Best way to get audio from computer to my amp

vbimport

#1

I’m planning to setup a music server with two 750gb F1 drives in RAID1 for an audio server and possibly a bit of video. I’m aiming to get the sound to my amp (Kenwood VR-6070 for the time being) and then to either my speakers or headphones, depending on the who else is home :smiley:

I’m thinking of using mainly FLAC files because space isn’t an issue and I want the highest quality I can get. I’ll also be playing MP3’s, but the main purpose is to get the highest quality I can out of whatever is on the playlist.

My amp has optical input as well as Coax, what would be best to use?

Also, what’s the best sound card on the market right now? I’ve used the Barracuda AC-1 and found it did too much of it’s own thing, I want the sound to be as pure and unaltered as possible… Should I look to use Coax or Optical? I take it RCA shouldn’t even be considered?

Furthermore, what’s a good program to play the music from that supports Flac files or whatever I should use when I rip CD’s? Is VLC decent?

Thanks for any help :slight_smile:


#2

I’m not an Audio expert,but I use Winamp to play my music… though VLC also plays audio files, I use it mostly for playing video…Here’s a great audio site for you,in case you’ve never visited it…
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php


#3

[QUOTE=David_N;2110047]I’m planning to setup a music server with two 750gb F1 drives in RAID1 for an audio server and possibly a bit of video. I’m aiming to get the sound to my amp (Kenwood VR-6070 for the time being) and then to either my speakers or headphones, depending on the who else is home :smiley:

I’m thinking of using mainly FLAC files because space isn’t an issue and I want the highest quality I can get. I’ll also be playing MP3’s, but the main purpose is to get the highest quality I can out of whatever is on the playlist.

My amp has optical input as well as Coax, what would be best to use?[/QUOTE]

I’ll go with the optical, but coax should be ok.

[QUOTE=David_N;2110047]Also, what’s the best sound card on the market right now? I’ve used the Barracuda AC-1 and found it did too much of it’s own thing, I want the sound to be as pure and unaltered as possible… Should I look to use Coax or Optical? I take it RCA shouldn’t even be considered?[/QUOTE]

If you want the best then you can forget RCA, unless you are sure that your sound card has a better DAC than your AMP.

[QUOTE=David_N;2110047]Furthermore, what’s a good program to play the music from that supports Flac files or whatever I should use when I rip CD’s? Is VLC decent?

Thanks for any help :)[/QUOTE]

Foobar2000 works fine for music, i only use VLC for Video files.


#4

First i’d choose a sound card. Then figured out the cabling as to what the sound card has to offer. My X-Fi only offers digital coax.

How many feet of cabling do you need? Optical cables are more expensive.

Sorry i only have a pc setup with X-Fi - digital out to my Klipsch controller with Klipsch 5.1 Pro Media speakers. I do have a HT but it’s on it’s own though.


#5

Thanks guys :slight_smile:

My budget for the sound card is probably around $300. I’m not sure how good the DAC in my amp is, I assume it’s decent though. It’s an older amp from the early 2000’s ish if I remember correctly. I’ll probably end up using Optical, unless I chose a soundcard with only Coax output.I’m mostly looking to pump some acoustic/rock music to my amp then to my Grado SR225’s (love them!). So basically, I can’t decide what sound card… Any suggestions?


#6

I am sure more will post so give it a day or two.

Edit:
Oh i forgot to say i use Winamp free version with my Creative app’s EQ. The app you get for your card shouldn’t matter though cause you will be using your amp and stuff.


#7

Hi,

[quote=David_N;2110073]My budget for the sound card is probably around $300. (…) So basically, I can’t decide what sound card… Any suggestions?[/quote]since you want to go with digital audio output, the soundcard doesn’t matter very much. Even onboard audio should be okay. The quality (and price) of a sound card is basically determined by the DACs and DSPs that are used. None of them (not sure about the DSP, but it is not needed at least) is used if digital audio output is used.
So, if your computer already has digital outputs (sometimes only a connector board is needed), then I would try that at first. If you are not satisfied, you can still get an additional audio device.

Shopping hint: Shops that sell musician’s equipment mostly have better solutions than computer hardware shops.:wink:

Michael


#8

[QUOTE=mciahel;2110172]Hi,
since you want to go with digital audio output, the soundcard doesn’t matter very much. Even onboard audio should be okay. The quality (and price) of a sound card is basically determined by the DACs and DSPs that are used. None of them (not sure about the DSP, but it is not needed at least) is used if digital audio output is used.
So, if your computer already has digital outputs (sometimes only a connector board is needed), then I would try that at first. If you are not satisfied, you can still get an additional audio device.

Shopping hint: Shops that sell musician’s equipment mostly have better solutions than computer hardware shops.:wink:

Michael[/QUOTE]I believe David wants to go optical but good idea on the musicians shop/sites.


#9

[quote=Bob;2110181]I believe David wants to go optical[/quote]That’s indeed the better option. I deliberately did not distinguish between coax and optical connection in my previous post :slight_smile:

Cheers,
Michael


#10

[QUOTE=mciahel;2110197]That’s indeed the better option. I deliberately did not distinguish between coax and optical connection in my previous post :slight_smile:

Cheers,
Michael[/QUOTE]I don’t know that much about the sound cards available…i have never seen one with optical out. So i’m kind of interested in seeing replies.


#11

My msi mobo has optical output on it, but i never used it, no point since my 5.1 amp about 5-6meter away from my pc.


#12

OK, being a newbie I guess I get to ask questions like this about using a computer as your stereo/home theater:

I’ve got old but good (at the time) stereo equipment (25 year old 60 watt per channel Kenwood amp and Onkyo tuner (yes, with a dial knob), and 12 year old Boston Acoustic floorstanding speakers (they cost about $800 12 years ago). The amp and speakers are connected with very thick copper cables (coax, I guess), but you strip off the insulation and stick tightly twisted copper ends into little clips on the backs of the speakers and amp).

I recently decided to turn a new off-the-shelf HP desktop into a giant IPod, meaning I burned 350 CDs or so using Windows Media Player, stuck one end of a Y cable into the computer’s speaker jack and the Y end into the amplifier’s AUX/CD input and play all my music with WMP or ITunes through my old stereo. It’s now even a great home theater as I bought an LCD projector, attach the projector to the monitor output on the computer and watch movies on my living room wall, also with WMP, or WinDVD.

It all works/looks/sounds great, at least to this newbie’s eyes/ears.

Disk space is not an issue, so when I burn the CDs I use the WMA Mathematically Lossless option - meaning songs run around 25 MB each. Somehow I managed to convince myself that the other more efficient burns (variable bit rates or even the 128 Kbps) didn’t sound as good as the ‘highest quality’ bit rate.

Question 1: Is using the Mathematically Lossless option Stupid? (For portability, I just have ITunes convert what I want from my WMA library into the M4A files Apple uses (4-5MB per song) and sync my IPod)

Question 2: I wasn’t sure what input jacks to use on my amp. When I used the inputs for a turntable the sound system was incredibly sensitive - distorted and way too loud. The inputs for the tape player were OK, but seemed a little muffled. The inputs for the AUX/CD device and the tuner seemed to work fine. Since I still use the tuner, I chose the AUX/CD inputs. Does that make sense?

Question 3: What, at this point, would be the single largest hindrance to the quality I currently experience? I mean, if I wanted to take the next step up, would I put in a better sound card? Stop using that Y cable between the standard speaker jack on the computer and my amp? Use something other than Windows Media Player? Concern myself with the CD/DVD drive itself? Get a new amp or speakers?

P.S. I’m doubting it’s the cables, but on the subject of coax vs optical there’s an informative, sometimes funny, sometimes rude discussion on this topic in this thread.

Question 4: Believe it or not I actually like watching movies on my living room wall through this projector I bought. Talk about big screen TV. But is there a better DVD viewing package than WMP or WinDVD that I should use? Or, given the fact I’m watching movies through a good LCD projector, is the software pretty immaterial?

Question 5: Naturally, when I’ve got the projector attached, I’ve got the computer monitor unattached. Is there a way to see both? I mean, is there a Y cable that would go from the video output on the computer to both a monitor and a projector? Or should I just by a switch box so that I at least don’t have to connect/disconnect everytime I want to use one or the other?

I realize this has gotten a bit long - just looking for help on my migration into the 21st century.


#13

[QUOTE=thfenn;2110441]Question 2: I wasn’t sure what input jacks to use on my amp. When I used the inputs for a turntable the sound system was incredibly sensitive - distorted and way too loud. The inputs for the tape player were OK, but seemed a little muffled. The inputs for the AUX/CD device and the tuner seemed to work fine. Since I still use the tuner, I chose the AUX/CD inputs. Does that make sense? [/QUOTE]

Yes it does, and there is one unbreakable rule, never use the turntable input of your amp for anything else than a turntable.


#14

[QUOTE=thfenn;2110441]OK, being a newbie I guess I get to ask questions like this about using a computer as your stereo/home theater:

I’ve got old but good (at the time) stereo equipment (25 year old 60 watt per channel Kenwood amp and Onkyo tuner (yes, with a dial knob), and 12 year old Boston Acoustic floorstanding speakers (they cost about $800 12 years ago). The amp and speakers are connected with very thick copper cables (coax, I guess), but you strip off the insulation and stick tightly twisted copper ends into little clips on the backs of the speakers and amp).

I recently decided to turn a new off-the-shelf HP desktop into a giant IPod, meaning I burned 350 CDs or so using Windows Media Player, stuck one end of a Y cable into the computer’s speaker jack and the Y end into the amplifier’s AUX/CD input and play all my music with WMP or ITunes through my old stereo. It’s now even a great home theater as I bought an LCD projector, attach the projector to the monitor output on the computer and watch movies on my living room wall, also with WMP, or WinDVD.

It all works/looks/sounds great, at least to this newbie’s eyes/ears.

Disk space is not an issue, so when I burn the CDs I use the WMA Mathematically Lossless option - meaning songs run around 25 MB each. Somehow I managed to convince myself that the other more efficient burns (variable bit rates or even the 128 Kbps) didn’t sound as good as the ‘highest quality’ bit rate.

Question 1: Is using the Mathematically Lossless option Stupid? (For portability, I just have ITunes convert what I want from my WMA library into the M4A files Apple uses (4-5MB per song) and sync my IPod)

Question 2: I wasn’t sure what input jacks to use on my amp. When I used the inputs for a turntable the sound system was incredibly sensitive - distorted and way too loud. The inputs for the tape player were OK, but seemed a little muffled. The inputs for the AUX/CD device and the tuner seemed to work fine. Since I still use the tuner, I chose the AUX/CD inputs. Does that make sense?

Question 3: What, at this point, would be the single largest hindrance to the quality I currently experience? I mean, if I wanted to take the next step up, would I put in a better sound card? Stop using that Y cable between the standard speaker jack on the computer and my amp? Use something other than Windows Media Player? Concern myself with the CD/DVD drive itself? Get a new amp or speakers?

P.S. I’m doubting it’s the cables, but on the subject of coax vs optical there’s an informative, sometimes funny, sometimes rude discussion on this topic in this thread.

Question 4: Believe it or not I actually like watching movies on my living room wall through this projector I bought. Talk about big screen TV. But is there a better DVD viewing package than WMP or WinDVD that I should use? Or, given the fact I’m watching movies through a good LCD projector, is the software pretty immaterial?

Question 5: Naturally, when I’ve got the projector attached, I’ve got the computer monitor unattached. Is there a way to see both? I mean, is there a Y cable that would go from the video output on the computer to both a monitor and a projector? Or should I just by a switch box so that I at least don’t have to connect/disconnect everytime I want to use one or the other?

I realize this has gotten a bit long - just looking for help on my migration into the 21st century.[/QUOTE]

In my experience, using a splitter (Y cable) to do anything can degrade the quality. For your video: There are video cards you can buy that have two outputs, meaning you can have your projector and computer monitor running at the same time or simply that you won’t have to unplug anything when you want to switch between the two.

For your sound, you might benefit from a nice soundcard, although it’s hard to say. If you’re running from a 1/8" headphone jack to a Y splitter, I would suspect that you aren’t getting the best you can out of your sound. What audio inputs does your amp have? Even if you got a card with RCA outputs (M-audio 2496 for example I believe) if would likely sound better than a split headphone output.

Hopefully this helped :slight_smile:

Now, on note of my topic, I’ve decided it’s time Ig et a new computer anyways, and a Mac Pro suites my needs best. Although I’m having a hard time ripping a CD into FLAC and playing Flac files (doable, but a hassle) I’ve decided I’ll just run Windows XP in a virtual machine. The machine has dual quad core chips (8 cores) and will have 16gb of ram and 4tb of internal drive space, so it should run most of what I throw at it pretty well.

The good news is that it has a good quality optical out, so that solves that problem. Thanks for the help you’ve all given, it made my choice a little simpler :slight_smile:

I still need to decide the best way to store/play my files though. If I want to use the files on my iPod they will need to be in mp3 or AIFF format. For playing off my computer, the primary use at home, would it be best to stick to FLAC and play them through windows (Foobar2000) or convert them to AIFF and play from the mac side of things?

Thanks!


#15

[QUOTE=vroom;2110475]Yes it does, and there is one unbreakable rule, never use the turntable input of your amp for anything else than a turntable.[/QUOTE]
Not the first unbreakable rule I’ve broken, :o, but thanks for the heads up.


#16

[QUOTE=vroom;2110210]My msi mobo has optical output on it, but i never used it, no point since my 5.1 amp about 5-6meter away from my pc.[/QUOTE]hmmm i just looked at my mobo and it has optical and coax.


#17

[QUOTE=Bob;2110751]hmmm i just looked at my mobo and it has optical and coax.[/QUOTE]

:cool:


#18

[QUOTE=David_N;2110537]For your video: There are video cards you can buy that have two outputs…[/QUOTE]Great, thanks. Will do.

[QUOTE=David_N;2110537]For your sound…If you’re running from a 1/8" headphone jack to a Y splitter, I would suspect that you aren’t getting the best you can out of your sound. What audio inputs does your amp have? Even if you got a card with RCA outputs (M-audio 2496 for example I believe) if would likely sound better than a split headphone output.[/QUOTE]
Got it, thanks. The amp has RCA audio inputs (I think, like ones that take the red/white/yellow cables between a DVD and a TV). So I’ll find a card with RCA outputs.

[QUOTE=David_N;2110537]Hopefully this helped :)[/QUOTE]
Definitely, thanks.

So, to recap:

Q2 - Check, use the AUX/CD input, never the Turntable input except for a turntable
Q3 - Check, get a sound card with RCA output jacks
Q5 - Check, get a card with two video outputs

Great help - thanks.

Still wondering:
Q1 - Am I being stupid burning CDs at the WMA Mathematically Lossless bit rate?
Q4 - Is there DVD player software materially better than WMP or WinDVD given I’m watching DVDs on a wall through a projector?

David_N, appreciate you letting me borrow your thread like this. Wish I could be more help to you, and hope I’m close enough to the general topic to not be hijacking. On the issue you’re dealing with - all I can say is that so far I’ve concluded it’s pretty straight forward to maintain a large audio library (that I currently use with WMP and those huge sound files, but sounds like you’d be doing something considerably better) and a seperate ITunes library that houses whatever I want to sync to my IPod. The ITunes library could either have all the content of the main library, and you just manually select what you want synced if that exceeds IPod capacity, or you could leave it automatically syncing and just import the volumes you want from the main library. Having no difficulty with either approach, and preferred that, for some reason, to having everything in a format that the IPod could handle.