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Sound system advice

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by PHV, Oct 12, 2004.

  1. jasonpraxis

    jasonpraxis Well-Known Member

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    In a bid to simplify, this past January I got rid of all of my stereo components. Since then I have been using my Windows based PC for music and movies with a M-Audio Revolution 7.1 sound card and a set of Klipsch ProMedia Ultra 5.1 speakers. This setup has worked out very well in two different apartments, handling everything from late night movies to cocktail parties without a problem. I did my research on the sound card at the Ars Technica forum.
     
  2. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    PHV, I think AirTunes is the answer to your question... turn ANY of your stereos into an mp3 player.
     
  3. DSKent

    DSKent Well-Known Member

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    If you think about this for a minute, the answer is very clear.  The reason most MP3 players are small is because (a) most of them need to be portable to cater to the demands of the consumer and (b) the means by which music is transferred to the player.

    So far as b goes, it's easy enough with a portable player to connect it to your PC.  But let's say you have a 4-room apartment with your computer at one end of the apartment and your large, hypothetical MP3 stereo unit on the other end.  You'd have to have some way to transfer the data from your PC to the unit.  This would presumably require a cat-5 network cable, USB cable, or Firewire cable that would have to be run through walls, around doorframes, etc.  There ARE units that will play music through an ethernet (network) interface, but this never made a whole lot of sense to me.  Now imagine you have a 22-room home and the problem is even worse.

    AirTunes works around this problem by transferring the music wirelessly to an existing stereo through existing interfaces (USB, I believe, on the PC end, and the auxillary, or tape input in your stereo receiver).
     
  4. PHV

    PHV Senior member

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    (PHV @ 12 Oct. 2004, 10:11) Are there seriously no actually MP3 players that aren't all small and portable? There is NO company that has made an MP3 player like a stereo? Kinda weird to me...
    If you think about this for a minute, the answer is very clear. Â The reason most MP3 players are small is because (a) most of them need to be portable to cater to the demands of the consumer and (b) the means by which music is transferred to the player. So far as b goes, it's easy enough with a portable player to connect it to your PC. Â But let's say you have a 4-room apartment with your computer at one end of the apartment and your large, hypothetical MP3 stereo unit on the other end. Â You'd have to have some way to transfer the data from your PC to the unit. Â This would presumably require a cat-5 network cable, USB cable, or Firewire cable that would have to be run through walls, around doorframes, etc. Â There ARE units that will play music through an ethernet (network) interface, but this never made a whole lot of sense to me. Â Now imagine you have a 22-room home and the problem is even worse. AirTunes works around this problem by transferring the music wirelessly to an existing stereo through existing interfaces (USB, I believe, on the PC end, and the auxillary, or tape input in your stereo receiver).
    Ok, so I'm going to need my computer (check), a stereo (not yet), air tunes (not yet), and speakers. I hate technology. O well, I'll just do it.
     
  5. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Senior member

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    how have you been listening to music without a 'stereo'? i think i missed something.

    anyway - now your first task is to get recommendations on a receiver. consider your budget, whether you want some expandability (i.e. multiple inputs and future upgrades), and whether you want home theater (i.e. surround sound, dolby digital, etc.).

    almost any basic receiver will have an 'aux' or 'tape' input that you can just plug in your mp3 player, or airtunes or whatever.

    in fact if airtunes has a volume control, and all you want is airtunes, then all you really need is an amp to drive the speakers.

    /andrew
     
  6. PHV

    PHV Senior member

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    I have a computer. I hear people listen to music with those these days.

    I just want something simple.
     
  7. BjornH

    BjornH Senior member

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    For what it's worth my system is as follows:

    Largish Philips receiver with optical inputs
    Jamo E series front, center and surround speakers
    Old, 400MHZ IBM laptop with a wireless card
    An USB connected Creative MP3 external soundcard with an optical connection to the receiver
    My music (120Gb) is stored on another destop computer in the den and I alternate between Windows Media Player and the iTunes client to play it.

    Sounds good and is much simpler than shuffling CDs around. What's more is that I use my DVD player to play CDs and it's very cumbersome and sluggish.

    If i remember correctly, Creative also has a standalone version of this setup that only needs a amplifier/speaker combo.

    B
     
  8. bespoken2

    bespoken2 Member

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    Determine your budget. Are you going to dedicate an area exclusively for listening? Do you have the room to place your speakers for the best imaging, depth of field qualities? If your budget allows, check with b&o for storage capability of your music for the home. If you are going to incorporate video into the scheme, you can do without a reciever and get one of the dvd/audio/video/amp systems from Bose or KEF. All in one system. Recievers are fine, but I think destined to the junk yard in a few more years. With the advent of combining your audio/video into one format, the unnecessary bells and whistles will lie dormant, as to usage. If you are going with a computer based system, I think the advice given is quite good. I am not expert in that area. I would think that the sound card quality would be the limiting factor and the speaker system/subwoofer for the computer based scheme. If you are a real audiophile, a tube based system, single horn speakers, direct cd/dac unit.....as small in size as possible. ....ah, scratch that idea. [​IMG] It depends how important music is to you, as to how involved and costly you want the system. The level of involvement has a bearing. Are you just listening to music, with the occasional downloading, listening in view? Are you an ardent collector of music? Are you listening for the enjoyment (rest and respite from the world. To comtemplate, life, love and the pursuit of happiness) or accessing the quality of your components? Will it become a hobby of the pursuit of music and equipment? i.e. constant upgrading, to reach the point of hopefully finding the "holy grail"? (Foolish pursuit..) It is alot to think about. If you are serious about your music, as you are in the pursuit of things of a sartorial nature, one of the reasons for being on this forum, (I am assuming.) then you should give careful consideration to your choices and reasons, with a concern to your budget allocation to make a really informed choice. My $0.02..... bespoken2
     
  9. PHV

    PHV Senior member

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    I'll put it this way. I am a musician studying at a very high level. We are THE audiophiles, except I don't get so hung up about speaker cones, canary wires, gold plated whatevers... I have met and work with many prominent musicians, a lot of them have a simple Sony system that cost like $1500... It's not how important music is to me, because it is my life, but the equipment that I listen to it with is not that important really. I'm just going to get one of those air zapper things that puts it through to my stereo that Im going to buy and listen to it that way. I listen to music all the time when I'm at home. By the way, I'm probably just going to get a little Bose stereo and plug in the B&O speakers. I'm sure it will sound just fine.
     
  10. Joe G

    Joe G Senior member

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    Airport Express actually doesn't "connect" to the computer at all, which is to say that uses the wireless ("Airport") network. The Airtunes component of it takes the audio signal wirelessly, presuming of course one has an airport card in his computer, and transmits it either to an analog switch (i.e. a preamp) or digitally to a DAC.

    We use Airport Express to play music in our 2-person/3-Mac (one of which is the central music/print/file server with a terabyte of storage attached, mostly via Firewire, and is soon to be replaced with that stunning new G5 iMac once demand US is sated and they start sending some up here) flat, and it works brilliantly.

    And musicians are often not the best judges of reproductive sound quality. The critical listening skills required to evaluate reproduced music and the critical listening skills required to create music are actually quite different, and use different parts of the brain.

    Peace,

    JG
     
  11. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    Faustain,

    I consider myself somewhat of an audiophile, and I honestly cannot tell the difference between mp3s that I ripped myself, and the CD. Perhaps I notice little details when I listen to the CD, but if I was listening to one or the other, I wouldn't be able to instantly point out "this is the CD" or "this is the mp3." Although I do find that lots of mp3s I download even at high quality VBR or 192+ quality end up sounding noticeably poor. I will try that EAC program.. I have been using Easy CD-DA Extractor and selecting Quality 2 VBR, and it's been working great, but if it's "exact" then it's worth the try at last. Perhaps I am also limiting myself with my computer, although I have a SB Audigy 2, and a decent $200 set of Altec Lansing speakers...

    What do you listen for when you tell the difference? You would think that I am satisfied with my current set-up by the way it sounds, but it's bothering me that I've been listening to what could be equated to a "ghetto blaster."
     
  12. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Senior member

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    first i'll say: i don't consider myself an audiophile - i don't have enough practice with critical listening to have developed those 'golden ears'. also i don't have fancy equipment. i enjoy occasional 'close listening', and can appreciate good recordings (and can be annoyed by poor ones), but by necessity i can't maintain high standards for my daily music listening.

    one of the most egregious things to listen for with mp3's is a wierd squashing of cymbal hits. on a really poor quality mp3 a snare drum can sound like a typewriter.

    at a certain point the limiting factor in discerning differences becomes the equipment you're using. there are measurable differences, for example with respect to frequency response (mp3 codec cuts off the highest frequencies), but whether or not all these differences are audible is subject to debate.

    for the purist, who just doesn't 'feel right' modifying the original digital file (whether or not the modification is audible), lossless compression is the way to go.

    /andrew
     
  13. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    Okay then. Yea, like I said, I can hear the watery cymbals and typewriter snares on poor quality mp3s, even at 192+ bitrate. The most frustrating thing is to download an album at 192, 256 and 320 to find out that people are just re-encoding the same damn mp3s at higher bit rates and the watery drums are unavoidable.
     
  14. faustian bargain

    faustian bargain Senior member

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    that's the raison d'etre behind such sites as chris myden's Uberstandard. look for albums encoded to that standard (or its equivalent) and you can be more assured that the quality will be high.
     
  15. bespoken2

    bespoken2 Member

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    Quote: I'll put it this way. I am a musician studying at a very high level. We are THE audiophiles, except I don't get so hung up about speaker cones, canary wires, gold plated whatevers... bespoken: [I would disagree with that statement, being THE audiophiles. Musician's are not. That is to imply, that they have some inherently, highly trained aural acuity. I am a musician as well. I came to train what little acuity I have thru following years of reading TAS and buying and pursuing "better sound", being hung up with tube/transistor controversies, wires and the like. Hearing what a 100K system sounds like, appreciating it and knowing what a Sony system sounds like. (Generally bad in comparison to a larger rig.) I agree with not being hung up on cone material, wires, etc. If you are listening to mp3's and that is satisfactory?....my point above holds true. To each his own.] Quote: I have met and work with many prominent musicians, a lot of them have a simple Sony system that cost like $1500... Bespoken: [Your point?....it has been said that, being so close to the live musical experience, replicating the sound, is a major frustration, no matter how much one would spend. The dynamic swings, etc. is so lacking thru compressed sound. Many seem to reason, why bother. Just spend money to hear a noise...hence, $1500 Sony system. I have had the experience as well. But, there are musicians, music producers, jazz and classical folks, who feel high end audio is worth pursuing. Some have high dollar, complex systems. I guess, it shows they may have a higher appreciation for the sound??? Disposable income???] Quote: It's not how important music is to me, because it is my life, but the equipment that I listen to it with is not that important really. I'm just going to get one of those air zapper things that puts it through to my stereo that Im going to buy and listen to it that way. Bespoken: [Music is your life? Beautiful. If the equipment wasn't so important, why the asking of advice? I am not familiar with the air zapper thing. If that is your preference, that is fine, too. There are so many nuances missed, by just settling for...just to hear music. Subtle cues, that are missed on lesser systems. It seemed that from some of your earlier posts, you were more concerned with the computer being the medium of choice for music listening. You can certainly hear music, but the nuances, thru speakers that are built to a price point...and if music is really important to you, I fail to see how that would be satisfactory. That's just me.?] Quote: I listen to music all the time when I'm at home. By the way, I'm probably just going to get a little Bose stereo and plug in the B&O speakers. I'm sure it will sound just fine. Bespoken: [That'll work. Sure it'll work. It'll make a noise. Whether it is a joyful noise, is another matter.] [​IMG] Regards, bespoken2
     

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