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Thread: Do I need a DSP?

  1. #1
    Newbie TWBarrett's Avatar
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    Question Do I need a DSP?

    Well, I searched around a little, and now I'm even more confused than I was before.

    I am currently in the planning phase for my CarPC. I am not too concerned about DVD playback and some of the other features that seem to be pretty popular. I am all about music. Because of this, I am deciding on what sound card to use before I move forward with the rest of the system.

    Once completed, my audio system will consist of a pair of front speakers, a pair of rear speakers, some subs, *possibly* a center speaker, and *possibly* a second set of rear speakers for fill. Powering those speakers will be a sub amp, mid amp (for fronts/rears), and maybe a second mid amp for the second set of rear speakers. The center speaker would be self-amplified.

    Then I run into a DSP. Obviously, if I want to use the digital output on the soundcard I will need a DSP (not using PG amps), but can I go from the analog outs on the soundcard into the RCA-in's on my amps? I know that the center and sub channels are put together into one output on most soundcards, but can I split this into two sets of RCAs? one that would go to the sub amp, the other to the self-amp'ed center channel speaker? I understand that I would also need a pre-amp line driver in there to help reduce noise, but do I need a DSP or can I get away without using one? What if I want to use an external equalizer, like one of them fancy 30-band 1/3octave jobs?

    Thanks for any help, I am a little overwhelmed right now, and trying to get my planning phase moving forward.
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  2. #2
    Newbie TWBarrett's Avatar
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    50 thread views and no replies? What gives ;(
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    Quote Originally Posted by TWBarrett
    50 thread views and no replies? What gives ;(
    It's over my head man. There is my reply.

  4. #4
    FLAC muldrick's Avatar
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    Mine too (don't even know what DSP is), but some people are running optical wiring instead of RCA's.
    ""but can I go from the analog outs on the soundcard into the RCA-in's on my amps?"" I run mine from my sound card into the AUX-In on my radio, so yes, you can run them into an amp. There's also 5.1 (?) pc sound cards that'll run more than just stereo. Check that.
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    Variable Bitrate lawrence's Avatar
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    first -- 1/4 inch stero head phone jack to dual rca out cables, are anywhere, for about 10 bucks each and you will need three.
    second -- you already have one of the most flexable DSP for the money
    it is your computer. remember that the best place to prosess a signal is as
    close to the source, and before converting from digital to analog.
    so do your control inside your pc. use a external volume control such as a reostat
    with five pots on one shaft and one single for sub level
    or four reostats for balance and fader and a fitfh for sub level and sixth for center, these can be low cost as you will be doing at line level.
    also there are many softwere packages with controls for EQ's , delay and suround.

  6. #6
    Newbie TWBarrett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by voidunknown
    It's over my head man. There is my reply.
    Maybe I should try the audio forum? Thought this would be better here hehe.

    Thanks for the info Muldrick and Lawrence. Is there anywhere I can check the on-board sound specs for some of the m-itx motherboards? Most specifically THD (total? harmonic distortion), StN (signal to noise ratio), etc. Thanks!
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  7. #7
    Top Ramen lgbr's Avatar
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    Use an external sound card and power it with the PSU. This will eliminate any noise possibilities.
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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by lawrence
    first -- 1/4 inch stero head phone jack to dual rca out cables, are anywhere, for about 10 bucks each and you will need three.
    ....
    Just a small correction, unless you have a professional soundcard installed in your box, you'll be using 1/8" stereo mini plugs. I myself have thought about going this route.

    I'm a bit leary when it comes to using 1/8 stereo mini plugs. If your application will be for a permanent install, it should be okay I guess. But if you're using a laptop or removable PC (in my case a laptop), over time the jack's contacts will wear down leading to the ol' twist-n-turn-pull-n-tug-n-blow-inside-the-minijack dance.

    I thought about going the external soundcard route and then, I came across this USB audio in/out device - The Edirol UA1X. It has RCA in/outs and SPDIF optical output. I'm only interested in the RCA's out. I'm not aware of any other product in this form factor that offers an RCA output option. Price-wise it runs about $80. Not only is it the smallest solution I've found, but it is also the cheapest. Also, in regard to reliability, I think the USB-RCA option offers a pretty robust interface.

    Now having mentioned that, you won't be getting 5.1 surround sound natively, but for my application where I've "cheated" hehe, my DVD head unit does the DSP surround processing for my movies. (I'm only using my puter' for GPS and mp3's. My puter' starts to lag when turn on software DSP while playing movies.) It doesn't look like 5.1 surround is a high priority for you, but if you want digital surround surround sound 5.1+ this is definitely not the way to go. However, if you're looking for a robust interface and will be fine with just stereo sound via RCA's with access to software based DSP - ie. EQ, reverb, delay, etc. - on your puter', I say check it out.

  9. #9
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    for $40 you could get a sound blaster MP3+ and it will do the same damn thing with no problem

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    Cool deal, thanks for pointing that out Hcomplyr. Looks like it offers a bunch of cool Soundblaster tools and utilities too. I can't help but feel that the Edirol unit looks more rugged and at the same time smaller too. Mind you, my means of judgement is done through the emperical process of online picture browsing (very accurate ). I know that form factor was not one of TWBarrett's concerns, but when it comes to installing stuff in cars, space is a commodity.

    In terms of sound quality and reliability though, I'd feel more comfortable going with a company who manufactures professional audio products vs consumer/prosumer. A couple extra bucks better spent perhaps? I don't mean to come off as a gear snob, call it anal retentiveness I guess . In actuality, the differences may actually be negligible, but in the end I suppose it comes to personal preference.

    On a side note, from what I read about the UA1X WinXP recognizes the device automatically and doesn't need any additional software installation. Another reason why I favor the UA1X, but that's just me. I like plug-n-play.

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