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post #41 of 51
And the Rotel has a volume control?
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post #42 of 51
On-board sound cards are not always doomed to be terrible. I've blind tested a quite highly regarded FiiO E7 against a ALC892 Realtek chip on a M4A88TD-V EVO motherboard, and the only difference to be found was the output power at higher volumes. Attempting to level-match the two sources as close as possible to each other, they were indistinguishable. Of course it depends on the motherboard, it's sound-circuitry's PSRR (basically, PSU interference rejection ratio), your PSU and whether any ground looping issues occur and whether the power output is sufficient..
Those problems aside the DAC itself is very, very good in modern motherboards. You don't have to be sucked into the hype of expensive -> better, it's hardly true.

Sounds like a nice speaker set-up. I assume you're handling the cross-overs at the amplifiers since you aren't talking about needing 0.1 output capability. As such, you should be good with pretty much any sound card or external DAC/sound interface that meets your requirements feature-wise (volume knob, headphone amp?).

If you plan going internal, Asus Xonar DG. You will hardly benefit from a better integrated sound card, running an unbalanced analog signal that grounds to the computer case is almost always a compromise and introduces a bigger noise floor/interference from component stress like coil whine.

If you want external, Behringer UCA202 is a very affordable solution, although I do admit it looks quite ugly and flimsy. If you plan to upgrade to balanced to get rid of any interference issues, M-Audio C400 and Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 are very much flawless and cheap and look good. If you need room correction, Behringer DEQ2496 is as good as Benchmark DAC1 with room EQ.

You could also get a modern 5.1 receiver that takes sound in as optical, and handle the crossover there. It would be a very handy all-in-one solution!
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post #43 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BorisTheSpider View Post

And the Rotel has a volume control?
indeed it does.
post #44 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by seepra View Post

On-board sound cards are not always doomed to be terrible. I've blind tested a quite highly regarded FiiO E7 against a ALC892 Realtek chip on a M4A88TD-V EVO motherboard, and the only difference to be found was the output power at higher volumes. Attempting to level-match the two sources as close as possible to each other, they were indistinguishable. Of course it depends on the motherboard, it's sound-circuitry's PSRR (basically, PSU interference rejection ratio), your PSU and whether any ground looping issues occur and whether the power output is sufficient..
Those problems aside the DAC itself is very, very good in modern motherboards. You don't have to be sucked into the hype of expensive -> better, it's hardly true.
Sounds like a nice speaker set-up. I assume you're handling the cross-overs at the amplifiers since you aren't talking about needing 0.1 output capability. As such, you should be good with pretty much any sound card or external DAC/sound interface that meets your requirements feature-wise (volume knob, headphone amp?).
If you plan going internal, Asus Xonar DG. You will hardly benefit from a better integrated sound card, running an unbalanced analog signal that grounds to the computer case is almost always a compromise and introduces a bigger noise floor/interference from component stress like coil whine.
If you want external, Behringer UCA202 is a very affordable solution, although I do admit it looks quite ugly and flimsy. If you plan to upgrade to balanced to get rid of any interference issues, M-Audio C400 and Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 are very much flawless and cheap and look good. If you need room correction, Behringer DEQ2496 is as good as Benchmark DAC1 with room EQ.
You could also get a modern 5.1 receiver that takes sound in as optical, and handle the crossover there. It would be a very handy all-in-one solution!

what if i did want a 2.1 sound card? is it even possible!?
post #45 of 51
It's probably possible in software to do a crossover and send it to another channel of a >2 channels card, or do the same without a crossover for something that's 5.1. I personally don't think you would gain anything do that versus a physical crossover.
 
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post #46 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by ramicio View Post

Someone truly serious about music would invest tons of money into headphones instead of speakers.
No.
Just no.
Someone truly serious about music is going to invest tons into tube amps, turntables, high grade AC stabilizers, floorstand speakers with price tag of mercedes at least.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TUDJ View Post

Guys, please don't just offer blind advice. This guy already has great speakers and subs and doesn't need to upgrade (that wasn't what he was asking anyway, plus those speakers posted above would probably be a downgrade).
What are the main uses for your speakers; music, movies, games or a good mix of everything? With your setup you will very likely benefit from upgrading to a soundcard but I'd also consider an external DAC to sit between the PC and the Marantz amp (which model btw?).

Actually if he'd upgrade to quality floorstands he'd stop thinking about sub. Obviously not those that mentioned prior your post.

DAC > gimmick sound card any day. However, in my opinion, getting DAC won't yeld him too much with speakers he got.
And he really needs DAC with pm7004.
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post #47 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big-Pete View Post

what if i did want a 2.1 sound card? is it even possible!?
Any 5.1 capable soundcard would also function in 2.1 too. Asus Xonar DG is no exception.

I disagree with ramicio above, though. With 2.1 software crossover to your subwoofer, you gain the benefit of controlled cross-over on the speaker's side too! If you just duplicate the signal, your main speakers are going to preserve their natural roll-off, which might be less than even. With a 2.1 output, you adjust the crossover for both and can set it higher than when you have to work around the main's frequency response with the subwoofer only. Of course that benefit you also have from most 5.1 receivers, and if your subwoofer amplifiers have a high-pass output.
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post #48 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big-Pete View Post

indeed it does.

OK, so what you have is two integrated amps, one is fed from the PC, the other is fed from RCA passthru from the first amp.

Here's what I'd recommend:

A decent soundcard, say a Xonar Essence STX, or a D2X. You then have two separate (stereo) runs of cable to the amps.

One goes from the "front left/right" output of the sound card to the Marantz amp, and that feeds the B&W front left/right speakers.

The second goes from the "Centre/Sub" output of the sound card - most sound cards combine centre and sub on a stereo jack plug here, so you just want to use whichever channel is to the sub, it's a mono channel and you just ignore/discard the other channel. This goes into the Rotel amplifier and feeds the subs. You can either split the mono channel and feed both the left and right channels of the Rotel (then connect one sub to each channel), or you can use only one channel of the Rotel amp and connect both subs to it, I'd favour the first option (splitting the sub feed and connecting it to both channels of the amp) since the second might give you impedance problems (if you connect the subs in series, you'll raise the impedance, in parallel and you'll lower it, lowering it can damage the amp, raising it won't hurt anything but the volume will be lower).

You select, in the sound card software, the crossover type option so that you are cutting off frequencies below the range that the main B&W speakers can reproduce, and sending them to the sub output (and _not_ sending them to the front L/R channels). That way, you are feeding only bass to the subs (and not asking them to attempt to reproduce mid-range and treble frequencies which they can't), and feeding only mid-range and treble to the B&Ws which is also correct.

You then set up the amps with the volume knobs set so that you can achieve anything from quiet to fully loud just by adjusting the volume on the PC. You tweak the volume knobs to achieve the correct balance between the subs and the full-range speakers, ideally you do that using test signals at different frequencies and using an SPL meter to get the volumes equal (to get as close to a flat response as you can), but you can just do it by ear to your personal taste if you want.

Then, the balance between the mid/treble and the bass is roughly correct, and you can just control volume from the PC. From then on, you leave the volume knobs on the amps alone - they are set and forget.

You then go through and tweak the EQ curve on the sound card software to flatten the response of the B&Ws (or adjust it to personal taste), either that or you just turn off the EQ to simplify and clean up the sound path, which of those sounds better to you depends on personal taste, the room and the speakers.
Edited by BorisTheSpider - 11/14/12 at 12:08pm
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post #49 of 51
I agree with Boris above otherwise, but:

Essence STX has no subwoofer/center output, and it's debatable whether a D2X is audibly better than a normal DG under actual listening situation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BorisTheSpider View Post

ideally you do that using test signals at different frequencies and using an SPL meter to get the volumes equal
Ideally, you would have a calibrated omnidirectional microphone, and you would do it with a frequency sweep and analyze the waterfall pattern to analyze room EQ, cross-over point AND speaker placement / acoustic treatment.
Edited by seepra - 11/14/12 at 12:10pm
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post #50 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by seepra View Post

Essence STX has no subwoofer/center output, and it's debatable whether a D2X is audibly better than a normal DG under actual listening situation.

You're probably right about the D2X, if I remember rightly I chose based on encoding (to output DTS and the like) which I don't think the DG can do, but I never heard a DG and I expect the analog output quality is equal.

I didn't know the Essence didn't have sub outputs, in that case an adjustable crossover between the PC and the amps would probably be a good option.
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