUGH preout voltage to rival most headunits?

    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert View Post
    4 - I would check into whether Centrafuse will make use of ASIO with the integrated audio player. I don't know if it will or not.
    As far as CPU load, I would think for CPU-based audio processing, you'd want to use as much of the CPU cycles as possible for the audio processing. Would CF use too many CPU cycles for you and what you want? Only you can answer that.
    If i have a PCI E sound card, I think majority of the sound processing would be taken up by it. So I guess we are safe here.


    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert View Post
    5 - I would think any player than supports ASIO will be suitable. Foobar is a popular choice, but I know it is not the only player available with ASIO support.
    Cheers!!

    Quote Originally Posted by DarquePervert View Post
    6 - Ask RedGTIVR6. Maybe she'll show you her trophy collection.
    Those are words of encouragement! Thank you so much for answering my queries. Can someone give me an indepth thing on TA and Xover Settings (question 3 please)

    Cheers!

  4. #4
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    i haven't use the zonar, but if memory serves right, other audio minded members have used it, and claim that it puts out a decent preout voltage(though, i have not seen a card yet that puts out 8v...)

    i actually have never met anyone with any of the i-series processors, so have no idea how well they work-- though personally, i use a dual core pentium, ride runner, and audio mulch, and am at about 10% cpu usage normally


    question 3:

    the whole "audio processing on a computer" is something that i have found that i can talk about till i am blue in the face-- i never understood it until i downloaded a demo of console and started playing with it. the 2 most popular programs seem to be Console(www.console.jp) and audio mulch(www.audiomulch.com) (there are other programs, and other methods, these are what i use, and what most other members use-- most of these programs are primarily designed for processing the audio from live concerts-- so feel fre to locate your own program that works better) both are vst hosts-- ie: they act as a server for small plugins called vst plugins and the vst plugins are what allows you to manipulate all of the audio, and send it to a specific port on the sound card.

    i don't use time alignment yet, so can't help you much with that.

    if you haven't run into it already, there is a thread on diymobileaudio-- search for something along the lines of "help me build a carputer to beat the bitone!" there is a lot of good info to glean from that thread on making the transition to carputer audio processing from the head unit world.

    4: hard to tell-- each plugin takes cpu power(your only limit for plugins is cpu power-- meaning you could have only 1 or a 1,000), so if you have too many plugins running, they could also cause the audio to stutter.

    5: foobar seems to be popular for lossless audio, and is claimed to be less lossy then winamp, but i had trouble setting it up, so can't help much there.

    a quick note about asio--both console, and audiomulch only allow one asio driver to be setup in them as both the input and output-- so i have not been able to get a asio driver for a media player, and a asio driver for my sound card to work at the same time.

    but, if you later find that i have a couple screws loose, and/or was doing something wrong, please correct me-- i would really like to use asio drivers...

    6: another search that can be helpful is looking for redgtiv6's threads on bitperfect audio--she did a lot of work on her system to get it to sound great, so i think you might even be able to look up some of her other threads around here.(to be honest, the article on her car in Car Audio mag really got me thinking about running carputer controlled audio in my car...i had the idea for a carputer before that, and browsed these forums, but had no idea i could control the audio until seeing the article)

    one major difference, and what really sealed the deal for me was the flexibility-for instance: i could run a 32band parametric eq, ta, and crossover--for each speaker! even the bitone could have a hard time matching that... and if my setup couldn't keep up, i can upgrade to a better processor...

  5. #5
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    i haven't use the zonar, but if memory serves right, other audio minded members have used it, and claim that it puts out a decent preout voltage(though, i have not seen a card yet that puts out 8v...)
    that sounds like good news. I don't need 8V per se. I just need a GOOD signal, void of any noise.

    i actually have never met anyone with any of the i-series processors, so have no idea how well they work-- though personally, i use a dual core pentium, ride runner, and audio mulch, and am at about 10% cpu usage normally
    Yea, but the i3 consumes as much power as a dual core setup. So I don't see harm in having the latest tech onboard

    the whole "audio processing on a computer" is something that i have found that i can talk about till i am blue in the face-- i never understood it until i downloaded a demo of console and started playing with it. the 2 most popular programs seem to be Console(www.console.jp) and audio mulch(www.audiomulch.com) (there are other programs, and other methods, these are what i use, and what most other members use-- most of these programs are primarily designed for processing the audio from live concerts-- so feel fre to locate your own program that works better) both are vst hosts-- ie: they act as a server for small plugins called vst plugins and the vst plugins are what allows you to manipulate all of the audio, and send it to a specific port on the sound card.
    only trouble I see is, there is no SIMPLE way to do this. A geek would LOVE using these 2 programs but for someone like me , who has very little idea about DSP, it's an uphill task
    i don't use time alignment yet, so can't help you much with that.
    Shucks! You must try it. It's the MOST amazing way to listen to music in a car, if implemented correctly. Currently in my car, the vocals are all coming towards me (driver's seat) from ONE area. I like it at from the centre of the front windshield. You decide how you like it ;-)
    if you haven't run into it already, there is a thread on diymobileaudio-- search for something along the lines of "help me build a carputer to beat the bitone!" there is a lot of good info to glean from that thread on making the transition to carputer audio processing from the head unit world.
    cheers for that!
    4: hard to tell-- each plugin takes cpu power(your only limit for plugins is cpu power-- meaning you could have only 1 or a 1,000), so if you have too many plugins running, they could also cause the audio to stutter.
    ok. got that!
    5: foobar seems to be popular for lossless audio, and is claimed to be less lossy then winamp, but i had trouble setting it up, so can't help much there.
    sounds good!

    a quick note about asio--both console, and audiomulch only allow one asio driver to be setup in them as both the input and output-- so i have not been able to get a asio driver for a media player, and a asio driver for my sound card to work at the same time.
    can you please elaborate??

    6: another search that can be helpful is looking for redgtiv6's threads on bitperfect audio--she did a lot of work on her system to get it to sound great, so i think you might even be able to look up some of her other threads around here.(to be honest, the article on her car in Car Audio mag really got me thinking about running carputer controlled audio in my car...i had the idea for a carputer before that, and browsed these forums, but had no idea i could control the audio until seeing the article)
    only for on board audio, i learn?

    one major difference, and what really sealed the deal for me was the flexibility-for instance: i could run a 32band parametric eq, ta, and crossover--for each speaker! even the bitone could have a hard time matching that... and if my setup couldn't keep up, i can upgrade to a better processor...
    totally. dying for the system to be fired up

  6. #6
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    Hi guys, im new to car audio but have opted to go down the car-pc route due to the relatively limited approach even with the top end headunits (p99rs)

    Basically I have 1000+ to create a top end, hi-fi equivalent Carpc and would be very greatful if you could help me to set out the basics required to forfill this dream. Im very much into hi-fi and have a broad range of audio knowledge, I know full well how bad stock car audio is and thus would like to seriously enhance my audio when I eventually purchase my car next month.

    At present im conidering buying all the components for the carputer for 400, a top end external DAC for 400 + Mic and amp for T/A and software. As well as a HDMI monitor for 200.

    However im unsure as to how im going to playback CD's and adjust the master volume, preferably a usb volume knob attached to the dash.

    I also noticed as soundman stated "i could run a 32band parametric eq, ta, and crossover--for each speaker!" Basically at the moment on my home audio setup I run a programe called izotope ozone 4 coupled with foobar in asio via DAC however ive yet to come accross a plugin or software that allows this capability, if this is possible then ill be able to cross off getting an external sound processor for the crossovers e.t.c

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.
    Cheers
    Joe

  7. #7
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    for the dsp stuff, you seem to have a decent grasp of car audio, and what you want to do, i also get the impression that you know how to connect a car amp, and speakers-- so if i gave you 200ft of random wire, some speakers, and a amp, you would be able to make it into something

    this is exactly how i started out with Console--i knew what i wanted to do with it, i just had to learn how to get the program to do it for me. the best recommendation would be to throw whatever worries you have away, download the free demo of console or audio mulch, and some plugins (www.kvraudio.com has millions of free and paid-for plugs-- all the ones i use are free), and start playing with it

    to expand on this-- there are enough plugins, that you should be able to even setup a audio controlled setup on a computer with onboard sound

    edit: skip this stuff, i have a better description a couple posts down: With Pictures!

    here is a basic setup for ya--

    download virtual audio cable(commonly called VAC), a host, and search kvraudio for karmafx plugins-- download the crossover plugin, and the eq plugin-- the plugins are not going to look like much-- they will just be very small .dll files.

    this how it works--
    VAC is a program that allows you to digitally connect audio components together in the computer--before the audio ever leaves the motherboard

    the karmafx plugins are some of the easiest, and most reliable free plugins that i have used, and should be very similar to the controls offered by a normal hu-- just keep in mind that the crossover plugin uses a fixed 12db/oct slope.

    once you get everything setup and installed, open up windows audio properties, and setup VAC as the primary sound output

    this is where it will get a little crazy--you will now not have any audio playing from your speakers, but don't worry, if you need to get the computer working normally again, just go back into the audio properties, and switch back to the audio device that had been setup before, and your computer will be back to normal.

    now, open the host, and in the settings, make sure to use the windows drivers for the audio.

    now all you have to do is drag the audio inputs, and outputs, onto the screen, connect them together, and you should have audio again.

    in case you see this tonight yet, and all the wording is a little confusing, i plan on posting some screen shots later tonight, but supper is ready!

    Quote Originally Posted by jdotp17 View Post
    Hi guys, im new to car audio but have opted to go down the car-pc route due to the relatively limited approach even with the top end headunits (p99rs)

    Basically I have 1000+ to create a top end, hi-fi equivalent Carpc and would be very greatful if you could help me to set out the basics required to forfill this dream. Im very much into hi-fi and have a broad range of audio knowledge, I know full well how bad stock car audio is and thus would like to seriously enhance my audio when I eventually purchase my car next month.

    At present im conidering buying all the components for the carputer for 400, a top end external DAC for 400 + Mic and amp for T/A and software. As well as a HDMI monitor for 200.

    However im unsure as to how im going to playback CD's and adjust the master volume, preferably a usb volume knob attached to the dash.

    I also noticed as soundman stated "i could run a 32band parametric eq, ta, and crossover--for each speaker!" Basically at the moment on my home audio setup I run a programe called izotope ozone 4 coupled with foobar in asio via DAC however ive yet to come accross a plugin or software that allows this capability, if this is possible then ill be able to cross off getting an external sound processor for the crossovers e.t.c

    Any input would be greatly appreciated.
    Cheers
    Joe
    this is the best place to start:
    http://www.mp3car.com/wiki/index.php...g_via_Software

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    i dont really see the point of the question regarding getting asio running at the same time. only one sound source can be used with asio. if you are playing music and then go to youtube, the youtube vid will not have sound.

    asio works perfectly in foobar, download the plugin and the asio driver and edit your output preferences. super easy

  9. #9
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfntomm View Post
    i dont really see the point of the question regarding getting asio running at the same time. only one sound source can be used with asio. if you are playing music and then go to youtube, the youtube vid will not have sound.

    asio works perfectly in foobar, download the plugin and the asio driver and edit your output preferences. super easy

    i think that the usage of asio here has more to do with the audio procesing software then foobars usage of it:


    for instance-- my sound card- a ESI GigaportHD: it has asio drivers, but does not have any inputs. both audiomulch and consule support asio, and foobar and winamp have asio plugins.

    the problem that i run into is that the audio processing programs only allow you to use 1 asio device-- ie: i cannot setup my soundcard using the asio driver, because there is no input into the audio processing program-- only outputs..

    so i could theoretically create sound using plugins and send it to the card, but i can't use winamp/foobar as the source...

    unless maybe i have been doing it wrong all along and you have a solution for me?(pretty please? )


    the irony of all of this is that i can't seem to get anything that i recommended a couple posts above to work on my other computer at all...(never had a problem in the car...)

  10. #10
    MySQL Error soundman98's Avatar
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    frank: forgot to add about the time alignment thing: my last head unit did have 'some' t/a in it-- a pioneer 7900, but no matter what i set it to, the sound was always way off--no matter how i set it, even sounding the best, i would start to experience fatigue after a while, not to mention that it added a 'ring' to the audio, almost like it was not processing it at a high enough bitrate--and i used my ipod as a source, so the quality wasn't astounding in the first place...

    because of my poor experience, i really have no motivation at the moment to try t/a without learning more about how to properly set it up-- i bought a usb-mic adapter, and am planning to get a dayton audio referance mic at some point in a attempt to more precisely calibrate my system, but at the moment, i am not happy with my speakers either, so everything is put on hold until i can outfit my car with some peerless hds mids, and tangband ceramic tweeters...

    alright, the magic setup: it seems that the computer i am posting this from-- my gaming system doesn't play very nice with audio processing setups. i am using win7 64bit, and had to setup audiomulch to run in xp-sp3 compatibility mode, and now it all just works... wierd..

    onto the basic setup:

    just a word of warning-- on this computer, i could not seem to take over the onboard audio ports, but the board is from back in '06/'07, so support is a little slim-- i was using whatever driver win7 loaded..

    so, i plugged in one of my usb cards-- a creative x-fi..

    anyways, enough rambling:

    so to reiterate what needs to be done:

    download and install vac, and then set it as the primary audio output in windows

    download and install a audiomulch(console is very similar though, so if you would prefer to use that, i can help you there also..)

    download the karmafxplugin pack(karmafx.net), and select it to install to the audio mulch vstplugins folder(program files->audiomulch->vst plugins) there is ways to setup plugins to be stored in other folders, but this is easier for the time being..

    after opening audiomulch, go to EDIT->SETTINGS.

    under settings, click on audio driver-- it should be set to "windows multimedia":


    now go to AUDIO INPUT, and set it up like the picture for VAC:


    for audio output, setup your audio card, and its respective channels:


    click ok to exit out of the settings window, and you will have the basic screen-- under the inputs/outputs area, you can drag the input/output plugins onto the layout screen, and then connect them by clicking and dragging between the 'nubs' on them-- this will create 'wires' between them...

    if you set it up like i have on the screen shots, you will almost have re-enabled audio on your computer..

    there is a speaker button in the top row-- right above auxin4 on the screen shot that need to be enabled-- after enabling that, you should have a computer that with audio that acts normally-- if you 'ding' the volume slider in windows, or play a song, it should come through fine now..

    now to get to the more complex stuff

    for the karmafxplugins:
    you should see it near the bottom of the list on the lefthand side under vstplugins:


    drag it onto the screen, delete the 'wires' connecting the input and output, and then reconnect the input/output to the plugin. it should look something like this:


    now double click on the plugin, and it will pop up with the adjustment menu on the right hand side-- that you can use to tweak till your hearts content(i assume that you have a enough experience with stereos, i don't need to explain all the knobs, but in case you run stuck, there should be a manual that was included with the plugins-it will be in the vstplugins folder):



    and that is it- any other plugins are going to be setup almost the same way, so if you can get this far with out a problem, i think you should be fine-- everything in audio processing is going to build off of what we did here.

    it is not as hard as it sounds, it just takes a lot of time to setup..

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