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Macbook Air to 5.1 Channel speakers

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hello, I currently have a Macbook Air that I play all of my music off of. My current speaker system is a Klipsch Promedia 5.1 Ultra and it has three 3.5mm inputs while the macbook only has one output. I used a headphone splitter to make the front and rear/sub work but I feel that it degrades the sound quality and am hesitant to split it again to make the center work. I am wandering if there is an adapter that does not degrade sound quality or an external sound card that can produce music quality that is as high as or better than the onboard of the Macbook. I am only worried about music quality and would like all speakers to be at the same volume levels.

I did find this: http://us.store.creative.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-XFi-Surround-5.1/M/B0044DEDCA.htm but have always been skeptical of usb sound quality. Any suggestions or information would be greatly appreciated!
Edited by flaviz - 8/27/13 at 9:52am
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post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by flaviz View Post

I did find this: http://us.store.creative.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-XFi-Surround-5.1/M/B0044DEDCA.htm but have always been skeptical of usb sound quality. Any suggestions or information would be greatly appreciated!
There is nothing inherently wrong with USB sound quality; In fact, if you ask most of the audiophiles here, you will find that a great number of them use USB DACs, myself included - and these things are not cheap by any means. A sound card is pretty much a DAC, it converts the 1s and 0s that a computer passes to it into analog sine waves for output through analog speakers like your setup. It doesn't matter whether the digital audio is passed to the DAC chip by a USB cable or by a PCI bus, the quality of the sound processor is what determines the quality of the audio.

As for your solution, there are a number of USB sound cards with 5.1 output via three mini-plug cables. Some people are skeptical of Creative's lower price lineup, so there are other brands out there that a quick search of Amazon will get you. I think that Creative card is well built and will offer you the solution you need. It isn't a high-end card, but I don't think you will feel the audio quality is poor.
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post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hey I really appreciate the reply. I guess I will just go off your word and get a usb DAC!
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post #4 of 9
Music is just stereo anyways, unless you're playing concert blurays or something. Splitter does not degrade sound quality btw.
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post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
I know that it shouldn't really degrade quality for most setups but my speakers are pretty high fidelity and I use them for house parties a lot. When I get them cranked up I feel like I can tell the difference, I think it has something to do with the splitter decreasing the signal to noise ratio.
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post #6 of 9
Just chiming in here --- with a thumbs up for a USB sound card / DAC. The others are right, don't be put off by USB sound - the quality of the A/D and D/A converters in some of the USB devices are vastly superior to the ones in your MacBook Air.

Here's just one example:

http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/duet.php

Don't let the $649 price tag fool you. Apogee is the world leader in A/D and D/A converters. The Duet only works with Mac and iPad.

I like the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 for a cheaper ($149) 2-channel solution that should work with Mac and PC both. The Apogee stuff is too high end for my blood, lol.

Greg
Edited by hammong - 8/28/13 at 6:42pm
post #7 of 9
You might as well just get a 5.1 receiver, since it looks like everything would work without the control unit. Budget yamaha, HK, denon can be had for $150-$200 on sale, or find a used one for really cheap. Speakers and sub would just plug into that, and newer ones take digital input so it would act as a DAC upgrade as well. Looking on my local craigslist right now, I could get an older high end 7.1 denon for $75 and that would solve your problem.
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post #8 of 9
There's no optical or S/PDIF output on the MacBook Air, only the MacBook Pro. Think that's the root of the issue here.

You COULD hook the MacBook Air up to a receiver using a Mini-DP to HDMI adapter, but I don't know if you can still have the built-in display show video and only route audio through the Mini-DP port.

Greg
post #9 of 9
He's just concerned about music, so stereo out from the macbook would be fine. It's just that klipsch control box has discrete connections, so taking that out of the picture would be easiest.
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