View Poll Results: Would you be intersted in a USB amp as described?

Voters
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  • No, not at all, you can put it where I think!

    3 11.54%
  • Only if it was really cheap, say $50

    10 38.46%
  • Only if it was cheap, about $100

    5 19.23%
  • This is the thing I was born for, send me one now!

    8 30.77%
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Thread: Small and simple USB audio amp anyone?

  1. #1
    cheap custom title JC-S60's Avatar
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    Small and simple USB audio amp anyone?

    This is a poll to gauge interest in a simple and small car amplifier (4x40w, like used in a head unit).

    The idea is simple:

    - Audio input over USB (amp will be recognized as USB speakers in any OS - MAC, Windows, Linux, ...)

    - Powered by the car's 12v (power regulator on board)

    - Amp on/off controlled by 5v of USB (pc on = amp on, maybe with delay)

    - Output for 2 to 4 speakers

    Let me know your interest and/or ideas!

    Joachim

  2. #2
    Variable Bitrate
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    Sounds like a very interesting idea!

    What sort of time scale are you looking at for testing this amp ?
    Will it be kit form or pre-assembled ?

  3. #3
    cheap custom title JC-S60's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by swift_gti View Post
    Sounds like a very interesting idea!

    What sort of time scale are you looking at for testing this amp ?
    Will it be kit form or pre-assembled ?
    It would come assembled and tested.
    Available in about 2-3 months should be possible I guess...

    Thanks,
    Joachim

  4. #4
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    sounds very promising to say the least!

    While I would wish for high end audio, I think even a quality piece would be very popular and highly saught after. Just take a look at the 5.1 amps with optical in thread...lots of people looking for options that mean no processor necessary or line driver, etc.
    Jan Bennett
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  5. #5
    cheap custom title JC-S60's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RedGTiVR6 View Post
    sounds very promising to say the least!

    While I would wish for high end audio, I think even a quality piece would be very popular and highly saught after. Just take a look at the 5.1 amps with optical in thread...lots of people looking for options that mean no processor necessary or line driver, etc.
    Thanks for the input!

    It would be just stereo (front and back) though, no 5.1...

    Sound quality would be good, comparable to any normal HU. Nothing competition level though, as that would drive the price up too much.

    Joachim

  6. #6
    Constant Bitrate
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    I don't mean to knock your idea, I would most probably get one myself, but if it only has 4 channel output, would it not be easier and probably to just get a 4 channel amp and a USB external soundcard??

    I just got an external Creative USB soundcard for $20 delivered, a four channel amp is probably $60-120 depending on type and power.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by BiG K View Post
    I don't mean to knock your idea, I would most probably get one myself, but if it only has 4 channel output, would it not be easier and probably to just get a 4 channel amp and a USB external soundcard??

    I just got an external Creative USB soundcard for $20 delivered, a four channel amp is probably $60-120 depending on type and power.


    You also get good driver support for branded sound card like creative labs. There are plenty of good amps ready built or in kit form that can just be added in.

  8. #8
    cheap custom title JC-S60's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BiG K View Post
    I don't mean to knock your idea, I would most probably get one myself, but if it only has 4 channel output, would it not be easier and probably to just get a 4 channel amp and a USB external soundcard??

    I just got an external Creative USB soundcard for $20 delivered, a four channel amp is probably $60-120 depending on type and power.
    That would work too, certainly... BUT

    - It would be bigger

    - It would be more cabling

    - It would be more expensive most of the time

    - It would be more complicated driver-wise in most of the cases (There are many known problems with soundcards going 100% volume after resume or needing a program to run in the background for all channels to work)

    This amp WON'T NEED A SPECIFIC DRIVER, it's recognized by most OS'es (Win, Linux, Mac) as standard USB speakers using the OS built-in drivers

    Just to give the info

    Joachim

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JC-S60 View Post
    That would work too, certainly... BUT

    - It would be bigger

    - It would be more cabling

    - It would be more expensive most of the time

    - It would be more complicated driver-wise in most of the cases (There are many known problems with soundcards going 100% volume after resume or needing a program to run in the background for all channels to work)

    This amp WON'T NEED A SPECIFIC DRIVER, it's recognized by most OS'es (Win, Linux, Mac) as standard USB speakers using the OS built-in drivers

    Just to give the info

    Joachim
    Don't get me wrong mate, I absolute love people who hack and crack stuff to create something more useful.

    After resume etc, A decent soundcard such as Creative will behave as you expect it to. There is a program required to run in the background for all channels to work, but this is also VERY simple to set up, there's actually a wizard that guides you through it. This program doesn't actually need alot of resources, just a few megabytes of RAM. As the sound is going through to an external soundcard which processes it, the overhead on the CPU is much lower, typically leaving the CPU to deal with other more important issues than playing back sound. An important issue when you only have around 1Ghz of power!!
    It would require more cabling, but only approx 2 more cables depending on soundcard and amplifier chosen. You would need 2x 3.5 stereo jack to phono. These can be had for $2 each.

    I would suggest drawing a standard plan and factor in the cost of components, solder and the board itself plus labour.

    That's the thing though, with USB Speakers, its true that it takes away all the hissing and crackling, but that can be all removed by using a decent soundcard. On my home computer I have a Creative Audigy 2 ZS with some Creative S750's. I hear absolutely NO hissing/crackling/interference and even having a conversation on a mobile phone next to the speakers or amps, there is absolutely no inteference whatsoever and the clarity is absolutely superb, granting that the Audigy 2 ZS is atleast 5 years old!

    Most of the people on MP3CAR want decent sound, think about it, MP3-CAR?? You can now pick up a small 4 channel Class D amplifier the size of a dvd drive for quite cheap, you are pretty much competing against them. Differentiate your product from the rest. Is it difficult to add on another channel (centre) and maybe put a subwoofer pass through? This would make it in a class of its own, having a 5.1 channel amp and soundcard.

    If not, one option I would like to see, which I have not seen anywhere else, is if the USB amp used a ISO harness connector to hook upto the cars speakers. Just look at all the users who have the sound passed through a seperate head unit.

    Think about it, a standard CD player, all connects at a single point.
    When you get a standalone amp, you have to re-wire all your speakers, if you can create a small amplifier that can fit into a dash, that doesn't require you to splice/solder/cut wires, that would be a HUGE bonus, as I don't believe there are any other amps like this anywhere else.

  10. #10
    cheap custom title JC-S60's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BiG K View Post
    If not, one option I would like to see, which I have not seen anywhere else, is if the USB amp used a ISO harness connector to hook upto the cars speakers. Just look at all the users who have the sound passed through a seperate head unit.

    Think about it, a standard CD player, all connects at a single point.
    When you get a standalone amp, you have to re-wire all your speakers, if you can create a small amplifier that can fit into a dash, that doesn't require you to splice/solder/cut wires, that would be a HUGE bonus, as I don't believe there are any other amps like this anywhere else.
    That's the main goal of this project: a simple drop-in replacement for a HU. It would come with an ISO harnass so you just plug in USB on one side and the harness on the other - done!

    Maybe a line-out to connect to a SUB-amp would be possible, depends on the price of components, but anything else would be complicating things and making it more expensive.

    This product is aimed at anyone concentrating on the PC part of their setup, but still want decent sound.

    Outside the carpc community, most people don't run amps and subs, only a simple HU. We want to offer the same simplicity and basic quality to anyone wanting to put a PC in their car, without wanting to do a major upgrade to their car's sound system. All that at a decent price.

    The key here is simplicity. As we're also developping a complete carpc solution, I can tell you we've tested multiple external soundcards, and while they all produce very good sound, we encountered some problems too: external power needed, problems with upmixing stereo sound, high CPU usage (indeed - because of badly written drivers), USB-cable length and/or bandwidth issues (a lot of them require USB 2.0 to function right - our solution would be USB 1.1).

    Thanks for you input!
    Joachim

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