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Thread: 5.1 to Car Audio Question

  1. #1
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    Question 5.1 to Car Audio Question

    After looking at the FAQ I learned how to connect a 5.1 out to a car amp. From the diagram it seems to me that there are two amps... one with 4 channels (Front L/R, and Rear L/R) and one amp for the sub (Center/Sub). My question is, why is the Center channel going to the same amp as the sub? The way I would figure, is the center would be something that should be split amongst the other four channels.

    I am sure I am wrong, but what I am asking is if someone could explain to me why, so my already overwhelmed mind can comprehend.

    Thanks in advance.

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    I don't want to get too technical but its actually the reverse.... the center channel does not become the right and left...the right and left channel become the center.

    So dropping the center channel will have no effect as it is just a product of the left/right you already have.

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    So essentially, I would not even need to connect the center channel? Just the Front, Rear, and Sub channels?

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    As long as your audio path in the PC is aware to mix 5.1 down to 4.1, then you probably won't miss the center channel (as it will mix that evenly into front left and front right). As for what amp powers what, it really doesn't matter at all, as the channels are all discrete. The reason the diagram showed the center sharing an amp with the sub, is that there aren't many 5 channel amps that would be able to include the center with the four corners. There are, however, no end to the number of 4 and 2 channel amps.
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    Exactly!

    Edit:
    Got beat to it...
    Only true 5.1 content will have a distinct center channel.. Your PC should be setup as a 4.1 setup since a car has no center channel.

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    i'll try to stay on the low technical side, but no promises

    5.1 audio is almost useless in the car.

    most audio sources that you will listen to, like cd's, mp3's, nav directions, radio, etc. are stereo sources-- meaning that your sub, and center channel would be wasted purchases without expensive audio processing that would convert that stereo signal to a 5.1 audio signal.. even then, it is not easy to convert some files, and not other ones..

    the second problem with 5.1 in the car is speaker-to-seat placement.
    almost every single speaker in the car is in a poor position relative to the seats to give a true 5.1 sound stage.

    again, it is possible to use audio processing to adjust this for 1 seat, but i don't believe that it is possible to get a perfect sound stage from all seats without lots of vehicle reconstruction, and moving the speakers from their stock locations.

    5.1 audio is extremely tough to do, and in most cases, it is not worth the extra expense in a car environment for the little amount of usage it will get.

    it might be more usable if you are creating a movie-car, or a show car, but not worth it for a daily driver, imo..

    but otherwise, i would only worry about connecting the front, and sub channels(not all motherboards support using the rear speaker outputs for a stereo source)

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    Oh, I am by no means trying to create a 5.1 system. This all started for me when I decided I was tired of swapping CDs, I just couldn't handle 320kbs .mp3s, and fell short on finding a decent media player that supports flac or some other lossless format.

    Then the idea of the carputer popped up again.

    What I am trying to accomplish is achieving the best sound, without the hassle of swapping CDs.

    I even went as far as searching for amps that had an optical in, but that produced practically nothing.

  8. #8
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    could look for an amp that accepts optical. and get a premium soundcard. xonar or higher.

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    there is a older thread in the car audio section with some listings of some optical input amps, though, most of them are above $1,000 for a basic model, so analog is cheaper-- even high end analog..

    another thing you can look into is audio processing(member Durwood has a link in his sig for a faq on it)-- the core2 would work great for it, and it can help eliminate the extra components needed for a active setup..

  10. #10
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    If you are going optical, I certainly wouldn't pay money for a 'premium' sound card... you could get a cheap USB-SPDIF card and get accurate digital duplication out the optical on it just as well as on a $300 sound card...
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