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  1. #1

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    Default What is the best way to connect a laptop to a sound system?

    RIght now i am using just a cheap belkin 3.5mm to rca anolog to my pre amp and power amp. I think it sounds good but is there a better way to do it. Currently i have my entire collection in Apple Lossess format but i am always on the look out for the best i can make it sound. Currently running a UMC-1, UPA-5 bi amped with ixos connections and a SVS sealed subwoofer with my lsi 9's. What do you suggest besides switching out my gear. I am mostly looking to see what you would recomend as far as buying a better connection from my computer would be better or maybe an ipod dock? I am pretty lost on where to go from here. thanks


    Logan

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by logo896 View Post
    RIght now i am using just a cheap belkin 3.5mm to rca anolog to my pre amp and power amp. I think it sounds good but is there a better way to do it. Currently i have my entire collection in Apple Lossess format but i am always on the look out for the best i can make it sound. Currently running a UMC-1, UPA-5 bi amped with ixos connections and a SVS sealed subwoofer with my lsi 9's. What do you suggest besides switching out my gear. I am mostly looking to see what you would recomend as far as buying a better connection from my computer would be better or maybe an ipod dock? I am pretty lost on where to go from here. thanks


    Logan
    As far as I'm concerned, you have (3) options, all of which will sound exactly one million times better than what you're doing now:

    1) Lossless files on your computer > media player that supports ASIO output > USB out > external DAC with an asynchronous USB input > anolog out > preamp

    2) Lossless files on your computer > media player that supports ASIO output > USB out > asynchronous USB to SPDIF converter > external DAC > analog out > preamp

    3) Lossless files on your computer > wireless to Squeezebox > digital SPDIF out > external DAC > analog out > preamp

    don't forget the search function; there may be some terms or types of equipment you need to familiarize yourself with before seeking specific advice.

    BTW, I LOVE using my PC as my main music source!!!
    Last edited by falconcry72; 08-05-2011 at 11:52 PM.
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  3. #3

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    Hey Logan, Happy B'Day !!! hope it's a fine one !!! I'm interested in your Q as well, I just use the old cable into the AUX input on the pre.
    Huh? Wot?? Dig it :tongue:

    Where can I get me some??

  4. #4

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    I'm admittedly on the low end of the audiophile spectrum. I opted for #3 to my Pioneer SC35 AVR's internal DAC. Squeezebox Touch seems to work very well for me. Keep in mind lossless source codex/file format - is priority to sound quality. FLAC, Apple Lossless, etc., sources really make a difference and to me it's the single most important factor after a decent DAC chipset. My Pioneer SC35's Burr Brown 192K/24-Bit internal DAC has not failed to impress me yet. On occasion, I also connect my Squeezebox to my old 2 channel Yamaha CA1010 rig through analog. IMHO, streaming the Squeezebox Touch' DAC sounds fair especially for under $300.00.
    Pioneer Elite SC-35, Polk RTA (Real Time Array) 12's,
    Polk Monitor 40 surrounds, Polk CSiA4 Center,
    Polk PSW125, Sharp LC-46D62U,
    Panasonic DMP-BD85, Harmony One,
    iMac streaming an Apple TVII, or Squeezebox Touch
    Bedroom Rig~Sony STRDG-920, Polk Monitor 60 fronts, Polk RM6750 Satellites and Sub, Panasonic DMP-BD85
    Rabbit Hole Rig~Yamaha CA1010, Yamaha CT1010, Polk SDA 2A's, Teac A1500 R2R

  5. #5

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    WGDB, your way sounds great! I'm sure the DACs in your Pioneer are pretty damned good, and definitely better than what any stock computer has!

    I didnt think about using your UMC1, as I'm not familiar with Emo products.

    Basically, if you don't want to srping for an external DAC, then substitute "the UMC's digital input" for where I wrote "external DAC", and you'll be good to go.

    It will still sound a million times better then that mini jack out using the DAC in your laptop.
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by falconcry72 View Post
    WGDB, your way sounds great! I'm sure the DACs in your Pioneer are pretty damned good, and definitely better than what any stock computer has!

    I didnt think about using your UMC1, as I'm not familiar with Emo products.

    Basically, if you don't want to srping for an external DAC, then substitute "the UMC's digital input" for where I wrote "external DAC", and you'll be good to go.

    It will still sound a million times better then that mini jack out using the DAC in your laptop.
    Falcon
    Emotiva doesn't list their exact chipset but does show a few bullets about DSP's and decoding on the UMC1:

    Twin Cirrus' 32 bit dual core DSP's
    Decoding support for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital True HD, Dolby PLIIx, DTS, DTSES, DTS HD, DTS Master Audio, DTS Neo 6, SPDIF, PCM 8 channel (note: some audio formats are only supported via HDMI)

    ....... just guessing..... I'd say logo's golden!
    Last edited by WGDB; 08-06-2011 at 12:41 AM. Reason: punctuation
    Pioneer Elite SC-35, Polk RTA (Real Time Array) 12's,
    Polk Monitor 40 surrounds, Polk CSiA4 Center,
    Polk PSW125, Sharp LC-46D62U,
    Panasonic DMP-BD85, Harmony One,
    iMac streaming an Apple TVII, or Squeezebox Touch
    Bedroom Rig~Sony STRDG-920, Polk Monitor 60 fronts, Polk RM6750 Satellites and Sub, Panasonic DMP-BD85
    Rabbit Hole Rig~Yamaha CA1010, Yamaha CT1010, Polk SDA 2A's, Teac A1500 R2R

  7. #7

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    So, the cheapest way to get great audio out of your computer is to get an asynchronous USB to SPDIF converter, and then run it digitally to your emo processor.

    I can recommend two products:

    Musiland Monitor 02

    Musical Fidelity V-Link
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  8. #8

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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by logo896 View Post
    RIght now i am using just a cheap belkin 3.5mm to rca anolog to my pre amp and power amp. I think it sounds good but is there a better way to do it. Currently i have my entire collection in Apple Lossess format but i am always on the look out for the best i can make it sound. Currently running a UMC-1, UPA-5 bi amped with ixos connections and a SVS sealed subwoofer with my lsi 9's. What do you suggest besides switching out my gear. I am mostly looking to see what you would recomend as far as buying a better connection from my computer would be better or maybe an ipod dock? I am pretty lost on where to go from here. thanks


    Logan

    Logan,

    Are your music files on some sort of media file system like Itunes? etc,. If so, the Squeezebox Touch $(274.99) will find most audio media files once networked. It does include internet radio, Pandora and a long list of audio only choices for content.

    Another idea is to network an Apple TV ($99.00) through HDMI to your UMC1. It too will stream but you must use Itunes as your media server. It does include several other audio and video media content like, youtube, streaming pictures/videos, select internet radio stations, and Apple or Netflix movie rentals.

    I've never listened to a UMC1 Audio Video Processor, but after looking at its impressive list of specs, it appears you already have a great internal DAC and a bag chocked full of modern decoder tricks already on board.

    Straight from the Emotiva UMC1 Spec Sheet on their website:

    "The UMC-1 uses twin Cirrus? 32 bit dual core DSP?s for uncompromised high resolution HD audio decoding and signal management. Unlike many comparable products, the UMC-1 decodes and post-processes all digital audio streams including high-resolution audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and dtsMA at their native bit rates, up to and including 24 bit/192kHz. The UMC-1's sophisticated and powerful digital signal processing engine allows music and movies to come through with unprecedented detail, impact, and realism."

    As I see it, you have some very reasonably priced choices for connectivity that could easily be incorporated for your audio solution and if you desire video presentation.
    Pioneer Elite SC-35, Polk RTA (Real Time Array) 12's,
    Polk Monitor 40 surrounds, Polk CSiA4 Center,
    Polk PSW125, Sharp LC-46D62U,
    Panasonic DMP-BD85, Harmony One,
    iMac streaming an Apple TVII, or Squeezebox Touch
    Bedroom Rig~Sony STRDG-920, Polk Monitor 60 fronts, Polk RM6750 Satellites and Sub, Panasonic DMP-BD85
    Rabbit Hole Rig~Yamaha CA1010, Yamaha CT1010, Polk SDA 2A's, Teac A1500 R2R

  9. #9

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    + 1 to Falcon - excellent alternatives as well. I really like the conveniences of streaming, but I too have been looking for an alternative for my two channel rig and your idea look very interesting to me.

    I'm thinking of a solid state 60gig drive in a bare bones chassis, a powerful yet cool running MOBO, loaded with an easy to use media server software package and small lcd display. Piping digital through good DAC to my old CA1010. Both the server and the DAC running off non switched linear power supply/s. But, it's got to be cheap. Not into blowing a boat load of money right now.
    Pioneer Elite SC-35, Polk RTA (Real Time Array) 12's,
    Polk Monitor 40 surrounds, Polk CSiA4 Center,
    Polk PSW125, Sharp LC-46D62U,
    Panasonic DMP-BD85, Harmony One,
    iMac streaming an Apple TVII, or Squeezebox Touch
    Bedroom Rig~Sony STRDG-920, Polk Monitor 60 fronts, Polk RM6750 Satellites and Sub, Panasonic DMP-BD85
    Rabbit Hole Rig~Yamaha CA1010, Yamaha CT1010, Polk SDA 2A's, Teac A1500 R2R

  10. #10

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    I suggest a few things
    1)Wadia Ipod dock with a Cambridge Dac Magic. This setup sounds amazingly clear and detailed. Don't expect video out of the Wadia as it sucks ass at it. It has a very limited working area. It's completely designed for 2 channel playback.
    2) Sonos ZP90 with a Cambridge Dac Magic. Another killer setup with tons of flexibility. It's the new Audiophiles Streamer. Mated with the Dac Magic , it's one killer sounding piece.
    3)Airport Express wired with Optical out to a Cambridge Dac magic( I use this Dac all the time). This is a nice cheap way to get your iTunes music to your stereo system. It's very cool as you control it with Remote from the App store. Required is a iPad , iPhone or iTouch.
    4)Apple Tv You know what DAC I'm gonna suggest ,Now you have Music , Pictures and Video right at your system. This is one badass device and I believe everyone should have one. It's 99 bucks and worth so much more then that. You can use your internal DAC"s if they don't suck(I have no idea about Emotiva , never listened to one) over HDMI. Or for music you can use the Optical out and a DAC.

    This is how I get it done.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.

  11. #11

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    Thanks guys looks like i have a lot of new toys to research. I will it really does sound absolutely amazing, but i wouldn't be an audiophile if i didn't always s want it to sound better. As for the UMC-1 dude that thing rocks. I play a lot of movies in just stereo and the imaging will blow you away. The only thing i hate about the product is the stock remote blows. I also just picked up a Sub dude for my birthday with my new SVS SB12=NSD. I have come a long way from my little R15's when i was 12. 13 years later my LSI 9's haven't let me down.

  12. #12

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    I 2nd the ZP90 its probably our hottest selling item
    Home Theater:Samsung8000-55LED,Pioneer SC35, Pioneer DV-79AVi, Sunfire TGA7201, LSi25, LCi RTSc, LC80i
    2chnl system:Melody 101 tube pre, Pass XA30.5 amp, Usher MD2 speakers, W4S Dac, MG Audio Planus2 speaker cables
    Office rig: Modwright KWI-200 Integrated, Dynaudio C1-II Signatures

  13. #13

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    Ok so my new question is, how do i figure out if my laptop supports usb audio out. Its a nicer toshiba satalite with usb 2.0.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by logo896 View Post
    Ok so my new question is, how do i figure out if my laptop supports usb audio out. Its a nicer toshiba satalite with usb 2.0.
    One of the easiest installs ever.
    When I connected my USB DAC (HRT Music Streamer II) Windows loaded the necessary driver and I was good to go.

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